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Amazon and Its Friends

Amazon and Its Friends

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During the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney made an off-the-cuff comment about how '€œcorporations are people.'€ He was mocked but perhaps was ahead of his time. A few years later, corporations are not only people but our friends.

Forget about same-day delivery of diapers or reconnecting with your high school girlfriend or publishing those novels without the aid of an editor or bookstore. The greatest achievement of Silicon Valley has been the marketing of Silicon Valley. Google, Apple, Facebook '€” they all assert they exist for your benefit, their only goal to amuse and enlighten and help you. To be, in short, your best buddy.

The tech world'€™s devotion to its customers was put to a vote this month in Manhattan, at one of the Intelligence Squared series of debates. The evening'€™s topic: '€œAmazon is the reader'€™s friend.'€

For those nostalgic for last year'€™s clash between Amazon and Hachette, the debate '€” expertly moderated by the ABC news correspondent John Donvan '€” replayed the brawl. The self-published novelist Joe Konrath and the Vox editor Matthew Yglesias argued in favor of the proposition; the novelist Scott Turow and the former New Republic editor Franklin Foer argued against.