Hachette Book Group author Stephen Colbert used his Comedy Central television show to speak out on the battle between his publisher and Amazon on Wednesday night. “Now I’m not just mad at Amazon,” Colbert said, “I’m mad Prime.” After explaining the standoff to his viewers, Colbert concluded by offering Amazon a special “little package” that ships immediately: He opened the box to reveal his obscured middle finger, and then noted, “customers who enjoy this, also enjoy this” (adding his second middle finger).
In the second part of the segment, Colbert brought out another HBG author Sherman Alexie. “You root for the authors,” Alexie said — and to put that into action, he recommended pre-ordering Edan Lepucki’s debut novel CALIFORNIA, which publishes July 8. Colbert paired with Powells.com to drive pre-orders “and we’re going to prove that I can sell more books than Amazon.” The Colbert site has a callout that links to the Powells order page. The home page also features a printable sheet of “I Didn’t Buy It On Amazon” stickers. “Peel it off and put it right on any book you’re reading,” Colbert recommended.
Among other punchlines, Colbert commiserated that due to Amazon’s delays in availability on many Hachette titles, “If you order Hachette’s 21-day Weight Loss Kickstart, by the time it arrives you’re still fat.” While Amazon recommends customers consider used versions of Hachette books, “publishers and authors get no cash from used book sales. Plus you don’t want them. Used books are the sluts of the literary world — passed around from person to person, spreading their pages for anyone, getting cheaper and cheaper until eventually, they end up in prison.”
The segment was very much Colbert telling Amazon and “Lord Bezomore” this: “Watch out Bezos, this means war.” He added, “Sure Amazon may have an army of drones. But Hachette has, whatever a hachette is…. I’m going to say a tiny french hatchet?”
In separate but related news, Bloomberg reports on the battle and says HBG author Douglas Preston says, “I feel betrayed personally by this company now that it’s become one of the largest corporations in the world that it would do this to me” after he “supported Amazon from the time it was a struggling
startup.” Bloomberg says he has “been trying to draft a statement to help articulate Amazon’s effect on authors, [but] only about half of the writers he’s contacted have agreed to help — a sign of Amazon’s power, he said. ‘Quite a few authors say, ‘I totally agree with you, but I’m terrified going against Amazon.'”
Main Colbert video clip if you have not seen