Stephen Colbert wades into Amazon-Hachette fight

Stephen Colbert is asking viewers to buy "California," by a first-time novelist, through his website.

It's been a week for late-night host activism. Just days after John Oliver sicced his HBO show viewers on the FCC over Net Neutrality legislation, Stephen Colbert has declared war on Amazon.

The online shopping giant has been battling with the French publishing company over contract terms, and as a result has delayed shipment of books published by Hachette, including Colbert's "I Am America (And So Can You)," "America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't" and "I Am a Pole (And So Can You!)."

Shipments for Colbert's books (along with fellow Hachette authors J.K. Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell) are being delayed by weeks, cutting into sales and Colbert's bottom line. With cold, hard cash at stake, it's no surprise that Colbert immediately took up arms, or at least two middle fingers, on the side of his publisher.

"This has pushed me past my tipping point," Colbert said. "I think, because I'm still waiting for my copy of Hachette author Malcolm Gladwell's 'The Tipping Point.'"

So what tactic did Colbert use in this fight? Did he bid his viewers leave angry feedback for Amazon? No, he invited fellow Hachette author Sherman Alexie on to choose a favorite Hachette book, in this case "California" by first-time novelist Edan Lepucki, and urged viewers to purchase it through the Colbert Nation website, which has partnered with independent bookseller Portland, Ore.-based Powell's Books.

To make the battle even more fun, he has provided printable stickers saying, "I Didn't Buy It On Amazon" to slap on the cover of the book when it arrives.

On Thursday morning, "California" was No. 1 on Powell's bestseller list. Though be warned that there won't be any instant gratification for readers in this fight. Lepucki's novel won't be available until July 8. But as Alexie explained to Colbert, "Pre-publicity and pre-sales determine the success of a book."

Part 1 of the Colbert battle can be viewed here. Part 2 can be viewed here.


Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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