Canada gives it away, again

“Our Government is committed to strengthening Canada’s economy through all its sectors, especially arts and culture,” said Minister Moore. “Amazon has shown its willingness to promote Canadian cultural products, and we are pleased it is continuing to demonstrate this through this new investment.”

Yes, it’s ready to simply offload or download, or abdicate cultural responsibilities to the highest bidder.

If Canada wanted to support the book industry there are much easier ways…here are a few without giving it much thought….

1. Offer book rates. Shipping books in this country is ridiculously expensive….oh, wait, they’ll give that to Amazon!

2. Stop charging taxes on books. Seriously. WTF? Again, Amazon will be able to take advantage of that through bulk buying and unfair discounts…

3. Encourage funding formulas that don’t emphasize print over online…(there is no incentive for Canadian publishers either of books or journals to use online, in fact there are disincentives). Oh wait, Amazon takes care of that…

This is a complete lack of imagination and a total sell out of our culture to corporate interests. That they are foreign and have already decimated the book industry in their country of origin is aside from the fact. It’s just stupid.

Many Canadians don’t seem upset by this at all. If you buy your books at Walmart or in any case this won’t seem like a big deal. What does Canada get? An internship clause (oh, yes, more free labor!) and some money thrown around at promotion. Plus

According to Heritage Minister James Moore, those “commitments” include a $20-million investment in Canada, $1.5-million of which will go to “cultural events and awards in Canada and the promotion of Canadian-authored books internationally.”

So what would that look like? Welcome to the Atlantic Amazon Book Festival? What kind of gag clause do you think that will involve. Where is the public in this Literary Sell Off? And excuse me, but I think we’ve got more than enough Prize action. Prizes are great, but they become about the Prize givers themselves ultimately, and the party and the feel goodness around the giving, which is fine, but it doesn’t sustain an infrastructure. It can’t take the place of publicly funded and maintained arts…

Hello? It can’t replace a distribution system…this isn’t a general note of not allowing Amazon to sell into Canada necessarily…it’s more a frustration that this is seen as a boost when what we need are incentives for the industry to flourish, not become more centralized and corporate owned. What will it look like when they download the Canada Council? Surely that could be more competitive too.

Here’s what the G&M had to say.

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