Four brave white men decide future of publishing

On this cold night in January we finally figured out whether Amazon is a good thing or not!

I can’t believe you weren’t there, at the Kaufman Center on West 67th Street in New York City, where, following a cash bar reception, Intelligence Squared U.S. brought together four men of similar age (~55?) to decide whether “Amazon is the reader’s friend.” They were: Author Joe Konrath, Vox editor Matt Yglesias, novelist and former Authors Guild president Scott Turow and former New Republic editor Franklin Foer. Two of them were on one side, and two of them were on the other.

I watched the livestream of the debate from home while drinking red wine and eating goldfish crackers. Besides cutting down on travel time, this made it easier to take screenshots.

intelligence squared debate

Who won? I’m not actually sure, but it doesn’t matter, because, as moderator John Donvan summed up, “It was a fascinating thing to see four men of letters and lovers of books” yelling at each other on a stage.

What does a future look like in which Amazon is the only bookseller left standing? “It could be wonderful, it could be a dystopian hell,” Foer said, but one thing is for sure: Everybody on stage tonight will be just fine as long as they can keep making sex and/or Mexican jokes in front of a live audience!

As one member of the audience — who proudly identified himself as “a member of the unwashed masses” — put it during the question period, “Why are you so afraid of the latest revolution?”