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Amazon's Jeff Bezos as 2008 'Person of the Year'

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"Jeff Bezos has been stirring things up in the book business ever since he launched Amazon.com 14 years ago, and this past year has been no exception," notes  Publishers Weekly.

"During the year, Amazon acquired Audible and AbeBooks, expanded BookSurge, saw sales of the Kindle (and Kindle titles) soar and managed to keep book sales growing at double-digit rates."

For all these reasons – "[f]or being the driving force behind one of the industry’s most dynamic, if sometimes controversial, companies" – PW is naming Bezos 2008 Person of the Year.

That Bezos keeps stirring things up in the publishing world would be hard to dispute. As to whether that's a good or a bad thing may simply depend on where you stand.

On the one hand, Amazon sells books as almost no other group can. If you're a publisher it's hard not to love that.

On the other hand, publishers and competitors alike have good reason to worry about Amazon's dominance of the field.

And as PW notes, the company has some basic retailing practices that not all publishers appreciate – like allowing negative book reviews to run on their site and selling used books in competition with new copies.

And  of course those who love physical books – and physical bookstores – may find Bezos's enthusiasm for Kindle and the sale of e-books downright threatening.

Bezos argues, however, that, in the long run, all of this is good for the sale of books. “Every time you make something easier to buy, you are going to [sell] more of it," he says.

But as to who will be selling these books and how – these are the unanswered questions that keep some people on the fence when it comes to an opinion on Bezos's impact on the book industry.

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