[Marxism] As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish - NYTimes.com

Clay Claiborne clayclai at gmail.com
Sat May 24 11:44:21 MDT 2014


Living in one of the world's great cities has many advantages when it comes
to access to the unique. I'm sure Louis appreciates that. Two decades ago,
here in Los Angeles, we use to have a great bookstore, Midnight Special
Bookstore <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Special_Bookstore>, not
far from were I'm living now on the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica. I
use to love wandering it stacks. It had a left-wing orientation and hosted
many events. After I founded Linux Users, Los Angeles in 1996, Ron Golan
organized monthly Linux Installfests for LULA there. Midnight Special
Bookstore would have sold my film and Free Syria stuff  [to people in LA -
Victorville not so much] but B&N moved to the promenade with lower prices
on the most popular books and as rents went up Midnight Special closed its
doors. Then came Amazon and now B&N is struggling - even in Santa Monica.

As Linux Beach Productions, I have a sellers account that allows me to sell
just about anything within their guidelines - which are pretty broad. I can
even create brand new Amazon SKUs - which is how Free Syria scarves got
added to their catalog. Thanks to Amazon, I have been able sell my
anti-imperialist DVD all over the world and in many small towns. For the
service they provide, I find their take very reasonable [but rising - so I
don't appreciate talk about how they aren't making a profit yet :-) ] After
shipping, which I provide, and shipping allowance, I clear $16 and change
off of every $20.00 DVD sale - a much better deal than I could get from
traditional film distributors.

As Cosmos Engineering, I was able to sell my Linux Beach Multimedia Center
to a customer in New Zealand - which required a TV tuner board unavailable
in the US - because I could order it from Amazon.uk.

As just me, I have been able to order stuff that would be hard to find even
in LA and have it in days at a price that is hard to beat.

So I say bless Bezos for working so self-interestedly at developing the
forces of production and pushing them beyond the bounds of the relations of
production. Once we have taken his profit and his ownership out of the
picture, the people will be the inheritors of what he has built. [And I
hope he doesn't see this and take away all my Amazon privileges.]

Clay Claiborne, Director
Vietnam: American Holocaust <http://VietnamAmericanHolocaust.com>
Linux Beach Productions
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 581-1536

Read my blogs at the Linux Beach <http://claysbeach.blogspot.com/>
<http://wlcentral.org/user/2965/track>


On Sat, May 24, 2014 at 8:36 AM, DW via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu
> wrote:

> ======================================================================
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>
>
> 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
> bases.
>
> Now Amazon is doing to B&N what B&N did to Dalton (smaller book chains) and
> the independents.
>
> 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
> this distribution.
>
> 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.
>
> David
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