Stephen Colbert is stepping up his fight against Amazon.
The “Colbert Report” host publishes his books through Hachette, which was reportedly involved in negotiations with Amazon when Amazon first increased shipping times for some Hachette titles and then took “buy book” buttons off upcoming Hachette titles altogether. For example, the novel “The Silkworm” by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling’s pen name) was made unavailable for pre-order, with customers’ only option being to sign up for an e-mail alert when they could get it. Now that “Silkworm” has been released, it’s listed as “Currently Unavailable.”
Hachette spokesperson Sophie Cottrell said the longer shipping terms weren’t caused by problems on their end and that Amazon is taking longer to deliver some Hachette items “for reasons of their own,” while Amazon, in a later statement, said that the company “encourage[s] you to purchase a new or used version [of an unavailable Hachette title] from one of our third-party sellers or from one of our competitors.”
On a recent episode of Colbert’s show, he brought up the dispute. Colbert’s newest book, “America Again,” is currently listed as taking between three to five weeks to reach customers.
When he first brought it up, Colbert informed Amazon that he had “a little package” for them from himself and other authors like Rowling and showed his middle fingers to the camera. The host then spoke with “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” writer Sherman Alexie, who also publishes through Hachette. Alexie noted that the Amazon-Hachette dispute makes it particularly hard for first-time writers to get the word out about their books. To help a debut novelist, he suggested that customers seek out the novel “California” by Edan Lepucki. Colbert asked viewers to go to the author's website and pre-order Lepucki’s novel, which will be released on July 8, to purchase it there via a link from Oregon bookstore Powell’s Books.
“California” quickly became the bestselling title on the Powell’s website, and now Colbert is giving his fans another goal: get “California” on The New York Times bestseller list, saying that doing so will “really show Amazon.”
The host said viewers could buy the novel through his website or could go to an independent bookstore like Nashville store Parnassus Books (owned by novelist Ann Patchett), Washington D.C.’s Politics and Prose, or Rainy Day Books of Kansas.
“Or go to your local bookstore, walk up to the counter, and just click on the clerk,” Colbert suggested.