[Marxism] As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish - NYTimes.com
dwaltersmia at gmail.com
Sat May 24 09:36:17 MDT 2014
I think both Louis and Clay make excellent and are not contradictory. I
think the same can be said of any Big Box/On line store as it relates to
small town America (or anywhere for that matter).
Amazon didn't start this. Barne's and Nobel did. Shortly after swallowing
NYC based Marboro Books, it expanded nationally. Both had large
brick-and-mortar stores in NYC. B&N was a 'cool' place to stop on lower 5th
avenue as it was "ginormous" and had 'everything'. It was a real NY
institution, like the Strand, for different reasons, is today.
B&N, simply by being a big box book store, put out *thousands* of
independent book sellers around the U.S. Those that remain either are niche
genre booksellers (sci-fi, antique, etc) or have very, very loyal customer
Now Amazon is doing to B&N what B&N did to Dalton (smaller book chains) and
I suppose others such as bookfinders.com and abebooks.com, by offering
rarer books, are doing the same thing.
But I want to focus on Clay's point. I think he's 100% right. And this
harkens back to Andy Pollack's most excellent set of essays on something
called "B2B" software, or "Business to business" software that allows
manufacturing companies to completely remove the human element from
production decisions and inventory/parts control, from primary processing
to sales/distribution to the user/customer.
Andy noted (10 or more years ago??) that B2B allows for the "software basis
for socialism". I agreed with him then and I do so again now, in light of
Clay's comments about the 'model' for online distribution. When we talk
about the "administration of production and distribution" under socialism,
the various models that are set up by capitalism today, such as Amazon and,
brick-and-mortar big box stores like Home Depot and Costco show the vast
efficiencies in that can be achieved by lowering the labor power value in
Using my own family's shopping habits I can even see how instead of being
competitors doesn't necessarily mean the demise of one form of distribution
over another but allows choice (something that is hardly ever mentioned in
books on socialism except in the last chapters of Mandel's Introduction to
Marxist Economic Theory). We live in a suburb of San Francisco. We live
about 3 miles from every big box store imaginable, plus Trader Joe's and
SF's Alemeny Farmers Market. We shop at all 3 depending on what we want.
For bulk items or expensive tools, we go to a big box store like Loews or
Costco. For better quality *processed* foods we go to Trader Joe's and for
really good produce we go to the Farmers Market or the local workers Co-op,
Rainbow Grocery. We also go to the local Ace Hardware franchise for smaller
items in that vein.
Under socialism there is simply no reason that any of these distribution
forms would have to disappear. B2B software could be used even in the
smaller mom and pop brick-and-mortar stores as well as the big online
stores or box stores. B2B is used by Amazon and B&N's online store, in fact
their whole business model is organized around B2B. So can socialisms. The
*tools* exist to vastly increase efficiency and lower costs.
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