Home » Amazon, Big Publishing » Richard Russo, Douglas Preston on Amazon

Richard Russo, Douglas Preston on Amazon

25 January 2016

From Shelf Awareness:

“The central problem is still with us,” said Douglas Preston, author and founder of the Authors United movement, during a featured talk at Winter Institute 11 on Sunday about Amazon.com and the antitrust efforts of the Authors Guild, Authors United and the American Booksellers Association. Richard Russo, author and vice-president of the Authors Guild, joined Preston in conversation, and Oren Teicher, CEO of the ABA, moderated the discussion.

“The central problem is Amazon’s enormous dominance of the entire book publishing industry,” continued Preston. “Amazon overall has a market share in the entire publishing world that is about equal to Standard Oil’s share of the petroleum distribution business in 1911 when it was broken up into 34 companies–about 70%.”

In a meeting with members of the Department of Justice last September, Preston said, members of Authors United, the Authors Guild and others presented the Department with arguments for an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s practices. Unlike an earlier meeting with lawyers from the DoJ, Preston recalled, this one went well. In his estimation, the most compelling argument against Amazon is not actually an antitrust argument but in fact a First Amendment argument. Americans, he said, have been extremely concerned about the concentration of power in “any vital informational market” since the founding of the country. Now, Preston contended, Amazon has greater control of the book market than any corporation in any informational market in the history of the United States, and the company’s practices have “already distorted the free flow of information” in this country.

Amazon has also exerted such powerful downward pressure on the industry and extracted so much money from it, Preston continued, that publishers are now much more conservative and risk-averse in their publishing decisions. Debut authors and midlist authors, he said, have been “absolutely devastated” by this, and it was those authors for whom Preston had the greatest concern. The case could strongly be made, Preston argued, that there are books not being published because of Amazon’s effect on the market.

“That is the most devastating thing of all, I think,” said Preston. “The authors who will not become authors.”

. . . .

It was also “terribly scary,” Russo added, when the nation’s largest bookseller “does not care about authors and does not care about books.”

Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness and thanks to Alan for the tip.


Amazon, Big Publishing

105 Comments to “Richard Russo, Douglas Preston on Amazon”

  1. “In his estimation, the most compelling argument against Amazon is not actually an antitrust argument but in fact a First Amendment argument.”

    “The case could strongly be made, Preston argued, that there are books not being published because of Amazon’s effect on the market.”

    “That is the most devastating thing of all, I think,” said Preston. “The authors who will not become authors.”

    This might be the most deluded argument ever made by a human being. My head hurts.

  2. I’m confident I would not be at home on a Monday, writing on my latest novel, if I had not self-published some old, collecting-dust-manuscripts back in 2013.

    I’ve got some complaints with Amazon, but overall, their sales platform has allowed me to call myself an author.

  3. I don’t think therapy would help these people.

  4. Hey, Douglas Preston, Richard Russo, Oren Teicher, have your writers — sorry, ‘authors’ ask their publishers to pull all their books from Amazon. In fact tell the publishers to pull the books — why empower Amazon if it’s so ‘evil’. (and it’ll give other distributors a chance — right?)

    Failure to publicly tell your authors/publishers to pull your books is proof you’re just blowing smoke. A full page NYT ad would be a good start.

    “That is the most devastating thing of all, I think,” said Preston. “The authors who will not become authors.”

    You mean the ones now making more than a publisher would offer them that went indie/self-pub?

  5. I cannot wait to read Konrath’s fisking of this.

  6. This is not just stupid anymore, it’s shameful. Shame on you, all you big publishers, Mr. Russo and Mr. Preston, and all the other members of AU. What a smelly load of bull excrement. You are distorting the issue beyond rationality on behalf of behemoth media conglomerates and your own bottom line, and I can’t believe it’s only misunderstanding and ignorance anymore. For shame! Seriously.

    • Agreed. They’ve gone from ignorant to evil.

      • robert bucchianeri

        I think evil isn’t really right. I think this quote from Upton Sinclair gets to the heart of the matter… “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on not understanding it.”
        Publishers and big name authors are running scared. Afraid of changes that must drastically change their business model and threaten revenues.

        • Consider what exactly it is they are afraid, though: look past their smoke and mirrors and posturing and what scares them is Indies making a living by taking market share from the BPHs.

          As a certain full-of-himself author told Konrath, they make more off one book than most people make in their lifetime. They made their “writing shack on 300 acres” money and now they begrudge others the chance to pay the mortgage by publishing their stories?

          I’ve always considered that a good working definition on evil is to inflict unnecessary harm on others. This campaign of theirs fits that definition perfectly.

          This isn’t about survival or principle but sheer ego and malice towards others.

          Evil, plain and simple.

    • +1^99

  7. He received an invitation to join the Authors Guild following his editorial, which led Russo to think more deeply about “authorship in general” and in particular the status of the “writing life” for new and midlist writers.

    Can someone tell us what the writing life is?

  8. Moron.

  9. moderated the discussion.

    Why on earth does a discussion like this need a moderator? It is not as though there’s going to be any differences of opinion.

  10. Did Standard Oil also deal in shoes and sunglasses and toilet paper? Sheesh. This is so wrong minded I can’t believe it.

    IF Amazon was curating ALL the books they sold, maybe this might apply. They don’t. Anyone can upload an ebook.

    If I turned it around and said one of the Big5 was a detriment to the first amendment because they wouldn’t publish my books would that get me anywhere?

  11. I simply can’t understand Preston and Russo’s mindset and why they continue pushing this initiative against facts and reason.

    • AU has the aspects of a cult. In a cult, it’s a closed circle where any outside info or influence is assiduously stonewalled and excluded.

      The cultists talk only among themselves, regurgitating the same mantras over and over. Thus, their uniform worldview is constantly reenforced and held up as the “truth.”

      Hey, maybe they could go find a flying saucer behind a comet to inhabit while enroute to Nirvana…

    • Because they have a lot of sympathetic ears from the media who will publish this twaddle.

      First Amendment? Really? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

      Yeah, Amazon is TOTALLY violating the First Amendment.


      • Thank you for confirming this. As a non-American, i was puzzled by their stance, as that’s what I’d thought the First Amendment was for.

        • It’s a silly argument. No US publisher is under any constitutinal obligation to publish anything. No Amercan is under any constitutional obligaton to write or publish. The first ten amendments to the Constitution were designed to curtail the powers of government, not citizens.

        • Alyssa, back when I ran a BBS, I used to get people complaining I was shutting down their First Amendment rights. I reminded them that I owned the software, owned the computer, owned the modem, paid for the electricity and phone lines, and therefore they were violating my property rights by not obeying the rules I set down.

          Then I deleted their accounts. Because I was the supreme dictator of my BBS. 🙂

  12. In propaganda it’s always good to tell a really big lie. For some reason the more absurd it is the more people tend to believe it. At least that’s what we learned back in my marketing classes.

  13. “The central problem is Amazon’s enormous dominance of the entire book publishing industry,”

    I am the publisher; Amazon is the retail outlet. The “publishers,” consisting of thousands of small fry just like me, exist in the most democratizing store front in the history of the world, Amazon’s website. Legally, one could argue that Amazon is a consignment store. “Here is a place to sell your goods,” says Amazon. “Bring them into our store and we will collect the money from the sale and keep a percent for rent and other overhead.”

    How Amazon is strikingly different from Standard OIl and AT&T is that Amazon has no ownership interest in even one item out of the millions it sells. It doesn’t own oil lands, leaseholds, drilling platforms, tanker ships, or oil, the commodity itself. Neither does it own communication products put into the stream of commerce for resale. It uses communication products just like it uses carbon fuels, but it doesn’t own those things and has no competitive footprint in the market of such items.

    Neither does Amazon have a competitive footprint in the market of books in the sense of ownership interest in the books it sells or the tires it sells or the garden hose it sells or the bracelets it sells–it’s simply a provisioner of a marketplace. You would never accuse a mall of antitrust; you would never accuse a website of antitrust. Offering other people’s products for sale in your mall just doesn’t fit inside the unfair competitive advantage by price-fixing and monopolistic practices the antitrust laws contemplate.

    Finally, Amazon’s business practices in no way restrain trade. Every whiner and bitcher out there can go over to Go Daddy, buy a URL for $2.99 and set up a website for $9.99 a month and compete with Amazon 100% restraint free. There is no monopolistic practice that prevents that.

    I’m sure this overlooks other key points, but this is not meant to be comprehensive. Just a minor repartee to the OP’s.

    • Devil’s Advocate here: Amazon IS a publisher, and, according to Author Earnings, doing VERY well – and disproportionately picking winners.

      I wish they would read my book and choose to pick me – but there is no way to get TO them, as they only accept submissions from agents, and I’m against agents on principle. Sigh. Principles. Such a pain.

      • I don’t think that’s quite it. Amazon has imprints, true, that are publishers, but they are not Amazon. According to my KDP rep Amazon itself is composed of hundreds if not thousands of small businesses. I don’t believe you’ll find an Amazon imprint under the name of “Amazon.”

        • Unless those units have a separate incorporation, they are all Amazon. A company can set up any internal controls structure, but that doesn’t change the operational span of the corporation.

          I haven’t looked at it, but Amazon probably has a number of subsidiary corporations, all owned by the parent. If Amazon owns them all, then they are all under the Amazon umbrella.

          But, if they have a separate ownership structure, separate stock, and can tell Bezos to take a hike, then they are really separate companies.

          All those imprints are Amazon publications.

      • You can submit your book to the Scout program. I think I saw a post the other day that said a couple books were taken out of Scout by their imprints.

      • I figured out a way around the no-agent problem. I entered Kindle Scout and got a Montlake contract. 🙂

        • I thought about that, hard and long. But KindleScout requires you to be a cheerleader during an intense month for your book, and the contract is very mid-list. Small advance, 5 year guarantee, possible continuation. Not bad, but also not worth it if you think you have a significant book. I do, bless my little ego.

          And I went ahead and self-published, which deliberately killed that route. I didn’t want to be tempted.

          Due to my personal circumstances, there won’t be many books, and they will be produced on my very slow schedule – not really suitable for KS. They are probably a great way to get started for an active healthy writer with a planned career of many novels, especially in genre. Too soon to tell for literary mainstream fiction.

          Maybe my ship will come in. Maybe I’ll sink like a stone.

          • But don’t they let you hold onto other rights, notably print? So you could still pursue significance that way? (Or is there reason to believe that being picked for KS would somehow block the way to that?)

            • I don’t actually know, since I didn’t pursue the KS idea.

              And popularity and sales in one format enhances your general rankings, which should be great for visibility.

              I saw someone recently (Cari Noga) who was discovered by an Amazon imprint after an 18-month stint (IIRC) as a self-pubber. They relaunched her book with paper, ebook, and Audible.

              Thanks for pointing that out – I’ll go look again; maybe for the next book. It still probably depends on the author’s ability to drum up votes and go through the competition phase.

              Sariah (above) got a Montlake contract – that’s wonderful.

              • I believe it’s true that you keep your print rights. But it was a while ago that I looked. I think that contract could end up being a very good deal if it’s really just for ebook, and you can benefit from all the exposure to sell more of other editions. But you do still have to win the contest, of course!

    • I particularly liked the point of how Amazon is selling 70% of the world’s books. Um, no. 70% of ebooks. In the USA. There’s a freaking ton more world out there.

      • Like pbooks.
        Audio books.
        Imported books.
        There is a lot more to publishing than what those self-important fools are lumping into their propaganda campaign.

        Amazon at most distributes 50% of consumer trade book sales.

        Which is a smaller share than what Penguin and Random House were allowed to merge into the Randy Penguin. At the time, the DOJ approved the merger because they saw plenty of other publishers ready to step up if the resultant company tried to throw its weight around.

        I suspect the DOJers were nodding just to get through the meeting before they broke out in laughter.

  14. Winter Institute… by American Booksellers Association.

  15. This does make me wonder, if the DOJ decided to take action against Amazon what action could they take? They could conceivably order Amazon to separate its book business from other business, but that wouldn’t help Preston. And I’m confident no government agency is going to tell a retailer to price products higher. So I wonder what AU wants the DOJ to do?

    • Exactly.

      Antitrust laws contemplate no remedies against companies for being successful, absent monopolistic practices. Amazon isn’t fixing prices in combination with any other entity. Sorry, AU.

    • Amazon’s book business is already separate.

      Amazon’s units are expected to maintain individual P&L statements and the older units are expected to be revenue generators. Bezos is on record as saying the hardware and ebook units are profitable on their own so there is no cross funding.
      Similarly, Amazon LLC charges to distribute Apub books and pays for the books they give away through Kindle First.

      So no, breaking out books won’t change much.

      What the gold-plated gang really wants is for Amazon to be forced to stop distributing Indie books. Which is why they keep referring to KDP titles as “Amazon published”.

  16. This was so wrong-headed I didn’t even know where to start, except to send the link to PG 😉

    The company that allows anyone to publish virtually anything they want is abusing First Amendment rights? Never mind rose-colored glasses. Mr. Preston, et al, have rose-colored eyes.

    Maybe from too much wine or other reality-altering substances.

  17. I share the opinion that Preston has crossed the line from stupid to malicious. It is SO disingenuous that his main concern is midlist and debut writers. BS. Said writers would do leaps and bounds better going indie. His bottom line is being affected, and he’s using his popularity to try and turn the tide against Amazon. Bet he wasn’t bitching like this when Barnes & Noble was putting him front and center in their stores, as independent bookstores were shut down all over the nation, unable to compete with B&N.

    His system created the authors who will never be authors problem. Amazon has created the system that lets every author be an author.

    • I agree. Preston is being economical with the truth, to put it mildly, and I can no longer excuse him on the basis of his being an idiot. The claim that it is not traditional publishing but Amazon who is responsible for authors never begin published in the first place is a flagrant and calculating reversal of the facts. Make no mistake, Preston is declaring himself as the sworn enemy of debut and midlist authors. I am one of them, so I take this personally. I used to consider Preston a figure of fun, but it’s serious when he wants to destroy my livelihood.

  18. I don’t know what I’m more aghast by: the amazingly self-serving, pro-BPH oligopoly, anti-writer depth that Preston has just sunk to, one riddled with blatant mistruths that Goebbels would be proud of, or the fact that DoJ reps actually met with this asshat to listen to him. TWICE!

  19. Just saw all of Russo’s comments too. Amazon is the reason authors are paid less by the Big 5? By selling more books than ever before? Really? Does he not care that authors who couldn’t quit their jobs are now making a living full-time writing?

    And Amazon is the system that allows ALL of us to flourish. Not just the big names. It levels the playing field, which I’m sure Russo and Preston despise. They’re not getting any more special treatment!

    And I love the embrace of my screen. Much as I used to love bookstores, I’m not paying those prices anymore, and I’m not sacrificing convenience and money for an “experience.”

    Why do all these Big 5 authors think the tide is turning against Amazon when Amazon continues to report massive earnings? If anything, it indicates that more and more people are converting, but in their little self-congratulatory niche, they actually believe ebooks are failing and Amazon’s on its way out. I’d like to share my dose of reality with them. I think they need it.

    • Amazon is the reason authors are paid less by the Big 5? By selling more books than ever before? Really?

      Heh. Seems to me that authors who are still with the Big 5 are the morons if this is the case. Kinda sounds like they should all ditch their publisher and try out this “Amazon thing” we keep hearing about. I thought smart capitalists were supposed to go where the money is?

  20. And why do they think that Amazon is out to get indie bookstores? It seems more of the other way around to me. Indie bookstores refuse to carry Amazon’s imprints. Should they be reported to the DoJ too?

    Like, I want an email address for these clowns so that I can tell them what idiots they are, and that they do not speak for me and mine.

  21. P.G.

    Richard Preston apogee was, “The Demon in the Freezer.” Which was about the Smallpox residing in the CDC and in a fairly dodgy place/places in Russia.

    Since then, not so much.


    • Oh come on now! These are three of the best BULLS**T Bingo callers you’re ever going to find. I mean really, who else can the pig5 count on to spread such mind-blowing/mind-numbing FUD as well as their favorite lapdogs, the AG/AU/ABA?

      Sadly Amazon’s lawyers will warn their boss to just ignore them, but I would love for Amazon to remove the ‘buy’ buttons from every author a member of the AG/AU/ABA — just for a week or so. Instead have a link to the publisher’s main page.

      (I figure it would take far less than a week for those same authors to renounce their memberships from such positive and forward-thinking entities. Never mind the pig5 sh**ing a brick when customers can’t order the books through their crap-tastic websites.)

      • I can hear the “Oh, waily, waily, evil Zon removed our buy buttons!” cries from here at Casa Chaos.

        Nevertheless, it’s a great idea.

        • That’s the truly evil bit, making the poor buyers have to use the pig5s’ website — they’ll never leave Amazon.com again!

  22. Bad enough that the East Coast is trying to dig out from under 30 inches of snow this week. Did the ABA really have to unleash this load of BS?? Home Depot doesn’t sell shovels big enough to clear this out.

    Douglas Preston is seriously trying to present himself as Champion of the Midlist Author? Go back to your 300-acre estate in Maine, Dougie. Given a choice between Preston as my champion and Bezos as my champion, I’ll take Bezos every damn time, thank you very much.

  23. I would hate to have this guy DP advocating for me. Scenario: he’s at the DOJ on a mission to launch an antitrust investigation. But he immediately abandons that in favor of a First Amendment…something (not exactly clear what, the DOJ isn’t charged with enforcing the First Amendment, so wrong office, wrong audience, DP):

    Here’s the quote:
    “In a meeting with members of the Department of Justice last September, Preston said, members of Authors United, the Authors Guild and others presented the Department with arguments for an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s practices. … In his estimation, the most compelling argument against Amazon is not actually an antitrust argument but in fact a First Amendment argument.”

    “Judge our case sounds in contract law but we’d really like to talk about eminent domain.”


    • But given that Amazon is a company, does the First Amendment really apply? They aren’t the government trying to censor writers. Like others have pointed out in the past, Amazon can make their own rules. They can say “No books with swear words.” or “No selling on Sunday for religious reasons.” and it’d be totally legal. Maybe someone smarter than me and clarify why Doug and his buddy have decided it’s a matter of the First Amendment.

      • “Maybe someone smarter than me and clarify why Doug and his buddy have decided it’s a matter of the First Amendment.”

        Because they have ‘no’ case and they know it. But their lords and masters are about to try another stupid trick and they need as many fools as possible thinking Amazon is in the wrong before they do it.

        Maybe it’s all coming to a head and the pig5 is about to drop ebook prices, which with agency means ‘they’ have to drop them and the author will see even less per sale — which we all know the pig5 wants to blame on Amazon.

      • Because GM has dibs on hot dogs and Apple pie and everybody else is concerned about the children.

      • Nope. Only a government agency can violate the First Amendment.

        • Precisely what Preston is advocating – a government agency (DOJ) interfering with the First Amendment rights of Amazon and authors to publish books.

          At some point, with all of this “speech” from AU in which it alleges illegal conduct by Amazon, you have to wonder if Amazon’s lawyers are researching trade libel against AU.

          THAT would be sweet, Azn suing AU for trade libel. They really are on a campaign to tarnish the Amazon brand.

          • Unfortunately there are no explicit product libel laws in the US and they would have to sue under regular libel laws. Now, if at some point one of them targets Bezos directly they’d be looking at a painful outcome because all their propaganda would be proof of malicious intent.

            I thing Amazon the company might have a case under tort law for interference but even there the propaganda campaign would have to be effective and it isn’t.

            The only potentially damaging outcome is if they actually manage to get to somebody high enough in government that the DOJ is told to not only sit down and ignore but to actually carry their water. Which is what happened to Microsoft.

            • I don’t see any likelihood that their campaign will have any effect, but there’s nothing wrong with common law trade libel.

              And what’s wrong with the Lanham Act?

              15 USC§1125(a)(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services… uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which—

              (B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities,
              shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

              Would you call the steady stream of AU/AG public propaganda “commercial advertising or promotion?”

              • They are being disseminated as news by their apologists and friends in the media. The only instance to date of an actual ad was at the beginning, when AU bought their way onto the NYT front page.

                I’m not a lawyer or even play one in video games but I do remember that the subject of product libel laws came up back in the day of Apple advertising Macs as supercomputers and badmouthing PCs and Windows; they were fined in the UK and Australia and forced to take the ads off the air but in the US they got away scot free.

                • All it takes is one NYT front page ad!

                  Anyway, it’s all bone-tossing.

                  One wonderful Lanham Act case involved the H.P. Hood dairy here in MA, which overdramatized their competitor’s addition of fish oil to their milk. (Wonderful facts)


                  Another fun one was Procter & Gamble winning a $19.25M award after Amway had spread rumors it was run by a Satanic cult. The award was not against Amway, but a few of their sales associates.


                • @ Pete

                  Hmmm, what fun could Amazon have refusing to bother selling any of a publisher’s e/books until said publisher’s excuse for ‘idiot authors’ stop spreading lies about Amazon and its actions?

                  “If you don’t like us you don’t have to sell though us — in fact we insist you don’t sell through us.”

                  I wouldn’t give it a week before there was a settlement in Amazon’s favor — and they just need to do it to ‘one’ author/publisher as the rest won’t want to be painted with that same brush of stupidity …

  24. “That is the most devastating thing of all, I think,” said Preston. “The authors who will not become authors.”

    I think this says it all for why he is doing this. Anyone who self published just isn’t an author in his opinion. We don’t exist. We don’t matter. He’s shoved his head so far in the sand he can probably break through to China.

    • The traditional publishing model is based on many authors not becoming authors. Supply has to be curtailed in order to maintain prices at a given level.

      The core of Preston’s problem is the unlmited supply of books Amazon allows into the market. That is a supply stream the traditional publishers cannot control.

    • I would not have three published novels if it weren’t for Amazon. I didn’t so much as get a response from the Big5 publisher I queried.

  25. Oh, Gawd. More basura from the AU/ADS crowd.

    Not even gonna bother with the OP.

    Now, where did I put that air sickness bag I jacked from the back of the seat in front of me…

  26. Smart Debut Author

    The AG and AU are a 9900-person human centipede, mouthing the same recycled crap while modern authors turn away in disgust.

    Such venal dishonesty. Such exquisite stupidity.

    The mind boggles. o_O


  27. So, I was pretty interested when KKR pointed out in her recent blog about Author’s Guild that she didn’t see very many of the many many mid-list authors she knows on their membership list, (casting in question whether they really do represent the mid-list authors they claim to champion) but they DO have as members a whole lot of… agents. And agent’s assistants.

    I think a lot of the AG agenda is agent-driven. I bet their agent-member’s market share is eroding precipitously. When publishers reduce their books and their advances, agents feel the pain. And writers who publish direct to Kindle don’t need agents at all, and a lot more writers are listening to people like DWS and KKR and Laura Resnick who have been saying for years that you are better off without an agent, even for trad.

    • Good point about the agents. It’s all so ridiculous. I would have never became an author if not for Amazon. I’d completely given up my dream of publishing while it meant going through a publisher. And publishing myself through Amazon saved me financially after a financially devastating divorce. These continued attacks against Amazon just make me disgusted with the authors involved. They’ve lost this reader with their (likely deliberate) ignorance, for sure. Amazon annoys me sometimes as a business partner with so much more power than me, sure, but this stuff is ridiculous.

  28. The authors who will not become authors.

    If they’re smart, they will, Doug. Can I call you Doug? I mean, you’re out to help the little guy, right? And I’m a little guy. Smart people look into indie publishing, realize they can actually have a good chance at making money with their writing and jump on it.

    Anyway, Doug, I’m kind of sad a big-name author such as yourself doesn’t understand the Bill of Rights, especially that first one you’ve been bandying about with the DOJ. Do you wonder if those guys are laughing at you? I think they are. Probably more than I am.

    I understand it’s kind of cold up there in Maine, but I think you need to helicopter yourself over all that white stuff — no, Doug, it’s snow, not that other white stuff — and take a little rest at the writing shack. Take some of your friends in AU with you. Bring along some nerve tonic — I hear bourbon is good, or rum. You can make hot toddies with rum.

    Yum. Hot toddies…

    Where was I? Oh, yeah. You’re becoming irrelevant, Doug. Part of the old school, the ruling class. Writing is more egalitarian these days. You may have noticed.

    Anyway, have a good day. Maybe your publisher will send you some royalty reports or something to cheer you up. I check mine daily, and they certainly boost my spirits!


    That Horrible Indie Writer Who Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Publisher (nor an agent, ha ha) Who is Working Hard to Ruin Literature For the Rest of the World

  29. Americans, he said, have been extremely concerned about the concentration of power in “any vital informational market” since the founding of the country. Now, Preston contended, Amazon has greater control of the book market than any corporation in any informational market in the history of the United States, and the company’s practices have “already distorted the free flow of information” in this country.

    Yeah, Americans want to return to a simpler time – one where European conglomerates (and Rupert Murdoch) chose what they would read…

  30. Why am I not surprised to see that Preston, that great champion of free speech, avoids venues that allow comments?

  31. It’ll be interesting to hear what the various lawyers from all sides say. I’d like to hear PG’s take too.

    My small experience is that the legal minds are the ones who ultimately know the law, know what will hold consitutionally and appelatewise [more or less] and that the critters who have an interest in any direction, do best if they have skilled legal everything, inc representation.

  32. It’s not just the big names. It didn’t take long for this thread at Absolute Write (Are we seeing long overdue examination of what is going wrong with the book trade) to get to comments of “Amazon is making it impossible for me to sell my manuscripts to my publisher” and “Amazon’s ultimate goal is to destroy all books”.

  33. In Canada, one of the major paper newspaper chains (Postmedia) is in big, big trouble. It will likely go bankrupt within a year or two. I wonder if the bell is tolling for the big paper book publishers, behind the scenes, as well. This sort of desperate lashing out that Preston is engaged in, is often indicative of a business on the verge of failure.

    • The conglomerates are in no real danger of disappearing; they control enough ip and lottery-class bestseller authors they can coast for the rest of the century.
      All they need to do is steadily decrease the number of books they put out.

      That is the way the Hollywood studios adapted when TV came out. They went from hundreds of movies a year to a couple dozen and got out of most movie categories.

      The BPHs can each cut down to just publishing Patterson and Roberts and King and maybe a few Grafton-level legacies with loyal fanbases and cut off the rest. Preston obviously fears won’t make the cut if that happens.

      • “Preston obviously fears won’t make the cut if that happens.”

        Or he (more likely) fears that no one will notice/find his offerings among all the indie/self publishers on Amazon. “Best selling author” doesn’t cut it on Amazon if you aren’t getting the numbers to actually ‘be’ a best seller. And it doesn’t help if his publisher is overpricing his ebooks, making the indie/self a better deal all around for the readers.

        As far as comparing them to the Hollywood studios — Amazon is like Netflix in that you can get the same thing if not better in the comfort of your own home.

        I’d still like to see Amazon stating: “As Preston feels that it’s wrong for Amazon to sell his books, we will stop — until he places a full page ad in the NYT explaining why he wants Amazon to sell his books after all the claims he made about Amazon being ‘bad’ …”

        Yeah, will never happen, but I’d love to watch Preston and the others double-speak their way out of that. 😉

        • And what would happen to Preston if his books don’t sell enough to satisfy his masters?
          The same thing that happens to the other old nags; to the glue factory.

        • I think, as far as Bezos is concerned, the finger-pointing, arm-flailing, moaning, and teeth-gnashing at AU isn’t even felt as an ankle flea bite or an ant crawing on an arm. And I’ll bet that that indifference to the Snowflakes really makes ’em want to go postal… only they can’t!

          Feel your powerlessness, dudes! 🙂

          (And as far as Preston going to the glue factory, he could always go Indie, but won’t be able to take his backlist with him.)

          • And there is the question on how well his stuff would sell without front table payola.

            • Remember, this is the same Preston who in 2010 called consumers entitled and spoiled for buying his books at a discount.

              “The sense of entitlement of the American consumer is absolutely astonishing…. It’s the Wal-Mart mentality, which in my view is very unhealthy for our country. It’s this notion of not wanting to pay the real price of something…. It gives me pause when I get 50 e-mails saying ‘I’m never buying one of your books ever again. I’m moving on, you greedy, greedy author.'”

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