AMAZON & THE CONQUEST OF PUBLISHING. In this week’s special issue of The Nation, Steve Wasserman examines Amazon’s impact—from its growth in the early years to its predatory pricing and labor practices, and most recently, to its foray into book publishing. Read Wasserman’s cover story, “The Amazon Effect” to find out how Amazon got so big so fast. Also in this issue, Michael Naumann, Germany’s first federal minister of culture, reports in his piece, ”Germany, by the Book,” how fixed-price laws in Germany curtail the power of big chains like Amazon—and promote the cultural relevance of a diverse and independent book industry. In “Search Gets Lost,” Anthony Grafton asks why Amazon has customers do the search chores it used to do for them. And be sure to check out the slide show, “Ten Reasons to Avoid Doing Business With Amazon.com” to find out what’s at stake in the battle over e-commerce.
NYPL BLUES. In The Nation last November, contributing writer Scott Sherman provided new reporting on the details of a closely guarded and secretive renovation project planned at the New York Public Library. In this week’s issue, the editors write how the implications of the project, called the Central Library Plan (CLP), are dire. The CLP would demolish seven levels of original stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room (which holds 3 million books and tens of thousands of adjustable shelves) to make way for a state-of-the-art computer-oriented library. What was once a calm and meditative environment for library-goers could be converted into a noisy branch library. And the $250–350 million raised could be better spent on improvements to already dilapidated library branch locations. The CLP might also starve research libraries, like Harlem’s historic Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. We were pleased that Sherman’s article generated coverage and a much-needed public debate in outlets like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. And high-profile critics from Salman Rushdie to Annie Proulx have joined 1,500 others and signed a protest letter. There’s still time to save the NYPL: take action now and join thousands in demanding that the NYPL reconsider.
IN DEFENSE OF CHRIS HAYES. As the conservative blogosphere continues to attack The Nation’s Chris Hayes this week by misrepresenting comments he made about heroism and war, we were encouraged to see several articles that engage in honest and critical discussion in his defense. At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf lamented the attacks piled on Hayes. “Our public discourse is such that anyone can find him or herself viciously denounced by complete strangers based on a single sound-byte from which everyone extrapolates wildly,” writes Friedersdorf. Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast agrees: “This entire little fracas isn’t about the alleged substance of the complaint against him. It’s just right-wing bloggers spotting an opportunity to pile on and bully a liberal.” Check back to TheNation.com next week, as we’ll be sharing our own take on the conversation surrounding Hayes and our political culture.