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Lee Child on Amazon

13 August 2014

392 Comments to “Lee Child on Amazon”

  1. So, this is Lee Child. I won’t be buying any of his books, not that he would care.

    • I know Lee. He’s a very nice and generous guy. He has answered my call for help in the middle of a book and helped without expecting anything in return.

      I think he’s wrong here, but what can I say? I like the guy. I always will.

    • I know Lee and he’s a nice and very generous guy. He answered a call for help in the middle of a book and did it without expecting anything in return.

      I think he’s wrong, here, but what can I say? I like the guy and always will.

  2. Just once I’d really like to see one of these guys interviewed by someone who really questions their b.s. and has the knowledge to point out reality. But then they aren’t going to sit down with someone like that. I wonder how many of her questions were cleared by him or his people ahead of time.

    • This is Newsnignt. I can guarantee absolutely no questions were vetted ahead of time

      • That’s nice to know but I still wish she could have refuted some of his answers. She tried to some extent but without the background knowledge you’d find from reading, say this blog, it’s hard to call him out or even know what to call him out on.

      • It reveals the cr*p standards of what passes for investigative journalism these days.

  3. Since he’s a Brit, maybe he should sell his books through Sainsbury.

    • And since it won’t let me edit the comment, he can sell through Tesco, too.

      (For those non-foodies, those are the huge supermarkets in the UK now selling books.)

      It’s tough love. Friends don’t let friends buy books from the “wrong” retailers.

  4. Won’t bother watching.

  5. “Kindle is so 2012.” That hilarious nugget almost made it worthwhile. Almost.

  6. An illuminating piece.

    Isn’t it interesting that Lee Child seems to think Amazon has been his ‘friend’, the same accusation levelled at self-publishers? Projection much?

    Is the real reason for the *hurt* feelings: my ‘friend’ isn’t playing nice any-more?

    He conveniently overlooks that Amazon IS playing nice, considering Hachette no longer has a contract. Amazon’s being a whole lot more patient in this than any business I’ve worked for.

  7. I’m not a big fan of Lee Child but I thought this might be an interesting inteview. For the most part it was just a regurgitation of what I’ve heard elsewhere. But his comments about the Kindle were bizarre. I didn’t realize that Kindle was a “failure” or “so 2012.”

    At any rate, I guess he’ll be asking his publisher not to list his books on Amazon. Oh…wait…nevermind.

    • Of course the Kindle is a failure. What’s sad is that Jeff Bezos doesn’t know it yet. He just keeps on selling them, oblivious.

      • I’ve only bought 4 of those failures. And about 900 ebooks to read on them. Such a shame I can’t resist lousy products.

    • My income from that failure is in six digits. I wonder what would have happened if it was a success.

    • He didn’t call it a failure. He said that Amazon considered it to be a failure, based on their expectations for the Kindle. Context is important here.

      • Amazon deliberately priced the Kindle to be a loss leader at first, in order to encourage more readers to go to e-books. It succeeded.
        Now Kindle has put Sony’s e-reader out of business, B&N has mishandled the Nook. It’s doubtful that Amazon considers it a failure any more.

        • Amazon did not price the Kindle as a loss leader. the first one cost $399. Like most electronics it slowly came down in price. Then B&N released the nook at less and Amazon of course lowered to just below the nook price. So everyone say thanks B&N for bringing down the price of e-readers.

  8. The amount of misinformation he was able to pack into a four minute interview was astounding. I used to know a guy that seemed completely incapable of ever looking at a situation, and assessing it correctly. As a result, virtually everything that came out of his mouth was wrong. He was like a bullsh** Gatling Gun. Funny how Child evoked memories of that guy…

  9. He was like a bullsh** Gatling Gun.

    LOL

  10. In the words of the immortal Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon!”

    Michael

  11. Wow! So there’s no difference to the purchasing reader between 8 pounds and 10 pounds? And Amazon is depriving the purchasing reader of the book she wants to read right now via shipping delays? And the Kindle was a failure, it’s settled into a niche, preferred by a few readers but not by many? And Amazon is disingenuous? Just, wow!

    • You left out “Amazon wants to take over the world” and “books cannot get any cheaper than they are right now.”

      I don’t know about print books, but ebooks can certainly get cheaper than $9.99 or $12.99 or $14.99.

      • And he thinks that readers will buy at $14.99 and a year later at $9.99 and there will be no lost sales, no negative feedback. Everyone will be hunky dory. Can he really believe this?

        • This is dead on – for readers who only think about a single book for a year.

          • As far as I’m concerned, besides spewing all sorts of BS he managed to insult his readers/fans several times in this 4 minute interview. He is saying his ebook fans are outdated in one breath while suggesting we should just read a paperback in the other. He’s saying that if ebook buyers are stupid enough to use such outdated technology (as a Kindle app) we shouldn’t mind paying extra for it, because we paid for some type of electronic device, so he’s decided we can afford it and should just pay up. Wow. Just wow.

          • But people who read Lee Child and James Patterson ARE often the type of people who only buy one or two books a year. From an airport news stand when their flight is delayed. 😡

            • Mia, I used to buy reading material at airports to read during take off/landing. Now that passengers can use electronic devices throughout flights, I’m sure we will see a decrease in paper books sold at airports. I know I haven’t bought anything paper since then. Any if any group is likely to use ebooks over paper, it has to air travelers.

              • Absolutely. That’s the main thing that sold me on my first Kindle, many moons ago now. It has only gotten more preferable to print with the standard availability of wifi in airports.

    • The world looks different to the 1% than it does to the rest.

    • That’s funny, my mom is a fan of Lee Child. We looked up his new book on AMZ yesterday. It was there.

      We must have been hallucinating.

  12. It’s interesting how little many of these big-selling tradpub authors understand about the book business.

    That’s what comes of listening to what their publishers and agents tell them.They have the impression that they’re receiving inside information because of the sources of that information without seeming to consider the bias of their informants.

    • Looks like someone told him consumers don’t care about a price of $8 vs a price of $10.

    • When you’ve had your agent and publisher tell you how the business runs for your entire career, why bother learning about it? That’s what those types are for, right? Managing a writer’s career so the writer can just write?

      I’ve said something similar over the last few days. I’ve been playing guitar / in a band for twenty years, and I know A LOT about guitars. The types of woods I prefer, the shape of the neck, the frets, the pickups, toggles, tuners, bridges… I know what’s great about a guitar and why it’s great.

      HOWEVER

      I’ve always had someone else do the important things for my guitar like upgrading pickups/electronics, filing the frets, setting the action for tuning down to Drop C, adjusting the neck with the truss rod, etc. As much as I know about my guitars, I’ve never actually sat down and learned exactly how to do all of these things.

      I’ve spent this entire week after buying a bunch of new strings, straps, etc (from Amazon! GASP!) and watching videos/websites that explain in detail exactly how to hot-rod my EMG-81 bridge pickups by adding in not one, but two more 9v batteries to make the thing literally scream with power. I’ve learned how to adjust the intonation and action and all that wonderful nerdy stuff that I’d always paid someone else to take care of for me.

      You know, since I’m no longer in a band and don’t have a roadie (agent) to do all this stuff for me, I just thought it was a really good idea to know how to do it myself.

  13. Loretta Ellingsworth

    I’m amazed! I thought books rhymed with crooks and not spooks.

  14. They have the impression that they’re receiving inside information because of the sources of that information without seeming to consider the bias of their informants.

    Or, more likely, they lack the necessary “givadam” gene required to investigate it themselves.

    Michael

  15. “I love Amazon… Amazon wants to take over the world.”

    Is “Authors United” schizophrenic?

  16. You would think that Stephen King would sympathize with readers who don’t have the wherewithall to drop $25+ for one of his books, considering he grew up dirt-poor reading paperbacks. Shows what being wealthy (and lots and lots of coke) will do to you.

    • Amazing and so true. Why do they think we want to pay so much? I want to read more than one book a year. And higher Kindle prices? I don’t think so.

  17. The hypocrisy of Lee Child et al continuing to sell their books through Amazon gets sharper every day. Why would Lee want to help a company take over the world? It’s like buying stock in SMERSH or SPECTER. Lee, you’re a good man, how can you support such despotic ambition?!

    Well, that, or those sorts of claims are knowingly empty hyperbole…

    • I think I’ll refer to Amazon as KAOS from not on.

    • Child just wants them to temper their ambitions. I mean SMERSH wouldn’t be all that bad if they stuck with just their criminal enterprise and left the world domination bit out.

      I like how Child tries to teach Amazon about math.

    • Ah, yes. There was a time when Barry and Lee shared the stage at Bouchercon in the friendliest manner.

      And by the way, I think both are fine authors.

      • FWIW, I do consider Lee a friend (though I don’t consider Amazon or other corporations in such terms). I also think he’s typically one of the smartest and most thoughtful people in this business. Which is why I’m surprised that he’s associating himself with something as bumbling and reactionary as “Authors United.” But he probably thinks I’m out to lunch on this issue, too. I hope none of that will preclude us sharing a friendly stage at conferences, or from friendly debates over drinks, either.

        Plus, I think we’re both fine authors, too. 🙂

        • Good to know! And more power to you!

        • As I said above, I like Lee. He’s a good guy. This thing has me scratching my head, although it probably shouldn’t.

          Bouchercon is bound to be interesting this year.

        • Interesting how you guys both write about lonely, dangerous men. You’re both damned good authors, but I’ve read one of Lee’s stories and, so far, seven of your John Rain titles.

          The reason for the disparity is the price.

          I really wish writers like Lee and King would catch on to this and start applying pressure where it can do the most good. Midlisters don’t dare speak up about this because they know they’re disposable, but the big brands could really do some good if they push back against the publishing houses.

    • Ever watch / read an author’s response when you tell them “if you hate Amazon, stop selling your books on there since you’re only exacerbating the problem.” ???

      They. Freak. The. %$#@. Out. They become like dogs that turn on you suddenly.

      I just laugh at the hypocrisy. And I continue to sell books on Amazon.

  18. “Auntie Beeb” (BBC) knows best… And can’t be bothered to allow comments…

    • Of course the Beeb doesn’t allow comments. Why would they want to hear from the people who fund them?

      • One reason why 1984 never came to pass in Britain:

        Even if every house had a telescreen, the BBC couldn’t be arsed to watch their viewers back.

  19. This might be a totally British thing, but she made him look like a complete idiot when she asked about the ebook being £8. His response would have left half of the UK tuning him out.

    “I think if someone can afford £8 for an ebook. Then they can afford £10.” — Congrats Lee, you just lost 80% of the population with that comment. Ever been on the breadline, mate? Some people want a pint with their book (or a cup of tea). That two quid isn’t spare.

    I don’t think he did his cause any favours. But then, British people get offended if someone says: “With all due respect,” to them, so maybe it’s just me noticing that.

    It’s subtle, but I think she nailed him on the question about people being able to afford books, which is the main one that most viewers would care about.

    • Well, the British (who, I believe, invented the phrase) know better than anyone that ‘With all due respect’ usually means ‘No respect is due, mate, and I ain’t givin’ yer any.’ —Only posh, which makes it worse.

      • It’s a common thing to hear in the UK. If someone begins with: “With all due respect…” They’ve just insulted you (that was an example, not an insult ^^). But often, if the Brits go abroad and say it, no one seems to realise they’re being insulting. It’s a very condescending phrase to use though. I try not to use it.

        Brits have a lot of communication problems. If I call the IRS in the USA, they’re usually so nice and friendly on the phone that I think they’re being sarcastic, and I hang up on them.

      • Everyone understands that ‘with all due respect’ is usually the preface to an insult, not just the brits. Why would you qualify your statement with it if you weren’t about to pass on a less than pleasing statement? You certainly wouldn’t need to use it if what followed was complimentary. “With all due respect sir, you are a great person”… when has that been said?

    • “It’s subtle, but I think she nailed him on the question about people being able to afford books, which is the main one that most viewers would care about.”

      And, for context, (and you certainly wouldn’t know it from listening to Child) Britain is still deep in a recession that we really don’t hear about over in North America.

      My gf who lives in London says it is truly a depression, not a ‘double-dip’ recession as the media is putting it.
      A lot of people on the dole are working under the table for free so that they have something on their resume. A lot of jobs no longer pay, for that reason.

      Two pound is really significant for a lot of British.

    • If you’re on the breadline, I doubt you’re shelling out for a Kindle in the first place, which was sort of the point of his “8 vs 10” bit. If you can afford a Kindle, two pounds probably isn’t gonna break the bank.

      • Kindle apps are available for every phone, every computer, every tablet.
        Just because you’ve come up against hard times doesn’t mean you don’t own any of those things. Cell phones have nearly fully replaced land line phones (here in the US, at least), and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone without one, even if they’re poor.
        It *is* also possible for one to buy a Kindle, and *then* lose their job.

        With a price point of a mere $70, many people receive Kindles as gifts for birthdays and christmas from friends and loved ones.

        I don’t understand the mindset that a Kindle is some outrageously expensive device. We’re not talking about a $600 iPad here. It’s $70, which is well within the reach of just about everyone who is able to put a few dollars to the side each week or mow a few lawns during the weekend.

      • My income is really low, but I can afford quite a few things. How? By saving. For example, by not using bus to my work place I save 2,40 € per day. It’s a small amount, but it adds up and I save 400+ per year because of that. This year I spend it on Dr. Marin boots and to spoil myself a little, I’m thinking about a two day trip to Florence.

        By saving 2€ per book, I can afford to buy the cheapest Kindle after 25 books. It’s all about priorities and no matter how entitled I might be seen to Mr. Preston, 6€+ e-book is never going to be on my buy list.

        • I have to wonder what all of you guys were doing before digital books came out. I don’t know about the rest of you but I was buying my paperbacks or getting them from the library for free. Libraries still exist, and unlike most indie books, the trade published books are in libraries.

          I think you guys should just get to the heart of the real issue. Which is: now that Amazon’s conditioned you to expect lower priced books from indies, you think that should be applied to all books, trade included. It’s hardly even about the price any more, but about the principal.

          Come on, folks, you’re extremely transparent. Tell it like it is. I’ll respect you more for it.

          • Good advice, coming from someone trolling.

            • Yes, people can wait until Lee Child’s book appears in the library (if they live near one that carries it), or they can wait and buy it used (on Amazon).

              Or maybe… they can just skip his next book.

              The way it is is that he and his publisher can charge whatever they want for his books. But when he signs on to a group that is demanding government action to force Amazon to offer favorable business deals to giant publishers, then it becomes everyone’s business.

              And when he acts like a few dollars shouldn’t weight into the average person’s decision to buy a book, then he looks like a pompous snob. So it’s fun to comment on him.

          • I don’t ‘expect’ lower prices on e-books, neither do I feel obligated to buy one that is priced higher than I want to pay. This is what people are trying to get traditional publishing to understand- right or wrong, most people won’t pay 15 bucks and over for an e-book. And wanting to retail price them high and have Amazon discount and eat the loss is not realistic- eventually Amazon was bound to get tired of that. And if that’s not what they want, then they should stop griping about how Amazon has removed discounts on their books.

            • Amazon often looses money on ebooks, and been doing so since they launched the Kindle. They do this so that they can get a bigger share of the market. Once they get enough people to support their nasty business tactics, they can lean on publishers to sell them the books for less. Publishers have to take that money from somewhere and since they’ve already cut their staff significantly over the last ten years, it comes from the authors, and the vast majority of those do not make a living writing books but do other things on the side: like driving city busses, or bartending, or waitressing.

          • Actually I don’t care how much the trade-published books cost, I just know that I don’t buy ebooks over 6$+ and pbooks over 10€ (even before the digital I very rarely bought a book over 10€). The non-fiction is a different matter though.

  20. OK, I like Lee Child’s books and I’m a big Reacher fan. That said, I’m really astounded the guy can be so completely clueless.

    The Kindle is a failure? Seriously?

    I’ve concluded he must be a ‘writer savant.’ I do hope his publisher had someone standing by to lead him out of the studio. I’d hate for him to wander into traffic before the next Reacher book is out.

  21. So, Lee Child’s idea of taking someone aside “privately” to address an issue is to take out ads and go on TV and talk to reporters? Nice. So, next time one of his friends has an issue with Child, they should make sure to call TMZ.

  22. PG: I get that it feels all smug and gnostic to say that authors like me understand little about the publishing business, but – with no due respect at all – it’s absurd. I have navigated through it for twenty years, in 99 global markets, learned from both success and failure, and I’m still vertical and still in print. By definition I was a debut, and then a midlister, and finally a bestseller. I’ve seen it all, and you’ve seen none of it. Again, with no respect at all, you’re full of it.

    Claire Chilton: Sure, I’ve been on the breadline. Sometimes below it. You quote me selectively. Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports. Folks like that would need many years to recoup the sixty pound cost of the cheapest UK Kindle. And folks to whom two pounds matter aren’t in a position to buy a sixty-pound Kindle in the first place. If you don’t get that, possibly you have never been on the breadline.

    Merrill Heath: My sales in all formats have increased year-on-year from 2012 to 2014, and the Kindle percentage has decreased in favor of renewed increases in paper. This pattern is shared by all large-volume sellers. “Peak Kindle” was 2012 – for us, anyway. It’s a useful format, part of one retail outlet in two markets out of 99, for me. Amazon is unhappy that it’s not higher, because Amazon likes smash hits. But their customers have voted with their wallets, so hey.

    Barry: This ain’t high school. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. (I mean, if an independent bookstore owner friend cheats on his wife in a nasty way, should I pull my books from his store? Or approach the problem another way?) Amazon is a huge, diverse business, and it has had some great ideas and some great successes, but equally some terrible ideas and some awful blunders. Should I storm off in a huff, or discuss it?

    • Should I storm off in a huff, or discuss it?
      I vote for a storm off in a huff.

      The thing with Amazon is that without it, big publishers and their authors (you included) would have felt large decline revenue years ago. I’m not saying that they and you should be grateful, but at least have a little perspective. Hachette and Amazon should be able to negotiation their business in peace, but instead we have this hot mess, where Preston and company (including you) started to yell about evil Amazon, called for boycott and all the other nonsense. The whole thing had become such a parody. Could you just stop escalate it, please, and tell your friends to stop too, they are looking more and more ridiculous.

    • Hey, Lee. Thanks for the comments. I was surprised to hear that your Kindle percentage has decreased in favor of renewed increases in paper. But then I looked at your prices and they are very reasonable. Most of your ebooks are in the $5-6 range and your paperbacks are in the $8-9 range. That makes it less of a surprise since there are still more people who prefer print books to ebooks.

      I’d be curious to know what you think will happen with ebook sales. Amazon continues to sell millions of Kindles each year and there are also tons of people who now use apps that allow them to read ebooks on their smartphones and tablets. I believe that the percentage of ebooks sold will continue to increase, just not as sharply as it did when the Kindle technology really took off.

      Of course, when I refer to ebooks that includes all the retailers, not just Amazon. Has your ebook percentage decreased or just the Kindle subset of that medium?

    • And folks to whom two pounds matter aren’t in a position to buy a sixty-pound Kindle in the first place.

      I know this perfectly well. I never bought a Kindle; couldn’t afford one; nor a tablet — so I use the Kindle app on my mobile, which I had already bought for other purposes. Billions of people are in a similar position: they have an ebook reader in their pockets all day without having to shell out for a dedicated device.

      You’re quite right that the standalone book reader is ‘so 2012’. That doesn’t mean ebooks are going away. Quite the opposite, since the cost of acquiring a reader, for an ever-increasing percentage of the world’s population, is zero.

      • This is true. I am an avid reader but I never wanted an ereader and waited until smartphone screens got large enough to make for a comfortable read.

        Since then, my physical book purchases have dwindled to 20-25%.

      • True. I’ve got Kindle, Kobo, and Nook access on the same smartphone I’ve owned since 2009.

    • Oh, by the way, Sir:

      By definition I was a debut, and then a midlister, and finally a bestseller. I’ve seen it all, and you’ve seen none of it. Again, with no respect at all, you’re full of it.

      You were a debut author in the 1990s, and the industry has changed massively since then. Among the lot of us here at TPV, we account for every level of critical and commercial success as writers, except for the level of super-bestsellerdom which you yourself occupy. We’ve seen it, and we have seen it recently; we are not relying upon our memories of how things used to be a generation ago. And we have seen it with many pairs of eyes, not just one; and we have shared our information with one another obsessively whilst observing it.

      Sir, our map is better than yours, and if anyone in this conversation is full of it, it is yourself.

      With no respect at all, and it’s more than you deserve for taking that tone.

    • Mr. Child, I hope you are just misinformed rather than deliberately insulting your readers. When we see one of your hardcover books discounted to near or lower than the same ebook we have purchased, this is insulting. When you come out in favor of charging your fans higher prices because you think we should pay more, you are insulting us directly. Whether you agree or not, a digital file should never, ever cost more than the material book. Perhaps your ebook buyers peaked in 2012 because they are buying books from more respectful authors with fresh stories and better prices, as I have. Or perhaps, feeling ripped off, ebook buyers are pirating best sellers that are higher priced.
      Anyone with a smart phone or tablet has an ereader app, (Kindle, iBook, Nook). I have them all. Personally, I only use a Kindle dedicated device for beach/boat/sunlight.
      I buy at least 100 books a year. I just looked at my library and I’ve accumulated over 900 ebooks since I converted to electronic in 2010. I haven’t bought a material book since then. But don’t worry about readers like me.

      • Because of the above post I’m now going to have to go with deliberately insulting his readers. I no longer count myself among them but then that is the way I feel about all that signed on with Preston. Just that fact that not one of the signees didn’t point out to Preston that “boycott” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means leaves me cold.

    • “Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports.

      My sales in all formats have increased year-on-year from 2012 to 2014, and the Kindle percentage has decreased in favor of renewed increases in paper. This pattern is shared by all large-volume sellers. “Peak Kindle” was 2012 – for us, anyway.”

      The only question I have is where do you get this information? I ask simply because it goes against every number I’ve seen regarding the thriller genre, which is the genre I write in myself. I strongly suspect that it comes to you by way of your publisher. If so I would take this information with a LARGE grain of salt. The statement screams “audit” to me, especially if I sold in your numbers.

      Regardless of your thoughts on PG’s comment, a wise man might wish to ask himself if maybe there isn’t a bit of truth to his statement.

    • Hi Lee, I’m not sure what “high school” or “all or nothing” has to do with anything either of us has said so far. As for your “bookstore owner is cheating on his wife” analogy, I think you might be on firmer ground if you could come up with something involving a publicly important issue with a $100b corporation bent on world conquest at the center of it, rather than an individual’s private, peripheral sexual affair.

      But why bother with analogies (especially inapplicable ones) at all? Here’s what you actually said, all within the space of a single four-minute interview: “I love Amazon… Amazon wants to take over the world.”

      I suggested three possibilities for this remarkable juxtaposition: (1) schizophrenia; (2) hypocrisy; (3) hyperbole. It sounds like you’re acknowledging the right answer is #3. FWIW, that’s my best guess at a diagnosis, too, but I didn’t want to rule anything out. 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, Lee.

      The simple fact is that, as you can see from comments other than mine, you did sound out of touch with today’s book business during your interview.

      One of the consequences of technology disruption such as the combination of ebooks and ecommerce is that truths that were once universally accepted may no longer be correct. I remember hearing one retiring executive say, “I know a lot of things that aren’t true anymore.”

      Without due respect, twenty years of experience in publishing simply doesn’t make you an expert on ecommerce, ebooks or Amazon in 2014 unless you actively continue to learn about this new world. A great many publishing executives who seem to have provided you with talking points are in exactly the same position as you are.

      One of the things that struck me and others as indicative of your lack of knowledge of ebooks and ecommerce was your inexplicable statements about “the Kindle.”

      You talked about readers not distinguishing between ebooks that cost 10 pounds and ebooks that cost 8 pounds “having bought the machine in the first place.”

      Do you understand that most ebook readers use smart phones and/or tablets to read instead of any device that Amazon manufactures? While Amazon does make very nice ereaders called Kindles, Amazon almost certainly sells more ebooks to non-Kindle devices that have Kindle apps installed.

      You talk about the Kindle “not working” for Amazon. Do you fail to understand that the big investment Amazon has put into designing, manufacturing and selling the Kindle ereader and the Kindle Fire is simply to provide readers (and movie viewers, etc.) an easy and inexpensive tool for purchasing electronic content from Amazon? This is called “enabling technology.” In Jeff Bezos’ perfect world, everyone would have already owned a device suitable for reading ebooks so Amazon could have saved its hardware development and manufacturing money and simply started selling them ebooks.

      You also say that the Kindle “has settled into a good solid niche,” implying that somehow this means because device sales have plateaued, Amazon has to push Hachette in order to make more money. Can you really believe that Amazon is not selling more and more ebooks every month – that those sales have plateaued?

      Amazon doesn’t care whether its ereader sales have settled into a “niche” because it likely loses money on each ereader sale and makes money on each ebook sale whether the reader uses an Apple, Samsung or Amazon device to read the ebook.

      Your statement that “books can’t get any cheaper” is also indicative of your misunderstanding of the current reality with ebooks and ecommerce. Properly, your statement should have been something like, “Books can’t get any cheaper and still support the infrastructure and costs of traditional publishing.”

      However, the simple fact is that an increasing number of authors are electing to avoid the huge costs of traditional publishing and using Amazon, Apple and other ebookstores to sell books directly to readers.

      These authors have the ability to set their own prices and, unlike traditionally-published authors, keep the vast majority of the price that readers pay for their books. Unlike traditionally-published authors, indie authors also have the ability to monitor their ebook sales in real time. They can conduct pricing experiments with various of their books to determine which price sells the most books and makes them the most money.

      Typically, these authors are finding that they make the most money by pricing their books between $2.99 and $6.99. They could sell their books at higher prices – 10 pounds, for example, but they have learned that at that price, while they receive more money per book, the total numbers of books sold declines in an amount that results in less money coming into their pocket at the end of the month.

      Of course, these authors also understand that when they sell one book to a customer, if that customer likes the book, she is likely to come back to purchase more and tell her friends about the author as well. Simple mathematics, but mathematics that breaks the rules of traditional publishing, says that selling a reader five ebooks for a total of 15 pounds is more profitable than selling a reader one book for 10 pounds.

      But of course, you don’t have any experience with pricing books then watching the response of readers to your prices because your publisher prices your books and, perhaps, watches for customer responses. More than likely, your publisher doesn’t give any thought to the optimum price for your books at all, but rather prices your books like it prices the books of other authors as if books were grab bag items.

      So here’s another part of today’s book business that twenty years in publishing doesn’t help you understand.

      • Obviously there isn’t time for detailed discussion in four minutes of superficial TV, so forgive me for lack of detail in the clip. (And bear in mind I was in the UK yesterday, where the market is behind ours, and where I was specifically asked about “the Kindle”, which is still relatively big news there.)

        But I try to learn all the time, and always have, and even twenty years ago (or 19, to be pedantic) I had e-book clauses in my contracts, and I not only watched the market change, but was immersed in it, day by day, with my family’s welfare dependent on my understanding of it. I first met Jeff Bezos in 1997, and first visited Amazon in Seattle in 1998, and maintain many contacts there, as well as elsewhere in the old and new parts of the industry. I first tried pricing experiments with my fourth book in 2000. I was the fifth person in the world to sell a million e-book units through Amazon, which didn’t happen without very close involvement with the Fiona project from the very start. Etc, etc. I am acutely aware of my many lacunae, and work hard to fill them, but I feel I know enough to get by, and I sleep OK.

        And – this time with respect – your belief that publishing executives provide talking points to authors like me shows you to be totally, profoundly, utterly ignorant of traditional publishing culture. That just doesn’t – couldn’t, ever – happen. I can’t really explain why, short of writing a 900-page sociological work, but I’m afraid it makes me a little dubious about your other assumptions. But, many thanks for hosting me on your bandwidth.

        • I’m not trying to tweak you, Lee, but your talking points response clearly show you to be in the 1%.

          I have no doubt you have earned that status through hard work and excellent writing, but publishers regularly tell 99% authors what and what not to say.

          I’ve heard directly from Hachette authors that they have received strict instructions not to talk about Hachette/Amazon because Hachette is controlling the message and the messengers.

          I’m willing to believe that no one told you what to say, but your message did sound a lot like people who are definitely repeating the same things Hachette is saying directly.

          • My publisher never told me what to say, but my agent sure did. But then I have a tendency to open my mouth and insert my foot into it, and he was only trying to protect me. 😉

          • Hmm… Lee says “… your belief that publishing executives provide talking points to authors like me shows you to be totally, profoundly, utterly ignorant of traditional publishing culture. That just doesn’t – couldn’t, ever – happen. I can’t really explain why, short of writing a 900-page sociological work, but I’m afraid it makes me a little dubious about your other assumptions.”

            That publishers would NEVER, ever provide talking points to writers does not sound remotely plausible. Nor does it sound plausible that Lee couldn’t figure out how to explain why they wouldn’t. (The code of the Knights of the Round table?) It sounds even less plausible given how on message all of these attacks on Amazon are. Particularly with Douglas Preston also improbably arguing he isn’t talking with Hachette about these matters either.

            Given, as PG states, that there are writers who will go off the record and stay that publishers ARE telling them when to speak and when not to speak about the Amazon fight, Lee’s comment seems even less believable, if that is possible. (Not to mention Hachette’s completely exposed involvement in a criminal conspiracy related to Amazon and book pricing.)

            And, unfortunately, I cannot accept that he simply lives a sheltered existence so it hasn’t happened to him. Therefore, I have to conclude he is deliberately not being truthful. Moreover, that he doesn’t not have enough respect for others to know he is likely to be disbelieved when he says something that seems utterly impossible with an even less likely explanation.

            It is also sad he does not have enough respect for himself to be concerned that others might realize he isn’t being truthful.

            I would suggest in the future, when Lee wants to mislead people, he tries sometime slightly more plausible. Like “Well, I can’t speak for every publisher and writer, but mine hasn’t talked to me about these matters and I haven’t brought up the subject.”

            Either that or really go the distance, “Fire will burn down upon anyone who believes that publishers and writers would speak such blasphemy!”

        • Mr. Child said: “My sales in all formats have increased year-on-year from 2012 to 2014, and the Kindle percentage has decreased in favor of renewed increases in paper. This pattern is shared by all large-volume sellers.”

          I wonder where he got the figures for all large-volume sellers. I also wonder how such a claim can be so contrary to figures I’ve seen, and still be true.

    • Lee Child: You saying ‘if someone can afford 8 pounds, they can afford 10 pounds’ is just as insulting as Patterson saying self-published authors are ruining literature.

      You DO sound out of touch, and putting your hat in with the Authors Guild shows just how out of touch you are. It’s great that you want to hug the legs of your publisher, as if they will protect you from the dirty, evil, mean Amazon and its army of literature-destroying self-published authors.

      In the real world, you’re completely out of touch and out of sync with reality. The Kindle is a failure. That tells me everything I need to know about how out of touch with reality you truly, truly are.

      It makes me sad that when someone like you turns out to be someone who doesn’t seem to know wtf he is talking about, and just keeps saying more ignorant sentences without even realizing what you’re doing.

      “And folks to whom two pounds matter aren’t in a position to buy a sixty-pound Kindle in the first place.”

      Mr. Child, I thought you were only misinformed and partially ignorant before. After reading this nonsense from you… let’s just hope you can somehow figure out why this makes you possibly the biggest a****** on the internet this week.

      • Travis, I’m not a member of the Authors Guild, nor would I want to be. And I’m on record as supporting self-publishing through KDP as the most radical, beneficial, and in sum the greatest single revolution in the history of the arts. I’m not precious about literature – in fact I don’t give a damn about it – and I believe a great book or great idea will survive the rough and tumble any marketplace could possibly throw at it. I don’t hug my publisher – most of the time they’re hugging me. Possibly you’re confusing me with someone else?

        • What I don’t think you understand is that just because someone has an ereader doesn’t mean they are so comfortable financially that they won’t think think twice about spending $15 on an ebook over the $10 ebook. Or that they’ll happily wait a year for the price to come down. I’ve had my own financial ups and downs and yet, I own several Kindles. All were gifts and all were given from as a group gift to me from my family. No one person paid for them. With our finances in flux, I balk at paying more than $5 for an ebook. The last time I did, it was only because I had a refund from the collusion case and bought one book for $9.99–and even felt a little sick at doing that except I could only use the money for books, so that helped ease my guilt.

      • Wow. Just wow.

        First Patterson, now Child.

        All that comes to mind is the old saying, “Better to let people think you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

        • Do people still say “Wow. Just wow.” on the net?

        • You may disagree with Lee Child but at least he is willing to come here and debate his viewpoints. I don’t see the need for insults on either end. As a reader, I am firmly on Amazon’s side in this argument but I am happy to listen to other viewpoints offering my own if in disagreement.For example, how does a full page ad in the NYT equate to taking someone quietly aside?

    • I’m off to buy every book Mr. Childs has written. This is wonderful. What he said. Yes. Absolutely. He sums it up for every veteran author who listens to the bloviations of people who’ve never written for a major publisher and have no clue what the business is about. The thing is, we don’t wish any ill-will toward our fellow authors who self-publish, but we’re sick of hearing your outright lies and half-assed ignorant beliefs about traditional publishers, the business of publishing, the way Amazon works with publishers, and the business of bookselling.

      • Numbers. Verifiable numbers. If you want to convince us that we are wrong then bring us numbers that refute what we believe. That does NOT include numbers supplied by the major publishers. If you have those then you have my attention.

        So far all the numbers I’ve seen point to self-publishing and the Amazon pricing structure as being superior to trade publishing. 20 years of experience in publishing means nothing today. All that matters today, as pointed out by our host, is knowledge of the last six.

        But I give Lee points for sticking his head up here at TPV, let’s not try to chase him away and maybe we’ll all benefit.

        • Randall, with respect, why are sales figures supplied by Amazon any more trustworthy than those supplied by publishers? Are you absolutely sure Amazon is incapable of telling a lie? I guess you better hope so, with KU in your future. Good luck with verifying that.

          • I know that SFWA, RWA, and several other writers’ organizations have audited publishers in the past, and in every case that I know of, the publishers were found to have falsified their royalty statements and were made to disgorge moneys to the authors. I also know of instances where publishers have reported sales (particularly of ebooks) that were obviously falsified, and the authors could prove it, because they had personal knowledge of sales in excess of those reported for the royalty period on a given title.

            No, Sir, figures supplied by publishers are known not to be trustworthy. Amazon, at the worst, hasn’t been caught yet with its hand in the cookie jar. In any case, your publishers themselves get their figures on Amazon’s ebook sales from – guess who? – Amazon! Which means that their figures cannot be any more reliable or accurate than Amazon’s, on the well-known principle of GIGO.

            • Here’s my second to Tom’s comment. I have an acquaintance who has audited dozens of publishers. In a few cases, the audits have shown that the publisher paid royalties properly.

              In every case in which royalties were improperly calculated, those “accounting errors” short-changed the author. Never was there an accounting error that resulted in an overpayment of royalties.

            • Tom, are you a published author? Or a self-published author?

              • Ah! Now we get to where the shoe pinches. You draw a distinction between the two – which gives the lie to your earlier claim to be a great supporter of self-publishing.

                Sir, I did not claim to be any kind of author at all. That is as irrelevant to the facts of the matter as the number of books you have sold.

                I note that you are still addressing me on a first-name basis, though I have asked you repeatedly to stop. This is ill-advised on your part.

              • That’s like asking him if he’s a man or a man.

              • And that, right there, broke my heart, Mr. Child. I’m not sure if I’m angry or disappointed in that post of yours.

              • Wow. Just wow.

          • They aren’t. But through a combination of my own data, Authors Earnings, and the sharing of sales data with other Amazon authors I can compare numbers with others across the board. The size of the fraud it would take to fool us all would have to be massive indeed.

            I believe you when you say you have access to real-time data through your publisher, and if you are auditing that information regularly then I applaud that, but do you have access to your fellow author’s data? Authors that sell in the numbers you do? If your community is as generous with one another as the indie community is about sharing data and those numbers stand up, then I will stand corrected right here.

            (I’d also point out that most authors get what is best described as a puzzle for an earnings report, something it would seem is purposefully designed to be illegible.)

            As for Kindle Unlimited I am leaning towards the No column myself, but I’m waiting to see some data before I make that decision.

      • This is wonderful. What he said. Yes. Absolutely.

        Why, of course it is – from your point of view. You only come in here and post childish drive-by insults; whereas he stayed for the duration and insulted everyone on the site, both wholesale and in detail.

        Of course, you still have not cited a single fact or figure in defence of your insults – not ever, to the best of my knowledge. You simply flaunt your superiority complex, and then take it as validation when people that you have already decided are stupid don’t buy it without evidence. Evidence is so beneath superior persons like yourself!

      • I’m lost. How does the lies of self-publishers have anything to do with this discussion? Sounds like someone has some venom to spill.
        Edited: Supposed to be in reply to Deborah Smith’s comment.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but this is the first time I’ve seen a gazillion selling author enter a blog and speak his piece. Sure, both sides are pretty entrenched in their viewpoint (I haven’t finished reading the comments) and I’m not expecting to see any change of heart.

      What I DO want to say is that I respect the hell out of Mr. Child for coming in here in the first place, and sticking around for the time he has.

      Dude, I don’t agree with your ad. However, I also don’t live in your world. I do want to tell you that I respect you more than any other signatory for that letter because of you coming in here. Balls to the wall. Y’gotta respect that.

      Now, would you and Barry co-author a book already? Honest, one of my happiest days from childhood was when DC and Marvel co-published that Superman/Spiderman special edition.

      Rain/Reacher… Reacher/Rain…. whoaaa

      • I’d totally buy Reacher/Rain. 😀

        • Fuggedaboudit- the concept is mind blowing. I got to admit, I read A L L of the Reacher books, and as soon as I was done, started on Rain (up to Last Assassin right now).

          Put THOSE two guys inna room, and it’d be like… Child and Eisler inna room! Okay, better.

          Now I’m gonna get flamed for this, but IMHO, TOM CRUISE IS JACK REACHER! (Like Sean Connery was James Bond till Craig showed up)

          • I won’t flame you. I totally enjoyed Cruise in the flick. But then, I enjoy the hell outta Cruise in action flicks, period. And Connery WAS Bond until Craig showed up. Love me some Craig-Bond and his dark darkness. 😀

    • Lee, thank you for replying. I didn’t selectively quote you to make you sound bad. I selected the quote which had the most impact with me because I thought the interviewer asked a very important question for readers: Why are more expensive eBooks better? I didn’t feel that your response was adequate when many people in Britain struggle for money at the moment.

      I may be alone in this, but I believe that literature should be available to everyone. While I agree that artists should be paid a fair wage for their work, I also think we have the technology to provide every reader, no matter how poor, with literature. Literature shapes the world. It shapes future generations. I don’t care where a kid comes from. Everyone has the right to enjoy and learn from literature. I realise that most of this fight is for the publishing industry on some level, that it boils down to rich guys in a board room. I don’t have much sympathy for them. I’m concerned for the kid on a council estate who wants to read books because it’s the only good thing in their life. Cheaper ebooks mean that everyone, regardless of where they come from, can access literature. That’s more important than any other factor in this argument in my opinion.

      On the Kindle, why would someone need to buy a Kindle to read an ebook? I don’t own a Kindle. I use Kindle Cloud or Kindle for PC or the Kindle app for my phone. They’re all free to download right now.

      And to answer the question, I grew up below the breadline. My household had no electricity for two years after the floods in York in 1980 washed away everything we owned. We got our first TV when I was fourteen. I bought my first VCR when I was sixteen with my wages from my first job in a factory. In my teen years, I went to bed by candlelight in a freezing house that I could see my breath in, but I still managed to read books. I know poverty very well. It was all I knew until I got my first job.

      • Thank you. That needed to be said.

      • Well said, Claire

        Many a kid, and many a trauma survivor (the people I usually interact with), find hope and a reason to live another day by reading. So does the act of writing, and for some that will include Kindle publishing.

        Risking melodrama, cheaper access to literature (and I do actually care about literature) and other forms of writing saves lives.

        Two pounds matter.

        • …and many a trauma survivor…find hope and a reason to live another day by reading. So does the act of writing…

          I agree with you completely. Reading saves lives – literally, as well as by adding meaning. Writing saves lives. And 2 pounds does matter.

    • You quote me selectively. Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports.

      Mr. Child,
      This explains a lot. I suspect that while there is some overlap, your readers and the readers of most of us here are different. For example, the biggest selling genre in ebooks is Romance, and those readers can read 100+ books a year. Heavy readers are much more price sensitive. Often these readers had been getting many of their books at libraries or used, and now they buy ebooks.

      The cost difference between 8 and 10 dollars (or pounds) quickly becomes significant when the reader is buying a large number of books.

      And as others have said, Kindle is not just an ereader, it is also an app which readers can download to computers, smartphones and tablets which they already own, so the cost of having access to Kindle books can be $0. The reader may also have gotten a Kindle ereader as a gift, or purchased one in better times and are now on a tighter budget.

    • I think you nailed it when you said that business is different for you (and for most best sellers probably). People are willing to spend more for a known product. Will that last forever? Who knows? If you have to change, I’m guessing you and the publishers will.

      Every writer has the right to make their own decisions–go with a traditional publisher, go indie, do both, do neither. It isn’t all or nothing. And from where you sit, I’m guessing the view is different–along with the options. :>) Best of luck in all directions. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably keep on saying it. I’m all for authors. However they get published!!!

    • I’m wondering if the sales info Mr Child quotes is Independently sourced or supplied by his publisher. I still cannot find out true print run numbers let alone audited sales numbers from my big 5 publisher. I believe authors of whatever level are told what is considered useful for them to hear by their publisher/s. Does a big seller get to have audited sales numbers? I’d be really interested to know – but I doubt it.

    • When I was laid off from a newspaper job a few years ago (before thanks to Amazon I didn’t need a ‘day’ job) and was struggling with the mess that is US unemployment, guess what. My daughter gave me a Kindle so I could download free books and be given inexpensive ebooks as gifts. Apparently supposedly people like me don’t exist. Actually we do and we won’t feel terribly deprived in doing without your books. Sorry about that.

      Thanks to Amazon which is not my friend but as a corporation has done pretty well by me, I buy my own Kindles these days though. I still prefer cheap books though.

    • Well said, Lee. Loved the interview. Couldn’t agree more re Amazon’s behavior. I’m a bit astounded by the passionate defense of Amazon here (and how hung up everyone got on your Kindle comments). Amazon has proved it’s willing to control a reader’s access. It has proved it doesn’t care if authors make a living. Brilliant company, but this path must be righted. Hachette is my UK publisher. I know many of their authors. Somehow it seems a few folks missed the big picture here. If an indie bookstore did business this way, the community would egg the windows.

      • Amanda, Hachette is the company that doesn’t care if authors make a living. Why else the 17.5%/82.5% split on ebook sales? Why else the rights grabs for IP (life of the author plus 70 years)? Why else the strict non-compete clauses? Perhaps you’ve been able able to negotiate better terms in your own contracts, but most authors cannot.

        If an indie bookstore did business this way, the community would egg the windows.

        Not true. Indie bookstores absolutely do do business this way. They cannot fit every book published on their shelves, so they pick and chose. Many boycott Amazon imprint and indie books completely. (Which, incidently, Amazon has not done with Hachette books. Removing the pre-order buttons is a far cry from not carrying the books at all. Hachette books continue to be available for purchase on the Amazon site, even though the contract governing Amazon’s purchase of Hachette books has lapsed and Hachette refuses to come to the negotiating table.)

  23. Books are extremely cheap right now??!?!

    That little nugget at the end will stick with me for quite a while. Extremely cheap is 99 cents, not $10 or $15.

    Prices that are $5 and under mean that even those of us who are living with a really tight budget can actually squeeze a book in here and there.

    If it weren’t for the public library I probably would hardly read anymore.

    They all seem to forget that they are competing against things like $3 to $5 online movie rentals and other services like Netflix.

    • Well, you put your money where your heart is. For a lot of people it isn’t books.

      • First you have to have the money.

        By the way, aren’t you the I. J. Parker who said that real readers didn’t buy books, because they couldn’t afford to? —which meant that you were insulting everyone who buys books, by saying they weren’t ‘real’ readers according to your rarefied standards.

        How do you reconcile that circle with this square?

  24. It’s so sad to hear big name authors talking about math wrong. And continuous dismissals of Amazon’s analysis and numbers baffles me. How do these people think the company gained such a strong competitive edge and the majority of the market share? Magic?

    And the fact that he thinks people don’t read ebooks means he doesn’t understand that’s the whole basis of the dispute he’s talking about! WTF?

    Honestly, Amazon shouldn’t say another word on this because the authors speaking out do such a perfect job of making their case.

  25. If you believed Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher,
    You’ll believe Child’s quiet rant as well.

    • I love Lee Child’s Reacher books. I do, however, get them at the library. Too pricey for a one-time read on my Kindle, especially because I read about sixty plus books a year.

      And I was so disappointed when Tom Cruise was cast as Reacher. I was rooting for someone like Eric Bana or Hugh Jackman. (I know Mr. Child didn’t have control over casting.)

    • I was hoping Reacher would jump on the couch during a scene and claim his love for Traditional Publishing.

      I was also hoping Xenu would arrive and destroy all humans, because of someone as clueless as Child is allowed to speak without being taken to task for his ignorance, humanity doesn’t deserve to exist.

  26. Passive Guy is not “full of it”. He is a kind and gentle man, with a great deal of patience and respect. In addition, he’s a well-respected attorney with substantial experience.

  27. Tom Simon: Sure, I know about phones, but my point was not about ebooks per se, but Kindles – sales of which Amazon subsidized by up to thirty bucks per, and a huge percentage of which – as you point out – now lie unused in drawers. And I absolutely take your point about my early experiences being “so 1990s”, but I do my best to stay in close contact with today’s debut people (both published and self-published) in terms of helping and mentoring where I can (which, btw, Doug Preston spends hundreds of hours at too.) So I’m not totally out of touch, I hope.

    Barbara Morgenroth: I have a law degree (37 years old and from a foreign country, but hey) and I once successfully defended myself against a speeding ticket, so by PG’s standards I know more about the law business than he does, right?

    • Sir, whether you are ‘totally out of touch’ can perhaps best be gathered from the things you believe to be true; and particularly from those things you believe so firmly that you feel competent to lecture the public on them. To go by this particular interview, and your comments here today, your grip on the present state of things is not of the firmest.

    • Waaaaaaaaiiiiiiit a minute. Kindles are lying unused in drawers?

      Seriously?

      This is seriously your belief?

      Seriously?

      Can you truly be this daft, this clueless, this ignorant, this out of touch to say that Kindle is a failure, that poor people who budget their money so they can buy things like your books can’t afford a Kindle, and that the most popular e-reader in the world is sitting in everyone’s drawers collecting dust???

      Because… we’re all migrating back toward print books?

      Sir, I’m normally not disrespectful, but you are a simpleton.

      More likely you’re really intelligent, but your agenda won’t allow you to lay some of that intelligence on us.

      Do yourself a favor and shut up now before this ends up turning into bad publicity for you.

      • I had a Kindle lying unused in a drawer. Because it had been replaced by a newer Paperwhite. My son came over, looking for some books to read. I gave him my old Kindle. He was very happy. “I’ve been looking to get one of these.”

        This story will repeat itself many times over the next several years. The Kindle is far from dead.

        • I have a Kindle lying in a drawer… because I far prefer my Kobo. Cost me £30, better features and finer control over, well, everything to do with the display. And it’s actually compatible with library ebooks and a much, much higher proportion of the ARCs I get than the Kindle.

          The Kindle ain’t all that.

          • I don’t know. I LOVE my Paperwhite. I looked at the Kobos and found that they have odd formatting problems. I didn’t want to have to reformat every book I decide to read.

            • No formatting problems with mine, less than with my Kindle, honestly, though I do prefer the way Kindle handles PDF files. I love Kobo for the accessibility options particularly, which Kindle doesn’t match — a subject dearer to my heart than for most people since I volunteer with sight impaired people, but still, big point in its favour.

        • I have a Kindle “lying around” on a table beside my bed so I can read from it every night. When I go places that have waiting rooms (car repair shop, doctor’s office) I see several Kindles in use. I don’t like back-lit readers (Paperwhite, computers, tablets, phones). For me, it’s the basic Kindle with the light coming from a lamp. I don’t think I’m a market of one.

        • Yep. I have a Kindle Keyboard, but I keep that one for reading in sunlight, like on the deck. I had an original Kindle Fire, but got a Kindle Fire HDX for Christmas, and when my grandson was born, I lent my old Kindle Fire to my daughter in law to use in the hospital. That was almost four months ago and she’s still using it. That’s fine with me because I’d rather see someone use it than for it to sit unused.

        • We have three Kindles. First was a gift to my kids for their birthday from an aunt. Second was my Kindle Fire, my birthday gift. Third is a Paperwhite that we got for attending an all-day demo of a piece of dental equipment. We use all three.

          I’m happy to see Mr. Child joining the conversation here. I have certainly put a bunch of money in his publishers’ pockets. Hopefully he got at least some of it. His books have provided many hours of enjoyment since my friend lent me THE KILLING FLOOR when it was new in paperback. But it does seem that he (and his colleagues) see things from a different viewpoint, being mega-successful, blockbuster authors. I’d prefer to listen and learn from him and perhaps gain some understanding of his viewpoint. For what it’s worth…

    • Barbara Morgenroth: I have a law degree (37 years old and from a foreign country, but hey) and I once successfully defended myself against a speeding ticket, so by PG’s standards I know more about the law business than he does, right?

      **

      PG is a very, very respected lawyer, actually. And this is his home. Just something to think about.

    • Quote “I have a law degree (37 years old and from a foreign country, but hey) and I once successfully defended myself against a speeding ticket,”

      Oh my goodness!! Why did no one tell me this thread was going on! Please pass the popcorn.

      I’m still reading, but Mr. Child’s comment which I partially quoted had me laughing. I’m with the kudos-to-him crowd for coming here and taking the time to go back and forth with so many of the commenters. And especially maintaining his wit and candor in light of some rather tactless replies to him.

      I met Mr. Child for the first time at RT this summer as I grabbed up every title they had of his for him to sign. I was babbling in my fangirling way, spouting off all kinds of inanities, and mentioned how I’d been a network engineer before writing and self-pubbing my first two books and that now I write full-time for two different publishing houses (and since one is Montlake and the other Grand Central, I *do* have a dog in this fight). Mr. Child stopped signing, put down his pen, and made a point to shake my hand, then proceeded to finish autographing my books. It took me by surprise and I thought what a gallant gesture from an incredibly successful and talented author. It was a moment that will always stick in my memory.

      So say what you will re. his opinion and thoughts on the industry or the Kindle or whatever. In the end, it’ll all shake out how it’s going to no matter the ink and hot air expelled. Still a notable thing that he came here and engaged, IMO.

    • It isn’t a marvellous idea to come onto a blog and be totally rude to the blog’s host. You might want to re-think that.

  28. Mr. Child, there is no need to be rude to me. But if it makes you feel better to demean me in public, by all means, go ahead.

    • Well, it certainly must make him feel better to demean PG, for he’s done it twice now today.

    • What? where was he rude or demeaning to you?” Did I miss something?

      • Yes, Ingrid you missed something. He essentially insulted every reader, possibly every self publishing author and maybe even every attorney. I’m not sure about that one.

        • Anne, relax. Or get over yourself. Whichever Tom Simon deems permissible.

          • I can’t believe you posted this.

            • Ha. I was just thinking the same thing, Veronica — along the lines of “Is he an imposter?” I’m hoping he is.

              • When I first set eyes on his first post, and saw that it started right off the bat with insulting PG, I thought: “This can’t be the real Lee Child. Surely not!”

                As the discussion moved on, and Mr. Child weighed in with additional comments, I submitted to the reality. But you raise an interesting point. Was he in fact an imposter? It would be easy to do online.

                I currently think it was the real Lee Child, but I could easily be wrong.

                • You have to realize, a lot of rich or famous people feel incredibly entitled. The people around them treat them with tremendous deference and respect, and they think they’ve actually earned it (when in reality most of those people just want something from them). It pisses them off to no end when ordinary people don’t defer to their wisdom, and so they get nasty, mean, brutish, and condescending in a flash. Lee is just your typical spoiled author. Probably not such a bad guy at heart, but success can ruin many people. Probably very nice to people who agree with him. But say something he doesn’t like, and that’s the end of the pleasantries.

          • If you want to insult Anne (whom I would do the courtesy of addressing by surname if I knew what it was), you can certainly do it without my help.

          • Again, with no respect at all, you’re full of it.

            This is not an insult? When someone arrives here and insults PG right off the bat, it’s going to tilt me toward “hearing” the rest of their comments with an insulting edge to them.

          • Wow. Just wow.

  29. Barbara: You didn’t think the man you defend was egregiously rude to me?

    • At worst, he was rude about you, and in his own forum, on his own time, and with his own bandwidth. Whereas you have gone out of your way to step into his forum to be rude to his face; and moreover, to be rude to everyone who has attempted to engage you, and indeed to all of TPV’s regular commenters. This does not cover you with glory.

      Incidentally, comments on TPV are threaded, and to reply to an individual comment, instead of tacking on your remarks in a general way at the bottom of the page, is both possible and preferred. But no doubt one so very au courant as yourself knows that; in which case, Sir, I can only put your failure to do so down to additional rudeness.

  30. PS to Barry Eisler: I enjoyed your SMERSH refs, etc, but am sure you know I said (in the context of a chatty four-minute item on a pop-news show, the kind of thing I know you have endured yourself, from time to time) that Amazon intended that Kindle would quickly become the dominant reading format in the U.S. That it hasn’t is disappointing to them – which is not conjecture, but reportage.

    • Amazon sells approximately half of all the trade books (print and electronic editions combined) in the United States, and a considerable majority of the books it sells are in the Kindle format. That puts Kindle-formatted ebooks at 30 percent of the total American market, or thereabouts, after only seven years on the market, and in the face of active and bitter resistance from the major publishers. I should say they have succeeded remarkably well.

      Your claim that they are disappointed may be reportage; I dare say it is – reporters will report anything, especially when sucking up to their employer’s advertisers. That does not put it anywhere in the neighbourhood of fact.

      • By reportage I meant I am relaying first-hand information told to me face to face by an Amazon executive.

        • I’m going to call b******* on this.

          • Actually, I have heard this too. The kindle e-reader is not selling as well as it used to because of competition from tablets (which includes the Kindle Fire) and phones. However, this does not necessarily mean that the Kindle Ecosystem is suffering. The Kindle as an App is very popular among people I know, and I personally own two Kindle Fire HDs. Does that mean I don’t use a kindle, just because the Fire is not an e-ink reader?

            • The thing is, the popularity decrease of the *dedicated* e-reader was predicted ages ago. It’s why my WiFi-less BeBook s obsolete, and why you don’t see so many Sonys on the Tube anymore. But this doesn’t translate to the decline of the *format* or the *purchase and use* of e-books any more than the decline of fancy digital cameras due to the rise of cell and smartphones means that fewer people are taking and sharing photographs.

        • Oh, yeah, I can envision the scene clearly: Amazon executive to Lee: “Jeff is so disappointed in the Kindle, he cries all the way to the bank.”

    • Oh my, Lee, you were talking about the Kindle format and not the Kindle device.

      Unfortunately, that means you’re even more wrong.

      Kindle apps and devices utilize the dominant ebook format in the US and (probably) in Britain as well. The format Kindles use is anything but a niche.

      Ask your publisher for a breakout of your US ebook sales by seller – Amazon, Apple, Google, Barnes & Noble, etc. – and check for yourself. There are a few US authors who report selling more on Apple than on Amazon, but they’re a small minority.

      If Amazon were not the dominant seller of ebooks (all of which are in the format compatible with Kindle devices and apps), Hachette would not be engineering a major public relations campaign to attempt to break Amazon’s will.

      Amazon is clearly #1. The only real debate is whether Apple or Barnes & Noble is #2. You misunderstood what you were told by this Amazon person.

      If Amazon determined that the only other commercial text-based ebook format – ePub – was better for any material reason, Amazon could quickly start selling ebooks in the ePub format in addition to or instead of Amazon’s Mobi (or PRC) format.

      Amazon already accepts ebooks in ePub format. It just doesn’t sell them in that format.

      Your whole discussion of Kindle makes even less sense as a format discussion than it did as a device discussion, which is what I assumed you were talking about when you mentioned paying for a Kindle.

      • “Ask your publisher for a breakout of your US ebook sales by seller – Amazon, Apple, Google, etc. – and check for yourself. There are a few US authors who report selling more on Apple than on Amazon, but they’re a small minority.”

        I would follow that with an audit. Then compare the two reports. Trust then verify.

      • Ask my publisher? I have a real-time 24/7 tap into their data. Follow that with an audit? I have had two auditors working full time for the last eight years. You guys really have no idea, do you?

        • I have a real-time 24/7 tap into their data.

          Well, there’s a benefit the mid-list doesn’t get!

          Think of what Data Guy could illuminate with access like that.

          • Hello,

            You’re entirely wrong, I’m afraid. Penguin Random House provides a service called the Author Portal. Every PRH author no matter whether they’re a bestselling author or a debut author with the ink still wet on the contract has a real-time 24/7 tap into sales data. I believe they are not unique in this. It came on line a little under a year ago/

            It seems to me that you are making two unwarranted but revealing assumptions. The first would be that trade publishing has just sat still while the world has changed around it. It’s the kind of thing that sits behind the ‘dinosaur’ and ‘legacy’ rhetoric. But in fact trade publishing has adapted and moved forwards in all kinds of ways since Amazon launched Kindle.

            There is a certain inertia in a big publishing company, yes. A huge amount of revenue is, by the nature of things, described by old contracts and non-digital assets, and these needed to be dealt with in a way that fairly reflected their value (which in itself is hard to determine as the market changes and evolves around you.) But despite that, great strides have been made. Don’t assume that what you heard someone complain about second-hand, some slight or obstacle or stupidity, five years ago is still an issue.

            The second revealing assumption is that the midlist is routinely treated like dirt by trade publishing, and that by extension anyone who defends publishers has been corrupted somehow. I think that’s an extremely skewed and unhelpful way to address these issues.

          • Think of what Data Guy could illuminate with access like that.

            Lee, any sales data you could share, within the bounds of your contractual agreements, summarized or raw, showing U.S. print versus ebook breakdowns, would be a helpful service to the author community.

            Most traditionally published genre midlisters we know report that 59% – 65% of their unit sales are now coming from ebooks. I suspect megabestsellers might well see a very different split than midlisters, but have no data on that.

            Whatever you can share would be much appreciated.

          • Lee and I have the same publisher. We all have 24/7 access to sales figures. It doesn’t matter where you are on the list, FYI.

        • Ask my publisher? I have a real-time 24/7 tap into their data.

          Now it’s my turn to call b*******. At least on the left side of the pond, publishers themselves don’t have a real-time 24/7 tap into their own data. At least that’s the story they give for public consumption, whenever any of their non-mega-seller authors ask for data: such as, for instance, a simple thing like total print runs on a given title and edition. Or how ‘reserves against returns’ are calculated. And if Laura Resnick or Kristine Kathryn Rusch were here today, they could regale you with some lovely horror stories about basket accounting.

          • Tom, relax. And don’t call me a liar.

            • Why not? You have called every single person on this site a liar, beginning with PG himself.

              And I told you, Sir, not to be familiar with me. Did you ever learn any manners at all, or do you employ a flunkey to have them for you?

              • Tom, I haven’t called anyone a liar. That would be you, about me. And don’t call me sir, especially with a capital letter. I have two doctorates, but no knighthood.

                • If you had a knighthood, I would address you correctly as ‘Sir Lee’. The unadorned ‘Sir’ is not a term of address for persons with knighthoods.

                  You began your participation in this conversation by calling PG ‘full of it’. That is another term for ‘liar’. Since you now deny having called him that, in plain view of the comment in which you did just that, I believe it is possible to discern the truth of the matter.

          • Dear Mr Simon,

            Please forgive my familiarity in presuming to address you; I know that we have not heretofore been introduced, but I hope, sir, that, in your wisdom, you will deign to overlook this impertinence.

            To clarify the ’24/7 real-time tap’ that I describe in my post above, I should add that the Author Portal is real-time in the sense that it provides information as quickly as it is aggregated and made available to the publisher by the retailer, and that any delay in reporting is in the order of days, not months. Nielsen reports weekly, so if your book publishes on a Thursday you won’t see sales until the following Tuesday. I believe that the ebook sales figures are reported weekly as well.

            I remain, sir, your humble and obd’t servant

            iucounu

            ~from his Manse~

            • You needn’t be snippy. Addressing me is not familiarity; a stranger insulting me by my first name is.

              What happens with those sales that are not reported by Nielsen? I have heard of cases where a publisher has paid royalties on the Nielsen figures and not one copy more, even though the book was known to sell through channels that Nielsen does not cover.

              • The Author Portal, as I recall it, reports both confirmed sales (through Nielsen’s TCM system and ebook retailer systems), all confirmed rights sales, and also hooks into Vista, which is the stock and publishing management system that underlies all kinds of things. Vista will report how many books have been shipped, so you would see things like book club orders, reprints, export broken down by country, that sort of thing.

                It would be interesting to see those cases cited. On the face of it, it does sound ghastly. It would imply conscious connivance in fraud by publishers. I have simply never witnessed anything in my last 15 years in the business that would lead me to think that it could happen in a proper trade publishing house. I’ve seen all kinds of extravagantly dodgy nonsense and straight-up criminality in tiny hobbyist micropresses, vanity presses, author mills and scam literary agencies, but the bigger the press, the harder it is to get away with that sort of thing.

                What I could entirely believe is that somebody put the wrong code into some Byzantine publishing accounting system (when your contracts specify forty different revenue streams and cover as many editions, they have to be) and nobody could find the bug until some extremely horrid letters were exchanged. This is the sort of – of course entirely unacceptable – thing that becomes less and less prevalent the better IT gets, because my God do you need a lot of database mojo to run a publishing business these days.

                Anyway: I’d reiterate that it’s unwise to assume that what happened to someone else ten years ago is still a relevant issue. A lot of water under the bridge since then in this business.

                • I’d reiterate that it’s unwise assume that what happened to someone else ten years ago is still a relevant issue. A lot of water under the bridge since then in this business.

                  That’s true. On the other hand, PG’s collection of ghastly contracts keeps growing (or did till very recently; I don’t know if he is still collecting them), which suggests that even if authors are gaining on the roundabouts, they may be losing it all right back on the swings. Blanket noncompete clauses, for instance, were (I am told) practically unheard of ten years ago; now you not only have to watch out for them, you have to make sure the substance of them isn’t hidden away under some other heading.

                • If it’s a ghastly contract, don’t sign it. Better yet, negotiate it, and with the benefit of expert advice.

                  I don’t like noncompetes if they’re vague. I don’t like any kind of a vague contract term, and they do appear from time to time in publisher contracts, agency boilerplates, retailer terms, whatever. They’re generally the result of someone afraid of some kind of risk that they can’t quite define; the trick is to find a way of making that risk clear and routing around it.

                  If what the publisher is mainly worried about is your publishing an edgy Pinocchio reboot with a different house the same month your gritty reworking of The Velveteen Rabbit comes out with them, you can probably find a way to agree that. If they’re demanding you can’t publish anything whatever the same year, your agent strikes it or you walk away to someone less mad. So it goes.

                • If it’s a ghastly contract, don’t sign it. Better yet, negotiate it, and with the benefit of expert advice.

                  Oh, I’m not the one who needs the advice. But it seems that plenty of people have been signing these ghastly contracts (and having loud buyer’s remorse afterwards), perhaps because they only received one offer after trying many publishers and felt they had to take it or leave it, or because their agents gave them bad counsel. (The fact that agents have been known to give what amounts to legal advice without being admitted to any bar gives me the willies.)

                • Put it this way. At least in a situation where a valuable book is wanted by a couple, or a couple of dozen, different publishers, you have some leverage when ghastly terms are proposed. Where you have only one retailer with any clout, how are you going to resist ghastly terms of sale?

                  This is already happening. Amazon will jack up their market share and share of the supply chain as high as it will go, and then they will squeeze all of their suppliers. They’ve marked publishing for death already. When publishers are gone – and publisher functions either absorbed into Amazon, if profitable, or pushed on to authors, if not – they’ll start lowering the boom on the only remaining link in the chain: authors. See their recent moves on royalty rates for Audible.

                  If you look at a Big Five publisher’s accounts, you’ll see that they make about 10% profit overall in a good year. If Amazon corner a market in publishing and declare they want 10% more profit, where do we cut? Do we cut the publisher profit to 0? Inflation slowly kills the publisher. Do we cut 10% of spend on publishing the books? The books look that much shoddier and sales suffer. Do we claw back 10% in author contracts? The authors suffer and our business shrinks.

                  We need a plurality of possible retail platforms, just as we need a plurality of publishers and a myriad of authors. Otherwise the market becomes horribly distorted and everyone else gets screwed. At the moment the huge gravity well is caused by an overmighty retailer, folks. In the end everyone gets sucked in, and I’m hoping my (in general) very useful and efficient industry isn’t already crossing the event horizon.

                • This is already happening. Amazon will jack up their market share…

                  But Amazon’s share of the ebook market continues to decline. When the kindle was first released, their market share for ebooks was 90%. As other parties entered the market with their devices and their ebooks, the pie grew larger, Amazon’s slice grew larger, but Amazon’s percentage grew smaller.

                  ETA: I think it’s in the 60% to 65% range now.

                • Yes – we are at a point in history where there are at least glimmers of other viable platforms. More so in the USA – in the UK the Kindle stranglehold is more pronounced – but there are possibilities. If publishers dropped DRM, that’d be interesting.

                  Unfortunately for meaningful competition, Amazon’s in a better position than most of their ebook retail competition in that they’re already a huge books-and-everything-else store. So they don’t really seem to be under much pressure, competition-wise, if you ask me.

                  (If Kindle were under any serious pressure, the Kindle reading app would be good, instead of utter tripe, because of feature competition. They update it about twice a year and it is still awful.)

            • I tip my hat to you, Sir.

      • No, I was talking about the device. I think that was clear. In terms of U.S. ebook sales, yes, I do best via Amazon. But even via Amazon alone, my ebook/physical ratio peaked in 2012 and has drifted back toward paper by ten full percentage points since then. Not totally sure what your point is – I don’t deny selling lots of ebooks.

        • Apparently, I misunderstood your statement about “Kindle would quickly become the dominant reading format in the U.S.”

          Regardless of your own sales, Kindle is the dominant reading format in the US. In Hachette Livre’s recent presentation to investors, they disclosed that 60% of their 2013 US ebook sales were through Amazon and 78% of their UK ebook sales were through Amazon. See http://media.publishersmarketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/PubMarketLagardere.pdf at page 20

          As far as your own ebook/paper sales ratio is concerned, stagnant ebook sales since 2012 may be a function of poor pricing decisions. On the other hand, the Amazon ebook market has changed a lot during that time.

          Self-published authors currently sell more ebooks on Amazon than Big 5 published authors by a large margin. This is much bigger market share for indie authors than 2012 would have been.

          As of July, 2014, looking at the top 120,000 bestsellers on Amazon (representing about 50% of all Amazon ebook revenue), Author Earnings’ latest report shows that self-published authors are making more money than Big 5 published authors are.

          • But what percentage of their total sales? Let’s get this straight – Kindle is the dominant e-reading format in the States, but paper is the dominant overall reading format in the States. Yes? Hence Amazon’s slight disappointment. They honestly thought e-reading would have displaced paper-reading by now.

            • You didn’t say ‘slight disappointment’ before; you said that the Kindle was a failure.

              And ‘paper is dominant’ only applies if you count paper as a single format, which nobody in publishing, to the best of my knowledge, ever does. And then you need to count Kindle books as a separate format from ebooks generally; and you can’t have that both ways.

              Would you like any help moving those goalposts, or are you fine with the hernia?

              And by the way, since you said good night hours ago, isn’t it rather past your bedtime? Why, pray tell, are you still up arguing with us idiots, since you have made it so painfully clear that none of us are worth a second of your time?

              • Tom, relax.

                • Sir, I have not presumed to be familiar with you. Do not presume to be familiar with me.

                  As for relaxing: Retract any one of the insults that you have directed at me and a great many of my friends and acquaintances, and I shall certainly consider it.

                • OK – Tom, get over yourself.

                • You have not my permission to address me by my first name, Sir. I do not accord that privilege to persons who proclaim themselves my enemy and insult me at every turn. You are the one being presumptuous; and if one of us needs to get over himself, it is you.

                • Have you been taking classes somewhere in how to be amazingly rude to people on blogs? I realise that many Brits are unaccustomed to civil discourse but you really are being an arse even for a Brit.

              • To be fair, in Media, “Failure” takes on a particular definition most would not subscribe to it.

                When a media company (a publisher, a studio, et al) puts forth a work, they have a sales projection that they think it will meet. That figure is not the “break even” point, but some higher figure their Marketing office came up with.

                A work can more than make it’s money back (a “success” as most would term it), but not meet the company’s expectations (a “failure”, as the company would term it).

                Examples of this in other media that I can recall off the top of my head are “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and “Amazing Spider-Man 2”. Both more than made their money back (ASM2 made over $750 Billion, for example), but both have been said by insiders to be considered “flops” by the studio because they were expecting much higher returns.

            • That makes more sense, Lee.

              It’s much easier to predict a technology disruption than it is to predict how quickly it will occur.

              Hemingway, writing on another topic, described the timing of technology disruption best:

              “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

              “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

              • Yeah. But … for the sake of argument … disruptions don’t automatically succeed permanently. Very hard to say on a forum like this, given people’s needs and hopes and aspirations, but I think it’s at least worth considering whether e-reading is here to stay. In my disinterested view, I would say the jury is still out. It has maybe an 85% chance, but would it endure without Amazon? Can we guarantee Amazon’s continued commitment? Can we guarantee Amazon’s continued existence? Backing by a single corporation implies a certain fragility.

                OK, here come the flames …

                • I also want to commend you for responding and hanging around.
                  But I have to question your belief that ebooks are some sort of passing fad. You can’t possibly mean that? Just as email has replaced business communications by traditional mail service, the immediacy, readability and digital advantages of ebooks are certainly here to stay. Now, whether they will be Amazon mobi format, ePub or something else in future is certainly debatable but I don’t think there there is any debate about ebook migration. Just how long it will take. Material books will always have a place, but undoubtedly it will keep shrinking. I’m shocked you really believe otherwise.

                • I believe that the jury for that left the building years ago. Many people I know, me included, e-read before Kindle got out, via blogs and e-communities. E-reading fiction is just continence of that and for me it started with e-reading fanfiction, then progressed from there. I still buy books in print, but those are all textbooks and manual books. I very rarely buy fiction in print, and that only when it’s under 5€, which considering that book where are I live are expensive (17€ for paperback, 30€ for hardcover) that happens maybe once a year.
                  Disclaimer: I don’t own e-reader, I read things via PC, tablet or phone.

                  My sales in all formats have increased year-on-year from 2012 to 2014, and the Kindle percentage has decreased in favor of renewed increases in paper. This pattern is shared by all large-volume sellers.

                  I found this an interesting statement. In a way it logically that the print formats for large-volume sellers have increased, since bookstores now mostly carry only proven bestsellers/ known names, so there’s no much of competition there. One has to buy a bestseller or leave empty handed. But in the e-market with its unlimited shelf space there’s no ‘ buy a bestseller or leave empty handed.’ I went to check your e-book prices. There was a few books under 9 $, but most of them were 9 and over. Could it be, that in the e-market, the bestseller status/known name (or in your case, the Child Lee brand) it’s not strong enough to sell such high-priced e-books?

                • …I think it’s at least worth considering whether e-reading is here to stay. In my disinterested view, I would say the jury is still out.

                  Mr. Child, how are you disinterested? Surely, as a writer yourself, you are profoundly interested in how the shift to digital (or the lack thereof) will affect your connection with your reading audience.

                • I wonder if you might have a point. If I’ve understood correctly (and it’s entirely possible I haven’t), Amazon has been posting quarterly losses, despite increases in revenue. (That’s Amazon overall, not merely the book end of things). It’s largely due to their long-term investment strategies. If those investments pay off, then Amazon could be in good shape. If those investments don’t . . . it will be interesting to watch, at any rate.
                  But if Amazon did fall, there’d be others to step in to fill the gap. I think Google has its sights in the direction of increasing digital book sales.

                • “In my disinterested view, I would say the jury is still out. It has maybe an 85% chance, but would it endure without Amazon?”

                  Today, publishers need Amazon far more than Amazon needs publishers. If Amazon delisted Hachette’s authors, it would prove the point.

                  I am absolutely certain that ereading is the future. If you are not willing to believe it, then you are living in the past. Even the publishers know that, they are just trying to staunch the bleeding for as long as possible while they come up with a strategy to save their business model.

                  I suppose I have to disclose *my* interest in the issue in that I buy an enormous number of books every year.

                • but I think it’s at least worth considering whether e-reading is here to stay. In my disinterested view, I would say the jury is still out. It has maybe an 85% chance, but would it endure without Amazon?

                  Take a look at kids and their reading habits. I’d guess that my kids, who are typical of kids in their grade levels, read less than half the time from physical books, and the rest of the time they’re reading on their tablets, their phones, and their Kindles. Apparently their friends are about the same in their reading habits.

                  I think it’s gonna stick around, whether Amazon is there to prop it up or not…

                  (Oh, and that paper book reading for my kids is because I buy them paper books that they will enjoy…not so much because they want them…)

            • I may only sell a few copies here and there, but:

              Amazon accounts for 47% of my unit sales and 34% of my royalties. Nook 27%/26%, iBooks 14%/23%. (These are digital only titles, though.)

        • Lee, Thanks for sharing the various data points/gems you’ve put in various posts. Appreciate it.

    • Amazon intended that Kindle would quickly become the dominant reading format in the U.S. That it hasn’t is disappointing to them – which is not conjecture, but reportage.” I’d be interested to see those links.

  31. Mr. Child,
    I noticed in your interview that when asked whether or not you agree with Amazon’s claim (that the disruption ebooks have caused is equal to the introduction of the paperback) you disagreed. But you then started discussing Amazon’s $14.99 vs $9.99 claim. I didn’t understand the connection, and I was curious: as someone who is on the inside of the trad pub business, why don’t you agree with the “ebooks = mass market paperbacks”? And you may simply have been switching topics, but if there is a connection between the “14.99 vs 9.99” and “ebooks = mmpbk” what is it?

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss your views here.

  32. Tom Simon: Whatever. If you need to find a way of convincing yourself you know better, so be it. Goodnight.

    • Sir, I know better, and I don’t need convincing of the fact; I know that I know better, because I listen to people, and don’t just lecture them about my supposedly superior knowledge – as you do.

      Good night to you, Mr. Child. Your bad manners are exceeded only by your bad manners.

  33. Hi Lee, I’m not sure what “high school” or “all or nothing” has to do with anything either of us has said so far. As for your “bookstore owner is cheating on his wife” analogy, I think you might be on firmer ground if you could come up with something involving a publicly important issue with a $100b corporation bent on world conquest at the center of it, rather than an individual’s private, peripheral sexual affair.

    But why bother with analogies (especially inapplicable ones) at all? Here’s what you actually said, all within the space of a single four-minute interview: “I love Amazon… Amazon wants to take over the world.”

    I suggested three possibilities for this remarkable juxtaposition: (1) schizophrenia; (2) hypocrisy; (3) hyperbole. It sounds like you’re acknowledging the right answer is #3. FWIW, that’s my best guess at a diagnosis, too, but I didn’t want to rule anything out. 🙂

    I watched the whole interview twice — wanting to quote you accurately — so yes, I know you said Amazon is disappointed that Kindle hasn’t quickly become the dominant reading format in the U.S. You could be right about that; I’m just not sure what it has to do with the other things we’re discussing.

    Let me add something I already included in response to IJ’s comment above:

    FWIW, I do consider Lee a friend (though I don’t consider Amazon or other corporations in such terms). I also think he’s typically one of the smartest, most interesting, and most thoughtful people in this business. Which is why I’m surprised that he’s associating himself with something as bumbling and reactionary as “Authors United.” But he probably thinks I’m out to lunch on this issue, too. I hope none of that will preclude us sharing a friendly stage at conferences, or from friendly debates over drinks, either.

    Plus, I think we’re both fine authors, too. 🙂

    • Barry, I guess I was trying to establish proportion. Would a small domestic transgression mean I should remove my small sales from a small store, if a huge billion-dollar issue meant I should remove my huge sales from a huge store?

      While I don’t think there’s any right-wing content here, I’m disconcerted about a right-wing flavor in the discussion. Do you look at Redstate? Being called a hypocrite for not pulling my books from Amazon because I have a critical opinion about a small corner of their operation reminds me of being told to get the f–k out of America for criticizing George Bush.

      • “I’m disconcerted about a right-wing flavor in the discussion. ”

        “Right-wing” is a meaningless term of abuse.

        Why not go all the way and just call us fascists?

        • Tony, relax. I was talking to Barry. He’ll have understood the ref.

          • LOL… I did indeed. Tony, I’m pretty sure Lee wasn’t describing anyone’s politics, but referring to what came across as my own intolerance. No offense intended and none taken. Regardless, for some people “rightwing” is a term of endearment…:)

      • Lee said, “Being called a hypocrite for not pulling my books from Amazon because I have a critical opinion about a small corner of their operation reminds me of being told to get the f–k out of America for criticizing George Bush.”

        That’s another analogy I don’t find quite apposite. For anyone who charges that Amazon is “evil,” “malignant,” bent on “world domination,” intent on “taking over the world,” determined to “destroy book selling,” etc (all actual quotes), I think a better analogy might be something along the lines of, say, doing business with the apartheid-era South African government.

        That said, your point is well taken, and here, I agree, hypocrisy wasn’t a word choice well suited to fostering a productive dialogue. I sometimes have a habit of lumping people together (here, various authors who are part of “Authors United,” along with various authors whose rhetoric has reached hyperbolic altitudes a mere “wants to take over the world” doesn’t match). I should do more to make finer distinctions, and I appreciate your pointing out that I could have been doing better here.

        To put it another way: for Prestonian, Pattersonian, and Turowian hyperbole levels, I think the question “is this hyperbole or is it hypocrisy?” is warranted, and I’m surprised it doesn’t get asked more often. But given the merely medium-intensity and passing hyperbole used in your interview, a charge of hypocrisy was too much.

        To put it one other way: the more fair-minded approach to your interview would have been to just say, “Oh come on, Lee, ‘take over the world’? That’s not helpful.” Which would have created an opening (I think) for you to respond, “Fair enough, that was a bit hyperbolic. What I really meant was…” And we could have skipped the posturing and gotten right to the substance. 🙂

        I’ll tell you, no matter how much I debate online, I’m always learning (or at least trying to learn) how to do it better.

        Last thought: several other people have noted that it’s exceptional to have a mega-bestseller show up in the comments section of a blog, articulating an alternate point of view. It is — and as always, I appreciate and respect your willingness to debate these topics. I don’t know why you’d bother, unless you really do care about the things we’re talking about. So thanks, respect, and I hope we’ll get to continue this conversation over a whisky sometime. 🙂

        • Barry, to reiterate, I hope to be excused for minor hyperbole in a 4-min pop-TV chat, during which the presenter spent most of her time butting in. To clarify – and I think the context was at least fairly clear – by “take over the world” I meant “Amazon hoped e-reading would become massively dominant very quickly.” I’m sure you’d agree with that, given what you know about Amazon’s internal culture and the (hyperbolic?) ambitions the Jeff-bots feel they must display.

          I read blogs like these and comment occasionally because, yes, I really do care about these things, am endlessly fascinated by new developments in anything, and – again – feel privileged to be watching the self-publishing revolution, which I truly feel to be the biggest single radical act in arts history. Plus, I’m fascinated by the psychological dynamics on display from certain quarters … how could a novelist not be, about any of those things?

          And yes, I hope to share a drink again sometime. It’s been way too long.

      • My, my. How interesting that you can manage to be civil to another ‘big’ author (sorry, Barry, but you are) but not to anyone else posting.

  34. Ack! Bottom line: I shall buy Lee Child’s books regardless of the ridiculous squabble between Hachette and Amazon and the armies of supporters on either side.

    I buy books by author, not by politics!

  35. Wow! There’s a whole lot of nastiness in most of these comments, which doesn’t say a lot for those who decided to crap all over Lee Child for daring to have an opinion.

    I love self-publishing. I don’t love Amazon or any of the Big 5. Or the small presses. Corporations are NOT the friends of authors. They are businesses, pure and simple, and if any of them can persuade–or force–authors to accept the worst possible terms (which, at times, the Big 5 does) or accept contracts that can and do change at the whim of the corporation (which Amazon does), they will.

    I’m not impressed by what I’ve seen here. I shall stick to reading the tempered thoughts of John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig. Profane they may be, but hate-filled they are not.

    Bad job, PG.

    • Nobody ‘crapped all over Lee Child for daring to have an opinion’. He came in here and told us that everyone here is an idiot and PG himself is ‘full of it’, and made sure to emphasize that he was saying it ‘with no respect’. How would you expect to be treated if you behaved like that on someone else’s blog?

      • By the way, I can tell you, Ms. Hunter, how John Scalzi and Chuck Wendig respond when someone waltzes into their blogs and insults them as Mr. Child has done here: They ban them and delete their comments.

      • No, Tom, I didn’t call anyone an idiot. I made four points. Three were neutral anodyne pieces of information, and one was mildly exasperated that someone who has spent 20 years in an industry – many of them at the highest level – was presumed to have “little knowledge” of that industry. I mean, how likely is that? Get back to me when you’ve sold 100 million books.

        • I don’t care how many books you’ve sold. Argumentum ab auctoritate does not impress me.

          • Latin doesn’t impress me.

            • I am not saying any of these things to impress you. If you are unimpressed by Latin because you know Latin, then you have no grounds to object if I use terms of art that have Latin names.

              • Mate (and before you crack it, I’m Australian: I can call anyone Mate), since you love latin so much, I feel it might help for me to point out: Some of your points might be valid, but for the majority of the time they were ad hominem to the Nth degree.

                Note I said “they” were. Not “you” were.

                Expressing another opinion, and criticising your opinion, does not constitute a personal attack or insult. I think the only time Lee was guilty of this was at the beginning where he implied that his comments were “with no respect”, which was a strange usage because he then went on to be fairly respectful in his comments.

                I view this initial insult as tit-for-tat, since stating that somebody is just a mouthpiece for their publisher could equally be seen as an insult. The two of them (PG & Lee) proceeded to have an insightful debate.

                Thanks to all who’ve kept their comments on debate, and to Lee Childs for getting in here and sharing the other side of the story.

            • Awww, snap!

        • Lee: One (comment) was mildly exasperated that someone who has spent 20 years in an industry – many of them at the highest level – was presumed to have “little knowledge” of that industry. I mean, how likely is that?

          **

          I spent the entirety of my corporate career in the tech sector, doing systems infrastructure design and implementation (a good way to look at it would be to say that I helped build the Internet). So I spent my career in digital, disruptive technologies.

          I worked for a number of large-scale corporations who gobbled up smaller, more entrenched companies, many of which had vast amounts of experience in their fields. Part of my job at various points (I’m simplifying this, obviously) was to explain to people how things had changed and how we were going to do things going forward. The amount of disbelief I encountered was always very high, frustrating, and, really, no side of the equation dealt with it well, especially since we were generally on aggressive, tight timelines and the culture at the two companies were extremely different.

          So, in my experience, it is incredibly common to see people with a lot of experience who no longer understand their industry, or what the future holds for them and their work.

          The other point I’ll make is that people actively engaged in moving disruptive technologies forward have a different view of just about everything work-wise; what’s possible or not, how quickly things can be done, and so on. This is part of the reason for the great divide in perspectives on the digital book sphere, plus there’s always some confirmation bias at play. All of this is a great creator of conflict, simply because the two (very different) groups aren’t always even trying to accomplish the same goals.

          One takeaway is that the people who are on-the-ground SME’s (subject matter experts) in the various parts of digital also have valuable contributions to make to this discourse, and they know stuff that guys who’ve been doing a job 20+ years don’t. They just do.

  36. Lee Childs, I’m glad you responded to some of these comments, and please know that what I have to say is not intended to show disrespect. I feel like what I’m saying here is a kindness, and should be taken as such.

    Regardless to the passive guy and others who comment here, I do feel very strongly that you are missing the point entirely. It breaks my heart when big name authors such as yourself get into this fray. I realize all of you want to take a stand, but what I think you don’t understand is that all of you are coming at this issue from a privileged position, and a very myopic one at that.

    The salient issue here is that the traditional publishing world has significantly changed. Amazon, and other services of that ilk, offer alternatives to writers that ARE no longer available in traditional publishing.

    Normal people no longer get proper contracts, rights are no longer reversed, nearly every author I know hires editors before submissions, and this list is endless…however, since you are already a big name you still get these “special” services because of who you are. These days, authors can’t even get their foot in the door at the top five without a platform. I speak regularly with friends who still work at the top five houses, and they all say that books are dead on arrival if they don’t have platforms.

    My last point, Amazon doesn’t owe you or me anything. They are a business, and they can choose who they want to work with, or not. If they choose not to sell a product that is their choice. And, are we forgetting that there are other ways to buy your books?

    What smacks me in the face about all these big named authors complaining is the blatant entitlement. I’m not being flippant here, I am being straight. I don’t think any of you can see through your outrage to understand the real issues at stake. This is very bad PR for all of you, whether any of you realize it or not, because frankly stepping into this makes you look ignorant. It is not your job to slap Amazon on the wrist when people can still by your lovely books elsewhere. Amazon is not the only game in town. Personally, I feel that you need to turn your vitriol back on the publishing houses, because these corporations should be held accountable, especially when we have all witnessed that they have no qualms about colluding, and who don’t give a flying fig about you, or me, or anyone else except perhaps their shareholders.

    • I gotta say I hope he responds to you Melanie. You made some pertinent observations and conclusions.

      I respect the hell out of him for not just doing a drive by, but showing up, stating his piece and sticking around to defend it.

      • Des Torres, it was fun while it lasted. I was pleased to see him speak up. So many of the authors on the NYT’s list don’t have the courage to defend themselves here. But then again they also have no idea how much they screwed up either.

    • Melanie, I take all your points entirely. No one is happier than me that I started when I did. (Although back then older authors were happy they started even earlier, etc, etc.) I do what I can to help new authors in this vicious era. See my reply above regarding how I feel about self-publishing, which extends to making the Reacher universe open to all – and at least one self-pubber is making good money from it.

      • See my reply above regarding how I feel about self-publishing,

        Do you mean the one where you asked me whether I was a published author or a self-published author, as if the two terms were mutually exclusive? Yes, that tells a great deal about how you feel about self-publishing.

        • Tom, you’re very boring. There, I said it. Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

          • Which says nothing to the point, does it? Just another insult, devoid of content. You haven’t even begun to defend your position with facts or reasoning; all you have done is claim superior status and try to throw your weight around. That may not be boring, but it is certainly useless.

            • Mr. Simon, I’ve been on TPV for quite awhile now and found your continuing contributions valuable. Thank you.

              • Thank you very kindly for saying so.

                And you may call me Tom if it suits you, especially since you have the advantage of me (by commenting under your first name only). However, please don’t mind if in the future, I occasionally call you Ma’am; it will likely be because I am hot under the collar about something (which will probably not be anything you did or said), and am minding my Ps and Qs very strictly to keep myself in check.

                • Tom,
                  I was just in Europe and they called me Madam in restaurants which I found just the right amount of charming! Especially because they have accents over there 🙂 and that’s one of those words that sounds good with an accent and sort of stuffy without.

                • Well, then, think of me as a VIking who got mislaid in time and is trying very hard to keep up with the customs of civilized people – even if the civilized people themselves don’t bother. You won’t be far wrong if you do.

                  Unfortunately, I have never learnt to do a Danish accent, so that bit will have to remain between you and your imagination.

                • Tom there are many of us here who have read the exchange and agree with you. I find it amusing that Child directs people not to “call him a liar” etc but he has no qualms about throwing insults at others as you said.

                • Trevor Q,

                  Well, I now know of (I think) two of you. I don’t know that that constitutes ‘many’. I’d be happy to learn that there were others, but I don’t assume that it is the case.

          • *snort* I think I just spewed wine. (Yes it’s early but I *am* on a flight to Vegas.) Tom has seemed a bit long-winded, though I can see he’s quite passionate on the subject.

            Mr. Child – it makes me recall the T-shirt Maggie raffled off at the Reacher Roast at RT (I didn’t have the good fortune to win it, alas).

          • I disagree with some of your points, Mr. Child but thank you for saying what I was thinking.

            I feel you’ve been fair in your responses to most and understand you have a different point of view from most of us. I can’t fathom how things look from where you’re standing. I also don’t think you quite remember what it was to be just a regular person who gets no perks anywhere and has to squeeze every dime until it screams for mercy. That’s not a knock on you–it’s natural. You probably remember the big things, but forget the little challenges and how it felt. For a brief moment in time a few years ago, I actually had some extra money. Nothing major, but wow, it was such a relief to go into a store and not have to mentally tally every item I put into the cart to make sure I had enough in my account to cover it. Even in the short time I experienced that financial windfall, I started to forget how stressful it is to be worried about money all the time.

            Anyway, thank you for sharing your pov, even if I don’t agree with much of it.

        • I know that emotions are high, here, but I also know that Lee has, at the very least, been a friend to up and coming writers for years. I’ve personally benefitted from his support and encouragement.

          I haven’t spoken to Lee in quite some time, but I have no doubt that he means what he says about self-publishing and his support of it. And I honestly hate to see you guys squabble about this.

          I’ve been very vocal about my feelings on the Amazon/Hachette and other publishing issues, but I really hate to see authors battling over this stuff. We should be supporting each other, not fighting.

      • Lee, don’t get me wrong, I fully understand what a publisher can offer an author, but at the same time these publishing houses continue to commit the most egregious acts that often go unseen by the common person, smart or not, and are often unknown to celebrity writers such as yourself.

        I also should add that I’m a not coming at this issue just as an author. I am coming at this issue as an analyst. The publishing business is corrupt, sick and almost dead. The future of traditional publishing is bleak when you look down the road ten years from now. Nearly all my traditional authored friends want so badly to self-publish, but they are terrified, and their fear paralyzes them from taking action.

        For years, I’ve been an avid collector buying signed first edition, first print books. I have a lovely collection, but I’ve stopped buying hardback/paperback books. Whether this is sad or not, I have moved into the future; I only buy digital now and mostly on Amazon. When JK Rowling’s Silkworm was not available for preorder, I simply waited. I don’t need the pre-order feature, because I have dozens of other books to read in the meantime. I find that this pre-order nonsense is greed on the publishers part.

        More to the point, Europe and the US just recovered from the biggest financial disaster of the century. Did everyone forget this? Consumers don’t have the dollars or pounds they once had for entertainment purposes. Not only that, the collective taste for consumption has changed. I would even posit further that authors are competing against a myriad of other forms of entertainment than they were five years ago, however, what matters most right now is that the price point must match what the general public is willing to pay, and this point should not be dictated by the publishing houses. Businesses change everyday due to public demand, and thus so should the price of the offered product. My point: times have changed and we must change with them.

        I do have a question, Lee, in the past two years were you given a new contract to sign? Something sent in the guise of “this is just a new management clause contract etc…” when in fact it was a reversion rights clause contract? It’s a well know fact, that publishers have been legally cleaning house, getting authors to think they are just signing a general contract, when in fact they are not. These egregious acts have become common place, but perhaps for people like you who have clout, maybe the publishers haven’t approached you so that you don’t know how devious they really are. Tell me how is an average man or woman to compete in this arena? And why wouldn’t they prefer Amazon to Hachette?

        As a side note, Hachette owns Disney Hyperion Books – all it takes is 1+1 to see why Disney got into the fray at this particular time, right? Hachette is out for blood – please let’s be clear on that.

        Lastly, Lee, I’m not a parrot. I’m not simply repeating things I’ve read here on the passive voice. In fact, I was once an advocate for traditional publishing, even though I am no longer. I hope you understand that I say all of this with the very best of intentions, not to change your mind, but help you see another point of view.

        • Melanie, I absolutely see both points of view. I completely understand why anyone would prefer to self-pub with Amazon right now. If I was starting now I would probably do that myself, probably with an eye on transitioning if it all worked well, because no one should deny the potential ceiling is way higher right now with traditional publishing.

          But when you say the publishing business is corrupt, sick, and almost dead, you’re completely wrong. Yes, it’s cautious and careful, as a result of the recession you mention, and the changing entertainment environment you note, and contracts are certainly stricter, but it’s vibrant, optimistic, profitable, energetic, full of very smart people, most of them young, most of them women, and I find it a very pleasant place to work (but then, I came from television.)

          No publisher I know is cheating anyone, or screwing them. I understand disappointment, and blaming the messenger and so on, and I know plenty of writers fail, but really, the institution ain’t that bad.

          I’m not picking on you in any way, because you write like a very nice person, but what you say seems to me like the first step toward the contempt I mentioned elsewhere. Don’t go there, please.

          • Sorry I missed you Lee before you logged off…

            Yes, I understand your points. Okay, maybe it’s not dead, but there is corruption…Trust me when I say, I am not in contempt, I’m being realistic. I come from Hollywood – I’m still in it. I have no illusions about how business is done. It’s cut throat, and so is the publishing world. In order to survive, one must know how to play the game, because that’s all it is.

            Yes, publishers have more young women and men working, and although it feels refreshing and invigorating to have that youthful input, I see it as polite diversion while the industry adjusts to the inevitable shift to the digital age. Back in ’08- 09, veterans with years, and years of experience were unceremoniously chucked out only to be replaced by these college graduates for a much lower pay and with a lot less experience. (That paradigm is problem in Hollywood – hiring people without real experience, and it’s not working out well in the entertainment business, not by a long shot.)

            I’ve heard this one from the top: two years from now, these poor sweet babes will have their heads on the chopping block next. Just wait and watch that show. It should be fun. I’ll bring the popcorn.

            People on the inside are talking, A LOT, largely I think because they are terrified for their own futures. What happens to these editors who get paid crap for years only to move up and then look forward to their own demise? And who wouldn’t talk about it when so many editors continue to get fired and divisions carted off overseas? But, I will admit, the firing has been artfully done, and has been selective these most recent years. If I didn’t believe what I was hearing from the inside, the past three years have been proof enough, houses merging divisions closing, it’s a bloody mess.

            Lee, I find it hard to deny these facts, but they are easily missed by individual authors. My assessment comes from stepping back and seeing all sides, not just listening to one angry author or one angry editor, my opinion is not one of contempt, it is born from looking at the whole picture over the course of a decade.

            Also, I should add, I get paid to assess systems, how they work and how they operate, and where they are weak. I am very sorry to say that from where I sit, we don’t see the same picture. But, you are right I am a very nice person. I appreciate that you took me to task back there, but I still hold my opinion: when this all shakes out it will still looks like a massive PR disaster for all celebrity authors who side with Hachette. People like me are the future, we are smart, we are savvy, and we can call things as we see them, plus we have nothing to lose, whereas celebrity authors have everything to lose. It will be a cold day in hell before I can ever touch a Patterson novel again, and that’s just where it starts.

            You’re a nice man to comment here, and I won’t forget that, but I think you see my point now. This was fun! Thanks.

            • I remember when Simon & Schuster torpedoed their Star Trek media tie-in line by canning Marco Palmieri and Margaret Clark. Messed up almost a year’s worth of work between getting new editors up to speed and re-shuffling the release schedule.

    • Melanie –

      I don’t usually take part in this stuff…I read it to keep up with what’s being said, but I am too busy to comment. Your comment called to me, however.

      Unlike Lee, I am not famous, not even close to the 1%. I have two books out with Penguin and have just signed a contract for two more. I also have a self-published book I just put out (however, I published my self-pub everywhere: Amazon, iTunes, All Romance eBooks, Books A Million, Smashwords … with distribution for each picked out). It’s important to remember that even in self-pub, Amazon is not the be-all and end-all.

      I cannot stress this strongly enough: My contract was NEGOTIATED from the boilerplate and everyone — everyone — whether they’re self-publishing and looking at contracts with various folks who will be assisting them to those who are dealing with publishing houses should read and negotiate and re-read and re-negotiate until they are satisfied. My reversion of rights information is spelled out quite precisely and I am satisfied with it. What formats, languages, and parts of the world Penguin is allowed to sell in are all spelled out, too.

      Having immediately followed up my two Penguin books with the self-pub, I submitted my proposal for the next two and hung on desperately to hear whether they’d take them. Because despite what you may hear from some people, publishing isn’t monolithic. If you talk to dissatisfied people, you’ll hear stories of dissatisfaction, but I was VERY happy with the way much of the process was handled for my own work and eager to work with them again.

      And producing the self-pub, while I have plans to do another of those, was far more frustrating, time consuming, and downright annoying than dealing with Penguin. Yes, I will do it again because I want the freedom it offers, but I hope to have a long and fruitful relationship with a traditional publisher as well…not least because those books, priced higher, are so far selling better for me.

      On a completely different topic, as a former business owner myself, I am disgusted and offended by Amazon trying to tell publishers what to charge. As a Kindle Direct Publishing author, I was disgusted and offended that Amazon tried to enlist me in their fight to do so by sending me not one but two emails.

      Because here’s the reality. Let’s say Lee’s publisher decides to drop all his books to 99 cents because their research shows that people buy 25x the number of books at 99 cents that they do at 5.99.

      My self-pub book? That little thing I priced at $3.99 because it was competitive? Well, thanks to the fact that all the big publishers have seen Lee’s sales soar when they went to 99c and therefore dropped theirs, I cannot sell a single book.

      I completely agree with your statement that “what matters most right now is that the price point must match what the general public is willing to pay” but it absolutely cannot be dictated by retail outlets. Publishing houses are mediators. I am not ashamed to say that I looked at what the imprint of Penguin I am with (InterMix) sold their eBooks for before signing a contract. It was $4.99. I thought that was just dandy for me as a debut, so I signed my contract. Every single author has the right to have a discussion about pricing of any individual book with his or her editor and/or publicist. And should if they’re worried. Or have their agent do it. Obviously, self-publishers can do what they want with their pricing.

      A race to the bottom is a bad idea. And a retailer forcing a race to the bottom is an even worse one. For everyone concerned.

      • Good to hear you negotiated a deal you were happy with. You did it the smart way!

        Self-pub, the first time around, is very time consuming and frustrating. It gets easier. I suggest to people that they try a short story first so they can work through the learning curve with something less daunting.

        As for Amazon telling publishers what to charge, nobody can confirm that’s what they’re doing. I think (personal opinion) that they want better pricing from Hachette so they can discount without eating the cost. Retailers and suppliers negotiate this all the time. I work at a retailer. We sometimes tell our suppliers what our expected retail price is, what we want as our margin, and then ask them how they can improve their costing so we can hit those numbers. It’s totally normal.

        The race to the bottom hasn’t happened yet. It looked like it might head that way, but indie books have actually gone UP in price in the last year or so. Amazon actively discourages ebooks priced below $2.99 and did so even when indies reported massive sales numbers at $.99. Super cheap ebooks still work as limited time sales, or bundles, but maximizing profit most often means pricing above $2.99.

        Amazon likes to sell trad pub new releases at $9.99. There are a whole lot of numbers between $9.99 and $.99. Enough range for all of us to try different price points.

      • LCK, I’m glad you said your peace. I don’t doubt you negotiated your contract. Please don’t misinterpreted me, many of these editors I call friends. I disagree with Amazon on several issues, so please know that I’m not blind.

        I understand that you see the publishing house as mediators, while I respectfully disagree; I see them very differently, as a whole, they are monolithic, and have a corporate standard to maintain regardless to the individual editors and divisions within the parent company. As of 2013, Pengiun is now owned by Pearson PLC, and Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate. I’m less worried about Penguin since this last merger, but still it’s not for me.

        I’m in no way for a race to the bottom, but ebooks for novels sold for $14.99 is absolutely insane!

        I am concerned.

  37. Mr Lee, I cheered when you came out swinging.

    That’s the Jack Reacher author I know (in that parasocial way).

    And cheered again with your response to Travis above.

    At the same time, I still disagree with a number of your assessments, but it could be we’re each working with slightly different sets of facts, or data parading as fact. Or that the business is different for authors at different levels.

    Nevertheless, I’m huge fan. Glad to see Jack Reacher is a chip off the old block 🙂 And welcome to TPV.

    • We are generally much nicer to visitors, Lee, but you punched a whole bunch of buttons.

      • No problem. I’m from Birmingham. I’m not afraid of buttons. Buttons are afraid of me.

        • LOL.

          I can attest to that. A lot of my family and friends are Lancastrian, and the northern English are famous for plain speaking. VERY different from the south.

          Most Brummies I know are very direct and not afraid of a dust-up.

  38. I was in Guys and Dolls in high school. I was part of the chorus.

    We spent rehearsals doing homework and waiting for our time to be on stage and work on our bits (dance/songs).

    The Hot Box dancers were chosen and rehearsed separate from the rest of us for most of the run up to the show. They were the featured dancers and treated like it.

    The first time the HBD joined the regular rehearsal time, they were very annoyed that they had to sit and wait while others used the stage. I remember watching them huff and puff about the indignity of it all.

    I sat there and thought, “We’ve been doing this for weeks; this is normal.”

    We were in the same auditorium and in the same production yet had almost no common ground in our views on the same moment.

    I feel that way right now. In theory, we are all in the business of writing and selling books.

    We aren’t treated the same and we don’t see it the same.

    I wonder what common ground we can find.

    • Veronica, here’s my common ground: I have tremendous respect for anyone who completes a coherent and halfway decent novel, because I know for sure it ain’t easy. Anyone who does so is my brother or sister. Anyone who tries to peddle it to a sullen and indifferent public has my painfully informed sympathy.

      Arguments over format or method of distribution bore me to death.

      I hate the dripping contempt some on either side show the other. But I’ll be brave enough to say I feel most of it comes toward me, not from me.

      • Thank you for the reply.

        Arguments over format or method of distribution bore me to death.

        Authors who are surviving on royalties rather than large advances against royalties MUST care about these things. They are extremely important. We can’t be bored by this. We must learn as much about this as we possibly can.

        This might just explain the disconnect.

        You call authors (Indie and Traditional) your brothers and sisters. Support us. Ask us how you can help us and then try to help.

        We have a list of things that someone in your position just might be able to do something about. That would be AMAZING.

        • Veronica … to be boring and corporate: join ITW, the International Thriller Writers, of which I’m president this year (and next year, apparently.) (Doesn’t really matter if you don’t write thrillers as such, and membership is completely free – we fund it with anthology sales, which also shop-window new writers.) We welcome all authors and alone among organizations treat published and self-published people EXACTLY the same. We run all kinds of help courses – I ran one (ask CJ Lyons how that worked out for her) and – ironically – Doug Preston ran two or three.

          And to be personal: ask me. Give me your list. I’ll do anything I can. Not to be sloppy and sentimental about it, but people forget I WAS you for many years. I know how you feel.

          E-mail my website – LeeChild.com – via FAQ page, item #9 (I think) and hit “Webmaven” and mark the subject line TPV – STRAIGHT TO LEE. Any problems with that, I’ll check back here in a day or two.

          • Thank you!

            OK, TPV regulars. We have a go! Let’s finalize our list and I will send it in.

            Tonight is a work night for me so I can’t stick around anymore. I will check in tomorrow.

            • I’d start with the list Joe Konrath put together (making it less Author’s Guild specific), and add to it. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/for-authors-guild-other-legacy.html

              So to start with something like this:

              1. Support the authors in the Harlequin lawsuit and fight to get their backlist rights returned.
              2. Draft a petition to raise ebook royalties for all authors.
              3. Demand that unconscionable contract terms are removed in legacy boilerplate (provide specific examples such as non-compete clauses, terrible rights reversion clauses).
              4. Call on Hachette to take one of Amazon’s offers to monetarily compensate Hachette authors for the duration of the negotiations.
              5. Petition and publicly disapprove of any publisher engaged in predatory vanity publishing like Author Solutions.
              6. Petition publishers to pay authors royalties more frequently than only twice a year.

              And since we shouldn’t be biased:
              7. Call on Amazon for KDP authors to be eligible for a 70% royalty rate for prices above $9.99 in certain circumstances e.g. box sets etc. And pay 70% for books under $2.99.
              8. Remove KDP Select and KU exclusivity requirement.
              9. Royalties on CreateSpace books are a joke, they need to be increased. For example I can buy my own POD book for $7.50 but in order to make a $2 royalty in expanded distribution I have to charge readers $24.

              I’m sure people have a lot more to add…

              I feel this could gain some momentum if we do this right. Perhaps we could garner support from other big name authors like Stephen King etc.

              • Thanks for finding Joe’s list. I was going to look for it today.

                I’ve been thinking about this a lot and forming my reply to Lee.

                There are a zillion things I could say; I feel like it’s best to focus on one or two.

                What is the most important thing that you would want a top-selling author to understand about YOUR perspective on the industry. And, do you have a request to make of him from that perspective?

                I feel this could gain some momentum if we do this right. Perhaps we could garner support from other big name authors like Stephen King etc.

                I’ve been feeling that a side benefit from all this Amazon/Hachette dialog could be a more united voice for the indie authors.

                We each have a different viewpoint. I’m curious where the common ground is and what we can build there.

                • I think yours and Lee’s comments have been lost in the hundreds of others on this topic, that’s why there’s not been a response.

                  Perhaps PG would be so kind as to Post yours and Lee’s comments as a separate post and people can comment?

                • Since I have a hard time finding this part of the thread to see if there are any new suggestions, I expect others might too. There are powerful conversations throughout this page.

                • I’ve emailed PG and pointed him to the offer from Lee and your thoughts. If he thinks the offer deserves its own post perhaps the TPV regulars can help decide on which issues to present to Lee.

          • Hi, Lee,

            I appreciate the fact that you are here and willing to engage with those with whom you may disagree. I have no doubts about your motives in doing so.

            I’ve sounded off a lot on other forums, including my own blog, about these issues and so I’ve remained silent in this exchange. But on the issue of big-name authors, such as yourself, being out of touch about the concerns of midlister or indie-authors, something you just said illustrates the matter.

            You just said that International Thriller Writers, which you now head, “alone among organizations treat published and self-published people EXACTLY the same.”

            This brought me up short. From the ITW “How to Join” web page, I find this, still posted:

            Active membership is available to thriller authors published by a commercial publishing house. This includes authors of fiction and nonfiction.

            By “commercial publishing house” we mean a bona fide publisher who pays an advance against royalties, edits books, creates covers, has a regular means of distribution into bookstores and other places where books are ordinarily sold, and receives no financial payments from their authors. There are nuances involved in all of this, which is why ITW’s board of directors is constantly aware of changing industry trends and makes every effort to accommodate writers who are not traditionally published while maintaining high professional standards for Active member status.

            ITW maintains a list of recognized commercial publishers.

            Active members may vote, sit on the Board of Directors, chair committees, sit on ThrillerFest author panels, and enjoy other benefits including:

            No dues. Membership is free to Active members

            By contrast, we find this under the section for “Associate Membership” eligibility:

            ITW welcomes applications for Associate Membership from authors, readers, publishers, agents, reviewers, librarians, booksellers, experts such as criminologists and intelligence operatives, and anyone who is interested in and supports the thriller genre. Associate Members receive ITW’s official member bulletins, sit as members of committees, receive notice of and attend ITW functions, participate in ITW’s own online listserve bulletin boards, and are listed on ITW’s website in the Associate Members directory.

            Associate Member annual dues are $95.

            Now Lee, if I were a cruel man, allusions to “separate but equal” and “sit at the back of the bus” would pour from my keyboard. But I don’t want to bring ITW in as an extraneous point to be argued. As a private group, ITW can do whatever it chooses in its membership requirements. But you DO realize, don’t you, that these published membership criteria would discourage many self-published indie authors from even bothering to apply to ITW. And you DO realize that this published membership policy contradicts your claim that ITW policy is to “treat published and self-published people EXACTLY the same,” don’t you?

            The broader point I’m making is that there is a kind of class system in the publishing world, with an established, comfortable gentry now being challenged by upstarts with torches and pitchforks…or at least that’s how things on the street must appear from the towers above Manhattan. Online retailing, ebooks, and their offspring — the self-publishing revolution — have been pioneered and/or championed by Amazon, bring creative disruption to a long-stagnant marketplace, especially in the arena of book distribution. For instigating this disruption of the traditional paper-based distribution system, Jeff Bezos is depicted by Big Publishing with horns and cloven hooves.

            Well, I am a democracy-of-the-marketplace guy. I love the fact that in today’s book marketplace, more than ever, customers can vote with their dollars for exactly what they want, rather than having a gatekeeping elite collude to limit their choices of titles and prices. That marketplace free-for-all is noisy, messy, sometimes chaotic; but it is free and it is democratic.

            More to the point, it is winning. Big Publishing had to be dragged into the digital era kicking and screaming, and it is still trying to throw obstacles into the path of price and content innovators. Amazon has been at the forefront of the technological and market innovations, and I think that’s the larger reality underlying the Amazon/Hachette dispute. The rest of the Publishing Establishment would not be aligned to publicly howl against Amazon in this “private” dispute if these larger matters weren’t at stake.

            Let me close with this. Sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle offered his famous “Law of Bureaucracies,” which applies to any industry, too. It says, “in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.”

            As writers, we are all interested primarily in advancing the interests of authors and our works. And, in truth, publishers began with that same objective. However, institutionalized book publishers long ago become interested primarily in advancing and preserving their publishing houses as institutions in themselves; the interests of authors and their works have been sacrificed to that priority on countless occasions. Their “commitment to writers” is just a self-reassuring Narrative and a self-congratulatory public talking point.

            I’ll be more open to believe the sincerity of that Narrative when those inside the Publishing Establishment initiate serious changes in author contracts to compensate them better. And I’ll be more open to believe the sincerity of famous authors who claim to respect indie authors when they truly open the doors of their organizations to individual writers based purely on merit and demonstrated sales — and not whether those writers have hitched their wagons to “a bona fide publisher who pays an advance against royalties, edits books, creates covers, has a regular means of distribution into bookstores.”

            I enjoyed my magazine interview with you some years ago, Lee. Your example of a mid-life career change to thriller-writing helped inspire me to start writing thrillers past age 60. You have earned every penny of your success, and I wish you continued good fortune.

            • Active membership is available to thriller authors published by a commercial publishing house.

              ITW maintains a list of recognized commercial publishers.

              I’m puzzled at how Mr. Child could assert that International Thriller Writers “alone among organizations treat published and self-published people EXACTLY the same.”

              And disappointed. Perhaps, in future, ITW will treat indies the same as trad pubbed authors, but with a “welcoming” page such as this, how can Mr. Child claim that it does so now?

              • I know that the ITW Thrillerfest convention every year has a separate “Pitchfest” segment for pitching agents. This year’s Thrillerfest banquet is honoring SCOTT TUROW as the 2014 “Thrillermaster.” James Patterson and Doug Preston are among the group’s founding members.

                They talk a good game, but ask yourself if such a group is going to be indie-friendly…really. If you’re an indie, you have to jump through hoops and kiss butt to be accepted as an Active Member. If you’re trad published, though, all you need is the name of some “reputable” publishing house on your application — you know, like maybe Harlequin.

                But who knows? Since they say “ITW’s board of directors is constantly aware of changing industry trends and makes every effort to accommodate writers who are not traditionally published while maintaining high professional standards for Active member status,” perhaps in the near future ITW will demonstrate their indie-friendliness by admitting automatically all applicants published by Author Solutions.

            • On the ITW website if you click for more info you get this page

              http://thrillerwriters.org/about-itw/recognized-publishers/

              And on this page it says

              With particular regard to self-published books, where there is no publisher beyond the author, any determination of the author being a qualified publisher shall be on a case-by-case basis and such factors as the work itself, the breadth of its marketing, the extent of its distribution, the editorial process, its sales, the author’s personal history, reviews in recognized publications, and any other factor relevant to the particular situation may be considered in making such determination. Self published writers are not automatically excluded from being a qualified publisher, but they bear a higher burden to demonstrate their status.

          • Lee, thank you for serving as ITW President.

            Right now, the ITW committee is considering my application for full membership on the basis of my midlist-level self-published thriller sales.

            Liz Berry gave me a heads-up that things are backlogged post-Thrillerfest, but that I should have an answer soon.

            I’ve sold 45,000 books in 9 months, Barnes & Noble has held booksignings for me, my books have strong reviews, and Ingram distributes my Lightning-Source-printed hardcovers & trade paperbacks to bookstores on industry-standard discount & return terms. I’ve had unsolicited offers from large mystery/thriller publisher imprints, but so far, at least, not one I was ready to sign.

            I’m encouraged to hear ITW plans to treat professional self-published thriller authors exactly the same as it treats traditionally-published ones.

            I’d love to be your test case. 🙂

            • ITW may accept some indie authors, but it lists their books separately from the “real” authors. I know because I have novels on both lists. But honestly, there isn’t much the organization can do for you. The people involved are terrific, and for authors just starting out, ITW can provide some visibility. But beyond the prestige, it’s not much help for marketing.

              • Hi LJ,

                Thanks for the heads-up 🙂 Perhaps, based on what Lee said here, ITW does plan to make a real change to put self-published authors on a equal footing. Perhaps not. I’m giving ITW (and Lee) the benefit of the doubt until I hear back, but I’m not losing any sleep over it.

                I’ve already written off the SFWA and MWA as irrelevant to the future of publishing. I have zero use for second-class citizenship b******* or any organization where those are the house rules for indies. If an author is capable and hardworking enough to achieve whatever level of sales/success without leaning on the crutch of a publisher, that’s a hell of a lot more impressive, professional, and kudo-worthy in my book 🙂

                I don’t expect much in the way of marketing support either way — for me this is more about doing my part to help blaze trails for other authors.

          • I ran right over to join…but it turns out you do have to be commercially published to get a free membership. Dark. I’d be just an associate and it would cost 95 dollars according to what I read. So I guess ITW does differentiate based on traditionally published versus not unless I’m reading something wrong. If I am, please correct me. I write cozy and general mysteries more than thrillers, but it looks like the problem is that I’m indie!

            It’s a nice idea though.

            Maria

          • Mr Child, I’ve only read two of your books (Jack Reacher) so far, and anticipate reading the whole series eventually (smiles). Thanks so much for participating and offering. As many others have expressed, I also greatly appreciate it.

      • Lee, (if you’re still willing to talk after all the chest thumping) I have a question;

        You previously mentioned Kindle Unlimited and wished me good luck tracking it. I’ve already complained about that elsewhere so I won’t do so again here, but I was wondering what your view of it is and how you think it will change the landscape, particularly for self-published authors?

        • Randall, I think it could be an unmitigated disaster. I know everyone here calls me a liar when I say people in various places talk to me, but this wouldn’t be an unreasonable train of thought:

          Wall Street demands AMZ beefs up its loyalty program (i.e. Prime); AMZ does so by bundling KU into it; simultaneously AMZ – probably prodded by Wall Street again (and here Howey made a bad error by using the word “Earnings”, which shows up fast on Street search engines) decides to attack your 70%; it can’t full frontally because of PR; so it sweeps all of KDP into KU, no choice (and your contracts allow that); it picks a percentage as your aggregate share – probably 50% at first; it tells you (with no way of your checking) what your +10% number was; it sends you some money; the temptation to use KU as a slush fund becomes irresistible; the 50% becomes 40%, then 30%, etc.

          Not good. I hope I’m completely wrong. After all, according to y’all, I am about everything else.

          • You definitely stuck yourself in the lion’s den here, but most of us at TPV are simply hungry for good information and wish to hear the experiences of those that are ahead of us in this game.

            From a purely business point of view I would say you are right. Amazon needs a massive amount of content to support the Kindle app. Much more than it can get from the Big 5 alone. I don’t think the % will drop as rapidly or as much as you are predicting though as the successful indie authors (read savvy) will simply pull out. Many of us are doing well enough on other platforms that KU is not even a reasonable option. For those starting out it may be… good. I think it will take several months of data to know this for sure. Thanks for the honest answer.

            Hope I see you back here again some time.

          • …(and here Howey made a bad error by using the word “Earnings”, which shows up fast on Street search engines)…

            ??

            Why is it desirable that Wall Street analysts not know about the Author Earnings findings?

            • Perhaps increased Author Earnings signals to Wall Street that if there’s money available… that money should be earmarked for shareholders.

            • JM,

              The same data Hugh provides also gives investors an idea of Amazon margins. I suspect this is why the Amazon KDP reports are so off due to the reporting structure of KU. I think it will be much more difficult for Data Guy and his bots to track books that are enrolled.

              • Heh. KU does make things a little trickier for AuthorEarnings.com to track, but we’re working on it.

                Funny about the SEO implications of “Earnings” — interesting observation. Never thought of that. 🙂

                But we just passed 200,000 sessions & 300,000 page-views, so we’re hardly off radar, considering what a small industry publishing is.

                • Hmmm…but that could be part of the problem.

                  You don’t know who is looking at the information. Of course the majority will come from indie authors, maybe traditional authors curious about self-publishing, publishers of all kinds.

                  But there can also be Wall Street types who are interested in making as much money for themselves as they can.

                  People who have no concern about the business, just the dollars that can be made from it. People who might want to start seeing even more come from their Amazon stock than they’ve already been seeing.

                  “Your margin is our opportunity.”

          • Mr Child, regarding “…it could be an unmitigated disaster” – maybe “could” is the “operative” word, possibly literally? (smiles)

            Kidding aside, I definitely agree that KU might/will get bundled with Prime, even if optionally, for a bundle-discount price. But I’ve been speculating that since day one, since it would just make more sense, in presenting a multi-media buffet.

            That said, the “unmitigated disaster” part seems to come in near the end of your proposed sequence (which btw I hadn’t thought of, since I now try to avoid involvement with Wall Street in general). Which means, if the hero (Bezos? or an as yet unknown character?) keeps enough control out of Wall Street hands, then the chain of action gets stopped further up river.

            There are, after all, a lot of companies that somehow avoid being sacked and gutted. But still, a great reminder from you, there are many companies that are left unprotected.

            On another note, I wouldn’t mind seeing your own work, Mr Child, on Scribd or Oyster, like those of Michael Crichton, Stephen King, John Le Carré, and Janet Evanovich.

            Or, for that matter, in KU.

            But if or when you do, then this would be my request: that you would not participate in Kindle Unlimited with non-exclusivity, unless – all the rest of us authors can also.

            Wow, I can’t believe I still worked that last bit in. Must be on my mind… (smiles)

            Thanks so much for being here and participating!

      • I think the public has been sullen and indifferent partly because the industry has never really treated us as customers. They have mostly left the wooing of us to the writers and the retailers, who have had spotty success at best, and to the media who are either pushing stuff like Kim K’s book of selfies or,in the case of literary critics, telling us that unless we read lit fiction we’re morons. Amazon was the first entity who seemed to be actively trying to get me to buy books, and showing me a selection of books I might actually like instead of the latest best sellers or books someone had paid them to push at me. To most normal people not in the business the publishing industry seems to have been operating in a bubble and readers feel that we are outside of it.

      • In that case, it is really too bad you showed up here dripping contempt. Really.

  39. Regardless of my opinion on the whole Amazon/Hachette issue, I applaud the hell out of Mr. Child’s willingness to go toe-to-toe with those who disagree with him.

    Also, Jack Reacher is one of the best characters going in fiction today.

  40. Why is everyone so angry? This is ridiculous. Why don’t we all write and publish in whatever way we choose and support each other in that.

    Even if Mr. Child isn’t correct, who cares? Even if his words bolster the ‘self-published writers are crap,’ who cares?

    Even if self-published authors are dissatisfied tradpub houses and voice it, who cares? Even if they love their individual freedom as indies and sell more on kindle year after year… who cares?

    None of this is personal. Mostly, it’s business. The only thing that is personal here is the writing. Why waste our time on attacking each other when in the end it doesn’t do anything except distract us from our pens?

    • None of this is personal. Mostly, it’s business.

      But the business aspect of all this determines whether we have roofs over our heads and food on our tables. The business aspect is our livelihood. Of course passions run high.

  41. My (delayed) flight is being called, so good night (finally) and good luck. It’s been (mostly) a pleasure.

    Best always, Lee Child

  42. This has been a very interesting discussion here in the comments. I’m not going t dispute that Mr. Lee is a very nice person or does not care about authors. I don’t agree with everything that he had said but time will tell when all this eventually plays out. I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope everything works out for the Hachette authors who are not at the top of the list.

  43. My respect for Lee Child has increased ten fold after seeing him come on here and defend himself.

    • Yes and if Child had done it with a little more honesty that respect would be deserved. But we can’t have everything can we now?

  44. What I see here is someone, at the top of his game, a proud full brit and a seemingly egotistical elitist, p******, or at least trying to, on all who disagree with him or find fault with his statements.
    What I see here is people trying to reason with someone who will not engage reasonably or without insult.
    Mr. Child, I must confess I have not read any of your masterpieces, nor will I seeing how you treat the public, some of whom are your readers. I realize and had witnessed some have treated you with disrespect and rudeness, but is your ego so fragile that you have to meet it with the same?
    Do what you must to protect your vision of yourself, but you do not need to be rude and disrespectful, it never puts you in a good light or wins your point.

    “Where does an 800 lb gorilla sleep?”

    anywhere he wants,

    doesn’t make him right

    • Really? Because that’s not what I saw at all.

      I saw a guy who felt that he’d been poked and decided to poke back, not only that he was brave enough to do it on the other guys turf. This isn’t a playground here, you can’t follow him if he decides to walk away and force a response from him. He simply could have signed off and we never would have learned a thing.

      Whether you agree with his views or not Lee is someone who is at the top of this game we call writing. If he’s willing to sit down and discuss his views and what he knows I will listen. I wouldn’t turn him away any more than I would Hugh or Barry. And all the insults? To what end were they being thrown? There was NOTHING to gain from them yet they just kept coming.

      If we all just sit here and talk to each other TPV becomes nothing but an echo chamber, and nobody learns anything in an echo chamber.

  45. Lee Child,

    You told us people who could afford a Kindle are not sensitive to the two pound price difference between 8 and 10 pounds for books. What is the basis of that statement?

    Is this idea limited to people who buy one book, only one book, and no other books? Or does it apply to people who buy hundreds or thousands of books over a longer period?

    Can you tell us the price difference that would trigger a material concern by a consumer? Is it three pounds, four pounds, five pounds, ten pounds? At what point does the consumer who owns a Kindle care about the price difference?

    And does this lack of sensitivity to a 20% price difference extend into other areas for people who own a Kindle? Are they generally insensitive to 20% price differences because they bought a Kindle?

    I ask because what you say is contrary to just about all other economic research on consumer behavior. If people who own a Kindle exhibit a discontinuous demand function, that is a very important discovery.

    So, can you provide the backup for this idea?

  46. psst: Don’t tell Lee, but I’m going to email him and ask if Jack Reacher has changed his underwear lately. I imagine Lee will remember that I asked him this once before, a long time ago, on another forum.

    • psst. Don’t tell Lee but I don’t believe a word he says. I find Mr. Vandagriff far more knowledgeable and accurate when discussing this brave new publishing reality then somebody who is so rich his publishers treat him like a special snowflake. As PG said earlier above: “The world looks different to the 1% than it does to the rest.”

  47. Rather than bleat on like I have a tendency to do, I posted a response to Mr Child on my blog, which I excerpt here:

    Ask my publisher? I have a real-time 24/7 tap into their data. Follow that with an audit? I have had two auditors working full time for the last eight years. You guys really have no idea, do you?

    Dear Mr. Child:

    Thank you for braving the waters and wading into the fray with the denizens at TPV blog.

    I feel bad that it’s come to a slug-fest between authors — self-pubbed, traditional and hybrid. An idealist might hope that authors would seek common cause and unite so there was a true “Authors United” group instead of the one that signed the letter to its readers. That kind of letter just pits author against author in the battle for public opinion.

    If Hachette authors (and authors in general) should be mad at anyone it should be at Hachette, a subsidiary of a very large conglomerate, for not negotiating in good faith and for letting it get to this point in the first place. Heck, according to Amazon, Hachette didn’t even show up to negotiate despite the contract having expired!

    In doing so, Hachette really can’t blame Amazon for withdrawing some of the perks it provides Hachette. Hachette exposed its authors to economic harm as a consequence.

    That’s what really happened in this dispute. Hachette refused to negotiate or was unwilling to budge and as a consequence, allowed its authors to be harmed.

    The rest at my blog.

  48. I would like to hear Mr. Child’s opinions on the royalty payments offered by large publishers vs the payments that self published authors are able to realize.

  49. I totally missed all this, but I think most folks missed the difference between Child’s perspective and everyone else here.

    Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports.

    This is true of Child’s readers and is sort of true of readers of most books sold (except in romance), but it is certainly not true of anyone here (not even Barry). For most of the writers here, none of your readers read four books a year. The median number of books read by your readers is closer to 40.

    What I wish I could tell Child is that his experience is not typical because there is no typical. The market for stories is not evenly distributed. He is blind to the experience of the writers here and you all are largely blind to his.

    • The “Casual Reader” bracket, William? I was waiting for you to jump in.

      And your last sentence says it all.

    • Yes, we romance readers (and writers) belong in our own little –er, BIG group–we read a ton and as writers, we self-publish a ton of books too.

    • @William Ockham

      That’s the way I see it, too.

      We live in different worlds and sell to different markets.

      Traditional publishers sell to the casual reader market, the readers who buy 1, 2, maybe 4 books a year. They need ‘velocity’ to get visibility with casual readers. And casual readers do not own Kindles. They buy hardback ’cause they wanna sit with the kool kids.

      Indie publishers sell to the power reader market, the readers who buy 1, 2, maybe 4 books A WEEK. They need Amazon-centered marketing techniques to get visibility with power readers. All their readers own Kindles or Kindle apps.

      Our camps are talking past each other. Like the blind men and the elephant, we think we are discussing the same thing, but our experiences are markedly different.

      I believe Mr Child is well informed about his world, but he don’t know squat about mine. And vice versa.

      “You speak the truth you know, and I, the truth I know.”
      –Ursula Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest

      FWIW I looked at the selection of Mr Child’s ebooks on Amazon. I saw 3 priced above $10. The majority were priced in the $5-$6 range. A few were priced $1.99. Make of this what you will.

      Wife says we’re taking a long weekend, so I’ll see ya when I see ya.

      • Say not ‘I have found the truth’ but rather ‘I have found a truth’

        Kahil Gibran

      • I was about to ask how would you able to see The majority were priced in the $5-$6 range. when I saw majority over the 9$ range, but then I remembered that since I’m not American, I see prices with VAT.

      • Antares is right.

        While I knew there was a gulf between the indie author and the bestselling trade author I failed to realize the width.

        The reason Lee (and others in the 1%) says the things he does is because that is what HIS data shows him. FOR HIM paper sales do trump ebook sales and FOR HIM ebooks have plateaued. His world view is both narrow and vastly different from ours, in both readers and method of sales. He targets the casual reader. Their numbers are great and they are happy to pay more since their overall consumption is relatively low. Indies target the voracious reader and when successful doing so (by our scale) we think doing anything otherwise is simply a fool’s errand. I would say that we need to put ourselves in his shoes and try to forget what we know of the indie market to really see things from his viewpoint.

        But what can we glean from this? To reach the casual reader market you need to be in print, preferably in MMPB and in as many venues as possible. Lee seems to be priced in the $5-$7 range (what WE would consider low for a trade pub author) for most of his books and is a consistent bestseller. With those numbers I can’t say he’s doing anything wrong. Would he do better if he lowered his prices on e-books and targeted the voracious reader? Maybe. OUR numbers say yes. HIS numbers don’t. HIS numbers say there’s no need for him to do this as he’s capturing the casual reader AND the voracious reader in enough quantity to make him millions. With numbers like that and the data to back them up I would be hesitant to mess with them too. I’d also get testy if forced to change them by a distributor.

        What he fails to understand is he’s a very small percentage of the writers out there. The average writer, both indie and midlist trade, would do better lowering his prices and targeting more of the voracious readers. He needs to put aside his data and view the world from our perspective if he wants to understand us.

        This tells me why we haven’t seen any more print-only deals happening. Their data shows them as a failure, even if they were considered a success by our standards.

        As far as ebooks being a niche market, to HIM they are. I predicted that ebooks would rise rapidly, then plateau and then rise again slowly before stopping somewhere around the 80% point. For US ebooks are our biggest revenue source, for HIM they are simply one of many and far from the dominant format. Again, two worlds and two completely different viewpoints, each of them saying their data is right and neither of them wrong.

        This is going to cut into my writing time today.

        • And I think you just cut to the heart of the matter with this one post.

          • Thank you, Denise.

            • I’ve been thinking about my reply to Lee’s offer up the thread to help if he can and I think your post really nails why it’s so hard to reply.

              We are all blind men touching different parts of the elephant.

              I’ve no doubt that authors in Lee’s position may be able to help indies and/or mid-list authors; I wonder if I or anyone could explain our view in a way that would make any sense to them.

              I’ve been trying to pick one or two things and so far I’ve only come up with echoing Data Guy’s request for any sales data Lee can offer.

              I also think it’s about time that authors were paid more often for ebook sales. Publishers will say that they must hold royalties in case of returns, but that’s not an issue for ebooks. This might be something that makes sense from most positions and has the possibility to really improve quality of life for authors. Maybe it would be a good avenue to pursue.

              I hope that others will chime in as I do want to write something to Lee.

              • Veronica,

                I think you would have to start with a good conversation.

                Maybe get six guys in a room with a good impartial moderator and actually discuss the issues. Not argue-to-convince or even necessarily to debate but to really come up with a “best of both worlds” plan/idea/wish-list/whatever. Find out what both parties want and maybe, just maybe, there’s a way for Amazon and Trade pub to mutually exist and even thrive.

                Personally I’d like to see PG, Hugh, and Barry on one side and three from Trade on the other. I think Lee shows a willingness to engage without being a cheerleader. Maybe Steve, he’s already shown that he’s not afraid to stick his head out. I doubt anyone from Big 5 leadership would be willing until the contract disputes with Amazon are over. Maybe a successful hybrid author that both parties would except? Or maybe Zack Galafinakis? I don’t know.

                It’s a tough question. I’ll be thinking about it some more for sure.

                • Here’s one;

                  As a self-published author I can reach almost every distribution channel but one; print distribution (on their scale). The trade publishers want indies to stop the “race to the bottom” but low prices are how we target the voracious reader. If the trade publishers wish us to keep our ebook prices high then what are they willing to offer to offset our losses? If they were to monetize their print distribution channels and make them available to us, that might be something.

                  I just came up with that and have not really thought it through, but if I were to get one perk that Lee has it would be print distribution into those airport and supermarkets he mentioned.

                • The trade publishers want indies to stop the “race to the bottom” but low prices are how we target the voracious reader. If the trade publishers wish us to keep our ebook prices high then what are they willing to offer to offset our losses?

                  There are so many indie publishers that any sort of plan would only apply to a portion of them and not accomplish the goal.

                  I would imagine that a traditional publisher response to this would be “be good enough to be a traditional deal, then you get print distribution.”

                  It’s clear that traditional publishing is a huge force in moving print books. I think that there must be creative ways to leverage that position and offer that channel to more authors. That said, there are only so many slots in the rack at the airport and grocery store.

                  What’s a way to offer print distribution to many authors? POD? Other than the POD machine, what new thing has happened in the print distribution model recently? I can’t think of anything.

                  If I were a traditional publisher, I would find a bright bunch of people and put THEM in a room with the goal to find an answer to that question.

                  And I would send someone to your proposed group as well! PG, Hugh, and Barry are great choices.

        • Appreciate your observations, Randall.

          What strikes me, reading all this days later, is that it’s ~because~ we’re from different worlds that exchanges like this can be mutually beneficial.

          Authors should strive to be futurists — to gather information, assemble potential scenarios of how the future might unfold, select a couple that look most likely and proceed … while keeping a close eye out for signs indicating different scenarios might be more likely.

          To do this, we all need information, and especially information from POVs different from our own. (After all, we’re not paying much attention if we don’t have our own POV covered.) For this, I found Lee Child’s points valuable, and I hope he found points made by some other posters also valuable.

      • This would seem to be true. We’re not trying for the reader who reads 4 to 5 books a year, because those folks are going to buy Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver and Michael Connelly and Robert Crais. Our readers might read books by all four of them, but they’re also likely to include a half a dozen other well known writers and a dozen or two indies who are writing in genres they like…

        • As a voracious reader I was surprised by Mr. Childs comment that virtually all of his readers are buying his paperback books at airports and supermarkets after they’ve been discounted. He didn’t say what percentage are buying e-books but clearly he considers it a niche minority.
          I thought about my own habits and realized something interesting. I used to buy a mix of books back in 2010 before I really discovered indies/smaller presses/fresher stories. Some of those did include bestsellers/blockbusters although not as often as you would think. Some of that was because they only release a book a year. Looking back over the last several years, I haven’t bought very many blockbusters at all. I think this is because I moved away from them when the prices initially were hiked up when agency went into effect. It PO’d me so much that I started changing my reading habits. The thing is, since then, traditional bestsellers have fallen off my radar. They don’t come up in Amazon suggestions because I haven’t been browsing them. Folks who make suggestions aren’t talking about them. I know I see them in grocery stores and such,but I’ve long since become accustomed to ignoring them. I had no idea that the ebook prices have come down so much, but at this point it’s no longer compelling. Habits have changed. I think The Help was the last fiction blockbuster bestseller I read. I still read some traditionally published authors, but they tend to not be the top 1%. I wonder if this is anyone else’s experience and if it may account for some of the drop in Child’s percentage of e-book buyers.
          I also wanted to comment on everyone who is talking about the 8 pounds and 10 pounds difference for e-books. This isn’t just about what people can afford, although obviously that is a huge factor. I can afford to pay $14.99 for an ebook but I’m just not willing to do it when there are so many other good options at far lower prices. I find it kind of offensive when I see an ebook at that price. It feels like a rip off. Recently DirecTV had a movie I was interested in available for PPV. When I clicked on it, it came up as $19.95! I laughed and decided to watch something else. I don’t even remember the title of the movie and it’s highly unlikely I will ever watch it, even when the price goes down because it will probably not be current to me. I probably will forget about the storyline or any sort of publicity around it. The window of opportunity is gone. Maybe that’s what happened with blockbusters in a broader sense.
          Maybe, what’s left for blockbuster authors are just casual readers. If I only read four books a year and it took me an entire month to read a book, maybe I wouldn’t be reading it on my iPad or phone, although I have a hard time believing that sooner or later the convenience wouldn’t appeal to me.

  50. Well, I picked a Hell of a day to stay offline.

    This discussion was awesome to sit back and witness, especially because I’m almost always a combatant. As a result, my personal opinion of Lee Child (of whom I only knew the generalities) is complicated.

    I need a drink.

    PS My protagonist is an ex-military cop, too (as I was). And he would whup Reacher’s a**. 🙂

  51. The problem with Lee Child et al is that they were conspicuously silent during and after the Apple initiated price fixing scandal of which Hachette was a leading party and which was proven illegal. Whatever Amazon is doing, right or wrong, at least is being done in full view. As for the books couldn’t possibly be cheaper without hurting authors’ income hogwash, I’ll say yes they could if the big boys of publishing were prepared to adjust their profit expectations to a more realistic level. How come everyone is treating the publisher bottom line as sacrosanct. All the sacrifices either must be made by readers or the authors – the two parties that matter truly in this debate. Is that the case Mr Child?

  52. Mr. Child

    I think you’re wrong too, but I salute you for giving as good as you got, even if it meant utilizing PG’s ‘bandwidth’.

  53. Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports.

    He thinks this because he only publishes one Jack Reacher book a year. Also, because NY has conditioned readers to wait and wait and wait for their authors to pump out that one book per year, even if they could do more than that, but are simply not allowed to.

    Ironically, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher would never side with the likes of NY publishing.

  54. Just my luck, found this after the fun’s over. Well, I’ll give my reviews anyways.

    Reporter Lady: Asked great questions especially the question about cost.

    Mr. Child: Watching the interview, it seems like Mr. Child is living in a parallel universe. He considers ebooks just a niche? Paper will reign supreme? I’d have to agree with PG that this line of thinking comes straight from the publishers. In an NPR piece with Patterson and publishing people at Book Expo America, I heard these same exact talking points. They think ebooks have been arrested or “plateaud” and we’ll live in a (publishing) Shangri La of a mainly paper world with a segment for ebooks. I can only shake my head that they think this way. All the projections clearly show ebooks eventually supplanting paper. Must be an echo chamber over there.

    He’s also seemingly under the assumption that Kindle books can only be read on the Kindle ereader. Really? I don’t own a Kindle but yet, I read Kindle books. This leads me to question how familiar he is with the ebook landscape.

    I didn’t want to make this review harsh, but from that interview, I came away incredibly disappointed.

    Worst part in Mr. Child’s interview was when he said that “if you can afford 8 pounds, you can afford 10 pounds.” It almost sounded sadistic.

    I will agree with Mr. Child in the comments that talking shop about the publishing business isn’t my favorite activity either. Have to keep up to date however at least, as much as I can stomach it.

    • Oh right, from the comments, it sounded like Mr. Child wasn’t having much fun in his career, which if I was a best selling author, I would be absolutely having a blast.

      There seems to be a fun vacuum in New York that sucks up all the fun in publishing.

    • Steve zacharius said something very similar yesterday. Makes you wonder if “decreasing Kindle sales” is a talking point.

      • As I wrote up above, it turns out that Kindle tablets don’t count as kindles, somehow. Thus, Kindle e-ink reader sales are flat at best, which has been written about (somewhere) and fastened upon.

  55. Wait. So he’s for higher prices and windowing and what not? That’s fine. It’s a strategy. Forcing a retailer to obey your price directives? Not fine at all.

    And what’s this b******* about books not being available? Say it enough and it’s true I guess.

    Wonder what’s going to happen when Amazon just gets fed up and stops supporting Hatchette all together. Pandemonium!

    • Call me a bit silly, but I really hope at some point Amazon just says, “We don’t have a distribution deal with Hatchette” and pulls everything. I really hope that happens. I know it would be bad for authors, but hearing all the people acting like it has already happened sorta makes me want it to happen. I mean, if you are going to take hit you might as well do the crime.

      • I’ve considered this too. I don’t want this to happen. But if Amazon really is evil, and truly in a position to take over the world, wouldn’t Amazon just tell Hatchette to bug off, cut them out, and go on its merry way?

  56. I lurked and read yesterday, but this morning, I realized something. What Mr. Lee said about the Kindle failing. The latest Tomb Raider game sold around 2.6 million copies. Yet, despite those numbers, EA Games considered it a failure. 2.6 million a failure! It didn’t reach the target EA Games wanted. It is entirely possible that Amazon does consider the Kindle a failure for not reaching the target they wanted. That doesn’t make it a failure IMO, but that explains to me why Mr. Lee said he heard it was a failure. As crazy as it seems sometimes, big companies have a very different idea of failure than you or I might.

  57. Every time I see one of these posts that has comments in the hundreds I wonder what PV post holds the record for most comments.

  58. Wow, there are so many people who are quoting his answer about the Kindle. Out. Of. Context.

    He did not say it was a failure, he said it wasn’t as successful as Amazon wanted it to be, which is dramatically different. English is only my second language and I could get that. What’s WRONG with you all?

  59. I’ve been intentionally avoiding the debate in an effort to actually, you know, get some writing done.

    It was really tempting to fisk Lee, but then I’d be off the wagon and back to wasting hours composing arguments and replying to comments.

    But I’m going to pop in real fast and then turn off my Internet again, just to repeat this:

    Most of my readers (most of everyone’s readers, actually – you could ask Amazon for the data) read about four books a year, in paperback, all of them discounted at supermarkets and airports.

    That is the main reason Lee signed the letter, pitched in for the NYT ad, and appeared on the BBC.

    The Big 5 have an oligopoly on paper. That’s why Hachette won’t negotiate. They don’t want to lose their piece of the paper distribution cartel pie, because they’ve done very well with it.

    Lee, Preston, Patterson, and Turow, and the many bestsellers who signed with Authors United, don’t want to lose their place in the pecking order either.

    But if paper goes away, their sales will suffer. I wrote about this over three years ago.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/end-of-bestseller.html

    Hachette MUST retain control over pricing and stop Amazon from discounting. If Amazon continues to discount ebooks, that competes with paper sales and the Big 5 cartel’s oligopoly. I think it is safe to say, for the majority of readers, that an ebook sale is a lost paper sale. If B&N closes, and ebooks overtake paper sales, publishers won’t be able to survive.

    Lee’s ebook sales, like Hachette’s, have plateaued. I see no reason to doubt their claims. The rest of us know, via our own data and AuthorEarnings.com, that the ebook market is growing, and indies are taking larger percentages of it.

    This trend will continue. But the Big 5, and major bestsellers, want to stop it, or at least slow it down. It doesn’t matter that publishers make bigger profits on ebooks than on paper. When ebooks become the dominant way people read–and they will–who will still need a publisher? Why give away 52.5% of royalties, forever, for cover art and editing? It’s game over for the Big 5.

    It’s also a big blow to NYT bestsellers whose paper sales outnumber their ebook sales.

    Lee is smart. He knows this. But he’s not going to go on the BBC and say, “I don’t want my empire to shrink”. Instead, he spouts all the same nonsense Barry and I and many other have debunked, repeating the tired meme about Amazon taking over the world and harming authors, and Kindle being a failure (seriously Lee?) when the main issue is Amazon harming publishers, and bestselling paper authors, in the long game.

    If publishers go away, so will seven figure advances. So let’s all keep ebook prices as high as possible to forestall this. That means agency pricing and no discounting on ebooks. That won’t fly with the public, though. So instead, let’s pretend to be fighting for the author, and that Amazon is Satan, and that high ebook prices are good.

    I actually wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Authors United signatories aren’t pretending. They may have talked themselves into thinking they’re being altruistic. Everyone is the good guy in the movie of their life.

    But they aren’t the good guys. Those 1% of authors who benefit from the paper cartel, like Lee, don’t speak for the other 99% (even those in the 99% with Stockholm Syndrome, which I also wrote about over three years ago http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/04/are-you-dense.html)

    What I predicted would happen is happening. Publishers slowly are becoming irrelevant. And that’s why I’m okay with cutting down on my activism. Years ago, I was an outlier. Now I’m one of the crowd. I don’t need to fisk everything. It will all turn out for the better without me saying another word.

    Well… at least it will for 99% of authors. Lee and other bestsellers will still do well self-publishing. But they’ll take a big income hit. So they have to defend their publishers in the media, and try to sway public opinion. It’s their only recourse. That, and continued pleas for government intervention.

    But we all know how that turned out. 🙂

    • Well said, as usual, Joe.

    • So here is a thought experiment. How do you come up with a deal that would pry Lee Child away from his publisher? I think Lee Child produces most of the economic value that comes from his books. I would love to make Child richer if it meant finishing off the Big 5. I am going to ponder that one.

      • I think you can’t. The problem is offering Lee something he thinks exceeds the value of the mega advances he receives. A promise that he should make more isn’t going to cut it. It’ll take someone smarter than me to come up with a plan.

        More strength to your arm!

      • Lee is one of the annoited few who has his books at Wal Mart, airports and the other high traffic areas paperbacks can sell.

        To leave that spot behind would be a terrible financial decision, unless someone could show him the math of how his sales as an Indy would eclipse what he’d lose.

        Plus, his rights are so tied up with publishers it would be impossible to get them back. I wouldn’t be surprised if they own his pen name too.

        I predict that a current top 1% author will never leave the system. I also predict that all future top 1% writers will be indie.

  60. Hey Lee,

    No time to read everything here, but I wanted to thank you for stopping by PG’s for a chat. Sadly, we don’t agree on everything and well–wouldn’t that be a bore. Change…things do change.
    I remember when I read “The Killing Floor” and I thought–hey I like this Lee Child guy, never heard of him. Good show, y’know most Big Pub author’s wouldn’t have the stones to comment here–glad to see you still got ’em.
    Don’t be shy, do come back.

  61. I am a huge Lee Child fan and remain so. He is generous with his time and mentorship. I was chatting with a debut author last week who talked about how he reached out and helped her.

    I came within an inch of winning a Jack Reacher themed flash fiction contest. Made the finals, but not to the medal platform (and I even had Jack kill Tom Cruise.)

    His anecdote about his own paper vs. ebook sales are unique to his level of writer. People don’t just read him, they collect him. I’ve been in the secondary market for 20 years and know what people will do to complete their collections. A paper copy of his books are also a safe gift bet for a known fan. *whew, okay dad’s taken care of*

    Most books are consumables and price is an issue. This besmacked of the Netflix CEO who said that price increases were “less than a latte.” They had to put on extra reps to handle the cancellations and at one point the stock was down $100/share. Because of the roasting in the court of public opinion, Netflix also cancelled a plan to spin off the DVD division. Millionaires shouldn’t tell the rabble to suck it up on price . . . ever.

    I am still a huge fan. I have several mutual friends and hope to meet the man behind Jack Reacher someday. However, that doesn’t change the fact that price matters and, to the extent that I support any corporation, I support the one that brings books to my small town, is inclusive rather than exclusive, and works to bring goods to market for the best possible price.

    Terri

  62. Lee Child is right. Books are very cheap. Amazon wants to rule the world. Many more Kindles were bought than are used. E-books are not going to replace books. Amazon is using the customer as a pawn in a battle with Hachette. I feel as if most of the commenters listened to a different interview than the one I listened to. (I’ve only read one Jack Reacher novel.)

  63. One question – why do self published authors care so much about the price that published authors sell at?

    • Smart Debut Author

      Your terminology is old-fashioned and outdated, Alex. It’s 2014.

      We’re all “published authors” now, whether or not we are entrepreunerial enough to hit the publish button ourselves or still rely on paying some quaint, old-school middleman 75%+ of our earnings to hit the button for us.

  64. I am an author and a publisher, been in the business since October 1970.

    Amazon has opened up stock selling for all authors. In doing so it has revived an ailing industry and provided readers with a better choice than at any time in the history of the world.

    Some years ago traditional publishers conspired with booksellers to end backlist selling across the board. I remember the email sent out to all authors from Hachette (Headline), which was at the time my publisher in the UK. It came from the CEO and said that they were giving up holding stock. This was an unbelievable shock. I had been brought up to see stock selling as the secret of successful publishing. The decision came about after the cessation of the net book agreement when the new terms of alliance between the big publishers and bookshops led to high discounts, selective buying of bestsellers by bookshops and eventually book chains selling space to publishers (and publishers stocking it with their bestsellers) rather than publishers selling books to booksellers . The old idea of the sales rep selling direct to a bookshop buyer, who knew his customers’ likes and dislikes, was long gone and the ethos that supported this literary communion between publisher and bookseller was now finally laid to rest.

    Amazon rescued us from the inevitable dire consequences of this policy, and I think ultimately from the ruination of the book trade. Through Amazon it is possible now for most readers to get almost any book they want.

    There is no question that Amazon should be applauded for this.

    They have also invented a way to make cheaper books available (through Kindle). And yes, it is a revolution actually more amazing than the paperback revolution because anyone can now produce, publish and sell an e-book edition at virtually no cost at all. If traditional publishers actually followed Amazon’s guidelines (and Apple’s, which are now just as good) and produced their own e-books, they would be startled to discover how easy and cheap it is to do, and how much better that they do it than some third party non-publisher (because the trick lies in the metadata manipulation, which is a publishing not a technical issue). The e-book editions of my own backlist books which I publish myself are far more successful than those published by traditional publishers.

    Traditional publishers now have to find a way to stay in business in this new publishing scene and they have decided to do so by raising prices. I have many friends among traditional publishers and am proud still to be published principally by one of them. Why do I bother? Because he has unbelievable publishing skills and a heart that’s in the right place. He knows people and they trust him and they want to do deals with him because they trust his nose. That’s the way forward, that’s what traditional publishers can now offer.

  65. I think everyone has missed Lee’s most important point. The one thing that really mattered in the entire interview.

    Scarlett, if you read this, please give me a shout. I’d be very amenable to the scenario Lee described. If we can manage that for the magic £10 price point Lee described then all the better (though I’d rather pay £8 if it’s all the same to you?).

  66. Informative, educational, oh the hell with it: PG, I just demonstrated my thanks for providing us with this forum with a donation. Top right, everybody.

  67. I just tried to email Lee as he invited me to and the instructions he provided resulted in a bounced email. I double checked and tried twice.

    Perhaps I can contact him through the ITW….

    The ITW site doesn’t offer a way to contact them for general inquires by email. They do offer a mailing address. I suppose I will send it snail mail.

    Their contact page references a “form.” I’ve looked on two different browsers and don’t see a form. Do you?

    http://thrillerwriters.org/contact/

    • Perhaps all the TPV email broke his inbox. 🙂

      I followed the same instructions, and Lee got back to me within a day with a very gracious response.

      I would try waiting a day or two for IT problems to get solved, and then try again.

      And, FWIW, I have a hell of a lot of respect for the fact that he came here and engaged with us. Many here might not agree with much of what Lee says, but to me, he seems to be a straight shooter who genuinely cares for and supports other authors — whether indie or traditionally-published.

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