"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Amazon The Corporate Behemoth

As a small publisher of poetry pamphlets (see Rack Press) I naturally seek as many outlets as I can for my titles.  Once a new title is registered with Nielsen Book Data it appears automatically on Amazon/Blackwell/Tesco etc.  You have no choice about this and there shouldn't really be any reason to object to more publicity and points of sale but Amazon, acting in their usual peremptory fashion, have indicated on their site that Rack Press titles are "Temporarily Out of Stock".  This is complete nonsense but the message is going out to all potential purchasers who are being told that new titles in plentiful supply are "out of stock".  I approached Amazon (you can't do this directly but only by using a web-based pro forma) and pointed this out and I was greeted with an automated reply not admitting that their previous policy had changed (for the past five years they simply source our titles from a wholesaler and I supply them, a system that has worked well) but inviting me to join something called Amazon "Advantage" where you pay money to them to keep stocks in their warehouse.  For a small poetry press with short print-runs of limited edition titles this is not realistic.  I persisted and received an email from a named person but the email was rigged so that one couldn't reply to it.  It merely repeated the standard response.  I have asked them to remove titles from their site because this is the only way to end this damaging falsehood that titles are out of stock.   One's sense of frustration is that Amazon appear to hold all the cards and not to care a jot about what they may be doing to small publishers.



Andrew said...

As with the Greek tyrants of yesteryear, unlimited powers of despotism don't necessarily end in despotism in the pejorative modern sense, but they certainly have a tendency to. Welcome to the Machine as Pink Floyd put it.

Hannah Stoneham said...

Oh how frustrating - this is an awful thing to read - your press sounds fascinating though

dominique said...

Sorry to read how they behave ! The biography you wrote "Aldous Huxley ..." is sensationnelle .A bientot .

Andrew said...

Just a query came to mind, not consciously related to your Amazon problem! but do you know if Huxley had read Zamyatin's 'We' prior to 'BNW'? Dostoevsky's influence on both works is obvious enough, but though I think I've seen 'We' described as an influence or precursor to the 2 more famous later English dystopias, I'm not sure if it was even available to Huxley to read. An extraordinary, very strange work.

Nicholas Murray said...

A reviewer of my book actually took me to task for not saying that "We" had directly influenced "Brave New World" but the fact is that Huxley did not read it, although an English translation did exist before Brave New World was written. I have discussed this with other Huxley scholars and they agree that there is no record of any familiarity with the book on Huxley's part. That said, there are fascinating parallels in the two books and Orwell famously compared them in an essay. Perhaps the answer is that two writers profoundly sensitive to the reality of their own times responded in similar ways.

Andrew said...

Thanks for that. I'd a feeling he hadn't read it, & it's not as if he seems to have been one to hide influences or literary likes, as with EM Forster's related short-story, 'The Machine Stopped' I think twas called. As you say, sensitive souls divining the inner logic propelling their times. The one odd thing about Zamyatin though that he had actually been I think an enthusiastic Bolshevik, prior to the divining!