Hachette vs. Amazon: Show Me the Money

Blam-Pow160I am no Amazon fangirl. In April 2013 I blogged about my concerns when they took over Goodreads. On the other hand I have what is probably an unhealthy attachment to my Kindle and I visit their site several times a week vis-à-vis books. Amazon seems to be one of the few companies aware that the book world is changing and certainly acts interested in helping readers navigate that world. They not only provide new books cheap but help you get old books and books from overseas. While I may not want Amazon to take over the book world, I certainly want them to be a large part of it.

My view of publishers has declined drastically over the last twenty years. While the signs have been that the internet and technology are changing the world of reading, publishers seem to be stuck in some kind of archaic rut where authors and readers still have no choice but to deal with them. They view the natural industry changes occurring as wolves at the door with the biggest, baddest wolf to ever come a-knocking being Amazon, “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore.”

This issue has been in and out of the news for the past several years as Amazon, Apple and several major publishers have fought over differences on the pricing of e-books in the courts and media. I hoped the matter was resolved in July of 2013 when Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple and the publishers had conspired to gauge customers fix e-book prices. At that moment I felt everyone had learned their lesson. Cheap e-books would now be available to the masses and the publishers would cooperate and allow Amazon to discount to their hearts content. How naïve, right? The Judge’s final order in the case included a schedule for the various publishers involved to renegotiate e-book prices with retailers, Apple and Amazon included. Most are saying that the argument now is due to the fact that Hachette is first in line and they are determined to hit a home run for their side of the argument. And their side of the argument is that in order to survive, they need high e-book revenues.

Here is how The Wall Street Journal summed it up:

In the wake of the federal government’s e-book antitrust pricing settlement with publishers, publishers supply e-books to retailers at a price set by the publishers but which retailers are able to discount. Retailers such as Amazon get a roughly 30% cut of the fixed price but any discounting reduces the retailers’ actual take.

In the talks with Hachette, Amazon is seeking a higher percentage split, said an industry executive. The two sides haven’t yet reached an agreement.

The backdrop to Amazon’s push is that e-books generate much higher profit margins for publishers than print books, where the costs including paper, printing, binding, warehousing, shipping and returns. Bedi Singh, chief financial officer of News Corp, which owns HarperCollins Publishers and The Wall Street Journal, earlier this month told analysts that margins are around 75% for e-books, about 60% on paperbacks, and about 40% on hardcovers.

Of course, Hachette has taken pains to paint the picture of what is occurring quite differently. In their words – and that of much of the media- what is at stake is nothing less than intellectual freedom in America.

Jeremy Greenfield tells us in The Atlantic that it is not the price or display of the product that is the problem, as it would be in a typical negotiation between a supplier and retailer but “it’s the future of ideas in America. . .Should Amazon become the sole place most books are purchased, it could start to have too much control over what we read.”

In an article in The New Yorker reporter George Packer asks us, “Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?” The answer to that question is no. Here is his reasoning:

At the moment, (those) people are obsessed with how they read books—whether it’s on a Kindle or an iPad or on printed pages. This conversation, though important, takes place in the shallows and misses the deeper currents that, in the digital age, are pushing American culture under the control of ever fewer and more powerful corporations. Bezos is right: gatekeepers are inherently élitist, and some of them have been weakened, in no small part, because of their complacency and short-term thinking. But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?

In The Daily Beast we hear this from Hachette author James Patterson: “Amazon” is waging “war” and doing unspeakable things for which “the quality of American literature will suffer.” This from a man who doesn’t write his own books.

Multi-millionaire entertainer Stephen Colbert joined the fracas several days ago when he gave Amazon the middle finger and encouraged viewers to shop elsewhere and prove the he “can sell more books than Amazon!” Mr. Colbert is a Hachette author.

I think perhaps what most concerned me was Mr. Colbert entering the fray. In a time when some 25%of Americans have not even read a book in the past year (see also here) but most have watched TV (According to the NY Daily News “The average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching live television, says a new Nielsen report — plus another three to six hours watching taped programs.”) his voice will easily have the most impact in this argument.

And yet he didn’t address what the real issue is – profit. Retailers can make a profit only one of two ways – higher price to the customer or higher percentage split with the publisher. Publishers are in favor of only one of those. Regarding the price issue, here is what Nick Gillespie says in The Daily Beast:

Publishers and independent bookstores have a long history of being against booksellers discounting prices. In the 1920s and ’30s, the American Booksellers Association sued Macy’s for selling books cheaply, and Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act included anti-discounting provisions that were ultimately ruled unconstitutional. In the 1990s, the same ABA filed suit against Barnes & Noble and Borders for similar practices.

While Amazon is open about being a retailer and selling for profit (and their profit margin on books has traditionally been pitifully low), the publishers don’t say that money is at the heart of their business. Because despite all their posturing, these companies run on profit, not art. And they aren’t the tiny little underdog they would have you believe. “But book publishers have been consolidating for several decades, under the ownership of media conglomerates like News Corporation, which squeeze them for profits, or holding companies such as Rivergroup, which strip them to service debt,” explains George Packer. As the Passive Voice points out, “Make no mistake about it, today’s traditional publishing establishment is the product of decades of consolidation, concentrating more and more power over what is published into fewer and fewer hands. The latest and largest example of this trend is the merger of Random House and Penguin to create the largest publisher in the world.” Publisher’s complaints aren’t that big business is destroying art; it is that their big businesses are no longer the biggest bully in the sandbox. Painting this as a quality issue or intellectual issue may make it sound more romantic but it doesn’t change the fact that in the end we are still talking about filthy lucre.

Additionally, I think this battle with Amazon is not so much about keeping Jeff Bezos from ruining the quality of literature (no one who tolerates the James Patterson system should even be allowed to say that) so much as insuring that things stay status quo. And Amazon, on top of selling discounted books, works with people who bypass the traditional system. More and more authors are finding that independent publishing can pay. Evan Hughes puts it this way:

In the long term, what publishers have to fear the most may not be Amazon but an idea it has helped engender—that the only truly necessary players in the game are the author and the reader. “I was at a meeting God knows how many years ago at MIT,” former Random House chief Epstein says, “and someone used the word disintermediation. When I deconstructed that, I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s the end of the publishing business.’ ”  At a time when a writer can post a novel online and watch the revenue pour in by direct deposit, the publishing industry’s skill at making books, selling them by hand to bookstores, and managing the distribution of the product threatens to become irrelevant. In Epstein’s vision, the writer may need a freelance editor, a publicist, and an agent who functions as a kind of business manager, but authors will keep a bigger share of the proceeds with no lumbering media corporation standing in the way.

Hachette, in attacking Amazon, also threatens authors like Connie Brockway who have forgone traditional publishing. Since Amazon sells some 50% of books published and since it services readers nationwide it provides a forum for authors and readers to connect more directly than ever before, cutting out the publisher middleman. This has been a huge boon to readers such as me looking for books that New York no longer feels are profitable enough to publish. If I didn’t have a Kindle my desire for romantic suspense books would go largely unmet since relatively few of these novels make it to print publication anymore. Thanks to Amazon I can get my fix through authors like Kendra Elliot, Kate Watterson, and Lisa Clark O’Neill.

There are a lot of issues swirling around this battle but I think it is important to look at the actual facts before we move on to discussing theory. To conclude, here are the facts I can make out.

  1. Amazon underscores big publishing both by making books available at drastic discount and by allowing authors to circumvent the traditional system and sell straight to costumers.
  2. Big publishing has a huge gross profit margin on e-books, somewhere around 75%.
  3. Amazon wants to continue to offer steep discounts on the books and to continue to do this they are asking for a share of that profit. No one knows quite what that share is but given big publishing’s historical stance on discounting it wouldn’t have to be much to make them balk.
  4. It’s about the money.

I’ll be posting additional blogs on this subject but here are my questions to you now: Does price affect your purchase? Do you feel that publishers consistently provide a service that is worth paying an extra 20% or more for your books? Are you afraid that Amazon’s willingness to discount popular books is somehow destroying literary greatness or intellectual freedom? Do you want to see more independent publishing or small press publishing or do you feel the big five are handling your needs well?

 

Maggie Boyd

40 thoughts on “Hachette vs. Amazon: Show Me the Money

  1. Really interesting posts.Where to start?
    As a librarian, I find it really irritating that in England we have such limited choice of e-books because publishers are terrified of losing profit and so all the books my customers want to read in e-format are the most expensive ones for us! In addition, Amazon will not speak to libraries in England which means that the Kindle as market leader is useless in a library context int he UK (unless you have a Kindle Fire!)
    What also has bugged me is that my Kindle Fire was bought in the States as a gift but I can’t use it for its tablet purposes as I don’t have a US account and although the Fire is now available in the UK, mine has not been upgraded! I find that really annoying.
    Having said that and recognising also the other issues with Amazon that one of the respondents mention with regard to Amazon in Europe, it is still the most user friendly of all sites and the Kindle the easiest and simplest e-reader to use. I have had one for 4 years and absolutely love it and would replace it in a heartbeat; it is the thing I would take from a burning building!! Until somebody else recognises that the reader is the person who makes books a success and therefore it needs to be really simple and easy for the to get hold of books like Amazon does, they will always be the success story that they are now!
    Also, as a devoted romance reader, it gives me the greatest access to the widest variety (the UK is not as good on romance as the US) as well as to mainsttream and crime fiction, my other loves! For that reason alone it gets my vote!

  2. Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told used to be a entertainment account it. Look complex to more introduced agreeable from you! However, how could we keep up a correspondence?

  3. After I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now
    every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment.
    Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?
    Thanks!

  4. I just want to make a small point here that I believe no one is considering. Being a person with a limited budget, most of my books are taken out from the public library. There are still many people in this country without all of the electronic devices so many can’t seem to live without. An all electronic world would leave a great many out in the cold.

    While I agree that authors deserve to be compensated at a much better level than currently, those who have switched to an all ebook format are no longer part of my reading life.

    I hope that somehow when the dust settles, all parties to this debate can come up with a compromise. (You know, one of those solutions that pleases no one but works for everyone?)

    • At our public library you can check out kindles now. Also, Montlake, which is the Amazon publisher, does print books as well. My library has several of these titles available for checkout. It depends on the library but I think many of them will embrace technology as changes occur. And of course, you can always read on the computer. I did that before finally buying a kindle.

      • Cut off before I finished. Just wanted to add that I think small press will survive these battles and we will be able to get reading material there. I doubt the book world will come crashing down around us over this battle – Hachette would just like you to think it will. What will most likely change is the way they do business – and that will probably be a change for the better.

  5. Your discussion is interesting but the bottom line appears to be a dogfight between two sets of rich business people (Big 5 publishers or Amazon) to see who will prevail. Where are the authors in this, especially the romance authors who prop up the publishing business? I have just read a fascinating blog on JA Konrath’s site by a guest blogger Ann Voss Peterson about how little authors get paid by Harlequin. If her figures are correct then I believe a lot more aspiring authors will go the independent/ Amazon route to make a living. With this in mind I wonder do you have the capacity to review any of these independently published books or are you tied to conventionally published titles? We readers depend on AAR (especially since the demise of the romance reader site) to discover new authors to try. Keep up the good work. Incidentally books are cheaper for you in the US than for us in Australia, eg Apple Australia charges about $2 extra on ebooks than what they are advertised for on Apple US – and it isn’t the exchange rate.

    • My thinking is that part of what Hachette is fighting over is the chance to stop the independents. I think more and more authors will eventually go that route. Especially in the genres which pay for publishers but get treated like quite unkindly by them.

    • We are reviewing self-pubbed books these days too. I believe, as do you, that more and more authors will consider self-pubbing or alternative publishing for at least some of their titles.

    • Do you -or anybody else- know what happened to The Romance reader? I usually read all their reviews. There are many Five Hearts Keepers in my TBR pile. Are they writing in any other place? I thought there was something wrong with my connection and that page.

  6. I don’t know anything about any of this but I do know that one of my favorite authors, Margaret Maron says that Amazon is discriminating against her book which is coming out in August. She is a Hachette author.

  7. Responding to a post above about a Sony Reader (or any other epub reader):
    If you use Calibre to organize your non-DRM ebooks, I was told that there is a site with a Calibre add-on to deal with DRM. I think the search name was Apprentice Alf. When I tried to check the site my anti-virus software blocked it, so I don’t know how easy or safe it might be. There are also commercially available programs to strip DRM from ebooks you’ve downloaded to your PC.
    Since the Sony eBook Store closed, I switched from using Sony’s Reader Library as my main ebook organizer on my PC to using Calibre. Calibre let me clean up a lot of bad metadata (titles & authors) from sloppy publishers. The most recent Calibre update I installed added the ability to edit complete ebooks, not just their metadata. This will let me fix some egregious formatting problems in ebooks that I might reread, like the 50 instances of the word Tilde in the middle of words that should have had letters with tilde accents.

    • Hi Mark. I do use Calibre but haven’t done the most current updates yet. I did get the plug-in you refer to also but think it’s not working on a particular ebook I bought through B & N because of an Adobe authorization issue. Adobe’s at the top of my *aaargh* list when it comes to trying to comply with their authorizations process. The ebook I can’t read on my Sony is only ‘authorized’ for my main computer. It hasn’t been fun trying to figure out a workaround as my efforts to work through Adobe have been futile. I think there might be some Daleks involved too because of the futile issue.

      Writing this down has actually given me some thoughts on new ways to get ‘er done !

      Karen2

  8. The big five publishers do what businesses do – they give the customer the very least for the most money. It’s how profits are turned and is a workable model when competition is intra-market. In this case, though, the competition was not another publishing house but rather an entirely new paradigm. A new way to read, so to speak.

    I have little sympathy for them as they boo-hoo now. Don’t any of them, I mean ANY of the presidents, vice-presidents, division managers, board members, or even the guy that packs the boxes for shipments, read the paper, or a business magazine? Do any of their wives/husbands own a Kindle or a Nook? How did they not realize that there would be an impact on their business? I do not understand how it is possible. For them to infer that Amazon is this big, bad Evil Empire is comic, as it is clearly a misdirect to cover their own incompetence, as is their tearful defense of the fragile world of LITERATURE.

    Lastly, if capitalism still has a pulse in this country, which I think it does, some clever entrepreneur will give Amazon, or whoever, a run for market share. Sadly, the companies most positioned to give Amazon a run, the publishers, have not yet expended the capital or the will or the brain power to do it. Revolutions are never pretty and there are always winners and losers but publishers have not even taken to the right field of battle. Instead of expending resources over something they have little control of, why not BUILD something new and fabulous?

    • Instead of expending resources over something they have little control of, why not BUILD something new and fabulous?

      I totally agree. They need to start figuring what the next great thing is and work on that.

  9. I don’t want to pay more than $5 for an ebook. If I’m going to pay more than that, I want a real book. Of course, some authors don’t have publishers so print their books, so in that case, I prefer to pay less for an ebook.

    • I don’t mind paying a little more but bulk at the prices publishers can put on the book. And I won’t pay the same for print and kindle. If it comes down to that, I buy the print.

  10. It’s not just Hachette. Slate.com has an article on Amazon’s similar tactic against Warner Bros.

    “The Lego Movie and other Warner Bros. productions have become the latest target of Amazon’s highly visible standoffs with suppliers. The Lego Movie, which is set to be released on DVD on June 17, is no longer available for advance order on Amazon. Neither are the Warner Bros. features 300: Rise of an Empire, Transcendence, or Winter’s Tale. Customers can instead sign up to be notified when the item becomes available.”

    • Yep, it looks like Amazon has used this practice before and continues to do so. The difference is that Warner Brothers didn’t say the fate of all movies was riding on the negotiations. They had a pretty classy response:Warner Bros. spokesman Jim Noonan told Reuters that his company’s “policy is to not comment on contract points or any proprietary issues involving our partners.”

  11. I’ll just try to answer your questions, although I have to say that in Europe, there are more complaints -and slightly different- about Amazon. I understand the critics, but Amazon it’s the place where I buy the majority of my books.

    Does price affect your purchase? Yes, indeed. When it’s a novel I’m going to read just once, I chose the cheapest form, usually an e-book in English. If it’s non-fiction or Literary fiction, I’d rather read a translated book or a paper book, which are more expensive.

    Do you feel that publishers consistently provide a service that is worth paying an extra 20% or more for your books? In my case, it depends on the kind of book I want to read. Again, if it’s literary fiction or non-fiction yes, I think they provide it. But not if it’s sci-fi or romance novels or thrillers. Perhaps I personally need their professional ability in more complex books than in genre books.

    Are you afraid that Amazon’s willingness to discount popular books is somehow destroying literary greatness or intellectual freedom? IMO, no.
    First, literary greatness is destroyed by writers who don’t write great books.
    Secondly, the intellectual freedom is endangered by the mass media belonging to very few hands. Hands that also have great interests in other fields (industry, energy companies, food companies, politics).
    If you want to know ‘something like the truth’ about any important matter (politics, economy, international conflicts, and so on) you have to go to the internet, and read newspapers or blogs from different countries and in different languages.
    Books? They don’t have the influence nowadays that they had between the 16th and 20th centuries. They are not so important for the majority of people.

    Do you want to see more independent publishing or small press publishing or do you feel the big five are handling your needs well? As a European, I think this question is not exactly for me. But if I translate it to my own country I think small press publishing should always exist because the great publishers ignore many books that can be interesting but that will not make the big numbers that big companies want – poetry, non-fiction books, Literary fiction from other centuries…

  12. I am sick to death of the big publishers acting as if they are on the verge of bankruptcy when they are rolling in billions of profit and gouging everyone else. I have no sympathy for someone like Rupert Murdoch – if he can’t make his other businesses turn a profit – that is his problem – not my problem as a reader – I agree with Mark who stated that the publishers are still PRICE FIXING. As for the James Pattersons and Stephen Colbert’s of the world – they need to quit lying to cover their own greed. I don’t think James Patterson should be allowed to put his name on any book at this stage of the game and I blame the co-authors for helping him continue to make money as a writer. This was an excellent post and I’m looking forward to seeing your next thoughts on the matter – personally I’m hoping that the publishing world as we know it now burns to the ground and gives authors the freedom to get their voices heard. I too read a lot of independent books lately because I can’t get what I want from established publishers who seem to keep printing what they think trends.

    • I am sick to death of the big publishers acting as if they are on the verge of bankruptcy

      Given the ineffective way they do business, they may very well be on the verge of bankruptcy. But that’s because when way back in the 1973 the first mobile phone prototype was created, when way back in the 1980′s the laptop came around they never said to themselves, “Who will technology affect us?” E-books have been in the market for awhile now and yet everyone acts like they came out yesterday.

  13. A monopoly serves no one, but I really have a problem with the large publishing houses and their profit margins. IMO, the largest part of the proceeds from the sale of any book should go to the author. PERIOD. The fact that Amazon provides a vehicle for authors to by-pass the major (or minor) publishers is a good thing. If nothing else, an author who debuts on Amazon and generates large sale numbers gains a bargaining chip should they decide to go with a mainstream publisher. Authors such as Courtney Milan who left a publishing house to strike out on her own and Kristen Ashley who began her career with Amazon have shown that they can be successful independent of a major publishing house. Good books will rise to the top regardless of how they get to the market. I would rather there be less restrictions on what gets published than more.

    • Good books will rise to the top regardless of how they get to the market. I would rather there be less restrictions on what gets published than more

      Yes, I think the new methods of reaching an audience have really opened up creativity in the markets. No longer are authors ruled by the adage that their book just won’t appeal to the public because the public is only reading _________. Speaking as a part of the public, I don’t ever “only” read the trends.

        • There’s still a place for the publishing houses, for services they perform for authors. I’m just wishing that the publishers had been able to nurture their midlist authors more over the last two decades. The big business model was not kind to writers that weren’t in the top tier best sellers, usually.

          I have a sony reader and so have limited purchases from amazon. I’ve bought most of my ebooks from Baen, Smashwords, and BookView Café. These books don’t have DRM. I have some with DRM and wrestle with them every time I try to figure out how to move them to another device.

          More power to the authors who do venture out on their own. When they can link up with other authors for more exposure that’s even better.

          Karen2

          • Karen, I really hope the publishers do find a way to stay viable in the marketplace. I am concerned that they have mired themselves in archaic practices for so long that their infrastructure will suffer serious harm while making the adjustment and that we will find ourselves with a big 1 or 2 rather than a big 5.

            30 yrs. ago (gulp!) many of my teachers were saying that desk top publishing would change the world of publishing. That’s how long these changes have been coming down the pipe line. I have been frustrated with what I see as harmful and indulgent practices by publishers which have continuously put author careers in jeopardy. I am angered by how many of my favorite writers have let the industry because they just couldn’t survive in the traditional method. And I am hopeful that the hard shakes the market has been going through will help us to a place where readers have easy access to reasonably priced books, authors have good publishing options and publishing houses have found a way to work with both.

  14. The few mentions I’ve seen in local newspapers have shared the big publisher bias, which makes me wonder if any of the writers or cartoonists even remember that it was the PUBLISHERS that settled to avoid being found guilty of price fixing. I have been complaining ever since that “settlement” that the publishers are STILL PRICE-FIXING!
    In addition to all the eBook stores listed above as closing, the Sony eBook Store closed a couple months ago. Kobo was my main alternate store during the years I bought a lot at the Sony eBook Store, but now Kobo has MORE FIXED PRICES (no discounts, no coupons) than they did a year or two ago. I’m now buying more of my ebooks at Amazon & Google, and have a long list of ebooks I’m watching the price on & refusing to buy until the price is something I consider reasonable (less than a mass-market paperback).

    • It has been disturbing to me that most print publications seem to be giving Hachette’s view of the issue. Yes, I know Amazon is big and scary. No, I don’t want them to drive everyone else out of the book biz. What I do want is for the READER, just for once, to be considered in what publishers do. And I don’t think they have ever viewed us as anything but a means to an end; in this case, profit.

  15. The issue of DRM is one that ebooks should take a page from MP3s. If you buy a song, whether on Amazon, iTunes, or some other site, you own it and can play it on whatever device you choose. Continuing to tether books to devices is ultimately a loser’s game–look at B&N.

  16. Maggie, a point about the publishers as part of mega corps, that happened in the 1980′s when mergers were the big thing. Publishers were scooped up to make nice rounded media holdings. Second, for a view on this issue by an established author, try Charles Stross’ website:
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/ ) and scroll down to his post of May 26th, and the one that precedes it on the page. If you have issues with other people swearing in their posts, don’t go there. He does have a very knowledgeable take on this subject and a wealth of informed commenters.

    Sorry (in advance) for the bad formatting if the link screws up the post !

    Karen2 (Longtime AAR Reader)

    • Karen,

      Thanks for weighing in. I appreciate the author perspective but have to basically disagree with what has been said by Charles Stross. This especially stuck out to me:

      (Amazon) It’s anti-author, and in the long term it will deprive you of the books you want to read.

      I think the opposite of this is true. Amazon is a retailer. They sell what sells. They are rare in that they also sell what doesn’t sell. When I want a book that B&N won’t touch with a ten foot pool I go to Amazon because typically they can hook me up. I know that authors who work with Montlake like them but that authors aside, Amazon seems devoted to selling me the books I want to buy.

      OTH, publishers reject manuscripts. All the time. In fact even J.K. Rowling got rejection letters initially. And the Golden Heart finalist through RWA? Quite a few have gone to independent or Montlake publishing. Those are award winning romance books not getting published the traditional route. So publishers do a great deal more to edit what we receive than Amazon does.

      About 25 yrs. ago authors were lamenting the chain stores, who only carried popular stuff and discounted their books. After that it was the used book stores destroying the industry and causing the death of the mid-list. Now the chain stores are dying, the UBS are closing and if I don’t have Amazon I will be left dealing with the big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart for distribution.

      I think authors dream of a world where customers don’t look for a cheap place to buy books. Ain’t gonna happen.

      Again thanks for weighing in and bringing this to our attention. It’s good to hear the opposing view. In this case, I just happen not to agree with it.

  17. Thanks for the analysis. What always seems to be missed in this ongoing argument is that all of the Big 5 are owned by huge media conglomerates who need the profits from their book publishing businesses to prop up all of the other areas of their organizations that are not making money and to pay their CEOs and executives ridiculous salaries and bonuses (Rupert Murdoch is reported to have made about $30 million last year – Forbes).

    I am concerned about Amazon taking over as the ONLY bookstore on Earth; however, I have absolutely no sympathy for the big publishers. In my opinion, they have done everything they can with DRM and so-called agency pricing to drive smaller bookstores (like Fictionwise, Books on Board and Diesel) out of the marketplace. If the big 5 were really serious about taking away some of Amazon’s power, they would simply have decided to do away with DRM. Readers would then be able to buy (and own) the ebooks they have purchased from any ebook retailer and would not be tied to any device or application. Frankly, this is a fight between multi billionaires who really don’t give a damn about authors and readers no matter what their publicists say (yup, I’m a cynic). From my perspective, this revolution is long overdue – it will be messy, but hopefully authors and readers will be the winners in the end.

    • Frankly, this is a fight between multi billionaires who really don’t give a damn about authors and readers no matter what their publicists say (yup, I’m a cynic). From my perspective, this revolution is long overdue – it will be messy, but hopefully authors and readers will be the winners in the end.

      This. This is totally what is happening – rich men trying to get richer and calling foul when someone comes along and changes the game. I too hope that this will lead to things being better for mid-list and small publishing authors and of course, for the readers.

    • Yes, yes, so much yes to all your points.

      I don’t want Amazon to take over the world but it has been good to me as a customer. Last Christmas I needed to get a German language cross word puzzle dictionary – thanks to Amazon I had it in time for Christmas.

      I have no sympathy for the big publishers, hopefully they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs.

  18. Maggie, what a great article, and thanks for summarizing everything so distinctly. Honestly I had just looked at the headlines, but hadn’t read anything else, so I didn’t know the background of this most recent fracas.

    I don’t know much about Amazon dealings with other people and other businesses, but to me they have the best customer service around, and a great selection of products, and yes I love my Kindle and buying e-books.

    Do I think Amazon is always right . . .No. Anytime anyone has enough clout or power it can be abused. However, I already saw what the publishers did before.

    It amazes me that so many people are quick to blame Amazon for the decline in reader’s tastes (if that is so) but have you watched television lately?

    If I had to pick a side, it probably would be Amazon — just because I know how the publishers acted last time.

    P.S. I don’t visit Goodreads that much but I haven’t noticed that a change in management has changed Goodreads.

    • I am seeing small changes to goodreads but nothing that has made me too concerned so far.

      I agree with you regarding Amazon having excellent costumer service.Along with that is ease of purchasing (one click option), Instant gratification (buy a Kindle product and have it right away!),and outstanding selection. But what has really sold me on Amazon is freedom of choice. Their support of independent publishing has allowed me to find great authors that NY just isn’t interested in. In spite of what publishers might think not all romance readers are created equal. Some people want to follow the trends – but some of us want something different. That is where publishers are really falling down on the job. If you don’t like small town romances or English historicals right now and you are an avid reader, you are SOL without some kind of e-reader.

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