“It’s always the end of the world,” said Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon’s top executives. “You could set your watch on it arriving.”
He pointed out, though, that the landscape was in some ways changing for the first time since Gutenberg invented the modern book nearly 600 years ago. “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,” he said. “Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”
Amazon has started giving all authors, whether it publishes them or not, direct access to highly coveted Nielsen BookScan sales data, which records how many physical books they are selling in individual markets like Milwaukee or New Orleans. It is introducing the sort of one-on-one communication between authors and their fans that used to happen only on book tours. It made an obscure German historical novel a runaway best seller without a single professional reviewer weighing in.
It’s also amusing that I had to go through a few steps to get past the NYTimes’s attempts to prevent me from copying this excerpt (which falls well within the realm of fair use). Old media is just so funny, sometimes.