Son of Return of Amazon Zombie Memes

Amazon Zombies

Legacy media stooge David Leonhardt took up his pen the other day to add a clueless editorial to the august body of clueless New York Times editorials.

The target of Leonhardt's poison pen was Amazon, which makes his editorial a double threat since it also expands the canon of mainstream articles regurgitating Amazon zombie memes.

I'd refute the substance of the editorial, but it has no substance. Leonhardt is the kind of guy who's bought into the idea that he should be paid six figures to tell the little people what to think. His worldview is based on the article of faith that legacy publishers and newspapers should have a monopoly on forming public taste and opinion. His accusations of monopolistic behavior on Amazon's part are pure projection. He doesn't care if consumers get reasonable prices or if workers get living wages. He's jealous that Amazon has let independent authors overthrow the mandarins who kept him relevant.

The pretext of Leonhardt's poutfest is the imminent death of Barnes and Noble. Though he's probably just reaching for the handiest stick to beat the dog, his affected concern makes sense because B&N is the last remnant of tradpub's paper distribution monopoly. The big New York publishers aren't in the book industry. They're in the lumber industry, and their survival depended on controlling access to a large network of print distributors and retailers. That was the only real leverage they had over authors. Since KDP came along, the smart, market-facing authors have gone indie. That's left tradpub with less talent overall and more authors incapable of writing stories people want to buy.

The whole of Leonhardt's editorial reads like a case study in cognitive dissonance. The high density of misinformation and outright lies goes beyond credible propaganda to the emanations of a triggered amygdala spewing stream of consciousness badfeelz onto the page. Take this passage for instance:
The full story revolves around government policy — in particular, Washington’s leniency, under both parties, toward technology giants that have come to resemble monopolies. These giants are popular, because they provide good products and service. But they have also become mighty enough to vanquish their competitors and create problems for society.
For most of American history, the government viewed giant corporations of any kind as inherently problematic. Their size gave them too much power — to eliminate competition, raise prices, hold down wages and influence politics. So the government passed laws to restrain businesses and occasionally broke up the largest, like Standard Oil and AT&T.
In the 1970s, however, a new idea took hold: Size was not a problem so long as prices remained low. Bigness could even be good, because it promoted efficiency and thus lower prices. The legal scholar Robert Bork was the most influential advocate for this view, and it soon guided the Supreme Court, the Reagan administration and pretty much every administration since.
But the theory has two huge flaws, as a new generation of scholars, like Lina Khan, is emphasizing. One, prices are not a broad enough measure of well-being. Wages, innovation and political power matter as well. If prices stay low but wages don’t grow — which is, roughly, what’s happened in recent decades — consumers aren’t better off. Two, regulators have focused on short-term prices, sometimes ignoring what can happen after a company drives out its rivals.
Leonhardt doesn't even attempt to put forward a semblance of historical literacy or logical consistency. It's glaringly obvious that what he means by "problems for society" is "a threat to the dominance of the elite chattering class and our paymasters".

The definitive CogDis tell comes in the editorial's closing paragraph.
Once the country emerges from the Trump presidency, I hope we will have a government that takes monopolies seriously. Until then, I’ll be rooting for Barnes & Noble. So, it turns out, are some people who once viewed it as the enemy. “It’s in the interest of the book business,” Teicher says, “for Barnes & Noble not just to survive but to thrive.”
In his flustered state, Leonhardt reflexively calls for government intervention as is the wont of his kind. He makes a feeble show of objectivity by blaming "both parties" for letting Amazon endanger his meal ticket. Finally he reveals himself not as a rational actor, but as a meat puppet tossed to and fro by shifting tides of emotional distress, when his Trump derangement prime directive keeps him from acknowledging that the President has expressed openness to doing exactly what Leonhardt suggests.

This isn't an editorial. It's a death rattle. Low work-high pay apparatchiks like Leonhardt may think that hitting Amazon with antitrust litigation (one wonders if they'd apply the same standard to Facebook or Google) will save their sinecures. Their overweening sense of entitlement assures them that eBooks are just a fad, the next Democrat president will put paid to Amazon, and everything will go back to they way they're sure it's always been.

Fortunately for us, and unfortunately for Leonhardt, the indie revolution is the new normal. He and his fellow legacy media cronies are on the wrong side of history.

A gripping, thrilling send-off to a most wondrous series
The Ophian Rising - Brian Niemeier

NB: With the death of the gatekeepers, anyone can be an author. But only quality books will stand out from the crowd. If you're ready to work with a professional editor who can take your book to the next level of quality and salability, send me an email.


  1. In addition to propping up trad pub, Barnes & Noble and Waldenbooks drove the local book store out of business. My sympathy for them is limited.

    1. Yep. I must admit to a bit of schadenfreude.

    2. Limited? How about nonexistent? I feel like celebrating with some prosecco in front of my local one.

    3. I don't like to see people lose their jobs, like all those full timers working the registers, inventory, etc. I don't care about the executives giving themselves $100k pats on the back.

    4. HD -- understood, but I knew the employees of four local family-owned bookstores that BN, Walden, B. Dalton, and other chains put out of business without a thought.

      I'll pour a glass of vino on B&N's grave in remembrance.

  2. "I'll be rooting for Barnes&Noble." So he'd rather replace one frontline competitor with another? The man's a joke.

    1. Brian,
      Mike Shatzkin wrote a post about the editorial from an insider's point of view.
      In any case, there's no self reflection, no recognition that customers want their books in various formats and not just in paper.
      I have very little sympathy for the NY/London/Toronto/LA axis for English. We see the consequences in Europe where again the Spanish read the least because ebooks are either severely limited or non existent.
      I applaud independent publishing. I've had very nice interactions with authors and it'seems nice to hear how they delighted they are.


  3. There just needs to be a back-up plan in case Amazon gets converged too.

    1. Right now the convergence is limited to the mid-level employee/low-level admin tier. We've seen concrete evidence that management has the SJWs contained. Amazon's internal culture of striving to provide unbeatable customer service, plus external factors like Trump making antitrust noises, leads me to believe the SocJus infestation will stay quarantined in the cube farm into the foreseeable future.

      That said, all the tech giants will probably have to be replaced at some point. It's good that Amazon's low level of convergence is buying us time, because they'll be the hardest to replace.

      In terms of forking difficulty:

      Amazon > Google > Apple > Facebook > Twitter > Wikipedia

      This is why I wish Trump would focus his trust-busting on Google and Facebook. They're far more converged than Amazon and almost as powerful.

      On the bright side, we've already made significant inroads into disrupting Wikipedia and Twitter.

    2. If businesses would figure out that online advertising doesn’t move the needle, Google would be destroyed in short order. I think they purely run on the revenue from Ad-Sense whil almost every other project is in the red.

      Microsoft needs to be added to that list.

      What’s also really tight is the computer hardware market. It’s basically Duopolies, with the companies finding a middle ground that keeps them well fed while preventing any new market competition.

    3. I've seen anecdotal evidence that companies are getting wise to Google's ad scam. We'll see if word spreads.

      Good point about MS. I'm not sure where to put them on the list, though. Thoughts?

    4. ... Facebook > Microsoft > Twitter > ...

      Microsoft's star is fading since they don't have a top tier cadre from which to steal.

      Go *nix!

    5. I just worry we're one SJW "Amazon is selling Nazi propaganda novels from conservative authors?!?!?!" campaign away from YouTube-like bots scanning every book for non-PC material and flagging it for burial in Amazon's algorithms.

      I just want to see Right wing authors put their books on as many platforms as possible, even small crappy ones like DriveThruFiction just in case something goes wrong at Amazon.

  4. "Once the country emerges from the Trump presidency, I hope we will have a government that takes monopolies seriously. Until then, I’ll be rooting for Barnes & Noble."

    You have to be educated to be this stupid.

    1. "You have to be educated to be this stupid."


    2. Would that be a "Master of Fine Hurr Durr"?

  5. Nada the master of the huffiness and stuff shirtedness


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