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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon Hurts More Authors

Amazon is taking money out of authors pockets, again. The myths about authors making millions are not true. I'm really sorry to burst the bubble of anyone out there with huge dreams. It still happens of course but it is the exception to the rule, not the norm. Anytime someone offers to sell brand new hardback books for ridiculously low prices it hurts authors, a lot. Authors get around 10% of a hardback price and 6% of a paperback, seriously, that's it. Most debut authors sell under 40,000 books. Add it up, but be careful, it may depress you. Don't forget to take out around 30% in taxes and 15% for your agent. That starving author thing, not a myth.

So what has Amazon done this time? They refuse to compromise with MacMillan, one of the biggest publishers in the industry. MacMillan was trying to get them to raise the price of an e-book from $9.99 to around $15 dollars. I think that is a reasonable request, both as a writer and a consumer. I don't mind shelling out a couple more dollars for someone's blood, sweat, and tears. That's what it takes to write a book folks, seriously, blood, sweat, and tears. When monopolies like Amazon lower the price of a book when it first comes out, before it's even had a chance to sell at regular price, they devalue that book and the authors hard work! It's one thing to reduce the price of a book that isn't selling, it's another altogether to do it to one that hasn't had a chance to sell yet.

A friend of mine, Shannon Delany, has a book debuting this summer, 13 To Life, and it is published by MacMillan. By pulling all of MacMillan's books Amazon is going to seriously hurt the sales of her book and will severely hinder her ability to make the New York Times bestseller list. How you ask? Because Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, millions of people shop on it. Of course you'll still be able to buy all of MacMillan's titles from your local bookseller, which I urge you to do! Amazon thinks they have a monopoly on this and therefore the power to do whatever they want, they're wrong. Let's show them that. Support your local bookstore! No worries Shannon, I'll be buying your book from Barnes and noble!

Here's the New York Times article on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/technology/30amazon.html

14 comments:

  1. Oh, this really gets me upset too. I never, ever mind paying for a good book. I think of them as investments. I mean, after all, people spend the cost of a hardback to watch a movie in the theater. Books are a real deal because they offer something you can revisit again an again.

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  2. I buy many of my books from my local bookstore, and it's not one of the chains, just a lovely independent endeavor.

    They host readings, book signings and lectures because, 25 years ago, the woman who opened the store wanted her place to "serve as a gathering place for people interested in reading and discussing books.”

    And it continues to do so.

    There's also a wonderful small, cozy coffeehouse on the premises

    Amazon knows not what it does.

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  3. You hit it right on the nose. If the movie industry is allowed to profit off their endeavors, writers should be able to as well! You get so much more out of a book than a movie. It's worth the price!

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  4. Maybe the blogosphere can make a difference: a grassroots movement is the only thing I can imagine that could take on the Amazon.coms of the world.

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  5. You're absolutely right Marisa. That' a huge part of why I love bookstores so much. The atmosphere just can't be beat.

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  6. Sounds like a plan Linda! Love your thinking!

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  7. This whole thing seems a bit childish on Amazon's part. On the other hand, having seen how poorly record companies handled the MP3 revolution, I would hate to see book publishers suffer the same fate with e-books. Though, I will say, that books as physical objects have more power than music CDs.

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  8. I buy 90% of my books from the local used bookstore. I love amazon when I can't find things but I don't like them trying to "Walmart" their way into publishers, and authors pockets.

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  9. Heather… Thank you for sharing this. I have to admit that I have defaulted into an Amazon shopper because it’s ‘easy’ to order from my desk. I don’t have to move too far away from my writing to buy what I need. However, bringing this to my attention has shifted my behavior. Yes… change is good! I am officially boycotting the Amazon. The store, not the jungle. Besides, I love the bookstore! I am still amazed, and awestruck, of the energy, talent, and millions of hours that people gave of their lives to fill the shelves. When I close my eyes, I can hear the books talk to me. I can feel their energy. There are times when I’m searching for something, not sure what, but as I walk down the aisle the perfect book always finds me. A great place to visit. Soon you will be part of that energy!

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  10. You're right Alisa, it definitely seems like Amazon had a knee jerk reaction that was NOT well thought out. As one of my friends on Twitter said, what if book buyers learn to look elsewhere? In the end Amazon could hurt themselves more than anyone.

    Robert that's awesome that you buy form your local used bookstore! I love the way you put that, they are just digging into our pockets to get their profits!

    Karlene you have such a way with words! I guess visiting a bookstore is kind of a poetic experience though isn't it?! Thank you so much for your confidence in me and your support of bookstores!

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  11. I have not been a fan of Amazon from the start. I knew their part in bookselling was geared toward monopolizing the industry. I have purchased a few books from the site (a very small amount) but only because they were older books I couldn't find anywhere else.

    I am a fan of the physical bookstore. I love Barnes and Noble and also the small used bookstore down the street from me.

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  12. I fear by trying to monopolize the industry they may be destroying publishers. MacMillan's sales dropped dramatically in that one day that Amazon pulled their stock. One day equals out to a huge loss that isn't easy for anyone to take in this economy.

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  13. Great post! There are so many other ways this could have been handled by Amazon. I’m a bit shocked at their behavior. I don’t understand why they just didn’t say, ‘Fine, you don’t like our Kindle ebook prices, that’s ok. We wouldn’t sale yours on the Kindle.’ That seems less harsh. But to just not sale the books at all through Amazon and only allow third parties to sale them there, I find that a little childish and I feel for all the authors caught in the middle. I wish the best of luck to your friend. I hope this ends soon.
    Sarah

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  14. I was pretty shocked too. It seemed like an extreme response, even for them. The good news is, Amazon settled with MacMillan this morning and is now selling their most of their books again. The damage is done though. Amazon stock has plummetted. It's a good reminder to them to do unto others...

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