From Mark Coker via The Huffington Post:
Amazon and Hachette announced a settlement last week in their long festering contractual dispute. The publishing industry breathed a collective sigh of relief. But is it really over? The dispute signals a new chapter in Amazon’s strategy to favor suppliers that bow to its desires.
. . . .
In carefully worded statements last week issued by Amazon and Hachette – neither of which boasted of victory – we learned Hachette will retain Agency pricing control yet conceded to certain unspecified Amazon contract stipulations intended to encourage Hachette to offer lower ebook pricing.
It’s not easy to pick winners and losers. As with most wars, even winners can be losers.
Here’s my score card of winners and losers, along with speculation on long term implications.
- Hachette *mostly* won, but is now boxed into a position where faithful authors will expect higher net royalty rates for ebooks as well as other perceived reforms from publishers. The Author’s Guild has already hinted as much. In a blog post last week commemorating the agreement, Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson took the opportunity to urge Hachette to raise ebook royalty rates for authors.
- Amazon mostly lost, because it appears Agency wasn’t dismantled or critically injured. Amazon will likely seek revenge through other means (see below).
. . . .
- Author affinity for publishers damaged. Amazon partisans orchestrated a rage-fest against traditional publishers, further eroding the once divine reputation of traditional publishers. Amazon partisans used this dispute as an opportunity to paint all publishers with the broad brush that publishers don’t care about authors, want to exploit authors, collude on pricing, want to overcharge customers for ebooks to protect their print businesses and protect brick and mortar bookstores, and who knows what else, strangle kittens? All good conspiracies are grounded in a small amount of truth. Yes, no doubt, publishers have much opportunity to bring reforms that benefit authors, though the vitriol was excessive and toxic. I also believe that indie authors are well-served by a thriving and profitable traditional publishing industry because it creates more publishing options for all authors. When indies go too far to tear down publishing houses, they risk tearing down their own house as well.
- Authors attacking authors. Successful traditionally published authors – in the form of Douglas Preston’s Authors United initiative – who stood by publishers were attacked by the Amazon partisans. This, to me, was one of the most unfortunate outcomes. When authors are attacking authors, you know the world has gone mad. It was all the sadder that most of these attacks came from the indie author community. Indies should be better than this.
Link to the rest at The Huffington Post