Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

What The Hell Is Going On In The Book World!?

So, Amazon is flexing its muscles and one of the legacy publishers is saying sorry to its authors.

Book Wars

Image courtesy of Mile Jerkovic ~

Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the big publishers and Apple for “price-fixing”.

Now, it appears Amazon is withholding books from consumers to force a publisher to its knees

So much of the book world is changing and so many of the players are fighting—acting like children—children who own multimillion-dollar companies.

Two years ago, the buzz-words were “Agency Model” and a well-known author and well-known book distributor had opposing views of this simple proposition—the publisher sets the price of a book, not the retailer (“publisher” these days can also mean Indie author).

Amazon is a retailer—an extremely powerful retailer.

I admit I’m having trouble deciding who’s “right” in this deadly childish game.

One of the most insightful articles out there (and there are countless articles swirling around this battle) is the piece by Mark Coker of Smashwords—Amazon’s Hachette Dispute Foreshadows What’s Next for Indie Authors.

A few excerpts:

“The outcome of this dispute will have permanent ramifications for publishers and indie authors alike.”

“The industry can cry until it’s blue in the face about how Amazon is ruthless and heavy-handed, and how other retailers are kinder and gentler. The truth of the argument doesn’t change the reality.  Amazon does what it does because it can, because authors and publishers let them do it, and because it’s in Amazon’s nature to act this way.  Lions eat wildebeest.”

“Publishers deserve much of the blame for making their ebook margins such an appetizing target for Amazon.  Amazon’s assault on their margins should come as no surprise.”

“If Amazon tightens the screws, indies will face the same painful decision Hachette now faces.  Either swallow the bitter pill, or remove your books from Amazon.”

Coker goes on to give Indie authors four powerful strategies to protect their earnings.

Yet, to me, the most important thing he says in this article is:

“Is it really necessary that retailers and publishers should view one another as war-like adversaries, or as predator and prey?  I don’t think so.”

Just look at our world—divided up into countless adversaries

The important point, in the book world or the whole world, is that people have free will—the only thing that compels them to fight is their choice to fight

Look at the results of any war—everyone, eventually, loses.

I have some special resources tucked away on this site that offer perspectives for a friendlier world—one where everyone wins………
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8 responses to “What The Hell Is Going On In The Book World!?

  1. glenperk May 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    This stuff burns me up. I am not on Amazon’s side here. I don’t a good reason except it feels like medical insurance and doctors battling over medicine, which I’m acutely involved in. I think Amazon needs to take one in the ass.


  2. Alexander M Zoltai May 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Well, Glen, I’ve been painfully involved with medicine of late—being nearly crippled by the drugs I received after an operation

    And, it appears some authors will be crippled by this latest battle

    Though, there are other retailers/distributors out there and Amazon, though extremely powerful, may “take one”, eventually


  3. glenperk May 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Sorry to hear about your situation. There are other outlets for indie authors and they should use them.


  4. Alexander M Zoltai May 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for your concern, Glen :-)

    Also, look into that article I excerpted from, and the site Smashwords—they could be Amazon’s biggest “threat”


  5. Martina Sevecke-Pohlen May 28, 2014 at 2:32 am

    In Germany, Prices for books and ebooks are fixed. They have to be sold for the same price everywhere. Amazon is therefore interested in buying as cheaply as possible from publishers, and is consequently considered an evil force from overseas. Indie authors have to beware. There are other outlets they could use and should use, simply because it’s always good to spread your wares over several outlets and in different formats.


  6. Alexander M Zoltai May 28, 2014 at 2:36 am

    What you say, Martina (spread your wares over several outlets), is an echo of what Mark Coker says to authors in the article I excerpted from in this post :-)


  7. Louise May 28, 2014 at 5:01 am

    I think there is a lot more going on here than we are being told. I don’t believe the Hachette Book Group is the victim it is making itself out to be. This is a big battle, and I suspect there are strong arm tactics on both sides, and I’ve seen reports that the Hachette Book Group have not been delivering their stock.

    But we aren’t going to get the full story, but I am deeply suspicious of the amount of noise going on, I think the Hachette Book Group is trying to spin things, and we don’t understand enough about the details to understand what is going on in the background.
    I mean my understanding is that the Wholesaler got a fixed price for each book sold, and that Amazon took the hit if they decided to discount.

    Sure sales are going to take a hit if Amazon decides not to discount, but I find it really strange that that when a book first hits the shelves, we expect it to be priced lower than the RRP. I mean we wouldn’t do that with clothes or food, would we? Yet we expect it of our entertainment, and feel cheated if we miss the short time period when it is offered at a lower price.


  8. Alexander M Zoltai May 28, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I agree with you, Louise, that we aren’t getting the full story, especially since this “war” is for such high stakes; though, Mark Coker of Smashwords (who I quoted in the post) is intimately involved in the book trade and would seem to have a “decent” perspective on the “probable” undercurrents that are carrying the monetary desires of both parties

    Though, being only an author who works through a publishing-aid company, I sometimes wonder what Mark Coker’s desires are


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