Earlier this week, Amazon Studios revealed it was planning a prequel series to Lord of the Rings, a timid choice that passed over fresh fantasy literature in favor of a well-established and ever-expanding franchise. My colleague Andrew Liptak put forward an excellent argument for bringing new, lesser-known work into the spotlight. But since the announcement, I’ve realized that a company as powerful as Amazon could take that good advice to a level that’s downright dystopian.

Amazon has built a stable of services touching just about every part of the entertainment industry, from film and game development to ebook publishing and video streaming. It’s also built a retail empire on cheap piecemeal labor, free material generated by users, and…

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