Colbert Tackles Amazon

July 2, 2014

The Amazon vs. Hachette conflict has taken center stage in the publishing industry. If you missed Stephen Colbert’s rundown last month, he not only calls out Amazon for their cyber-bully bullsh*t, but he also garnered huge book sales for debut author Edan Lepucki in the process. He ALSO offered a nod to our local bookstore, the incomparable Powell’s Books. Applause, Colbert, applause. (EAGLE CRY!)


Stephen Colbert took on Amazon on his TV show on June 4th. In addition to doing his usual shtick, such as coining phrases like “Lord Bezos-Mort” to refer to Amazon’s founder, Colbert was joined by Sherman Alexie. As a writer, this is when an enjoyable segment turned wonderful due to this: Colbert challenged viewers to order California by debut author Edan Lepucki on “We’re going to prove that I can sell more books than Amazon,” Colbert said.

The next day, California was the #1 ordered title on Powell’s along with several other Hachette titles (The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith — aka JK Rowling’s pen name — along with titles by Colbert and Alexie, both of whom are published by Hachette imprints). California has consistently been on the best-seller list on Powell’s website since the show aired.

Alexie made a point during his time on the Colbert Report that debut authors are among the most affected by the lack of pre-order buttons. Given the marketing push by Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and other large retailers to promote The Silkworm, supporting a debut author like Lepucki is helping an author who’s novel faced greater challenges in finding its market despite a plethora of glowing reviews.

In a follow-up to his call to arms, Colbert stated a new goal of getting California on the New York Times Best Sellers List. In so doing, Colbert also listed additional bookstores to Powell’s. “Or go to your local bookstore, walk up to the counter, and just click on the clerk,” he recommended.

Other indie bookstores have used the Amazon-Hachette scuffle to their advantage. For example, Third Place Books offered to hand deliver copies of The Silkworm for free if customer’s pre-ordered the title, along with a 20% discount on list price. According to a New York Times article, Third Place Books sold 60 copies of The Silkworm on the first day it was released, where usually they’d be lucky to sell five.

Be sure to check on July 8th to see if Colbert was able to propel this debut author to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list!

Special thanks to guest blogger, Kelly Garrett.

When not writing, Kelly Garrett reads everything she lays her hands on, including cereal boxes, all fiction from low-brow to high brow, and select nonfiction. When not reading, she hikes, plays soccer, explores Portland, OR, and changes her hair color.


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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