Home » Amazon, Big Publishing » To Thank Our Readers

To Thank Our Readers

3 July 2014

As mentioned elsewhere on TPV today, a few high-profile traditionally-published authors have released a letter calling on Amazon to take it easy on Hachette in contract negotiations.

Hugh Howey has created a petition from authors on Change.org with a slightly different viewpoint.

Dear Readers,

Much is being said these days about changes in the book world, but not nearly enough is being said about the most important people in our industry.

You. The readers. Without you there wouldn’t be a book industry.

We owe you so much, and we are forever in your debt. Thank you for reading late into the night. Thank you for reading to your children. Thank you for missing that subway stop, for your word of mouth, your reviews, and your fan emails.

Thank you for seeking our books in so many ways—through brick and mortar stores, online, and in libraries. Thank you for enjoying these stories in all their forms—as digital books, paper books, and audiobooks.

We wanted this letter to be brief, but the topic is complicated. There is so much misinformation to correct, we wound up taking it point-by-point.

But for those readers with limited time, here is the crux of our message to you:

New York Publishing once controlled the book industry. They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book.

Amazon, in contrast, trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book.

Link to the rest at Change.org and sign it if you agree. Thanks to Andrew and several others for the tip.

Amazon, Big Publishing

54 Comments to “To Thank Our Readers”

  1. Signed, posted to Facebook and soon to hit my website.

    Well done, Hugh.

  2. I’m not generally one for Change.org petitions, as I consider them “slacktivism” that substitutes for going out and doing something real.

    But this one, I’ll sign happily.

    (Just a note, BTW: when you sign a Change.org petition, they will email you every so often with other petitions they think you might find interesting. I think you can go into the settings and turn it off somewhere, but I never bothered. Be aware of this before you sign.)

    • There’s a checkbox at the bottom of the form that says something like “show more petitions from Your Authors”. Uncheck it.

      And, yes, I signed.

  3. Went and signed this immediately. I’ll say the same thing I noted on the petition; without Amazon and the ability to read books digitally (I have nothing against the Nook and other e-readers), I would’ve missed out on thousands (yes, thousands) of books and stories in a rainbow of genres that I never would’ve thought to even look at before. Digital reading has made it so much more affordable that now I can read 5-10 books for what I paid for 1 physical book at a B&N or Borders. I can also afford to fully support those authors that I’ve found through Amazon (shout out to Hugh!), because the prices aren’t out of control.

  4. Nicely written by Hugh Howie, as usual.

  5. As a reader I was so happy I could sign this petition.

    thank you Writers!!

    and thank you PG for this wonderful blog, where I keep daily track of this wonderful world of self publishing.

    here is my comment to the petition:
    As a reader, I used to buy one or 2 books per year, at a cost of $20 or more.

    Since I got a kindle, I’ve bought hundreds of books at a cost lower than $10.

    I’ve rediscovered my passion for reading and I am spending more.

    Without Amazon, this would not have been possible.

    And knowing that most of the money I spend goes directly to the authors I love, instead of a big corporation, makes me click the “buy” button again and again.

    Thank you Amazon

    Thank you Writers!


  6. margaret rainforth

    Read and signed! Thanks Hugh and others who may have collaborated on this letter.

  7. Signed and spreading the word to my fellow indies here in the UK.

  8. I downloaded a sample of the book The Vanishing. I enjoyed it. Almost clicked buy until I saw the price. $15.99. A dollar more than the print book. Published by Hachette.

    • You say that like you were surprised, Barbara.

      When I see a book priced that high for an ebook, I just keep on moving. That’s out of my range. That’s my “oh you’ve got to be kidding me. What year is this?!” range.

      • You know, Liz, I did purchase one title @ $14.99 because it was by my favorite author. Read everything he’s written and loved it all. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get through that one. Never again. My limit is $10 and even that’s pushing it.

  9. My first reply disappeared – straight into the bit bucket.

    As I was trying to say – I signed!

  10. Hugh is a great spokesperson. Thank goodness we have him. We need more like him.

  11. Patricia Sierra

    I was going to sign the petition until I saw I’d have to provide some very personal info when filling out the form. How does Change.org use that info? Is it made public?

    • If you mean name and address, I suppose you could put a fake one in and leave your real name. I used by post office box (which is on my website).

      I’ve signed a few petitions there before, and I don’t recall having any problems with them.

    • I opted not to sign when I saw the physical address requirement.

    • Provision of your address is required in Australia as protection against the petition being loaded with false signatures. That may be why it’s also required in the US.

  12. Read it, signed it, and now say THANK YOU to Hugh and to every writer and reader who signs the letter.

  13. Signed, sealed, delivered…

  14. http://slashdot.org/submission/3673105/amazon-vs-big-publishers—another-side-of-the-story

    if you add enough votes, this could also get on the main page of slashdot

  15. Signed.

  16. Just put my Herbie Hancock on it.

  17. So many shades of wonderful in this letter, Hugh. Read it, signed it, posted on FB and am now awaiting the shite-storm from my trad-pubbed, Hachette-supporting friends and acquaintances. Colors nailed to mast, saber in hand…

  18. Watching the numbers rise steadily over the past half hour (almost up to 1000 when last I looked) I keep thinking about that ‘for they sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind’ biblical quote.

  19. Signed.
    I was number 995.
    I was hoping to be number 1000.
    Just a reader but I appreciate the words and sentiments.
    Plus the political position.

  20. Signed.

  21. The petition says 1,107 signed, 397 needed. It’s incrementing live. What’s this? How does it work? What happens when it hits 1,500?

  22. Signed it. Thanks for writing it:)

  23. Thank you, Hugh and Joe and the others, for doing this.

    Signed. Suggested to the other authors of my fledgling publishing house to sign as well. (Up to four that will all be coming out by the end of August…)

    SFWA just sent out an email to their membership, supporting the other letter.

    It wasn’t enough to get me to quit the organization. But I considered it seriously.

    They increasingly don’t represent me as an author. And they’ve just called their relevance into question again. They don’t get that big name authors have nothing to do with me down here in the trenches.

    So thank you again for trying to give the rest of us a voice. I’m not making a living yet from my fiction, but I’m closing in on that goal, and can see it from here. It isn’t all thanks to Amazon – I’ve done a lot of hard work, and the other platforms help as well. But Amazon is certainly a large part of it.

    • Keep working at it, Leah! You’ll get there!

    • You go, Leah! Here’s to independence.

      SFWA gets more irrelevant by the year, and now that so many genre writers are going partially or entirely indie, what little relevance remains to them will continue to crumble. Supporting the “other letter” is a predictable action, given where they feel their members’ bread is primarily buttered, but if all their publishers stopped selling SFWA members’ books through Amazon (not that that’s EVER going to happen), they’d see where most of that butter comes from.

    • “SFWA just sent out an email to their membership, supporting the other letter. ”

      Can’t say I’m surprised. (And once again, can’t say I’m sorry I dropped my SFWA membership.)

      But I don’t agree that this is about trad-v-indie, though many people are framing it that way. (Though it is tempting to see it as anti-indie on SFWA’s part, all things considered.)

      I’m a traditionally published writer. And:

      – I think ebook prices should be lower, not higher, and not linked to print prices.
      – I think publisher overheads should be lower, author royalty rates higher, royalties paid at least quarterly, and reversion clauses based on a reasonable and limited timeframe.
      – I think writers, indie and trad, would all be better off if Amazon had more competition in the retail market. This isn’t because I believe Amazon is an evil monster out to destroy copyright, but because I believe the more competition and choices and alternatives there are, the better off we are.
      – I’m opposed to collusive price-fixing and antitrust violations.
      – I also self-publish, and so do most of my traditionally published friends. I am one of many, many writers for whom this is not an either/or market, but rather an and-AND-AND! market.
      – I am not anti-publisher or pro-publisher. I am also not anti-Amazon or pro-Amazon.
      – I am anti-bad business, anti-corruption, anti-stupidity, and anti-ignorance.
      – I am pro-me, pro-writer, pro-reader, pro-reason, pro-information, pro-transparency, pro-fairness, pro-innovation, pro-common sense, pro-intelligence, pro-civility, and–because this really can’t be overstated, so I’ll repeat it–pro-ME.
      – I decline to take sides in a dispute between two massive corporations arguing about their profit margins in a discussion governed by NDAs (meaning no one directly involve in the negotiation has sat down with me–or with SFWA–to explain the specifics of the dispute, let alone to ask for my input). Neither of them is pro-ME, after all (see above).

      • Ugh on SFWA but can’t say I’m surprised.

        Chuck Wendig has responded to the petition also. :(

        I just wish people could get their facts straight & see the difference between “no pre-order button” and “longer shipping times” versus “books not for sale”. Too many writers including Scalzi can’t tell the difference.

        Signed 3334.

  24. Signed earlier today. I was number 700 and something. Lovely letter.

  25. Phyllis Humphrey

    I signed. I wish I could do more to halt the ADS nonsense.

  26. Just signed, and proud to be number 2436. Such an informed, well-reasoned, and generous letter. Thanks Hugh, Joe, PG, and every serious writer choosing to self-publish. Bypassing oppressive gatekeepers and connecting readers directly with writers is real democracy. As Walt Whitman (self-published) wrote, “Unscrew the locks from the doors!/Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!/Whoever degrades another degrades me, /And whatever is done or said returns at last to me.”

  27. I look forward to Shatzkin’s analysis.

  28. Signed and shared!

    I was floored after I watched that NYPL panel. I had NO idea those folks (types – not individuals — with the exception of PG) who I used to respect so much were so clueless as to what was happening in publishing.

    It made me realize I am SO LUCKY Trident fired my agent 4 years ago, then fired me as well because I hadn’t sold yet. I went with a small publisher for my first book and our contract was up after 2 years and all the rights reverted back to me.

    I am SO LUCKY that everything I thought I wanted/needed by going traditional can now — for the most part — be better served by being self-published.

    There’s always going to be the exception to this statement, but I’m sitting over here in beautiful So Cal tonight, grateful that I’m indie.

    A big thanks to PG and all your folks who share your experiences on this blog. I’ve learned so much!

  29. Proud to sign. Done. And since all our signatures are the same size, unlike Hancock’s with the Declaration, they’ll have to pick one of so very many of us to hang first.

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