Stephen Colbert flipped off Amazon on his show last night in a segment skewering the retail giant for its ongoing battle with book publisher Hachette, which just happens to publish titles by Colbert himself. Amazon has effectively begun discouraging its customers from purchasing Hachette books — removing the option to preorder upcoming titles and in many cases pushing existing titles' shipping times back by weeks — in an effort to gain leverage over the publisher while striking a new deal on ebook pricing. Colbert clearly has a stake in the fight, and his self-absorbed Colbert Report character is happy to admit that and to use it as a way to turn his viewers against Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. "Watch out Bezos," Colbert says, "because this means war."
"Watch out Bezos."
Amazon's huge presence as a bookseller means its actions can cause considerable trouble for Hachette, or really any other publisher that it picks a fight with. The Atlantic reports that Amazon may control around 50 percent of all book sales, physical and electronic combined, giving it a large allowance to push publishers around to its demands. As writer Sherman Alexie tells Colbert later in the segment, this is still a battle of two corporate giants. But that said, one is part of a waning industry while the other is a lone juggernaut.
Amazon has said that it doesn't expect this dispute with Hachette to clear up anytime soon, and for the time being, Colbert is encouraging his viewers to put on a small show of protest. In addition to Alexie suggesting people stop shopping there entirely, Colbert also wants people to put stickers on their books that read: "I didn't buy it on Amazon." The sticker pack can be downloaded from his website, but it's up to you to figure out how to print them onto anything but printer paper. In case you're wondering: Colbert's most recent books can still be ordered from Amazon — you'll just have to wait two to four weeks to start reading.