Stephen Colbert jumps into Amazon-Hachette battle with both feet — and middle finger

As  the battle between Amazon and book publisher Hachette over prices continues, talk-show crazy-man and Hachette author Stephen Colbert has joined the fight against the Seattle-based mega-merchant.

His weapons: a sardonic and cutting wit . . . and a finger he used on-air this week (see video below) to flip off Amazon, twice, on behalf of miffed book lovers and angry authors everywhere.

I’m just not mad at Amazon. I’m mad prime.

As the Seattle PI put it, Colbert “pretty much pummeled the Seattle company to the canvas early and often.”

Amazon’s heavy-handed tactics against Hachette and its stable of writers seem to grow more vicious by the day. As the Associated Press reported last week:

An ongoing standoff between Amazon and one of the leading New York publishers has intensified. The online retailer, which already had been slowing delivery on a wide range of Hachette titles, has removed pre-order buttons for such books as (Michael) Connelly’s “The Burning Room” and (J.K.) Rowling’s “The Silkworm,” a detective story coming out next month that she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Previous changes had been more subtle. The listing for the paperback of J.D. Salinger’s “Nine Stories” says delivery will take three to five weeks and offers “Similar items at a lower price,” including a collection of Ernest Hemingway stories published by Scribner.


With Hachette as his publisher, Colbert is clearly taking this all personally:

This is a big blow to my bottom line.

Other Hachette authors caught up in the brouhaha include J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Which led Colbert to turn Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into “Lord Bezemort,” as in the Harry Potter bad guy Lord Voldemort.

Colbert went to town against Amazon on his show, rallying his viewers and encouraging an Amazon boycott. He wants readers to put stickers on their books announcing they didn’t buy them from Amazon. Amazon has been in a contract spat with Hachette, and has acknowledged it has slowed or stopped shipping books published by Hachette.

Meanwhile, might there be more of the same to come? Amazon’s contracts with other major book publishers will soon expire.

At top: Sticker from The Colbert Report’s website, photo from Associated Press archives


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  • StilllHere

    I’m guessing people who watch his show don’t read anyway.

    • sdbryan

      How incredibly out of touch you manage to be. Slow witted people may not be able to see beyond the spoofing facade of the show. But the list of serious, intellectual heavy hitters that regularly appear as guests should make it clear that “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” are currently the best (and entertaining) source of actual news on TV.

  • Guest

    This battle seems to to take a new turnaround

  • Kyle Sherman

    Anyone saying Amazon hinders small publishers is forgetting that Amazon pioneered the most innovative self publishing platform ever, KDP. Contract negotiations are standard in business, Amazon is using it’s leverage to get better prices for it’s services. They have this leverage because Hachette realizes how many extra sales Amazon drives and how much revenue it earns them. Hachette is more than free to stop listing books on Amazon if they don’t like the terms but they won’t because they are making a ton of money currently. This whole spat could be seen as Hachette pressuring retailers to raise it’s prices due to Hachette’s dominant position in the publishing space, which sounds an awful lot like the price fixing lawsuit Hachette was deemed culpable in recently.. Hmmm.. How quickly people forget. I wouldn’t be so quick to blame Amazon for trying to squeeze the ‘little guy’ because the little guy is quite big, and has a history of unethical contracting.