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Amazon Publishing – Views and Experiences

21 August 2011

The public radio program, On the Media,  held two interesting discussions about Amazon publishing that Passive Guy heard yesterday. PG couldn’t find transcripts, so he links to the audio files, which are not long.

Here’s one that includes an interview with Mike Shatzkin who talks about reactions of publishers and other bookstores to Amazon Publishing. He observes that Amazon and Apple act like tech companies who keep their plans close to the vest as opposed to publishers who gossip about almost everything.

PG has a great deal of respect for Mike, but his observation shows a disconnect with the tech world, where the gossip flows quite freely for almost everybody except Apple, but that gossip doesn’t happen in Manhattan.

Mike also discusses the recent class action suit against Apple and five big publishers for price-fixing with agency pricing. The way Mike explains how agency pricing came about is a classic example of collusion for fixing prices.

The second interview tells the story of author Deborah Read, who couldn’t get any action via traditional publishers. She entered her book in an Amazon story contest, didn’t win, but did receive an email from an Amazon Encore editor and, well, you’ll have to listen to hear the end of a lovely story.

Deborah talks about how Amazon helps sell her books not only in the US, but also the UK.

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Amazon, Ebooks, Mike Shatzkin

7 Comments to “Amazon Publishing – Views and Experiences”

  1. Gold Dust! That Deborah Read story is the best. Literary success stories make me all gooshy inside. Thanks for finding that for us, PG.

    As for the other, I dunno. I’m an outsider who watches business machinations, and I have gut reactions to some of them, pure bafflement to others. While I come up with opinions, I freely admit I don’t truly understand all the ends and outs. Nor can I tell for certain if there is sound reasoning behind some business decisions, or if those decisions are based on something more emotional. B&N’s decision (one shared by many indie booksellers) to not carry Amazon titles strikes me as an emotional response. They’re saying, “We’re willing to deprive print readers of what they want just to keep Amazon from getting what they want.” If I walk into a book published by Amazon and I go to my local B&N to find it. They tell me not only is it not in stock, but they won’t order it for me. Would I like to buy a Nook? My response would be, pfft. I’ll just order the damned thing off Amazon. The next time I’m book shopping, forget hitting the bookstore. I’ll go online first.

    Shees.

    • JW – I agree that Barnes & Noble is spitting into the wind when it refuses to carry Amazon Publishing books. It appears Amazon is aggressively picking up both new and established authors and Barnes & Noble looks less and less like a good place to shop if people hear about a book and can’t find it there. Just drives more people to Amazon.

  2. I screwed up that sentence all over the place! I meant, “If I want a book published by Amazon and I go to my local B&N to find it…”

  3. We still don’t know anything solid about the Amazon print publishing arm, but
    if a writer’s AmazonPrint work can be seen ONLY on Kindle and in the Amazon store, wouldn’t that writer be losing out on a bunch of potential sales? I’d want my book to be available in as many places as possible including all digital devices, not just the Kindle. This is the same desire no matter who is publishing the paper format.

    I say more about this over on my blog (so I don’t leave a huge text block on yours).

    • That’s a judgment call for the author, Jenni. A lot of the most successful indie authors will tell you they make the large majority of their money from Amazon, so Amazon Publishing (particularly with a large advance and reputedly much higher royalties than Big Publishing offers) looks like a pretty good bet.

  4. It was interesting that Mike actually seemed to be arguing that price fixing was a GOOD thing in this case because it opened up the market so people didn’t just buy at amazon… because the books are the same prices everywhere… huh. gee that still sounds like a bad thing to me.

    • Jean – That was the part that made defense counsel representing Apple and the publishers cringe.

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