I wasn’t going to ever write about the Amazon-Hachette issue, or rather, non-issue. I wasn’t going to add my voice to the thousands of bullshit artists out there trying to keep a story going when it should have been dead and buried a long time ago. But, now, it keeps popping up on my Facebook feed, and as you know, I can’t keep my mouth shut when people are being wrong on the internet.
So, I’m writing this today to tell you the things you really need to know so you can STOP WITH THE BULLSHIT ALREADY!
AMAZON VS. HACHETTE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
First things first: If you are not an author, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about when I say the Amazon-Hachette thing. So, I’ll explain exactly what it is.
Hachette Livre is a French Publishing Company. They are one of what is known in the industry as “The Big 5” publishers. A couple of years ago, the Big 5 go caught up in a legal battle because they had worked together with Apple to create an illegal price fixing ring. Courts ruled that the 5 separate companies could not get together and set prices that they liked, then use their power in the industry to smash out all competition. Apple is currently attempting to wriggle out of paying their share of the fines. Because that’s what companies do.
Amazon is an online market place. They got their start as an online book vendor competing with Barnes & Noble and Borders books. You remember Borders books, right? Yeah, that’s what Amazon does. Amazon is the world’s largest book retailer (of both print and ebooks). They were the whistle-blowers in the whole Big 5 Price Fixing scandal I just told you about. As part of that settlement, all of the Big 5 have to renegotiate the terms of their deals with all of the online retailers. At different times…. you know, to keep it from happening again (in theory).
Hachette’s negotiation with Amazon is the first one, and therefore, the most important in setting precedent.
The Big 5 want high price ebooks because its best for them. Amazon wants low price ebooks because their data shows it increases overall profits for everyone.
No one here is a winner. Only the Authors that are signed to Hachette are the losers. Why? Because Amazon stopped letting the pre-sale their books.
It must be a fucking shame to be a Best-Selling author that has to play by the same rules as all those mid-list authors… A fucking shame….
What Amazon Wants You To Believe
According to Amazon, they want what is best for consumers and authors. That means lower priced ebooks compared to paperbacks (since there is no overhead cost to the publisher for storing and shipping ebooks). The Big 5 had got caught with their pants down because they had worked with the brick-and-motor retailers to hike ebook prices up higher than the print books. Why? So that book stores didn’t become irrelevant. Yes. That is what this ultimately comes down to.
Now Amazon sent out an email to all of the Kindle Direct Publishing authors (myself included) recently. They asked us to come to their defense because the Big 5 all own the media. Which is true. If you are reading an article about this, chances are you’re reading something written by a journalist in one of the B5’s pocket.
I’m not here to defend Amazon. I’m not in the negotiating room so I don’t know what they’re actually arguing about.
What Hachette Wants You to Believe
As far as I can tell, Hachette wants you to believe that Authors are victims and Amazon is a bully. They have not actually produced any evidence on this, but it makes sense from their perspective.
Also, Hachette is a French company. Why is that important? Because the Nation of France has decided to pick a fight with Amazon for its own reasons… No one understands the logic of the French but the French themselves. C’est la vie.
What I want you to Believe
Amazon created an infrastructure that allowed thousands of writers to create works of fiction and non fiction, then get paid for them. The Traditional Publishing Industry created a system that allowed thousands of writers to create works of fiction and non-fiction, then suck an editor’s might butt-cheeks to get a chance to not ever get paid for them.
So, here’s what I want you to believe:
As of right now, Amazon has done more for Authors and Writers than any of the Big 5 ever have or will. The Big 5 have worked hard to keep royalties low, ebook prices up, and their own profits in the record highs.
Does that make Amazon the good guy and Hachette the bad guy?
Right now, Amazon is an ally to both readers and authors. It’s basic math. That’s for now. It would not be hard for Amazon to slip into the powerful evil mega-corp we all fear. That’s why the Big 5 owned media always paints them in that light. Because when you are a giant, evil organization bent on destroying lives, you know how easy it is for people to be made aware of that.
What I do know is that the Big 5 are bad at business. The only reason they’re still around is because they held a monopoly on publishing for so long. As more and more writers realize they’re getting screwed by shitty contracts, the big 5 will hemorrhage more and more money until they either completely change the way they do business or die.
it doesn’t matter what the writer’s they own are telling you, because writers lie for a living. That’s why it’s called “Fiction.”
In the meantime, if you don’t like Amazon because they’re a thousand-pound-gorilla, stop buying from Amazon. You can buy books at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords…. and a few dozen other places.
So Shut Up about it Already.
Full Disclosure: I am published on Kindle Direct Publishing. The Seven Keys Saga is even enrolled in “Select” as exclusive KDP titles. I get to make money from my words because of Amazon. I might be biased.