Having already garrotted bookshops, kneecapped libraries and bludgeoned publishers the world over, Amazon – the omnimultihypernationalmegaconglomerate and torturously metaphorical professional hitman, whose previous assignments are detailed here (remember Clive Owen’s character in The Bourne Identity? If he could also sell you cut-price jewellery and do you a great deal on printer paper, that’d pretty much be Amazon) – is this week going one further to prove to its minions and hangers-on just how casually ruthless it can be, YOU WANNA PUSH IT? BECAUSE GOD HELP IT IT WILL CUT YOU, JUST SEE IF IT WON’T. Yes, this is the week Amazon comes for your children, with the announcement that its American publishing arm has acquired the rights to over 450 kids’ books from Marshall Cavendish.
The titles – including National Book Award finalist My Name Is Not Easy by Debbie Dahl Edwardson, and the acclaimed likes of Chalk by Bill Thomson, Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy and Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel – will now be published in the USA in both print and digital exclusively by Amazon, with many titles being made available for the first time as ebooks.
Obviously, Amazon’s fellow publishers of children’s books will undoubtedly be most immediately concerned by this news. With such a huge slate of titles available through Amazon at what will presumably be favourable rates, it will prove harder than ever for others to compete against the monolithic company.
On a more sinister, conspiracy-theorist note (and let’s face it, you’ve been playing along so far with the whole Amazon-as-hitman thing, so I’m guessing there won’t be too many objections to this line of thought), Marshall Cavendish is best known as an educational publisher. If Amazon’s monopoly-building ways continue apace, that could eventually leave it as a primary source of teaching materials for American children – an unchallenged font of wisdom, and everything that implies. It feels like I end every post about Amazon lately with these words, but they bear repeating: there’s something rather frightening about that.