DON’T LAUNCH COLBERT AT AMAZON

I was really really pissed when Colbert got into the Amazon/Hachette squabble. I call it that because of the childishness of it all.

Colbert is a really funny man who probably doesn’t know squat about the ins and outs of book publishing. How could he? His calls go directly to voice mail. But someone got through to him and convinced him to denigrate Amazon.com on the air. TV sets in Seattle clicked off by the dozens. The dispute grew personal. Authors were now involved.

And Hachette had used Stephen Colbert as a human shield!

All of this is a shame. Colbert is to be protected, not drawn into the fray. He’s the TALENT, the thing you need to keep doing what you are doing: publishing books. You also have a contract with him, further proof you like and admire his work. So why have him trash Amazon and the most important relationship of his publishing life?

Copyright law was invented and pushed forward by WRITERS. Pamphlets, newspapers, penny dreadfuls, and later books were published by writers. Often, you wrote it in one room and walked to your printer in the front room, JUST LIKE NOW.

For 300 years, the work of publishing slowly migrated from the hands of writers. We got interested in other things, liked the big advance, wandered off to look at butterflies. Who knows. But the writers are back and they have Amazon behind them.

Doers once again will reap a fairer share of rewards for doing. That is what Amazon offers. Sure, things will have to shift and change: They always do. But returning publishing to the abilities and talent of writers is the best idea I’ve heard since Samuel Johnson. Yup, I’m that old.

In the meantime, don’t use Stephen Colbert – or any writer for that matter – as a human shield. We need him here, being funny.

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