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Technology & Innovation

Amazon, Algorithms and the Art of Book Publishing

Amazon, aggressively expanding its publishing efforts, can sell a lot of books. But many writers don’t want to publish to an algorithm, they care about making culture and art.

What’s the Latest Development?

The news that Amazon would aggressively expand its publishing efforts by signing up authors has ruffled the feathers of many agents and publishers. In Room for Debate, the NYT asks if publishers are still needed. Dennis Johnson says they must be, “or why would Amazon go to such lengths to build a publishing program?” 

What’s the Big Idea?

Amazon is expert in algorithms and can shift a lot of books, but beware of letting it put publishers out of business, warns Johnson, a publishers himself. “Dominating the industry is bad for all kinds of things we hold dear—free speech, great art and a rich and diverse culture. All of which is to say that yes, there is a need for publishers. Many of them.”


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