, more than a bookstore

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Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach

March 4, 2014

Amazon is probably still seen as the online bookselling giant that has instilled a permanent sense of unease among booksellers across the world.

These days, however, Amazon is so much more than cyberspace's preeminent bookstore. It's morphed into a mega shopping destination  with a bottomless inventory. After all, what neighborhood bookstore can offer both an Alexandre Dumas hardcover of  Les Trois Mousquetaires  (in French) for $24.94 and a women's long mink fur coat for $569? 

Retail is not where Amazon's reach begins and ends. Amazon has taken on publishing, free instant streaming, and manufacturing by way of the Kindle. They have also sealed a deal with with the U.S. Post Office to deliver Amazon orders on Sunday, and should the USPS run into trouble Amazon  has a backup plan. 

As Amazon continues to expand and mutate at an accelerated rate, is it leaving casualties in its wake? A recent article by New Yorker staff writer George Packer suggests it could be bad for books, rendering them as invaluable and as "cheap as a sandwich." On Tuesday, Nancy Koehn joined Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio to pick up where Packer left off, asking if Amazon's tentacular reach is too far, too wide, and too powerful for the social good. 

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