In times like these we have to remember that Amazon is a converged institution, that still lets the converged institutions that are big publishing have sway over them. They provided another example today that having a monopoly or oligopoly in a business is bad for the business and for everyone involved. I recommend congress do an immediate investigation into Amazon under Anti-Trust laws. Here’s what went down:
- Tor Books author John Scalzi announced a book, which he turned in late, titled The Collapsing Empire.
- Castalia House quickly and effectively put out a parody book titled The Corroding Empire by Johan Kalsi, which beat out Scalzi’s actual work in pre-orders for several days.
- The parody, The Corroding Empire released today, to much fanfare (I’ve read a little myself, it is good science fiction work).
- Tor sent Amazon an ultimatum telling them to take it down.
- Amazon complied and sent Castalia House a notification that they were taking it down because they were pretending to be John Scalzi.
- Castalia House had their book removed, and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Now it’s clearly not something trying to mimic John Scalzi, but is something that’s an obvious parody. Their reasoning for taking this down is suspect at best. It would take a complete idiot to conflate the two in earnest, and moreover, the pre-order sales have already had its big bump. On Vox Popoli, Vox commented that the pre-ordered book had already sold “very well.” I expect with all the publicity that it’ll get from Amazon’s sketchy move, that it will sell even better.
Fortunately, Vox Day is on top of it. They planned to have trouble, and they have already got the book retitled with a new fictitious author’s name – Corrosion by Harry Seldon.
The new name is almost funnier than the first, referencing the Asimov character, Hari Seldon from Asimov’s Foundation series. Not to mention this is an absolutely gorgeous new cover. Well played, Castalia House. It goes to show that a modern press run by competent people can be much more nimble and adaptive than the giants of the past. The establishment won’t be able to keep up with this sort of thing, and that means in the short term that you can expect lashing out both more often, and more severely. In the long term, they won’t be around.
Even Mr. Scalzi has little he can do to react on twitter, image sent to me by Dan Wolfgang: