Big Publishing

Capitalized Clues to a Glitch

1 October 2014

From The New York Times Artsbeat blog:

Advance reading copies of books – uncorrected proofs distributed to booksellers, editors and other interested parties before publication – usually contain little mistakes: stray typos, misspelled words, oddly formatted paragraphs.

But the goings-on in the uncorrected edition of the thriller “Moriarty,” coming from Harper, are most unusual.

. . . .

In the reader’s edition, some copies of which were sent to The New York Times, “Moriarty’s” narrator, an American detective named Frederick Chase, is laying out the background to the story – how Holmes and Moriarty came to be at Reichenbach Falls and what is believed to have happened next. All of a sudden he switches to capitals. “NO NEED TO COMPLICATE THINGS HERE, I THINK,” the text announces. “WHAT I’VE WRITTEN IS BROADLY TRUE.”

Can the narrator be offering some meta-commentary on his own text? At first it seems so. But then it happens again. In a spot where Chase and a Scotland Yard inspector have found an important clue that seems to be an excerpt from a previous Holmes story written by Dr. Watson, things suddenly veer off-piste again. “IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR FREDERICK CHASE TO HAVE READ THE SIGN OF FOUR,” the text declares.

There are at least six of these capitalized interjections, and sadly, they turn out to have nothing to do with anything so exciting as postmodern cleverness. They are instead Mr. Horowitz’s notes to a copy editor or, as Mr. Horowitz’s agent in London, Jonathan Lloyd, said, some “mild author reaction to some copy-editing points.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Bill for the tip.

The motivation of the publisher-bashing commentariat is what I cannot figure out

30 September 2014

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

Once again this morning we wake up to a piece by David Streitfeld in The New York Times about Authors United and their ongoing effort to discredit Amazon. The message coming loud and clear from the legacy publishing establishment is that Amazon doesn’t appreciate, and perhaps doesn’t understand, the value that agents, publishers, and chain and independent bookstores bring to authors and readers and, by extension, to society as a whole.

. . . .

Indeed, many authors at legacy houses are not enamored of their publishing experience, but the ones who are defending the publishers are also defending something of their own.

What is equally loud and clear from Amazon’s own statements and those of their supporters (including many authors who would be less well known and less well off today if Amazon hadn’t built the tools and market share they have over the past several years), is that the legacy industry doesn’t appreciate, and perhaps doesn’t understand, that commercial publishing was built on an ecosystem which is rapidly being dismantled and will ultimately be irrelevant. And they point out that what is replacing what came before delivers much lower-priced ebooks (print is another matter) to consumers and a substantially larger portion of the revenue to the authors than published contract splits would give them. (The fact is that those splits are irrelevant more than 80 percent of the time for the most commercial books because big agents get big authors advances larger than what they “earn”, but that’s another story.) The authors that work in the new paradigm also gain unprecedented control of their professional lives: publishing when they want to, pricing and changing prices as they want to, and playing with marketing opportunities (bundling print-and-digital, entering subscription services) or not, as they and they alone decide.

. . . .

While there is a symmetry to the two sides’ dismay about what is appreciated or understood, there is a massive asymmetry here that is hardly, if ever, mentioned. And that asymmetry makes the motivation of the legacy defenders very clear — they’re fighting for their lives — but actually suggests that the “side” fighting them (to the extent that it consists of indie authors) is at least sometimes simultaneously fighting against their own interests.

. . . .

Assuming that the publisher-bashing commentariat, who could also be characterized as the “pro-Amazon” advocates, has a healthy number of authors whose revenue is as largely dependent on Amazon as James Patterson’s is on Hachette, one can see the emotional motivations to fight for the home team could be similar. But the practical side of it is precisely opposite. It is obvious that Amazon getting stronger weakens Hachette’s (or HarperCollins’s or Bloomsbury’s or Cambridge University Press’s) ability to pay advances and publish more books, which directly affects various stakeholders and particularly steadily-working authors. But if Hachette “wins” — or if Amazon’s margins on transactions with publishers are not improved — how does this injure the self-publishing authors who are working successfully that way now? Simple logic says that Amazon will treat them best when the possibilities offered by publishers are the best.

. . . .

In other words, publisher-published authors definitely lose if Amazon gains strength in relation to them. But Amazon-published or KDP authors (and the publisher-bashing seems to come from both flavors) lose nothing if legacy publishing remains strong. They are, allegedly, fighting for the “good” of those authors who are signing “exploitive” publishing contracts, but their own interests are not served.

. . . .

The motivation of the authors who spend a great deal of time and energy bashing big publishers has puzzled me before. Because “price-shoppers” are a core audience for indie ebooks, indies actually got a shot in the arm when the publishers and Apple put in agency pricing, which in its original form prohibited even the retailer from taking a loss to bring branded ebook prices down.

There’s no way for an outsider to compile the data to prove this, but the chances are very good that indie author breakthroughs were easier to achieve during the years when the price gap between the majors and the indies was greatest.

. . . .

Howey is a true believer and a crusader who is sincerely convinced that the standard publisher terms for authors are unfair and need to change. He has occasionally expressed skepticism and concern about some of Amazon’s decisions and behavior, particularly around the complex compensation schemes for Kindle authors with their KOLL (lending library) and Kindle Unlimited (subscription) initiatives which buys him a certain amount of credibility. But I still can’t understand why he’s in KU but not Oyster and Scribd and 24Symbols, a set of decisions that strike me as being in Amazon’s commercial interest but not his own.

. . . .

Trying really hard to understand this and think imaginatively about it, I can only really come up with two “selfish motivations” that make sense. One — and I think this is the one that is claimed — is that the publisher-bashing is designed to improve life for the victimized authors who choose those deals. Indeed, the content of the anti-publisher rants often includes specific suggestions, or demands: raise the digital royalty, make shorter contracts, pay royalties more often, etc. that are, no doubt, author-friendly. But it does seem a bit weird for people committed to demonizing, weakening, and ridiculing the big publishers to be the ones to tell them what they could do to stay competitive. If publishers accepted the suggestions, of course, perhaps Amazon would be pushed to improve author terms too, but that seems a pretty indirect and distant reward to explain all the time and energy some people expend on this. (Or are they promising to sign with the big publishers if they follow these suggestions? I don’t think so!)

Another conceivable legitimate motivation, of course, is ego. These publisher-bashers have managed to “do it” without them, and continuing a high-profile running criticism of the establishment they outdid and outmaneuvered, particularly when you can get a lot of applause, might be alluring. But even that feels weak to me. If self-aggrandizement were what motivated these people, it would be even more impressive if their frame were “this is hard, but I managed to do it” whereas the message feels much more like “anybody can do this and you’re a bit of a dolt if you don’t.”

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files and thanks to A.K. for the tip.

Evidently, Mike has never met an author who was not happy with his/her publisher. He leads a sheltered life.

Canadian authors caught in e-book dispute with publisher and Amazon

29 September 2014

From The Globe and Mail:

The Betrayers, a new novel by Toronto author David Bezmozgis, was published in the United States on Tuesday. But American readers trying to order the hardcover edition from Amazon.com are being informed that the novel “usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks,” a surprisingly long wait for an anticipated new release such as this. The novel’s American publisher, however, is Little, Brown and Co., a division of French conglomerate Hachette.

. . . .

“As an author, you want your books available, that’s as simple as it gets,” says Bezmozgis, who is midway through a 10-day U.S. book tour. “And to find yourself in the middle of this dispute – it’s not a good place to be.”

The day before his book was scheduled to arrive in bookstores, Bezmozgis took to Twitter to vent: “Despite obstacles posed by V. Putin & J. Bezos, my novel, The Betrayers will be published in the US tomorrow, Sept 23. Those trying to find the novel on Amazon.com will see they are only offering it in 8 track and wax disk format. To find the book in the US, I suggest your local indie bookstore….”

“[Amazon] styles themselves as the people who make things easiest as possible for their customers,” he says, “and the peculiar thing is that now it’s their customers and the authors who are suffering the most.”

. . . .

One reason might be that Hachette does not operate a publishing arm in Canada; it only distributes international titles.

“It doesn’t feel immediate,” says Claire Cameron, whose second novel, The Bear, was published by Little, Brown in February. (While hardcover copies of The Bear will ship immediately, Amazon.com is selling them for full price, $25; the Kindle edition is $11.56.) Also, Cameron feels the Canadian market isn’t as overshadowed by Amazon as the U.S. market is. “Down there it’s so different because Amazon is so dominant,” she says. “It’s one of those things that makes me appreciate where we live.”

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail

Literary Lions Unite in Protest Over Amazon’s E-Book Tactics

29 September 2014

The New York Times attempts to strike again.

From The New York Times:

The authors are uniting.

Last spring, when Amazon began discouraging customers from buying books published by Hachette, the writers grumbled that they were pawns in the retailer’s contract negotiations over e-book prices. During the summer, they banded together and publicly protested Amazon’s actions.

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world’s most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers’ blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?

Andrew Wylie, whose client roster of heavyweights in literature is probably longer than that of any other literary agent, said he was asking all his writers whether they wanted to join the group, Authors United. Among those who have said yes, Mr. Wylie said in a phone interview from Paris, are Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera.

. . . .

“We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, ‘disappearing’ an author,” Ms. Le Guin wrote in an email. “Governments use censorship for moral and political ends, justifiable or not. Amazon is using censorship to gain total market control so they can dictate to publishers what they can publish, to authors what they can write, to readers what they can buy. This is more than unjustifiable, it is intolerable.”

. . . .

The Wylie Agency has about a thousand clients. Many have not yet responded to Mr. Wylie’s query about Authors United, because they are traveling or are inattentive to email. But about 300 Wylie writers have signed on, as well as the estates of Saul Bellow, Roberto Bolaño, Joseph Brodsky, William Burroughs, John Cheever, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Hunter S. Thompson.

. . . .

Any threat presented by these initiatives does not seem to have weakened Amazon’s resolve. The retailer has said that it was trying to make e-books cheaper and thus more affordable for all, and that publishers and writers would make up in volume what they were losing in margin if the prices were lower.

. . . .

Whether a viable case could be mounted against Amazon is a matter of debate among antitrust scholars. An earlier effort by Hachette to interest government regulators in a case did not go anywhere.

Amazon had better luck. In 2010, it sent a letter to the Justice Department outlining a possible antitrust case against Apple and five major publishers that suggested they had colluded to raise e-book prices. How much that influenced the government is unknown, but the case became a reality.

. . . .

“Everyone is scared to death of being accused of something,” Mr. Wylie said. “It’s impossible for two publishers to have lunch without a lawyer being present.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Tom for the tip.

PG says the New York publishing establishment’s continuing hissy-fits about Amazon are sounding more like a B-movie all the time.

Perhaps The Last Dinosaur or The Land That Time Forgot.

UPDATE: Jake comments in an email about the photo of Phillip Roth at the top of the NYT story, “Crusading against Amazon lowering the price of books while being photographed sitting in your $9000 chair is either a master stroke of irony, or remarkably arrogant.”

Lee Child On Why He Signed with Authors United

28 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

Lee Child, the bestselling author of the Jack Reacher novels, revealed why he cares about the Amazon-Hachette dispute — and it’s not about e-book royalties. Child wrote, “it’s a thus-far-and-no-further thing for me. I don’t want Amazon to be the only publisher.”

According to Child, who is not published by Hachette, what the “half rational, half emotional, and flawed” disagreement comes down to is two giant companies who refuse to either meet in the middle or walk away. But rather than get caught up in the minutia of the current disagreement over e-book terms, Child is concerned with the long-game.

“I’ve known Amazon people for 17 years, dozens of them, old hires, new hires, quitters, true believers, through dinner party talk, pillow talk, all kinds of talk,” he wrote. “[T]he big deal is – Amazon is a publisher too. Not a very good one yet…but Bezos never gives up, and he wants Amazon to be the only publisher, and he’ll do what it takes to make it so.”

. . . .

Child ends by calling for all authors to “make common cause.”

But the plea appears to have fallen on deaf ears. As Konrath writes in a second part of the blog where he responds to each point that Child makes: “Right now, Amazon’s stance aligns with what is best for the majority of authors. If it continues along those lines, great. If it doesn’t, I don’t plan to be at the mercy of a large company.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Publishing in the Future or the Rise of Independent Authors

27 September 2014

From The Huffington Post UK:

Publishing of tomorrow will be different due to the rise of independent authors, who write and publish their books in more formats, for more audiences and through more channels than ever before. We can see this future already in markets which leave the age of printing books fast to switch to electronic and increasingly mobile books – like China, South Korea or Indonesia. Europe will follow and we should be prepared for the changes. As authors, as publishers or as readers.

Since I joined the publishing world in 2005 a democratization of publishing has taken place, with non-traditional forms of publishing competing for the limited reader´s attention, and I find it gratifying to help texts to find new readers. When I worked for Random House as Director Business Development we were embracing new forms of online and social media marketing and worked to get in direct contact with the readers. The advent of better eInk-devices in 2007 in the US allowed the fledgling markets for ebooks to start growing and we focused first to convert our catalogue of great titles into the new format to be ready for the start of the German market. It took a lot of faith to invest so early in this still small market, to convince the authors to trust us with their electronic publication rights and convert the titles into the new formats.

But it was the right decision, in a couple of years ebooks will overtake print, something not many would have predicted only a short while ago. We saw that growing market and decided to help developing it further and in 2010 Skoobe was conceived, a joint venture of two of Germany´s biggest media companies, Bertelsmann and Holtzbrink to offer a book-flatrate similar to the Netflix-model for movies in the US. Skoobe has since garnered more than one million downloads, a very active user base and 7.942 ratings in Google Play and Apple iTunes with an average of 4.5 out of five stars. We predicted the rise of mobile and tablets for longform reading and the readers love a monthly flatrate and read as much as they want.

. . . .

We realized that books do not only compete with other books anymore, but with all other forms of entertainment, especially on mobile devices. Hence it is crucial to make a large selection available so that everybody can find the right books and do not spend their time on Facebook or other new media platforms.

. . . .

We believe, that the electronic books is actually better than any printed edition, because it is inherently more affordable, more portable and can be individualized to be read in the font size and font type the reader suits best.

. . . .

Marketing is changing as well, and to quote Robert Bidinotto: „Social media has been the great equalizer of advertising, promotion and marketing. This is essentially asymmetrical warfare. No customer going to Amazon knows what is traditionally published or independently published – and they don’t care”. The good news is, that the creativity of authors is even enhanced when unleashed from the traditional, slow and expensive publishing process and the readers can expect more great novels than ever before.

Link to the rest at HuffPo UK

Lee Child Chimes In

25 September 2014

From Joe Konrath:

Joe: Yesterday I asked any Authors United signatory to engage me on my blog.

Lee Child took me up on it.

. . . .

Lee: Here’s my personal take … speaking generally, with a plural “you” … and as a guy entirely unafraid of the future, whatever it may bring – after all, I kicked your ass under the old system, and I’ll kick it under the new system, and the new-new, and the new-new-new, until I retire, or the lung cancer gets me, whichever comes first. I’m completely confident of that, and you’d be an idiot to bet against me. We both started from nowhere, and in the last three weeks I sold more ebooks – of one title – than you have sold in your entire life. Or will sell. Print visibility, you say? How? Print is a niche, according to you, and no one visits bookstores anymore!

Joe: First of all, congrats on selling more than 1.5 million ebooks (which is where I’m at to date) in the last three weeks. I assume I’ll sell a few million more before I kick off, so let’s call my total lifetime sales 5 million. It’s damn impressive that you sold that many ebooks in three weeks of just one title.

But it’s also nearing the end of that era. You’re everywhere books are sold. I’m not. That’s a huge advantage. One I never had. Your massive paper distribution serves as a giant, global advertisement for your ebooks.

. . . .

You may believe the legacy publishing world is a meritocracy. I believe it’s a lottery. No one earns a lottery win. No one is entitled to it.

. . . .

 Lee: And don’t tell me I was lucky or “anointed” or some such … again, we all start from the same place, but I worked harder and smarter than my rivals, and believe me, I’m ready to do it all again … so don’t tell me I’m scared or whining – truth is, I’m licking my lips in anticipation of the big win in whatever scenario comes next.

. . . .

Lee: And let’s settle one thing … the so-called Amazon/Hachette contract … I think you overestimate it, or misunderstand it, possibly. It ain’t the key to some kind of magic kingdom. Almost every sale Amazon makes happens without a contract with the supplier or manufacturer. It used to be that way with Hachette. Hachette sold to wholesalers, at a certain discount, and the wholesalers sold on to Amazon, at a slight markup. Soon Amazon wanted to avoid that markup, so it went to Hachette and asked, “Please will you sell to us direct?” And Hachette said, “OK.” And that’s the so-called contract, right there.

Joe: And then Hachette colluded with four other publishers to force Amazon to accept their new terms, i.e. the agency model. Amazon didn’t want to accept those terms. Not because of the 30/70 split, but because it took away Amazon’s ability to discount.

Suddenly contracts became important. What began as a mutual handshake (assuming you’re correct about this) was no longer acceptable to either party.

Right now, Hachette doesn’t want Amazon to be able to discount. Amazon wants to discount. Since Hachette forced a contract on Amazon–the agency contract–and that contract lapsed, Amazon does not have to sell Hachette’s titles under Hachette’s terms.

. . . .

Lee: But, here’s the thing – by continuing to trade under expired terms, it’s Hachette doing Amazon a favor, not vice versa. Amazon is still getting its protection money – and giving nothing in return right now – and still avoiding the wholesalers’ markup.

Joe: If Amazon wants to charge Hachette to sell its books, it can do that. If Amazon doesn’t want to discount, it can do that. Amazon isn’t a monopoly, and it isn’t the government. Being a tough competitor or being tough with suppliers doesn’t violate any laws.

Lee: If Hachette walked away, Amazon would lose… unless it was prepared not to carry Hachette titles ever again. Which it isn’t, because Amazon’s whole theory is to be the go-to, first-stop, everything store. “I’ll get it from Amazon” is what they depend on hearing. “I wonder if Amazon has it?” would be the kiss of death.

Joe: I believe you overestimate the value of Hachette’s catalog to Amazon.

. . . .

 Lee: Which is why the dispute is so intractable. It’s half-rational, half-emotional. And flawed – Amazon wants more protection money now (yes, it’s really that simple) but it isn’t prepared to get up from the table and walk away. Neither is Hachette. Hachette’s best play – logically – would be to walk away and suffer a few lean years before an alternative presented itself. I’m absolutely sure its parent company wants it to do that, and would support it in so doing. Huge European corporations are good at the long game. But local management is resisting, because the hiatus would derail too many careers. Again, half-rational, half-emotional.

. . . .

Lee: It’s staggeringly naïve to think the current KDP landscape is anything other than a short-term tactic. Note well – I am NOT saying don’t get into it now just because it will get worse in the future… instead I say, hell yes, make hay while the sun shines. Exploit Amazon’s game plan for all you can get, as long as it lasts, and more power to you. But understand that today’s KDP is a pressure point, designed to suck authors out of the established system, along with sucking out money and margin by other routes. Truth is, it ain’t working great so far – no significant authors have jumped ship, and publishers are still profitable. But Bezos never gives up.

And if he wins… then we all have a problem. Note well – I am NOT talking about nurturing or culture or curating or any of that kind of non-existent crap. I’m talking about money. Amazon is a tech company. The basic tech paradigm says content is always the smallest part of the cost. Those guys really believe that. Storytellers will be working for whatever few pennies they choose to hand out. (Or some will. I’ll be doing something else by then. I don’t work for pennies.)

Joe: Most of us already have a problem. It’s with publishers like Hachette. Right now, Hachette, and the rest of Big Publishing, treat the vast majority of authors as the smallest part of their costs.

Hachette authors are getting screwed, working for pennies. And Hachette’s insistence on keeping ebook prices high to protect its paper oligopoly will continue to hurt all authors but the very top of the heap (such as yourself).

On the other hand, Amazon is allowing many authors to make money for the very first time.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath and thanks to Barb for the tip.

Publishing’s Holding Pattern: 2014 Salary Survey

25 September 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

Employees at publishing houses worked a little bit longer each week and made a little more money in 2013 than they did in 2012. Those were just two of the findings of PW’s annual salary survey, which was conducted this summer and which, for the first time, featured a number of questions on racial diversity in the industry. While it’s no surprise that the publishing sector is overwhelmingly white, the lack of diversity is a bit eye-opening: of the 630 respondents who identified their race, 89% described themselves as white/Caucasian, with 3% selecting Asian and another 3% indicating Hispanic. Only 1% said they are African-American.

. . . .

The dearth of minority employees directly affects the types of books that are published, industry members agreed, and for this issue to be addressed, there needs to be more advocates for books involving people of color throughout the business, including in management, editorial, and marketing executives in publishing houses, as well as among booksellers and librarians.

. . . .

Meanwhile, the pay gap between men and women—the other well-known imbalance in the industry—continued in 2013, even though women accounted for 74% of the publishing workforce and men only 26%. The average compensation for men in 2013 was $85,000, the same as in 2012, while average compensation for women rose to $60,750 last year, up from $56,000 the year before. Women filled at least 70% of the jobs in sales and marketing, operations, and editorial, but only 51% of the management positions.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Blair for the tip.

Authors United ‘asking DoJ for antitrust inquiry’

24 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

Authors United is to call on the US Department of Justice to launch an antitrust inquiry into Amazon, according to a Financial Times report.

The group, which last week said it was writing to Amazon’s board over what it called “sanctions” on Hachette Book Group authors, is asking authors to sign a letter to William J Baer, assistant US attorney-general for antitrust, said the FT.

In a message to authors seen by the publication, Authors United founder Douglas Preston . . . was quoted as saying the letter would ask the antitrust division to “examine Amazon’s business practices”.

Preston also said he had been in touch with the Department of Justice. “They are expecting this letter and they have told me that they welcome any information we can provide,” he wrote.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Allow PG to give a little tip for the next time you write the Antitrust division. You better include a lot more detail than a request to “examine Amazon’s business practices.”

Clearly illegal acts with reliable documentation and citations to specific antitrust provisions and prior court cases will receive a lot better reception than accusations of “monopoly.” Needless to say, the DOJ is not in the business of refereeing disputes between suppliers and a retailers.

The DOJ will remember that Hachette has been successfully sued by the Antitrust division for price-fixing. That may color their response to AU’s complaints on behalf of Hachette.

The DOJ receives thousands of crank letters each year. PG knows which pile he thinks the AU letter will land on.

 

My Advice to Authors United

24 September 2014

We get a double helping of Joe today.

From Joe Konrath:

While they haven’t lacked for biased media attention, they aren’t swaying Amazon, and aren’t swaying public opinion. Amazon’s approval rating has gone up since the Hachette negotiations went public, and readers don’t give a hoot about a bunch of rich, entitled authors whose pre-order buttons are gone.

Whining in public, wasting money on a $104k NYT ad, and whining in public some more, has accomplished the opposite effect of what they intended. Instead of getting sympathy and results, they’ve gotten a taste of the future. Namely, what the world will be like when their publishers aren’t maximizing their sales potential.

Amazon is just the tip of the iceberg, you see. Yes, Hachette authors are currently losing sales. But Amazon has no contract with Hachette, and has no obligation to sell any Hachette titles at all. When Amazon completely stops selling Hachette books, Hachette’s midlist will die. B&N and indie bookstores don’t constitute enough sales to justify a 40k paperback run, and printing fewer than that isn’t cost-effective.

. . . .

My mother held out during the VHS to DVD transition. She didn’t buy a DVD player… until she had to, because they stopped selling VHS.

When this happens with ebooks–when the casual reader switches to a tablet app or cheap dedicated ereading device–it will hurt more than bookstores. All those folks who read 1 to 5 books a year (the ones who make the mega-bestsellers, of which many are Authors United signatories) will no longer get their summer reads at drug stores or airports. They’ll simply download something.

All that prime real estate, putting mega-selling authors in front of peoples’ eyes with widespread paper distribution, will be gone. Then James Patterson will be stuck with ebooks as his major source of income. If he’s lucky, Amazon will still be selling his work, albeit for $12.99 with DRM and no Kindle Unlimited. If he’s unlucky, Hachette will never capitulate, and Amazon will stop selling him altogether.

Consider the French Revolution. A bunch of blue bloods really thought they were born to rule, and the peasants couldn’t live without them to govern. They were wrong.

Guess what? The reading community can easily live without books from every single Authors United signatory. Sure, some fans will be disappointed. But those fans will find other things to read. Just like I’ve been waiting for years for another Evil Dead film, but I’ve managed to find other movies to watch. The lack of Evil Dead 4 didn’t mean I quit watching all films. The lack of Douglas Preston’s latest in the supermarket check-out rack doesn’t mean Preston fans won’t find something else to read.

. . . .

Hachette is cutting its own throat. By trying to protect its paper cartel, it is pushing readers away from its own catalog, and toward ebooks.

Hachette feels it has no choice. Unless they prevent Amazon from discounting ebooks, paper will die anyway. So why not go the contentious route and ruin the careers of hundreds of authors?

If other publishers follow Hachette’s example, they’ll fail. But if they allow Amazon to discount ebooks, they’ll also fail. Their paper oligopoly will suffer either way.

You fight technology, technology always wins.

But new technology, and the Amazon juggernaut, aren’t the only nails in the legacy industry’s coffin.

Authors United has tried to wage its battle in the court of public opinion, using the media to spread its nonsense. But it has discovered that readers don’t care.

. . . .

Authors United is an ironic name for a group that is prompting authors to take sides. It is reinforcing the path indie authors have chosen, and embarrassing many who chose the legacy route. Publicly bitching that Amazon is hurting authors–when it is obvious that Amazon has an open door policy for authors via KDP and it is actually Hachette’s inability to negotiate that is hurting authors–will scare more authors away from the Big 5. I was actually just talking with a bestseller who isn’t going to even bother submitting a new book to the Big 5 out of a very real concern that they won’t be able to sell via Amazon.

It’s all a big, oven-baked plateful of fail with a generous slice of stupid for dessert.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Next Page »