Segments in this Video

Amazon Debate Introduction (02:56)


Moderator John Donvan introduces Intelligence Squared US Chair Robert Rosenkranz, who frames the debate in terms of monopoly on books and reading.

Amazon Debate "Housekeeping" (06:12)

Donvan states the motion, explains the debate format, introduces panelists, and instructs audience members to vote.

For the Motion: Matthew Yglesias (07:23)

Vox executive editor Matthew Yglesias argues that Amazon has won a large market share by offering superior products at better prices. Digital sales also benefit readers by increasing access to knowledge and culture.

Against the Motion: Scott Turow (07:26)

Author Scott Turow outlines Amazon's market dominance and argues that it sold eBooks at a loss to stifle competition and to take business away from sellers of physical books. Wall Street backing has enabled Amazon to use this strategy.

For the Motion: Joe Konrath (07:46)

Self published author Joe Konrath argues that publishers censor authors and act as a cartel by fixing book prices. Amazon's innovative platform is allowing authors to reach readers.

Against the Motion: Franklin Foer (07:28)

Former New Republic editor Franklin Foer argues that Amazon's 70% market share threatens our intellectual diversity. He defends publishers as selecting quality authors and helping nonfiction writers with advances and promotion.

Online Sales Platform (04:47)

Foer (against) argues that Amazon has built distribution systems that are hard for competitors to break into. Yglesias (for) points out that Google and Apple sell eBooks; Turow (against) argues they aren't real competitors since they don't sell physical books.

Free Market Capitalism (05:16)

Konrath (for) argues that Amazon should be competitive and monopolies are reader friendly by offering low prices and more choices. Foer (against) argues that publishers foster a book culture as well as seeking profit. Turow (against) points out the self publishing model doesn't work for all authors.

Publishing Tyranny Debate (06:20)

Konrath (for) points out authors can use Kickstarter to fund books. Foer (against) cites that only 1.8% of self published authors make over $100,000. Yglesias (for) argues that publishers are also for profit companies. Panelists have 30 seconds to make the case for or against publishers.

Trusting Amazon (04:40)

Konrath (for) says he can leave Amazon at any time. Turow (against) says his books are still on Amazon because of its market dominance. Yglesias (for) argues that Google and Apple will prevent Amazon from becoming a total monopoly

QA: Editorial Process (06:31)

Yglesias (for) argues that authors can get their work edited through other venues besides publishers. Turow and Foer (against) argue that freelance editors do lower quality work. Konrath (for) says he'd rather pay freelancers and keep the rest of his profits.

QA: Freedom of Information (02:26)

Turow (against) clarifies that he's not against self publishing; he sees Amazon as a threat to traditional publishing companies and to literary culture by extension.

QA: Growth in Readership (01:34)

Konrath (for) argues that Amazon has increased the book market. Turow (against) questions the validity of Amazon's sales data.

QA: Book Quality (07:57)

Turow (against) argues that self published authors produce less thoughtful works. Yglesias (for) argues that Amazon is helping literature stay viable, and that it won’t become a monopoly. Foer (against) warns that it will dictate winners and losers by controlling what readers see.

QA: Increased Book Access (01:35)

Turow (against) concedes that Amazon has made books easier to purchase, but warns that it wants to crush publishers.

QA: Out of Print Books (02:23)

Foer (against) argues that internet platforms in general cater to out of print books. Yglesias (for) points out that Amazon grants free access to out of print books in the public domain.

QA: Future Amazon Business Model (03:48)

Yglesias (for) argues that Amazon won't be able to form a monopoly—reflected in falling stock prices.

Closing Statement For: Joe Konrath (01:59)

Konrath proposes bribing audience members who vote for the motion with free eBooks. Amazon allows him to control his book prices and even give them away.

Closing Statement Against: Scott Turow (02:16)

Turow argues that, by destroying traditional publishing, Amazon will force authors to become entrepreneurs and good works will be lost in the process.

Closing Statement For: Matthew Yglesias (02:13)

Matthew Yglesias argues that, as of now, Amazon has made books cheaper and more accessible to readers; whether or not they become a monopoly is irrelevant to the debate.

Closing Statement Against: Franklin Foer (02:17)

Foer argues that Amazon is already a monopoly and warns that it could negatively impact American literary culture.

Time to Vote (03:27)

Donvan instructs the audience to vote, thanks panelists, and introduces the next Intelligence Squared Debate.

Audience Vote Results (01:05)

Pre-debate For: 41% - Against: 28% - Undecided: 31% Post-debate For: 42% - Against: 50% - Undecided: 9%

Credits: Amazon Is the Reader's Friend: A Debate (01:06)

Credits: Amazon Is the Reader's Friend: A Debate

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Amazon Is the Reader's Friend: A Debate

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Is Amazon good for readers and the book industry? In 2014, Amazon and the publishing house Hachette settled a dispute over who should set the price for e-books. In Amazon’s view, lower prices mean more sales and more readers, and that's a boon for business and consumers. But to publishers, the price of an e-book must reflect the costs invested, from the author’s advance to the book’s production. The conflict raised questions about the value of books, the business practices of Amazon, and the role of publishers in the 21st century. Do cheaper prices benefit readers by providing low-cost books? Or do they hurt readers by shortchanging authors and publishers, potentially putting them out of business? Amazon, which accounts for the sales of 41 percent of all new books and 67 percent of all e-books, is threatening to become a monopoly and upend the publishing industry. But is publishing an old-fashioned enterprise in need of disruption? Is Amazon the reader's friend?

Length: 102 minutes

Item#: BVL93836

ISBN: 978-1-60057-892-2

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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