Photo Credit: Third Place Books
Before I begin, there are two posts that I’ve written in the past that I suggest you read. They aren’t directly related to today’s post, but they may give you an idea about what my thoughts will be today.
Print vs. E-book: Which side are you on?
Is Amazon Good for Books?
Read them? Great. Didn’t? Perfectly fine.
Now let’s begin. If you keep up with book or publishing news at all, then you should already know about the ongoing dispute between Hachette and Amazon. The very basic premise is that they are in the midst of contract negotiations and both sides appear to be waiting for the other side to give in to their terms. But it’s not happening. And Amazon is taking matters into their own hands. The delivery of Hachette books to customers is being delayed by weeks, the pre-order feature of future releases is no longer available, and the discounts on the books are gone.
I’ve read countless articles and blog posts attacking Amazon and standing with Hachette for what everyone claims is right. Well, this will be the first one I read in which someone stands with Amazon.
I’ve been a fan of Amazon for every one of the four years that I’ve used the site. I have a Prime membership that is always offering me new perks at no additional cost. And as a result, I’m a member of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Which allows me to borrow a book for free once a month.
Why I stand with Amazon
It is quite simple. Everyone wants to look at this from the author’s perspective. Or from that of a publisher. Are you a Hachette author? Or are you one of the Big Five publishers in America? The chance is there, but the answer to both questions is likely no. One more question, will you ever be able to say yes to either of those previous questions. Again, no. So all this talk about author royalties and the death of another publisher and Amazon’s slow takeover of the publishing industry makes me angry. You should be looking at the dispute from the perspective of the consumer, because that’s all you are. But no, you’re looking at it from a perspective you’ll never truly know. (I realize that there are plenty of Hachette authors out there looking at this dispute closely, but they aren’t writing the article after article about it. James Patterson wrote a couple of paragraphs.)
The thing is that every other major publisher has a contract with Amazon. Simon and Schuster, yes. Penguin Random House, yes. And so do the others. You’re telling me that Amazon’s demand for a greater percentage of the e-book split is not something other book retailers have considered in the past or perhaps bargained for. (Because that’s what appears to be at the bottom of the whole dispute.) According to an article I’m reading right now as I write this, publishers make 75% of the price of an e-book. Read that number again. That’s the norm. The article is quick to point out that one cannot defend that publishers make that percentage or that Amazon up its split, but everyone else has already taken their sides, so I will as well.
I definitely understand why Hachette is taking a stand, but they cannot win. Amazon has no reason to give in. Remember folks, 30% of printed books and upwards of 60% of e-books are sold on Amazon. And not to mention the fact that less than 10% of all of the site’s revenue comes from the sale of books. So don’t go writing that Amazon is doing this strictly because of their bottom line, because all that tells me is that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Their bottom line is what it is because they’re constantly developing new services for Prime members and all of the site’s users. FireTV. New Kindle devices. Etc.
So I say to Hachette to do whatever you feel you have to, but when you realize that will fail, well, then go accept Amazon’s terms and get on with life. Because all the author support in the world means nothing when they have no seat at the negotiating table. And everyone keeping up with the story knows a deal will ultimately be signed, regardless of who “wins.”
I’m ready for no one to agree with me in the comments.