Rose in bloom

Perspective on Amazon

With this being the cause du jour for many, the only link I’m seeing with any regularity is an opinion piece from NYTimes. First, most of the links you will see about this are going to be opinion pieces. Mine, over at Mad Genius Club today, is mostly pointing out the underlying psychology of business/publisher/author interactions.

There are some good articles, thoughtfully researched and written. I suggest that before you take unilateral decisions, like removing all connections with Amazon, and screeching “I will never shop there again!” that you take some time to actually research the whole situation.

Chris Meadows weighs in at Telereads. I find him to be one of the best industry reporters around. “Any time you see a narrative that puts all the blame on Amazon without recognizing Hachette has to be pushing things from its side, too, you ought to be at least a little suspicious. You don’t get to blame Amazon for everything just because it’s big. Hachette is pretty darned big, too, but like all the major publishers, it just loves playing the victim card when it doesn’t get its way.”

Michael J Sullivan, a Hachette author, offers insider insight. Of course many people wisely point out that Amazon may apply similar pressure to self-published titles, and I have no illusions about the long term prospect of a 70% royalty. But even if Amazon cuts the self-publishing royalty rate in half, they would still be paying twice as much as I get under the current Hachette contract where ebook royalties are split 30% to Amazon, 52.5% to the publisher, and 17.5% to the author.”

Businessweek quotes Hachette, who claim to be author-centric, and here, you only need to look to the line above to evaluate that statement! Earlier today Michael Pietsch, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, sent a letter to Hachette authors, apologizing and yet indirectly pointing the finger at Amazon’s obstinacy. “Please know that we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company,” he wrote.” 

Edited to add this: from a legend of Science Fiction, Jerry Pournelle. “Of course they pay it to the publisher. Now if that publisher – the one who posted it on Amazon – is me or my agent, as it is whenever our contracts allow that, the money comes directly to me. If it goes to one of the Big Five publishers, they collect the money, and collect the money, and collect the money, and after a year they send a check for the amounts collected during the period of one year to six months ago; then they wait six months to send any more. Sorry. I’m getting off the subject. But the point is that Amazon has publicly said that one of their goals in the book selling business is to keep authors happy. I do not believe that any of the Big Five publishers has that as a goal.”