Hachette Author Stephen Colbert To Amazon, Jeff Bezos: "Watch Out, This Means War"

In case there was any doubt, last night's Colbert Report made at least one thing in the Hachette vs. Amazon battle very clear: Don't mess with an angry author. Especially one with his own show.

Here's a valuable tip for any company operating in the known galaxy: Don't get on Stephen Colbert's bad side.

That's especially true if you happen to be Amazon, the massive online retailer currently engaged in an escalating conflict with Colbert's publisher, Hachette Books.

Colbert blasted Amazon on his show last night over what many perceive as strong-arm tactics--delaying shipping, denying discounts--it's deploying against Hachette in order to secure a better profit-sharing deal. You can see Colbert's comedic crescendo around the 3:00 mark of the video below, when the blowhard host he plays on his show borrows Amazon's own algorithmic language to say: "Amazon, customers who enjoyed this, also bought this," and then flashes both middle fingers. "So watch out, Bezos," Colbert continued, "because this means war."

Colbert joins fellow Hachette bestsellers Malcolm Gladwell, J.K. Rowling, and John Green in publicly denouncing Amazon's actions. Green, author of the hugely popular YA novel recently adapted as a movie, The Fault In Our Stars, was a guest on Colbert's show earlier this week.

"What’s ultimately at stake is whether Amazon is going to be able to freely and permanently bully publishers into eventual nonexistence," Green said on the show.

For his part, Colbert is encouraging consumers to download a sticker reading "I didn't buy it on Amazon," and affix it to any books they buy elsewhere.

All of this could be great news for beloved indie bookstore Powell's in Portland, Oregon. Last night Colbert urged his viewers to buy the book California by first-time novelist Edan Lepucki at Powell's. According to the New York Times, soon after Colbert tweeted about the book and said "Together we can #CutDownTheAmazon," Lepucki's novel hit the top of the sales charts at Powell's.

[Photo by Scott Gries, PictureGroup, Courtesy of Comedy Central]

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17 Comments

  • Julie Pascal

    Hachette puts an unsupportably high "suggested retail" on its books so that Amazon has to eat the discount. Oh, boo hoo hoo.

    And then just like before, the practically monopolistic publishers rally their authors to make it all seem like Amazon is picking on the authors. But one does wonder... have publishers figured out how to accurately report sales or accurately pay their authors yet?

  • condrons1997

    Sorry, SC, love your show but I'm sticking with Amazon. Hachette was one of the publishing companies that the DOJ found colluded with Apple to raise ebook prices. I will never boycott a customer-friendly company like Amazon just to make rich publishers richer.

  • Jack Johnson

    I read a couple articles about this and wow you pasted the same thing word for word in every one, hope you are getting an Amazon paycheck..

  • Jack Johnson

    I read a couple articles about this and wow you pasted the same thing word for word in every one, hope you are getting an Amazon paycheck..

  • Jack Johnson

    No, a corporations 1st loyalty is to profits, they are amoral and as such should try to destroy capitalism and create a monopoly. That does not make them evil that is the result of unregulated capitalism society,

  • Jesse Chin

    Instead of Amazon being the villain, why can't we portray the celebrity authors that are the real reason why prices are so inflated in publishing.

    Maybe Hachette could avoid laying off their middle-class workers if writers like Malcom Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, JK Rowling didn't cost millions to sign with them.

    This is like MSG laying off their peanut vendors when guys like Andrea Bargnani are getting paid over $10M to play like garbage for a year.

  • Jon Tinman

    People complain a lot about eBooks being so expensive. They fail to realize that there's still a level of digital production that must happen to get that eBook on your eReader. There's coding, designing, WRITING THE DAMN THING, distribution, etc...

  • North OfDetroit

    I'm also with Amazon. If Hachette wants more, open your own store and pull your products from Amazon. Ultimately, they want to use the massive audience that Amazon commands for less than what Amazon wants to allow them to participate.

    I would love to own a Ferrari, but every time I give them my purchase conditions, they laugh at me.

  • dblobaum

    I have no doubt that Amazon fully intends to command an audience once it's the only game in town. Command authors to accept lower royalties, command readers to buy only the books that Amazon publishes, command authors to write books that don't take so long to read, command authors not to make statements of disapproval about Amazon.

  • I'm on Amazon's side on this. From what I understand Amazon is trying to get lower prices for ebooks. There should be no reason why ebook are full price. There's no printing, no binding, no packaging, no shipping, no stocking, no retrieval, no packaging, no shipping, no delivery. A $20 printed book still shouldn't cost $20 or even $15 as an ebook.

  • hookedonbooks

    Amazon isn't trying to lower the price of e-books, it is trying to increase its profit share. People have taken all their reading business from their local bookstores and handed it all to Amazon creating a monster. They'll love the monster until it turns on them (which it will, the same way it is now bullying publishers). When there is no competition left (and stores are closing daily) it can charge anything it likes and you'll have no choice. It can also decide what gets printed and what sells, and if it doesn't like a particular viewpoint it will just list them as unavailable,like it is now doing to Hachette authors.

  • Geez, you are so right? WTF, why should someone get to copyright letters and words that are free in any dictionary (after you purchase it!) Don't letters and words belong to everyone. It's like Beyonce trying to copyright musical notes and sounds and words. The next thing you know, people will start selling TV shows and radio stations when they use everybody's AIR to send the signals. Why can't everything be free?