Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 3.48.50 PMAmazon has announced a new service, Write On, that promises to give authors the opinion of readers who will unpublished manuscripts. Think of it as a crowdsourced critique group. From The Wall Street Journal:

Write On allows authors to post their work at any stage of the writing process and engage with readers who may suggest any number of revisions. The site already includes dozens of works and, for some, comments on aspects as detailed as a misplaced comma.

A spokesperson for Amazon said the company offers no financial incentives for using Write On, though she hinted that Amazon may find stories it likes and publish them.

The story in the Journal adds a note from a unnamed spokesman that there’s no reason anybody couldn’t see these unpublished books, and then take interest.

Indeed. There is no reason why Amazon couldn’t take interest in the published books it already stocks, too. But books from larger publishers get a great deal more interest at the world’s largest bookseller. Write On appears to be another step on the path Amazon took to produce its Alpha House and Transparent streaming series entries. The retailer, now producing plenty of content with six of its own book imprints, is a provider of content.

In contrast, you won’t find many Amazon shoes, or rakes, or swimsuits, or fire pits. You can buy electronic cables which bear the Amazon brand. Some markets are more ripe than others for in-house manufacturing. Books are in the same boat as wires. To be sure, there are Amazon customers who will warm to the task of criticizing novels and books just like they do cable lengths and durability.

It’s harmless, perhaps, if the service sticks to its motto: Making good stories great, and great stories better. Better than great. I wonder how good a computer cable needs to be?

 

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