The news in the blogsphere is atwitter with Amazon’s now notorious email to its stable of authors soliciting help tilting at windmills because Amazon is friend to all readers everywhere and friends don’t let friends spend exorbitant sums of money on what amounts to organized electrons spinning in the Cloud.
They say it’s about price points and expanding markets and enlarging the pool. Quite honestly, if that’s what it’s about—columns of numbers—then why aren’t we seeing hard data, real facts and figures to bolster that claim? You can verify fixed costs, you have years of sales data to draw from, you can and should be able to dazzle us with…
If X, then Y
Cats and dogs sleeping together
Instead, you talk about dumping the whales into the krill and assume a unified price point of $5 will not just expand the pond to infinite square mileage, but it will also level playing fields, as well as bring literacy and world peace to that pond.
How does that work, exactly?
John Grisham goes head-to-head with Ned NoName at a $5 price point. Who wins? Or Rita Risingstar at Deep Pockets Marketing poses beside Wanda Who at $5. Who wins the One-Click-Lotto?
Amazon offers perks to the Big Five that it denies independent authors, pre-orders being one case in point. They position adverts for a book from a major publisher in a prominent position on that indie author’s sales page, immediately directing attention away from the indie. Amazon also imposes a new subscription program exclusive to Kindle Select without preamble or a by-your-leave—including the sound of crickets when authors inquire about royalties. They offer a 30-day free subscription and sales collapse across the board.
Amazon doesn’t give a rat’s ass for authors or anyone else. Amazon is desperately looking at a bottom line that’s not healthy, and they are trying to find ways to dig itself out of a hole.
I will not deny Amazon provided opportunities for writers unwilling to play Gatekeeper bingo and submit to indentured servitude for their intellectual property. They built a circus tent and invited every act to join in. But then big money appeared, the three rings shrunk in size until only one featured the headliners, leaving the rest of the troop to wander about the stands begging for hand-outs while all eyes remain glued to the smoke and mirrors in the main ring.
For this Amazon implores me to hop into a fight between corporate behemoths in which I have minimal stake and no say. It’s about numbers they claim. Sorry, Zon, not buying that. Books aren’t widgets, never have been, never will be. If it’s truly about price, then the Zon is telling us they want to be the next Dollar Store shilling cheap knock-offs and POS junk that breaks or disintegrates the first time you use it.
Thanks Amazon for cheapening this “product” we labor years to produce. Thanks for further ghettoizing independent authors.
This may be my circus, but I’ll be damned if I’ll carry your monkey on my back.
On a side note, in an effort to bolster the argument about price points, the letter also claims there are no returns on eBooks…
Quote from the email: “With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.”
Raises finger, uh, excuse me? Amazon’s return policy is one of the most egregious hits to an author’s bottom line that ever was. Check the Goodreads’ legions who buy, read, return, review, and BRAG about it! Then—for shits and giggles—go read the Zon’s so-called “returns policy” and how they claim to handle repeat offenders. A lie by any other name…
Change.org circulated a petition regarding this issue that garnered 6000 signatures.
As for forecasting? Say what? Book sales are all about forecasting, no matter the delivery system. Whoever penned this missive really needs to get a clue.
I think I’ll have a lie down and a libation. Surely it’s wine o’clock somewhere.