President Barack Obama’s decision to give a high-profile speech on jobs and corporate tax rates during a visit to one of Amazon’s distribution centres this week was a coup for the company. Now it’s capitalising elsewhere in its business.
Amazon will launch an ebook under its Kindle Singles imprint on Wednesday based on an interview given by Obama to the imprint’s editor, David Blum, during his visit. GigaOm reports that the ebook will be a free download rather than a paid title.
The visit came as Amazon announced plans to hire more than 5,000 new full-time employees at 17 of its fulfillment centres across the US, increasing its headcount in the facilities by around 25% as part of a wider recruitment drive for 7,000 jobs in its warehouses.
However, Obama’s visit has sparked controversy within the books industry, both from retailers and publishers concerned at the impact Amazon’s growth has had on smaller businesses over the past decade.
“For you to highlight Amazon as a job creator strikes us as greatly misguided,” suggested an open letter to the US president from the American Bookseller’s Association ahead of his visit.
“The news this weekend that Amazon is slashing prices far below cost on numerous book titles is further evidence that it will stop at nothing to garner market share at the expense of small businesses that cannot afford to sell inventory below their cost of acquisition.”
Meanwhile, independent publisher Melville House’s co-founder Dennis Johnson has made waves with a blog post attacking “the obviousness of Amazon’s monopoly” and its relationship with the US government.
“The war seems to be over, and the good guys have lost,” wrote Johnson.
“The only thing that would have stopped Amazon anyway was government intervention, and it’s hard to imagine the DoJ [Department of Justice] opening a proper antitrust investigation of a company that has the president of the United States dropping in to laud the company and spend some time in one of its warehouses.”
The Obama ebook is part of Amazon’s new range of Kindle Singles Interview ebooks, which launched earlier in July with an interview of Israeli president Shimon Peres by journalist David Samuels.
The overall Kindle Singles range of shortform ebooks launched in January 2011, and according to an interview with Blum in the New York Times in April this year, has generated more than 5m sales.