Prolific best-selling author James Patterson told CNBC on Friday that his new work of fiction about an out-of-control big e-commerce retailer is not really about Amazon or its billionaire founder Jeff Bezos.
“I’m not out here to necessarily beat up Amazon as much as deal with this whole area of monopolies and megalomaniacs,” Patterson said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “This is a strange era … [of] techy billionaires who are kind of running the world now.”
Case in point, for a brief moment in July, Bezos became the richest person in the world as Amazon shares surged, topping Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, with a fortune of more than $90 billion. But a decline in Amazon shares over the past few weeks knocked Bezos down to No. 3 on the Forbes billionaire list, as of Thursday’s stock market close, behind Gates and Berkshire Hathaway‘s Warren Buffett.
In describing his new book “The Store” as scary and “very Stepford Wives” in an over-the-top way, Patterson was not entirely uncomfortable with comparisons to the power of real-life online giants. “Amazon certainly fits,” he argued.
The author of more than 150 books with sales of more than 350 million copies, Patterson also expressed his displeasure with Amazon’s dominance in publishing.
“They take over books which I don’t like that much. They take over supermarkets. The next is going to be the news. They got The Washington Post. The next thing it will be the Amazon ‘Squawk Box,'” he offered, speaking in hyperbole.
Patterson did acknowledge that Bezos himself, not Amazon the company, owns The Washington Post. But he argued, “Jeff Bezos is Amazon,” so they should not be viewed as separate.
Even as he criticized Amazon, Patterson was realistic about his dependence on the e-commerce giant. He said “The Store” comes out this coming Monday, but readers can preorder it now. “On Amazon, sure,” and other online and physical book stores, he added.
Amazon was not immediately available to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Patterson’s views.
James Patterson: My new book isn't about Amazon and Jeff Bezos but monopolies and megalomaniacs