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Amazon is a Business

Forgive me if I seem a bit impatient. The stupid has been strong this week, and although normally I’m the quiet, nice one, I’m a bit exasperated by now.

(but less so, now. Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the instalanche. Welcome to any new readers! I’m not Sarah, but sometimes we seem to share a brain.)

I’ve already covered the gaffe Archon made, on my blog. Now, I’m talking about the recent wave of anti-Amazon posts, usually made by people who don’t know what they are talking about, and don’t bother doing a modicum of research before they panic. Yes, Amazon and Hachette are fighting. Yes, authors are being harmed, and that’s sad. However, this is hardly a reason to boycott Amazon, and if you know anything about business, it’s not even particularly noteworthy. Let me note here that Amazon is not evil, Amazon is a business.

For one thing, it’s not one-sided. I urge you to follow and read that link before you continue.  Hachette doesn’t care about those authors you are angsting over. They only care about their profits, and if you actually know a traditionally published author, you know they don’t see very much of their share of those profits. Should someone’s career end over this, Hachette will just snag another candidate out of the pool of eager manuscripts.

But, but, Amazon is killing Indie bookstores! Pish, and posh. Before them, Barnes and Nobles and Borders did it. Or have you forgotten that oh-so-cute movie about that angsty issue? Ah… I see you have, and don’t care. Neither do you care about the incalcuable harm publishers do and have done to authors. Instead, you’d rather shoot yourself in the foot.

Go ahead. More for those of us who understand business, and finances. I make between 70% and 35% for every ebook sold through Amazon. I make less than that through other venues (such as B&N) but still, I make immensely more off of every sale than any traditionally published author will ever see from Hachette, or any other publisher. I have print versions of my books I don’t make that high a percentage from, but you can order my books in any bookstore, and there are a few which carry a copy or two at any given time. You can find more idea on how to do it right here.

Unlike these yahoos, I don’t feel the need to fraudulently slip my book onto a shelf somewhere. I do shop at the occasional bookstore, but I am far more likely to order from Amazon. Why? because they have what I want. It’s that easy. Plus, being cheap is nice, too. I can’t afford to walk into a bookstore and buy all the books I read on a weekly basis in paper. Not to mention our poor little house would be overflowing and collapsing. Yes, I bemoan not having time to read. That doesn’t mean I don’t read. With ebooks, I can take chances on new authors and books, that I wouldn’t do on a paper copy. So Amazon offers me a lot more than free shipping and the luxury of not having to go to a store. I love Amazon.

So do a lot of other people, like all the readers who neither know nor care who publishes their favorite author. Outside the industry, who knows this little piece of data? Very, very few readers. They don’t need to know, they just want an entertaining story or a well-done non-fiction book. And they want to be able to afford it. Face it, kids, the economy ain’t great. It sure as heck isn’t ‘recovering’ nor does it appear that it will any time soon. So you would begrudge your readers from seeking the best deals? Are you willing to pay top-dollar for every book you read? Didn’t think so.

Publishers are toxic. I read on my facebook feed an author terrified that she was about to have her fourth editor in as many books with her publisher. She’s afraid this book won’t sell well enough to justify keeping her on. Me? I hire and fire my editors based on their performance and merit, I am in control, not them. Another author, when the news broke that Orbit wouldn’t be giving away the Hugo-nominated books as most publishers do, begged that readers not be angry with his publisher. He said he would be blamed, lose his job, and be black-balled by other publishers, if the readers reacted angrily. (Do I really need to mention here that Baen is the exception which proves the rule?)

Look, I was in an abusive relationship. I know how hard it is to get out of. For one thing, you start to believe that you have no value. This is not true. Stop listening to publishers when they tell you you need them. You don’t. Maybe that was true, once, but reality has changed, and they are terrified. It’s making them do stupid things, like Hachette fighting with Amazon instead of negotiating. Or Apple, in the case it lost last year, over price-fixing. Or didn’t you notice that all the big publishers admitted guilt in the DOJ case? Time to open your eyes and see that it isn’t you, my author friends. You do offer something to the world. Whether it is an amusing story to lighten the burden of readers who are faced with uncertainty and risk in this bleak economy, or a well-researched and sourced non-fiction book which offers a balanced perspective on some topic. Stop letting yourself be treated as disposable, and start recognizing that it isn’t Amazon who is your enemy.

There are safe places. We won’t let them hurt you, and we offer help to those who are willing to work toward independence. I know there is a school of thought which says that those who are in an abusive relationship want it, and will go back to it, no matter how much they say they want out. I say perhaps. And perhaps all they need is a little support. It can be done, I’m living proof.

188 Comments
  1. Having read some of the hissy-fits… I must say I think these people are too stupid stupid stupid to escape an abusive relationship. And they keep telling us that their publisher only hits, starves and belittles them, because they are loved. Yes, I know. Even the brightest people can end up defending the indefensible, given enough psychological abuse… but hell’s bells… last time the publishers were up against Amazon (some minor distrubtor that Scalzi came out in support of) and the time before that (the MacMillian circus) the publishers let the authors get trashed financially and on their publishing record without as much as a shrug. Authors are meat-heads, there to be abused. There are lots more. And on both occasions… authors rode to rescue of their publishers. And were rewarded… by the most exploitative e-book terms imaginable. Stupid stupid stupid… and yet, after that sort of dumb-as-rocks short-sighted greed kick in the privates… the authors are coming charging out again to be cannon fodder. I bet they will get the same gratitiude. Me: I wouldn’t leave the trench until the publisher come up – in advance, with a much better deal. I don’t trust Amazon, anymore than I trust any large corporate. But – unlike my publishers, they have been reliable, timeous payers (far faster than the publishers), transparent in their accounting, and responsive to my e-mails. And they pay MUCH better.

    May 24, 2014
    • And even if Amazon changed their terms, they would still pay better than most publishers! No, you are right. But I have to hope that perhaps a few will see the light and find peace and safety away from those who are manipulating them.

      May 24, 2014
    • From what I’ve seen, being smarter makes you easier to abuse.

      A smart person can see some truth in a well-crafted bit of sophistry, like “marriage is formalized prostitution.”

      A dumb person will say: “No, it’s not, you idiot.” And stick to it.

      May 24, 2014
      • Foxfier, from knowing several people in abusive relationships, you’re wrong. It makes you easier to fool. The dumb, by the surface explanation. The “smart” are given plausible _sounding_ reasons. The abuser plays on the fears and insecurities of the abused. I’ve had a ringside seat watching it happen to someone that was a close friend. I’ve seen it done to others. (It’s why no defense lawyer wants me anywhere *near* a DV case.) Cedar putting it as a DV type relationship is what more need to do.
        If I could afford to do it, I would set up a “partnership” style publishing corp. Company handles all the “gruntwork,” and splits profits with the author, using POD. The author drawback is no “advances,” but better income. No “games,” with accounting, but slower initial. If even _1_ BNA would do it, Trad publishing would collapse.

        May 24, 2014
  2. The worst response I read is a call for government intervention in the book selling market. The last futile effort any dying industry grasps. It has worked so well in everything else…

    May 24, 2014
    • The government already DID say something. Or have they forgotten what DoJ stands for?

      May 24, 2014
      • But, Cedar, that time the government was wrong. It took Amazon’s side. How could it side with the big evil? All the publishers were trying to do was insure more money for the authors. Oh, wait, they didn’t increase royalties to match the increase in monies earned. But that’s okay. Publishers have to re-edit books for digital release. And buy new covers. Oh, wait. I’m wrong again. They only have to pay once for those services. Remind me again why Amazon is evil and publishers are good.

        May 24, 2014
      • That’s just applying the rules, that’s not doing something.

        May 24, 2014
    • dyingearth #

      Straight out of Atlas Shrugged. I kid you not. Progressive thought the looter’s plan from that novel as a blueprint and run with it.

      May 25, 2014
  3. The NYT had an amusing article, full of sky-is-falling quotes, about this the other day:

    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/23/amazon-escalates-its-battle-against-hachette/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

    One particularly fun paragraph from it:

    “For several months, Amazon has been quietly discouraging the sales of Hachette’s physical books by several techniques — cutting the customer’s discount so the book approached list price, taking weeks to ship the book, suggesting that prospective customers buy other books instead and increasing the discount for the Kindle version.”

    Which I read as:

    “The list price is too high to begin with, bad shipping policy if it’s true but I don’t trust the tone of this article at all, sounds like the ‘You Might Also Like’ feature, and WTF?! Now they’re complaining about making a version of their book *more* affordable to readers?!”

    May 24, 2014
    • Robotech_Master #

      Amazon is “raising e-book prices” to the publisher’s suggested retail price, rather than knocking part of their own margins off as they had been doing. That this is seen as a BAD thing confuses me. After all, weren’t publishers so eager to have higher e-book prices that they colluded illegally to force Amazon to raise them? What, they suddenly don’t want them now? I wish they’d make up their minds.

      May 24, 2014
  4. Oh, and while I’ve never left copies of my indie titles on a bookstore shelf, when I was running a small press all those years ago I did have a habit of moving our titles so they faced cover out rather than spine out in bookstores that already stocked them. Don’t know if it ever affected our sales, but it felt good.

    May 24, 2014
    • Nothing wrong with that… I’ve done that with a favorite author’s book!

      May 24, 2014
      • So have I!

        May 24, 2014
        • I’ve had more fun that that. I’ve re-shelved pompous political autobiographies into “Juvenile Fiction”, and in the case of a few particularly noxious ones, the “Fantasy” section. . .

          May 25, 2014
  5. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    And Amazon is GOOD for consumers and INCREASES the market of readers. Neither of which most traditional publishers want. But hey, stay in the abusive relationship with a bad house.

    May 24, 2014
  6. I used Amazon before I ever started writing and publishing. One reason I am loyal to Amazon is that as a person working outside the US (military contractor), They were one of the few people who would send me items through an APO address. I quit buying from a lot of people when I had the money because they refused to ship to me when I was in the military and when I was contracting. I may not sell as well as I wish– but I find what I need with them when I can’t find it here in town. Yea– for Amazon.

    May 24, 2014
    • I love Amazon because it means I don’t have to shop as often. I hate shopping!

      May 24, 2014
    • Exactly. I can be anywhere and still get what I want when I want it. What these morons forget is that this is EXACTLY the formula that made Sears such a success: telegraph the order from the catalog and your shipment would be on the train.

      May 24, 2014
      • Yes– and JC Penney’s catalog in the day– not so much anymore though *sigh

        May 24, 2014
  7. Luke #

    I’m trying to wrap my head around how it’s considered unfair to a manufacturer for a distributor to price a product at the manufacturer’ suggested price.
    And failing miserably.

    Granted, the publisher was setting prices artificially high, because their cut is based on the price they suggest.
    They used to have the leverage to force their distributors to cut their margins to pad their own.
    That has obviously changed.

    But why should I give a flying rat’s patootie if unethical business practices no longer work?
    Because honestly, to the extent I care, I’m happy to see it.

    May 24, 2014
  8. mikeweatherford #

    Since Amazon is one of my only points of sales, I find it difficult to understand the entire argument. Amazon has decided that its relationship with Hachette isn’t working to its satisfaction, and is trying to change it. Hachette is trying to keep an old contract in force, and refuses to negotiate in good faith. The one thing I’d be looking at as an agent of Hachette is, how much of their sales on certain books come through Amazon? If Amazon is responsible for 20% or more of their sales for certain books, I’d be willing to make a few changes to how I do business with them. If not, then the only person hurt by pulling out would be the authors and readers, which the publishing industry doesn’t really care about anyway. Hachette isn’t big enough to get enough people boycotting Amazon to make much of a difference. To me, this is just another indicator of how the publishing industry is imploding.

    May 24, 2014
    • snelson134 #

      Hell, Wal-Mart did this for 20 years: don’t want to customize your system to use our EDI format? Fine, here’s your manual shipment receiving line… and we only have 2 people to staff it…..

      May 24, 2014
  9. curmudgeoninchief #

    Go back and read the article by Streitfeld and Eddy in The NY Times. They cite numerous, credible players in both the author and publisher communties that use strong terms like “extortion” and “Mafia” when describing Amazon’s tactics. A company that systematically targets contractees for special treatment, like delaying deliveries and removing buy buttons from their web pages deserves some special attention from the public.

    This is not business and it is not just one or two publishers “fighting” with Amazon, characterizing a serious case of breach of contract by Amazon as childhood squabbles. It is a systematic move by the dominant outlet for hard copy book sales to do two things: hamstring it’s direct competitors for ebook sales and drive buyers towards Amazon’s ebook reader and online sales of ebooks, which are a tremendous profit center for “The Big A”. It’s a power play, and all of us will be the poorer for it.

    Our authoress has failed to appreciate that she is, once again, in an abusive relationship and she is again engaging in rationalization about her worth and role in said relationship.

    May 24, 2014
    • First of all, Amazon and Hatchett are in the process of renegotiating their contract AFTER Hatchett and others were found to have colluded to fix prices for e-books. So don’t try to paint Amazon as the big evil here. Furthermore, you last paragraph is uncalled for and in poor taste.

      But let’s start with Hatchett is “striving” to keep Amazon supplied. That’s from your vaunted NYT article. Striving isn’t the same as it is keeping Amazon supplied. The inference is that one could say Hatchett isn’t giving Amazon the shipments needed and Amazon is, in turn, having to delay shipping books to customers as a result.

      As for your numerous credible players, sorry, but don’t see it. You have an unnamed Amazon buyer and a couple of Hatchett employees. Neither numerous or folks without a stake in the game.

      For more, check out what The Passive Voice has to say about the situation. While you do, remember that the DoJ and the courts sided with Amazon against Hatchett and others on the price fixing of e-books and that is an issue at the heart of what’s going on now.

      May 24, 2014
      • Sure, there’s a lot of folks who like to paint Amazon as the 900 pound gorilla in the room. However, a lot of people overlook the 800 pound parakeet in the room: the publishing industry itself. A publishing industry that — despite the fact that e-books are here to stay — still has this notion that it can strangle e-publishing in its cradle and go back to the “good old days” when big box stores roamed the landscape, and mid-listers were put on ice floes and shoved out to sea to die. But with that big-ass gorilla rocking the cradle, that ain’t gonna happen. So all the parakeet can do is strut around, screech in helpless frustration, and shit all over the newspapers.

        May 24, 2014
        • What lovely imagery, Bob!

          May 24, 2014
        • I love you like a brother!

          May 25, 2014
        • May 26, 2014
          • YES. 🙂

            May 26, 2014
            • Eamon #

              Probably ought to use that image anytime you talk about the publishing industry…

              May 26, 2014
              • Next time I do a post on the publishing industry someone remind me to put up that image, with the description.

                May 26, 2014
                • Draven #

                  Including at opportune moments, it morphs back into a sweet lil bird and tells everyone how the bad ol puddy tat was going after it.

                  May 26, 2014
          • You know of course what Dr. Jekyll’s cure was, right?

            De-Hyde-ration.

            May 26, 2014
      • No the issue cannot be that Hachette is not supplying Amazon. Amazon could easily get this titles–many are bestsellers–from other wholesalers such as Ingram. In fact, quite a few of the books Amazon sells come from Ingram, including those printed by Lightning Source.
        The distribution bottleneck is clearly Amazon. And that fits with how Amazon has behaved in the past, including removing Buy Buttons and not selling POD titles from some publishers unless they were printed by CreateSpace.
        The last went to federal court in Maine and Amazon ended up having to bail out just before they have almost certainly lost and lost big over an illegality called bundling.

        May 24, 2014
        • Let me ask you this then. Since you seem to condemn Amazon for not carrying POD titles unless printed by Createspace, do you have problems with B&N and other booksellers not carrying Amazon published titles? Isn’t that basically the same thing?

          Another question: why do you think Amazon could get the books from another source other than its usual source for Hatchette? Going hand in hand with that, why should Amazon have to do that? Would you expect your local grocery store to go to a third party vendor/supplier to get your favorite bread if it was in a contract dispute with the maker of the bread?

          May 24, 2014
    • Curmudgeoninchief, *if* it were a true “contract dispute,” I’d agree with you. In fact, I’d *back* Hachette suing to force compliance. *But,* the fact that Hachette _isn’t_ suing tells me a lot. It tells me there _is no_ contract. Amazon can price the books at $0.01 if they choose, or at MSRP, as long as there is no contract. Amazon *knows* (from actual data, not fantasy Academic imaginings) what prices work best. Hachette, like 99.9% of Trad publishers, wants Obscene, rather than horrifying profits. Screw the authors. As a Cedar points out, they are abusers in the most classical sense. They have become infested by the MBA BS that nearly killed the Auto industry, did kill most manufacturing in the U.S., and is killing D.C.
      Let me ask you a simple math question (one failed by many MBA types)? Would you rather: sell 1,000 items (once) @ $1,000, each; or 300,000 (over a year, and maybe longer), @ *$5* each. Anyone with even a tiny bit of sense compares $1,000,000 once, and $1,500,000 over a year, and chooses accordingly.

      May 24, 2014
    • Kate Paulk #

      Would this be the same publisher “community” that settled a price fixing lawsuit most likely because they knew damn well their books would not stand proper scrutiny? If so, their word in this matter is more than a little suspect.

      The same can be said for any author supporting the publishers – *that* is the abused supporting their abusers. If you doubt, I suggest taking a look at The Passive Voice, The Business Rusch, and the back posts here that Sarah has written about the dirty end of the publishing business – and particularly note the posts where sales figures that are not merely *suspicious* but are *physically impossible* are mentioned.

      When the parties responsible for these abuses are claiming Amazon is evil, I’m inclined to believe they just might be projecting a little bit.

      Certainly Amazon could use competition. Until said wannabe competition gets off their collective arses and tries to make something simpler, cleaner and easier to use and understand than the Amazon system (for authors as well as purchasers), Amazon is going to remain the 300lb gorilla. They don’t *need* to engage in dirty pool. Everyone else is too busy sabotaging themselves.

      Now, if this really were a contract dispute, there would be evidence of same. Therefore, contract has nothing to do with it. What Amazon is doing is simply *not discounting* – that is, they are selling the books at the amount *Hachette* says the books should be priced. Perhaps you’d care to explain when doing exactly what the publisher suggests you do is a “power play”?

      I strongly suggest you finish with an apology to the author. That snipe of yours about her once again engaging in an abusive relationship is the kind of thing that could lead one to suspect that you’re entirely too familiar with abusive relationships from the other side of the ledger.

      May 24, 2014
    • I guess my question would be, how reliable a source is the NYT? Most, if not all, of the mass media, has long since gone over to the dark side, and everything they print/show has to meet their agenda. I don’t really know a whole lot about what is going on, but I do know that I don’t trust any of the major media outlets as far as I could throw them.

      May 25, 2014
  10. JAL #

    normally I’m the quiet, nice one

    Could have fooled me, Sara ;- ).

    May 24, 2014
    • Actually, Cedar wrote this blog and she is the nice one of us — she and Dave.

      May 24, 2014
      • And that would be the not-kilted Dave. The Dave-in-a-kilt is significantly less nice than the Dave who was here before the kilted variety showed.

        May 25, 2014
    • I am not the author of this post.

      May 24, 2014
      • JAL #

        Ooops. Sorry. Not paying attention. Mea culpa.

        May 25, 2014
  11. JAL #

    I mean, last month it was the SciFi conventions … and then the e-writers were 2nd tiered … (I would never have found Hugh Howey & the bevy without Amazon.)

    May 24, 2014
  12. During one of the last big kerfuffles, wherein Amazon tried to push around a number of small POD publishers into making them use their own in-house print service (Angela Hoy and Booklocker fought back on that one and won) many of the other indy authors that I was hanging out with as part of our on-line support group) tried to put more of our efforts into marketing our books through Barnes & Noble, and to Borders. Alas, neither one of them were really as flexible and responsive to individual authors. They’re good at what they do, d**n their eyes. I definitely sell more of my own ebooks through Amazon than I do B&N.
    Slightly off-topic, perhaps – but I am pretty certain that charging almost as much for the ebook as you are for the paperback version of a book is a rip-off. Another reason for looking over indy writers, I expect.

    May 24, 2014
  13. Yes, both Amazon and Hachette are businesses that keep a close watch on their money flows. But I wonder if this author is paying much attention to his money flow.

    Amazon actually pays very poorly in comparison to its primary competitor, Apple’s iBookstore and slightly less than B&N.

    * Apple is the best of the major retailers. It pays authors 70% of retail at all prices from $0.99 to $199.99 and charges no download fees. At any price level and in every situation, Apple beats Amazon, often paying twice as much.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3841014

    * Amazon pays 70% only for books priced from $2.99-9.99 and at those price levels it charges a hideous download fee (roughly equivalent to a $400 hamburger), that can reduce the real royalties significantly. In the case of one of my books, the real royalty rate is only 60%.

    Outside that range, Amazon only pays 35% royalties, which is about what some traditional publishers pay authors for ebooks. And keep in mind those are publishers who’re advertising and promoting an ebook. Amazon isn’t doing a thing. Here’s the Kindle link, although Amazon has cleverly hidden the real bad news in other links.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A30F3VI2TH1FR8

    * Like Amazon, B&N payments vary with price. $0.99 to $2.98 is 40%. That’s 5% better than Amazon. $2.99-9.99 is 65%. That’s about what Amazon pays once download fees are included. $10 and up is 40%, which is 5% better than Amazon.

    That means that outside the $2.99-9.99 range, B&N is paying 5% more. Inside that range, the two are paying almost the same rates. B&N clearly structured its rates to be a little bit better than Amazon.

    http://cp-barnesandnoble.kb.net/kb/?ArticleId=4310&source=Article&c=12&cid=28#tab:homeTab:crumb:7:artId:4259

    To give specifics, if you have a $20 ebook, Amazon is paying you $7.00. B&N is paying you $8.00 and Apple is paying you $14.00.

    So clearly, this part of the article above isn’t true: “More for those of us who understand business, and finances. I make between 70% and 35% for every ebook sold through Amazon. I make less than that through other venues (such as B&N)…”

    In fact that remark is nonsense. He’s noted that Amazon often pays him 35% and yet B&N never pays less than 40%.

    This mistake is common among authors who haven’t read their contracts. Amazon has about 70% of the ebook market, so its checks are bound to be larger even though it is paying less per book than almost everyone else. That’s the gotcha that many authors are missing.

    My own hunch is that, given its economy of scale, Amazon makes twice as much per ebook sale as the other major ebook retailers. Every penny of that extra profit comes out of the pockets of authors. Since Apple is presumably making a profit paying 70%, I suspect that Amazon could actually do quite well paying authors a full 80% of retail at all price levels rather than 35% to not-quite 70%.

    My own hunch is that if Amazon is able to completely take over the ebook market, it will only pay 35% at all price levels. That’s why this battle with Hatchette matters to all authors and is why Amazon is most certainly not an author’s friend.

    May 24, 2014
    • Those transmission fees are minimal, as long as you don’t have a lot of images in your e-book. Also, with regard to Apple, unless you have a Mac of a certain flavor and operating system, you have to go to a third party aggregator to get into iTunes. Guess what, that means you don’t make as much money. So, figure out how much you lose by going through Smashwords or some other third party system or figure out how many books you’d have to sell to recover the cost of buying a Mac. Funny, when you do that, Amazon is a better deal.

      Then there is the real fact that Amazon is the main player in the market. If I look at my sales, either on my own or through NRP, at least 90% of my sales come from Amazon. Since I don’t put DRM on my e-books, it is easy to convert them into any format you want using Calibre.

      As for B&N, I gave up putting books up directly to their interface because it kept borking them up. It didn’t matter if I uploaded an ePub or Doc file or anything else. They borked it up. So, to get into their store, I had to give up part of my profits by going through Draft2Digital.

      With regard to Amazon “most certainly” not being an author’s friend, sorry, but you are wrong there too. At least for the moment. Amazon gives authors the chance to get their work out in a timely manner and to actually make a living wage from their writing. If I were to sell to Hatchette, I’d have to have an agent. That agent would get 15 – 20% of any monies Hatchette were to pay me. I would get, at best, maybe 15-20% of hard cover price per sale. That would then be decreased by the agent’s cut. The percentage I’d get for mmpb or tpb is less but the agent’s cut remains the same. I might get 25% or so for e-book sales. Funny, I get a hell of a lot more selling through Amazon.

      Is Amazon perfect? Hell no. But it also isn’t the big evil. Traditional publishing (Baen excluded) is still operating on a business plan that is outdated and hasn’t adapted to the digital age. Worse, authors are letting them get away with it and more. Publishers are holding onto rights long after they should have reverted. They continue to use BookScan to report sales even though BookScan numbers are more than dubious. Publishers, again Baen excepted, see authors as interchangeable widgets — and you can find a publisher who has said that if you look hard enough — and don’t give a damn for us. So don’t tell me they are more of our friend than Amazon is.

      May 24, 2014
      • According to BookScan on my Amazon Author page, I had a huge uptick in sales of one of my books last year. I mean, huge – and curiously so. Amazon still records it, even though I back-checked through LSI for that particular month. I never figured out what was going on, but I have doubted BookScan ever since.

        May 24, 2014
      • And even if you do have a Mac with the right OS flavor, sometimes iTunes books won’t accept your files even though every other EPUB sales source takes them happily and they are the correct EPUB format (EPUB 2 or 3). And Apple is not entirely helpful when trying to sort out the problem, at least in my case.

        May 24, 2014
      • Quote: “Funny, when you do that, Amazon is a better deal.”

        No it’s not, particularly outside the narrow, $2.99 to $9.99. Suppose you have a modest book and want to go for volume over price. You price it for 99 cents. Going direct to Apple will pay you about 70 cents. Going to Apple, B&N Kobo, and a number of other retailers through Smashwords will pay you 60 cents. Amazon is going to give you only a paltry 35%. Amazon is a rotten deal.

        And yes, in the $2.99 to $9.99 range, almost everyone pays in the 60-70% range. There is a lot of competition in that market. Still Apple reach directly consistently pays the best. Amazon is merely so-so. It certainly isn’t a “better deal.”

        Above $9.99, Apple remains the best, paying a consistent 70%. Most are in the 60% range, including distributions made via Smashwords. Only Amazon is paying a miserly 35%, although Kobo has situations where it only pays 38%.

        And remember, this is half as much as Apple on really large sums. For a specialized nursing textbook that retails for $50, Apple will pay the author/publisher $35. Amazon pay the author/publisher only $17, pocketing $33 for itself.

        All these are the facts, embedded in black and white contracts that authors should read before they sign, although I admit that Amazon’s FAQ on the subject is cleverly deceptive, distracting authors from how they’re getting shafted.

        I really can’t understand those authors who think that Amazon treats them better than the other ebook retailers. Amazon’s check is larger for the same reason a B&N check for print book sales might larger, because their sales volume is larger. But authors are getting significantly less per sale, particularly outside the $2.99-9.99 price range.

        May 24, 2014
        • Have you taken a moment to figure out the price point where the vast majority of eBooks are sold? Here’s a hint, most people will not pay more for an eBook than they would for the paperback. So the $2.99 to $9.99 price range pretty much covers the vast majority of the bell curve of perceived value vs. price. In general, people will not pay over $10 for an eBook. And some readers perceive that anything under $2.99 is probably not worth reading. Generalizing about the market by looking at the tailed-off ends of the Price/Sales curve is not very enlightening.

          (although in the Erotica category, some people are cleaning up selling 4K words for $2.99. Talk about obscene.)

          May 24, 2014
          • Draven #

            gigglesnort

            May 26, 2014
        • Eamon #

          I’m not sure how you keep noting that the Amazon check is bigger than the others, but then claim authors are getting screwed by Amazon?

          Amazon is moving more product for authors, at this time. Some aspect of Amazon’s business plan is making authors more money than others, at this time. The percentages don’t matter until and unless someone with a higher percentage is moving an equivalent volume.

          I suspect those higher percentages are being offered by other companies in hopes of drawing more of the authorial market their way. Or are they acting out of benevolence? Do you believe if one of these other outlets completely takes over the ebook market they’ll maintain their high percentages? Or will they do as you posit Amazon will do, and reduce their percentages across the board?

          I go back to price signalling. It is not merely a mechanism in the consumer portion of the market. It applies to all aspects of the product chain, and distributors signal back to their suppliers and out to their customers. Amazon’s percentage structure signals what price points move in their system, and therefore at what price points they can offer the most return to the author. Others are signalling that they can do better. Okay, run the experiment and see what happens.

          But, if the Amazon check is still bigger for the individual authors, who’s paying what percentage is immaterial. Amazon is putting more money in the author’s pocket. Period.

          May 24, 2014
        • Suppose you have a modest book and want to go for volume over price. You price it for 99 cents.

          There’s one flaw in your argument, which is the assumption that the $0.99 price point is the best one to sell in volume. Sarah Hoyt had several posts on her blog last year about why the $2.99 price point is better for authors: it actually gets you more sales (as I recall; please correct me if I’m wrong, Sarah). This is counter-intuitive, yes, but it’s an oddity of the current ebook market that if you price your book at 99 cents, people are going to be hesitant to buy it — but if you price it at $2.99, you’ll see higher volume.

          Now, in the case of textbooks, etc., which are priced well above the $9.99, you make a good point. But it turns out that the below-$2.99 price range isn’t a good place to be for many reasons, so the discussion of volume at 99 cents becomes moot.

          May 24, 2014
          • Eamon #

            Textbooks and the like are notoriously thin margin endeavors. They are by nature low-volume beasts, always have been. The publishing dynamic in that sort of book is of a completely different character than found in novels.

            I find the inclusion of textbook publishing in the discussion of Amazon’s practices to be suspicious, personally. Outside of the apples/oranges nature, it relies on a skewed expectation of return. I doubt Stephen King could get a high margin return on a textbook, unless a publisher wanted to up their profile.

            A distributor takes a higher percentage on low-volume items? Price signalling.

            May 24, 2014
          • Definitely the case for novels, Robin and novellas. For short stories after last summer people seem to prefer 1.99 and .99 for shorter ones. BUT again, short stories. And people being money pinched. Novels under 2.99 probably won’t sell at all.
            A firm did market research on this and he ideal price for a novel is 4.99 to 6.99. (Genre makes some difference.) Deviate from that on either side, and you actually lose sales.

            May 25, 2014
            • (I wonder if I would sell more if I bumped it up to a buck and a half?)

              May 25, 2014
              • Haven’t I told you that yet?
                Is it time for another pricing post?

                May 25, 2014
                • Well, on the one hand, it’s only 14,000 words. Who wants a “Wah it’s too short!” review? but on the other hand, if I’m down to one sale a month, what could it hurt?

                  Or I could try to slip it back into Erotica and see what happens…. I mean, the worst review called it basically “Not bad erotica if you’re into that kinda sh*t.” Hell, they’ll pay $2.99 for 4K word stories over there.

                  May 25, 2014
                  • if it’s 14k words put it at 2.99 or I’ll come through the screen and beat you.
                    Also, write the next one. It’s the best way to raise your sales.

                    May 25, 2014
                    • “Pretty Hate Machines” died on the vine. Great opening scene, but no real plot. Considering the genesis of it was from an idea for a First Person Shooter Mod (Hunt Military Assassin Fembots with scrounged weapons in an abandoned space slaver ship), there wasn’t really enough structure to hang an actual story on. I might come back to it some day If I can build on the main character better.

                      “Necessity” is the Baen Fantasy entry. We’re at 4800 words and shit is hitting the fan. I’m rather excited about it at this point.

                      “Dr. Mauser: Red on Red” is on the back burner while I work on Necessity, but I’ve got so many scenes already in mind that I’m about ready to start writing ahead and backfill the gaps later.

                      May 25, 2014
                  • Write the next one and bundle it. 😀

                    May 25, 2014
                    • I’ve had thoughts about the Prequel, and Sequel to it. “Kiwi and Other Stories” might be a possibility if I end up with a few more laying around. Not sure if that should be a separate release or an editing of the current listing. Although that would kind of invalidate the current reviews, letting current owners (all 26 of them) upgrade would be a cool gesture.

                      May 25, 2014
                    • Separate release, definitely– my mom is one of those who buys dozens of the really cheap books, and I think it’s tactically sensible if you don’t really WANT to charge more for the stuff you have to offer it in a way folks who give Sarah so much money will find, but still hit my mom’s audience.

                      May 25, 2014
        • Again, you overlook the tech requirement to publish direct to Apple or the monetary hit an author will take going to a third party aggregator. You also are ignoring the “sweet spot” for e-book sales nor have you, apparently, paid any attention to what readers are saying about what they will pay for an e-book. Many will not buy a 99 cent e-book. Their reasons vary from it being a pretty good sign it is an indie book and probably hasn’t been edited, etc., (in their minds) to why should they support an author who doesn’t value his own work. Nor are most readers willing to pay more than 5.99 – 6.99 for an e-book. For a few authors they will pay up to 9,99. But for most readers, anything above the 9,99 mark is out of the question, especially for fiction.

          Of course, none of that fits your narrative, does it.

          Beyond that, no one has said Amazon is perfect. We all admit there are problems with it. But then, I have problems trusting a company that colludes with others to price fix e-book costs to the reader at a price point that is well above what I would pay for a hard copy of the book. I have trouble trusting those publishers because they didn’t pass those increases on to their authors, not really. They didn’t rewrite contracts or change the terms for new contracts to show the higher prices they were getting, an increase that could have led to a higher royalty rate for the authors.

          You keep going to high priced technical or text books which are the exception and not the rule for ebooks. Most authors aren’t self-publishing those books. So they aren’t valid example of what you are trying to argue. Hmmm, could it be you are an employee of one of Amazon’s competitors or work for a traditional publisher? Or maybe you just drank the kool-ade from your publisher and are afraid to admit that Amazon has opened up opportunities for authors traditional publishers have worked hard to keep from us.

          May 24, 2014
        • No it’s not, particularly outside the narrow, $2.99 to $9.99.

          That “narrow” range that is most books, especially most e-books.

          May 24, 2014
      • kathyswizards #

        He also forgets that the royalty rate is based on NET income– not gross. So if the publisher pays for marketing, covers, etc, etc., all that comes off the top. The real royalty rate (from what I’ve read– I’ve never been trad pubbed), is closer to 7% to 12.5%. And that’s if you even earn out your advance. Apparently most authors never do.

        May 25, 2014
        • They used to take books out of print the day you earned out. They don’t/can’t now with Amazon, but…

          May 25, 2014
    • _HUH?_ $0.30.MB transmission fee is equal to 5% royalty? That means 1.5 _MB_ book (based on $7.99 cost and 35% royalty). Considering what Amazon actually _does_ that’s a very fair cut, for the publicity help, and infrastructure. Trad publishers get _60%_ of MSRP for dead tree copies, and almost no “help.” Authors get a _maximum_ 10% of MSRP. Even James Patterson, Clive Barker, Steven King, get only 10%. When my first book comes out (POD), Amazon only gets _20%_ for selling it, not *50%.*

      May 24, 2014
      • Amazon’s download fee is 15 cents per megabyte which is several times even a pricey cell phone plan and about 100 times what Amazon charges clients for the equivalent AWS file download service. That’s why I compared it to a $400 hamburger.
        Amazon’s profit on their file download charge is in the range of 10,000%, which is just a tiny bit excessive. It allows Amazon to claim to offer 70% royalties for mid-range prices while actually offering about 60%. It also effectively punishes authors for putting pictures and graphics in their books. That degrades the quality of the ebook market.
        —–
        Daniels, if you want to live under the illusion that Amazon’s providing you with anything more than what every other ebook retailer on the planet is providing–a mere webpage and database listing–that’s your business. But it’s the saddest of illusions.
        In addition to writing and publishing of my own. I’ve also worked for other publishers, including Microsoft Press, Pearson, and Congressional Quarterly. I know what publishers do because I have done it.
        Amazon doesn’t provide any editorial help in writing a book. Some publishers spend thousands of dollars to edit each title because they care about it. Amazon doesn’t layout the book. Your book can look like trash for all they care. Amazon doesn’t create the cover. It doesn’t to anything to personally market your book. Ranked as a publisher, Amazon’s services are beneath those of even the vanity press. Amazon simply places books online like it places cheap, made-in-China ripoffs of thousands of products.
        And yet if you price your ebook for more that $9.99, Amazon will take the great bulk of that book’s retail price, 65% for itself. And all it is doing is hosting a webpage, processing a financial transaction, and downloading a file. Amazon’s total cost is pennies. Its profits on some of the more expensive ebooks must be dozens of times what a traditional publisher earns from books in the same price range.
        I’ve had dozens of books on Amazon for as long as fifteen years. The only “promotion” I’ve seen from Amazon during that entire time was an email mass mailing a few weeks back that mentioned one of my Tolkien books.
        —–
        You can feel bitter at traditional publishers if you want. I hear a lot of that from Amazon fanboys. I don’t think that is healthy as a writer. But that does not not justify making Amazon into something it is not. As a publisher, it could not be more pitiful. It does no more than what a host of other retailers do, and yet in many cases it pays only half the royalties that companies such as Apple pays.

        May 24, 2014
        • snelson134 #

          @Troll

          *plonk*

          May 24, 2014
          • He did rather quickly start personal attacks, rather than trying to respond to facts and things like “not a lot of folks BUY from Apple, they’re artificially raising their prices, and they’re really hard to use even if you have exactly what you’re “supposed” to.

            May 24, 2014
          • Looking over a lot of “his” books, they seem mostly to consist of old, public domain material that he is “copyrighting” under his editorship. His site also doesn’t seem to link to any place where they are for sale, instead merely showing extremely large samples.

            I suppose if we did some looking on Apple and these other sites he likes so much, we’ll see why the $20 price point is so important to him.

            May 24, 2014
            • lonejanitor #

              That would be because he sells through Amazon, apparently. In the $20 price range for at least one, which has no e-book listed, and with $2.99 ebooks for two others, according to the profile

              May 24, 2014
              • I looked at his bibliography there, and there’s precious little that isn’t republished Public Domain, but I checked out one of the $2.99 books, surprised to see 4 5-star reviews. Then I looked at the reviewers, and three of them only had a single review to their (non-certified) names, for his book.

                Color me suspicious.

                May 25, 2014
            • lonejanitor #

              http://www.inklingbooks.com/aboutinkling/aboutinkling.html

              Ffor some reason, pages on the site don’t link up right, amazon link is on this page

              May 24, 2014
              • Just for the hell of it, I bought the free version of the public domain work he is charging $30 for. (There are 5 pages of people selling various editions of this, so there must be something to it.)

                May 25, 2014
        • Amazon’s download fee is 15 cents per megabyte which is several times even a pricey cell phone plan and about 100 times what Amazon charges clients for the equivalent AWS file download service.

          Cellphones don’t let you download the same file multiple times, for years, with no additional charge.

          May 24, 2014
          • Please…. Every ebook retailer that I know off keeps a library of your purchases and lets you download them again for free later. Amazon is in not special there.

            And the comparison to cellular charges, notoriously the highest, was for contrast. Amazon could be sending out every single ebook purchase to someone who has a cellular Kindle and it would still be making over 300% on that download thanks to what it charges authors. The download charge is that inflated.

            Amazon worship is so real, I expect someday to read a fanboy who amazed that the company sent them the order in a cardboard box, “Can you imagine that, a real box and I didn’t even ask them to do that!”

            That’s also what’s happening with those authors who think Amazon treats them better than the other ebook retailers. At best, its services are the same as most retailers. At worst, its royalty payments are half that of others.

            And please get over the idea that being on Amazon means you’re arrived as an author. Amazon as CreateSpace and Kindle will ‘publish’ virtually anything. Being on Amazon means nothing.

            It’s a bit like finding some old piece of junk that you donated to Goodwill on its shelves a few weeks later. It’s there because you put it there and no other reason.

            May 24, 2014
            • Eamon #

              And please get over the idea that being on Amazon means you’re arrived as an author. Amazon as CreateSpace and Kindle will ‘publish’ virtually anything. Being on Amazon means nothing.
              It’s a bit like finding some old piece of junk that you donated to Goodwill on its shelves a few weeks later. It’s there because you put it there and no other reason.

              Oops! Did you let your real bias slip? Sloppy of you.

              Not to mention, when will these stupid authors realize that all the money they’re making is tainted? Why won’t they move to one of these other sainted platforms who sell fewer books and be blessed?

              There may be some sarcasm in here, use caution.

              May 24, 2014
              • “And please get over the idea that being on Amazon means you’re arrived as an author. Amazon as CreateSpace and Kindle will ‘publish’ virtually anything. Being on Amazon means nothing.”
                Yes, and thank G-d. Because being with a publisher doesn’t mean you’ve arrived either. First of all I’ve read worse pieces of cr*p from publishers than from indie, and yet, yes, most of what is published is cr*p, indie or traditional. CR*P from YOUR perspective. it doesn’t mean it is from everyone’s. (Sold them too. I’m going over my reverted books and some of the editing is not to be believed. My final manuscripts are cleaner and make more sense. What’s more, I’m fairly sure this was never run by me.) Second if you sell to a traditional publisher, the average career is 3 books.
                I’ve sold 25 (published 23) with various publishers and I still haven’t arrived.
                I’m not a literary darling. I’m a real writer. I work for a living.

                May 25, 2014
                • I’m not a literary darling. I’m a real writer. I work for a living.

                  Marry me… Oh, wait. We’re both already married. Crap…

                  May 25, 2014
                • I’m getting to the point where “I’ve arrived” equates to “I’m accepted by my peers as one of them.” A HUGE part of that is being asked to post here on a regular basis. And various and sundry other occurrences that keep rolling in, despite my general lack of anything resembling genuine progress on the publishing front. And ESPECIALLY since there are any number of authors of my acquaintance who are likely to NEVER acknowledge that I’m a fellow professional. To most of them, I’m a jumped up amateur, a wannabe who’s decided to go the vanity route offered by Amazon (Holy Horns, spit over right shoulder).

                  May 25, 2014
            • Please…. Every ebook retailer that I know off keeps a library of your purchases and lets you download them again for free later.

              You were not using “every ebook retailer,” you were trying to compare data rates for cellphones to Amazon’s ebook retail.

              May 24, 2014
            • Note:
              The tactic of “pretend I didn’t say that and then throw a big wall of text behind that attempted slight of hand” is really old and tired.

              May 24, 2014
              • Eamon #

                (Pssst…Foxfier! It’s about the only tactic he has…)

                May 24, 2014
                • Sort of, he also ignores information he doesn’t like….

                  May 24, 2014
                  • Eamon #

                    Inattentional blindness.

                    😉

                    May 24, 2014
            • SBP #

              “Amazon as CreateSpace and Kindle will ‘publish’ virtually anything.”

              Including public domain books with crappy covers, apparently.

              Your books may (or may not) have value beyond the editions you can get for free at Project Gutenberg — I can’t say, since none of them allow you to look inside the book, but your covers don’t exactly inspire confidence that that’s the case.

              May 25, 2014
            • SBP #

              “The download charge is that inflated.”

              Nonsense. Sheer nonsense. You are only accounting for the data charge for additional data and not for the base rate for the cell plan.

              The cheapest AT&T plan for iPad is $14.95/month for 250 MB, or about $0.06/megabyte on the receiving side. There’s also a transmitting side charge that you have to account for. Assume the transmission costs the same and you get $0.12/MB. Add in the cost of the data center and the fact that (as Foxfier noted) the user can download the file on multiple devices and it’s pretty clear that Amazon isn’t making a huge markup on the data. I’m sure they’re making something (Amazon is a business, after all) but it’s far from the massive ripoff you’re pretending that it is.

              May 25, 2014
        • Eamon #

          Amazon’s profit on their file download charge is in the range of 10,000%, which is just a tiny bit excessive

          When you pick out one element of a complex business model, analyze that element in isolation and declare the ‘profit margin’ on that element to be excessive you demonstrate a misunderstanding of business practices and balance sheets.

          I don’t have any data on Amazon’s balance sheets, or their margins across different product lines. I have no information on where they shave their margins to transparency or where they fatten them. I do know that a complex business utilizes an integrated profit model to factor expenditures and receipts across all product lines in order to meet their revenue goals.

          Unless you’re willing to praise Amazon for all of the segments they price at or below cost? No?

          I also suspect Amazon uses a price signaling scheme to cue authors to their most favorable pricing. As price goes up, units sold goes down, Amazon’s overhead remains the same, thus their percentage of sale increases. Market dynamics… Hm?

          May 24, 2014
          • Sorry, but when no other ebook retailer charges an ebook download fee and Amazon charges one that, based on its AWS fees, indicates a markup in excess of 10,000%, I don’t think about business models. I think about a company that’s so ethically dubious, it does something grossly unethical because most of its clients, in this case clueless authors, haven’t noticed.

            And take note that this is billed as a ‘download fee.’ That implies it covers the cost of transferring that file to customers. That’s not what it is. If we had a honest DOJ, something we’re not likely to get until at least 2017, that’d treated as a dishonest business practice.

            And no, Amazon isn’t using that enormous shift in royalties from 70% to 35% as “a price signaling scheme to cue authors to their most favorable pricing.” They doing it because they’re greedy SOBs and most authors, bless their pitiful hearts, let them get away with it.

            Besides, if you do the numbers rather than talk muddled Biz School jargon, you’ll set that that shift in royalties doesn’t signal anything healthy. To get more in royalties than an ebook pays at $9.99, its price has to be raised to above $27. That radically forced leap in price severely distorts pricing in ways that aren’t remotely healthy. They merely enrich Amazon at the expense of authors and publishers. And since many books in that range or textbooks, Amazon is also ripping off students and perhaps delaying the transition to digital textbooks.

            May 24, 2014
            • Eamon #

              Muddled Biz School jargon, is it? Too bad I didn’t go to Muddled Biz School.

              And take note that this is billed as a ‘download fee.’ That implies it covers the cost of transferring that file to customers. That’s not what it is.

              Your source for the firm assertion “That’s not what it is.”? Hm, what does it take to transfer a file to customers… Infrastructure? How do I offset the costs of infrastructure?

              But that’s okay, because you’re a mind reader: “They’re doing it because they’re greedy SOBs and most authors, bless their pitiful hearts, let them get away with it.”

              Or maybe, juuussst maybe, the people who know how to get a multi-billion dollar business up and running and keep it there know something about business economics that you don’t?

              Besides, if you do the numbers rather than talk muddled Biz School jargon, you’ll set that that shift in royalties doesn’t signal anything healthy. To get more in royalties than an ebook pays at $9.99, its price has to be raised to above $27.

              I haven’t successfully parsed this bit, yet. Probably my Muddled Biz School thinking. Or I’m just stupid, pick one. But what are you saying?

              May 24, 2014
              • I think what he’s trying to say is that the royalties on a $9.99 book at 70% are only equal to the royalties of a $27 book at 35%, Clearly Mathematics not Zathras’ skill. 35% being half of 70%, the point of equality should be oh, $19.98. Which is to say, $10-$20 is the bad spot of the price curve, and above that you’d be making more absolute dollars per sale, except for the fact that nobody’s going to pay that much.

                To review:
                $9.99 x 70% = $6.99 (Let’s see ANY mainstream publisher touch that!)
                $19.98 x 35% = $6.99
                $27.00 x 35% = $9.45 (If you can get it)

                May 25, 2014
                • Eamon #

                  Ah. Thanks, my parsing skills weren’t up to the task.

                  May 25, 2014
            • Eamon #

              They merely enrich Amazon at the expense of authors and publishers. And since many books in that range or textbooks, Amazon is also ripping off students and perhaps delaying the transition to digital textbooks.

              Nope.

              May 24, 2014
              • Michael boy seems to have issues with ANYONE making a profit for providing a service. Next he’s going to rant at “resellers and intermediaries.”
                From Marxists and economic idiots, and envious louts who go trolling in the night, the good Lord deliver us.

                May 25, 2014
            • SBP #

              “Sorry, but when no other ebook retailer charges an ebook download fee and Amazon charges one that, based on its AWS fees”

              No other ebook provider supplies free cellular data to their customers.

              Next.

              May 25, 2014
        • SBP #

          “Daniels, if you want to live under the illusion that Amazon’s providing you with anything more than what every other ebook retailer on the planet is providing–a mere webpage and database listing–that’s your business”

          They’re providing me with 224 million customers with credit card data already on file, who can buy my book with one click.

          Next.

          May 25, 2014
    • As an author, my books are available through many different distributors. The majority of sales by a huge margin come through Amazon. I don’t know where your numbers actually come from, and my transmission fees are miniscule compared to paying, say, a literary agent. I’m doing fine, thanks. Hachette? I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Amazon works for me. I don’t mean that in the ‘it works’ sense, I literally mean they work for me. If they didn’t I wouldn’t use their services.

      May 24, 2014
      • Some of those here seemed to have missed my fourth-grade teacher, who constantly told us “you can’t compare apples with oranges.”

        Poster after poster insists on comparing Amazon the retailer with Hachette the publisher. They’re not the same nor is Amazon a literary agent. Besides, whining about a literary agent that takes 10% and may get your book reviewed widely and translated into other languages (more royalties) is nothing in comparison to a $20 ebook where Amazon is grabbing $65% of the retail price and doing nothing but put up a webpage.

        Amazon ‘works’ for you. That’s laughable. They’ll as readily screw you as help you. Over the years, I’ve had some my books hidden by Amazon’s search engine because someone else had a similar book at a higher price and thus a higher profit for Amazon. That’s no secret. When I lived in Seattle, I discussed that with an Amazon lawyer. She didn’t deny that Amazon search results are deceptive. An item that makes Amazon less profit doesn’t just drop down the search list. It disappears altogether.

        Amazon has certainly used those results to try to screw me and their customers. My book, Across Asia on a Bicycle is the best edition on the market and hence the bestselling. A few years back, top free search result for Google was for my edition on Amazon. And yet when I searched for that title on Amazon itself, it didn’t appear. Why? Someone else had a badly done paperback that was so overpriced, it cost more than my hardback and about twice that of my paperback. Amazon was sending customers who ought to buy my book to that edition. That’s Amazon. If they see a profitable way to deceive customers and screw authors they’ll take it.

        I saw precisely that today when I checked out a particular model of Bluetooth headphones. The search results showed only third-party sources in the $120 range. I applied a few tricks I know and was soon looking at the same headset in the $60 range from other sources, including the manufacturer itself. That’s Amazon. As one Amazon programmer told me, never trust Amazon’s search results.

        Please people. Amazon doesn’t work for you. They’ll screw you just as easily as they’ll reward you. And you’re not unique in that. They treat their own employees so badly even white collar workers rarely stay longer than two years.Get over your illusion that Amazon cares about you. Only then are you in a position to do business with it.

        May 24, 2014
        • Eamon #

          Besides, whining about a literary agent that takes 10% and may get your book reviewed widely and translated into other languages (more royalties)

          How about whining about a literary agent that takes 10% and does none of that? Because from what I’m hearing from multiple authors, this is by far the more common.

          Some of those here seemed to have missed my fourth-grade teacher, who constantly told us “you can’t compare apples with oranges.”

          I may wheeze! And choke! I’d chuckle robustly, but all my breath is gone. You follow that gem with: “…a $20 ebook…”

          Show of hands, how many folks have a $20 ebook on their reading device? Show of hand? Fingers for fractions? Anybody?

          Amazon is nobody’s saint, they are not the savior of the free world, reading or the profession of writing. They’re a company, in business to make money.

          They may, however, have made it possible for authors to be the saviors of the free world, reading and the profession of writing. Maybe only as a stepping stone along the way. Maybe more, possibly less. Run the experiment and lets find out.

          May 24, 2014
          • Actually, I have exactly 2…. both of which are highly technical and cost me about the same as they do elsewhere. One reason I am willing to pay Safari IT ~500 per year for an unlimited library shelf of technical e-books is that most of the time I don’t need either the absolute latest edition or a book on a specialized aspect of IT; when I do, I expect to pay for it.

            This guy persists in cherry picking his data…. Kind of like the AGW liars or the “rationalizer for theft” Piketty. Which is why I plonked him.

            May 25, 2014
            • Eamon #

              I’m not as surprised as my sarcasm might have indicated, really. It was likely in a robust community such as this one somebody’d have a technical book or 2. None of mine are electronic, but in all cases I’ve examined the e-version is priced the same as the dead tree.

              In most cases this is simply a function of economics, they are expensive to produce, errors are more costly and the pool of customers is limited. I don’t expect technical manuals or text books to plunge dramatically in price absent other factors.

              And yeah, he cherry picks odd points to make his case on. Very plonk worthy. But I was working off stress. 🙂

              May 25, 2014
          • I’ve had FOUR AGENTS. All my sales — 23, so far — were made by me, except three. I sold exactly ONE book abroad. All my agents were A-listers. So much for fantasy versus reality.
            I don’t have a single book over 9 on my kindle, and for it to cost that much, I need to justify to myself that it’s a research book. SHEEESH.

            May 25, 2014
        • Some of those here seemed to have missed my fourth-grade teacher, who constantly told us “you can’t compare apples with oranges.”

          You, mostly.

          You keep trying to equate utterly different things, then throw a fit when people don’t play along.

          Then again, if you had to wait until you were nine or ten to be told the old chestnut about apples and oranges– rather than kindergarten, or lost in the mists of pre-school-days….

          May 24, 2014
        • Some of those here seemed to have missed my fourth-grade teacher, who constantly told us “you can’t compare apples with oranges.”

          Funny, that’s exactly what you have been doing from your very first post. So, if you want us to take you seriously, perhaps you ought to have listened to your fourth-grade teacher and applied her wisdom before lecturing the rest of us.

          Poster after poster insists on comparing Amazon the retailer with Hachette the publisher. They’re not the same nor is Amazon a literary agent. Besides, whining about a literary agent that takes 10% and may get your book reviewed widely and translated into other languages (more royalties) is nothing in comparison to a $20 ebook where Amazon is grabbing $65% of the retail price and doing nothing but put up a webpage.

          No one has said Amazon and Hatchett are the same, although Amazon is in the publishing business. Check their imprints. Oh wait, those are the imprints that B&N and other retailers won’t carry. Something I asked if you had any problem with and something you have failed to answer. As for a literary agent taking 10%, get your facts straight. Most agents take more than that and they charge expenses. There is also no guarantee they will place your book, much less get it reviewed or sell foreign rights. And why are you continuing to harp on $20 e-books? That price point is well outside the range most people are willing to pay for an e-book, especially for a genre e-book.

          Amazon ‘works’ for you. That’s laughable. They’ll as readily screw you as help you. Over the years, I’ve had some my books hidden by Amazon’s search engine because someone else had a similar book at a higher price and thus a higher profit for Amazon. That’s no secret. When I lived in Seattle, I discussed that with an Amazon lawyer. She didn’t deny that Amazon search results are deceptive. An item that makes Amazon less profit doesn’t just drop down the search list. It disappears altogether.

          Oooh, and Apple won’t? Or B&N? Or any of the others? As for your discussion with the so-called Amazon lawyer, what was her background for knowing what the search engine parameters are? If she actually knew, she was violating attorney-client privilege. Hmm, remind me never to use her as an attorney. Or did you just infer something from what she did or didn’t say? Moreover, if your contention that an item that makes Amazon less profit disappears altogether were true, none of our indie books would be present, because there are other e-books out there that make Amazon much more money. Oops, there’s that pesky logic being applied again. Sorry.

          Amazon has certainly used those results to try to screw me and their customers. My book, Across Asia on a Bicycle is the best edition on the market and hence the bestselling. A few years back, top free search result for Google was for my edition on Amazon. And yet when I searched for that title on Amazon itself, it didn’t appear. Why? Someone else had a badly done paperback that was so overpriced, it cost more than my hardback and about twice that of my paperback. Amazon was sending customers who ought to buy my book to that edition. That’s Amazon. If they see a profitable way to deceive customers and screw authors they’ll take it.

          How do you know your book is the best edition? And I’m sure Amazon did it just to get at you. Yeah, can you say persecution complex? Also, if you were searching for the kindle edition, did you search for just kindle versions? Or did you do a global search where the results would be much more inclusive and would, in all likelihood, dump your title to a lower level?

          I saw precisely that today when I checked out a particular model of Bluetooth headphones. The search results showed only third-party sources in the $120 range. I applied a few tricks I know and was soon looking at the same headset in the $60 range from other sources, including the manufacturer itself. That’s Amazon. As one Amazon programmer told me, never trust Amazon’s search results.

          Oooh, more accusations without specifics. What was your exact search phrase? Funny, I’ve never had the problem you’ve mentioned with Amazon. Maybe the company just doesn’t like you. As for not trusting their search engine, I’ve had the same experience with other companies where a simple change in a search term can bring up different results.

          Please people. Amazon doesn’t work for you. They’ll screw you just as easily as they’ll reward you. And you’re not unique in that. They treat their own employees so badly even white collar workers rarely stay longer than two years.Get over your illusion that Amazon cares about you. Only then are you in a position to do business with it

          And here we go again with the accusations and condemnations without proof. First of all, who said Amazon works for us? What we have said is that, at the moment, their model works for us. Not that there is any sort of employer-employee relationship. Each and every one of us knows there is always the possibility that they will do something we don’t like and that may be seen as “screwing” us. Why? Because it is business. They are in it to make a profit and so are we. Right now, the profit for us is with Amazon. As for how Amazon treats its employees, “even white collar workers” and how they “rarely” stay more than two years, there’s another blanket statement without proof. But that seems to be your thing, doesn’t it?

          I suggest before you return with another screed against Amazon that you do your homework, look at what the prime price points are for selling e-books and actually answer some of the questions that have been posed to you instead of just going off on another anti-Amazon rant. Otherwise, we will have the proof that you really are a troll and turn everyone loose on a rousing game of whack-a-troll. We’ll enjoy it but I’m not sure you will.

          May 25, 2014
          • “Amazon doesn’t work for you.”

            Newsflash, genius: NO ONE works for you unless you have a specific contract for them to. That’s why you have your own “buyer’s agent” when buying a house.

            And as for your tripe about search results, every search I’ve run for products on Amazon not only presents lower priced choices through Amazon itself, but presents a list of external sources.

            May 25, 2014
        • “Amazon was sending customers who ought to buy my book to that edition.”

          The sense of entitlement in that statement is staggering.

          May 25, 2014
          • Having looked at the list of books he’s “published” and seeing that they are all re-covered public comain works, I suddenly understand much about him.

            May 25, 2014
        • SBP #

          “My book, Across Asia on a Bicycle is the best edition on the market and hence the bestselling.”

          That is not “your book”. It is a public domain book which can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg for free.

          From what I can see, virtually all of “your” books consist of public domain texts to which you have added some (unknown) amount of original commentary.

          I’m not denying that this can have value (there are a lot of crappily-formatted PD books out there), but calling them “your” books seems to be a bit much, don’t you think?

          May 25, 2014
    • To give specifics, if you have a $20 ebook, Amazon is paying you $7.00. B&N is paying you $8.00 and Apple is paying you $14.00.

      And the customers are paying you nothing because $20 is an extreme outlier for eBook pricing.

      It would be a bit more useful if you used a more typical price point for comparing eBook royalties, say between $6-9 for eBooks from Trad publishers (But then, the author gets only a fraction of the resulting royalty) and typically $4-6 for indy. (lower for short works).

      May 24, 2014
      • No, ebooks from $20 and up are quite common for books that cost a lot to develop and have limited sales, including textbooks and specialized professional titles, such as a nursing book. You’ll find disturbingly few in the $20 price range though, because Amazon’s royalty scheme means that they need to price a book in the $50 price range ($17.50 in Amazon royalties) to earn what Apple would pays them for an ebook selling for $25 (also $17.50 in royalties).

        That’s why those who blast publishers for these overpriced ebooks are missing their real target. It’s Amazon’s royalty scheme that forces them to charge those inflated prices.

        Even fiction writers often find situations where they’d like to price a book over $9.99 without getting shafted by those 35% royalties. Imagine a popular writer who has five books in a series that sell well for $4.95 each. To help new readers, he’d like to offer a five book anthology for a bit less than the price of five separate books which is about $25. He’d quite willing to sell than anthology for $20. His readers save $5, and at a 70% royalty rate he’d get an impressive $14. Amazon, however, will only pay him 35% or $7. That means he’ll be selling five ebooks but only getting the royalties of two.

        So no, this isn’t an unusual scenario. What’s unusual are the unhealthy distortions that Amazon, with its market dominance, is introducing into ebook pricing. And honest DOJ would be going after Amazon for price fixing. Its lucrative pricing policies ensure that most books that need to be priced over $9.99 are twice as costly as they need to be.

        Hey, people this is sixth grade math. You don’t need an MBA to figure out what Amazon is doing.

        May 24, 2014
        • Eamon #

          Hey, people this is sixth grade math. You don’t need an MBA to figure out what Amazon is doing.

          You mean, selling more books for authors than anybody else?

          My name has shown up far more than needed in this thread, I’m out unless something particularly egregious pops up.

          ‘Night.

          May 24, 2014
          • Yeah. Amazon supplied my second largest source of income, beyond the one publisher I still work with, having been able to drop the others, and to stop having stress-induced disorders.
            And I’m supposed to turn on Amazon because… they also make money. Or something.
            Hey, Michael Perry, #MarxisdeadANDwrong Also get of the Marxism. That stuff will kill you.

            May 25, 2014
        • Cedar, Amanda, it’s your pigeon, but I think he’s hit all of the checklist at this point, and he STARTED with insults. Can we ban him now?

          May 25, 2014
          • Whenever you want to! I had gone to bed, and am now amusing myself reading through all of this.

            May 25, 2014
          • I just gave a response and told him to either answer the comments or expect to become the target in whack-a-mole. We’ve been nice so far.

            May 25, 2014
        • No, ebooks from $20 and up are quite common for books that cost a lot to develop and have limited sales, including textbooks and specialized professional titles, such as a nursing book. You’ll find disturbingly few in the $20 price range though, because Amazon’s royalty scheme means that they need to price a book in the $50 price range ($17.50 in Amazon royalties) to earn what Apple would pays them for an ebook selling for $25 (also $17.50 in royalties).

          I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re mistakenly conflating “royalties” with wholesale terms. Because “Kozier and Erb’s Fundamentals of Nursing (9/e)” doesn’t have a Kindle price of $76.99 on Amazon because Pearson published it through KDP for “royalties,” like we lowly indie writers/publishers do, and Amazon is forcing that price on them.

          That’s why those who blast publishers for these overpriced ebooks are missing their real target. It’s Amazon’s royalty scheme that forces them to charge those inflated prices.

          I’ve made my living in medical publishing and textbooks (including nursing) for over 20 years now, and I promise you, Amazon has nothing to do with the high prices publishers are charging for textbooks.

          May 25, 2014
    • It appears that your data is outdated.

      https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A29FL26OKE7R7B

      They also haven’t been price-fixing, which is better for the buyer, and any authors who are trying to GROW their market share. (I’d rather sell 500 books at 4.99 than 50 books at 20, especially since they’ll then rave to friends who will go “eeeh….sure, five bucks.”)

      May 24, 2014
      • You’re missing my point. Many ebooks don’t follow a lower pricing means more sales curve. Textbooks don’t. Specialized professional text don’t. They have a fixed demand. And it’s for the latter two where Amazon’s royalty scheme does literally force prices to roughly double. A publisher that needs to earn $20 per sale to merely recoup their costs in Amazon’s vile scheme has to price that ebooks at almost $60. If he prices it less, he won’t get more sales, he’ll just lose money while Amazon is profiting handsomely.

        And keep in mind that the particular books where Amazon’s policies bite the hardest are ones that people are often forced to buy. Students and nurses, people who aren’t rich, are having to pay $50 for a book that, but for Amazon, could be sold for $25.

        May 24, 2014
        • Again, you try to shift the goalposts; again, you try to ignore information you don’t like:
          https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A29FL26OKE7R7B

          If you have an issue with the books people are “forced” to buy, take it up with those doing the forcing, not those doing the selling.

          May 24, 2014
        • Eamon #

          Okay, almost out.

          Amazon is not the only venue to sell ebooks. A point I think you’ve made elsewhere. Textbooks and specialized professional texts that cannot meet their revenue goals on Amazon should be selling elsewhere. Logically, they could be selling on their own sites or through specialized distributors because of that very fixed demand you mention. Amazon only forces prices to roughly double if you insist on selling your product through Amazon and their “vile scheme.”

          Amazon’s “vile scheme” tells creators of these types of books what pricing arrangement Amazon can move those books under. The author then decides what best works for them. This is what price signalling is If the creators are utilizing Amazon, there’s a reason. Bringing up students and nurses, people who aren’t rich? Silly emotional appeal. Text costs are a factor in education, one that is fairly consistent across text platforms. The costs are high because, as you noted it’s a small and relatively fixed market. It has been this way since long before Amazon existed. And the poor benighted students and nurses have been doing what needed done to get the texts they needed. eBooks are a convenience, and not a necessity, so there are no barrels with poor abused students held over them. Or no more than there ever was.

          Also, goalposts. Leave ’em alone.

          May 25, 2014
        • snelson134 #

          Haven’t been shopping in a college bookstore lately, have you.. The textbook price is inflated everywhere, because the students are a captive audience.

          May 25, 2014
          • Yeah, he pointed out $60 for a book. Hah! 30 years ago, my books cost $70-$100.

            May 27, 2014
            • Most of my books this coming semester? Upwards of $100-$300 because I’m in the big-girl classes this year. Now, I can and will slink around that by buying used and one edition back where I can, but three are online only and I have to grin and take that price where it hurts.

              May 27, 2014
              • These days, a new edition of a textbook means a lot less than it used to, unfortunately.

                May 27, 2014
                • Yep. And I can’t sell back an online book/code. They really figured out how to get us.

                  May 27, 2014
                  • My husband is “renting” most of his textbooks (via Amazon, appropriately enough).

                    May 27, 2014
                  • Yup, and before ebooks, their excuse for textbook prices was always the typesetting and printing costs for limited print runs.

                    May 27, 2014
        • Textbooks are not usually self-published. They come from publishers large enough to contract with Amazon and not go through the KDP program. So, using the KDP terms is, to use your own analogy, comparing apples to oranges. Consider this your warning. Stick to facts and answer the comments made to you or risk banning.

          May 25, 2014
    • Michael Perry… Now, as Foxifer kindly pointed out I’m a bit stupid. But I find several issues in your post very confusing. Back in the bad old days, publishers including the one you’re trying to favor colluded… because they wanted to control the price e-books and keep it high. They had to stop Amazon from discounting it low because that would be bad (for Authors of course – who got oh 10-15% of the income while they got the rest. But they told us it was for the authors, so that must be true. They need that money to be viable. Otherwise it becomes a chase for lower and lower prices. This they and their shills told us. Often ) B&N was their friend, helping to keep prices up. Amazon was bad to try and bring prices down. We heard it everywhere. They were going to kill authors (and in tiny print publishers, who got 90% of the money and preferred that they killed authors). Amazon evul because the e-book price can go down, so starving authors (and publishers) would die. B&N good keeping the price up so Authors (and publishers just incidentally) could survive. Now Amazon has a threshold of $2.99 for e-books to get 70% royalty rate. Which de facto puts a floor under a lot of e-book prices (mine for a start), and will in future put it under others, because that’s how human greed and commerce work. Barnes and Noble you inform us do us a great kindness by not ripping us off by keeping the rate 40% below this. So now Barnes and Noble are now good because the e-book price can go down, And Amazon are Evul incarnate by applying a pressure that keeps it up. I’m confused. Like Amanda I make a lot more off Amazon than I do off any of the others, because my main sellers are priced to get me 70% rather than the maximum 65% I can get from anyone else. I might be stupid but I do know that if I want a book to earn me 70% it’s got to be above a price threshold.

      But aside from your hunches (have you tried roulette?) I am still a little mystified as to why supporting a company -Hachette, which IIRC pays 25% of Nett to authors (or in other words probably around 12-14%) is better than Amazon who IF your hunch pans out (any good stock tips?) pay authors 35% or possibly if you’re wrong… 70%. Or do you mean it would be a good thing to support B&N? Hmm. They’ve done their level best to trash my career twice with their decisions. And oddly Amazon have saved my bacon both times. They also pay, every month, on time, in full, according to the transparent accounting they instituted. My publishers don’t. Like most of them, including Hatchette, late is their norm, and the accounting totally opaque and the share I get makes 35%, let alone 70% seem generous. I’ve been kept in food and a roof over my head by those Amazon payments, which I’ve never had to ask for, beg for, or felt were not accurate. So maybe if Hachette, and the other publishers want this author’s loyalty, they need to be a lot more like Amazon… at least about payment.

      May 25, 2014
    • Draven #

      ‘only’ 60%…

      The work i did for White Wolf, I got paid something like 2.5 cents per word. Their ebook copies on DrivethruRPG still cost $30 and I get nothing from it.

      Traditional publishing, you would get what, 7%?

      May 26, 2014
      • Yeah, just about. 6 percent for paperbacks. And the games Berkley plays to avoid paying me even that on the numbers which are already played with (guys, the first Dyce book was on shelves for FOUR YEARS. You know how bookstores replace books that aren’t selling. Like hell I barely earned out the 5k advance. It’s not unlikely — it’s FARGIN IMPOSSIBLE) have to be seen to be believed.

        May 26, 2014
  14. Meh, companies fight with each other all the time over getting a better deal. Companies, like people, don’t always make the choices that best suit their their needs in either the long term or short term. This, too, shall pass.

    May 24, 2014
    • Kate Paulk #

      And until it does, there’s going to be a lot of smell and noise.

      May 24, 2014
      • Eamon #

        *snort*

        Thanks for the delicate image…

        😀

        May 24, 2014
    • Ah, if only that were so in this case. But the reality is that, if a giant like Hachette loses, then we independent authors and small publishers don’t stand a chance.

      And don’t forget that an Amazon win over Hachette isn’t a retailing win over publishing. It’ll give Amazon the resources to weaken and even destroy it competitors, hurting almost everyone but Amazon.

      May 24, 2014
      • Oh, Holy Bullsh*t batman. You know, I do work with all these houses. I have a “How to beat Amazon in three easy steps” but none of the competitors will do it.
        a) make your f*cking interface as easy and your conversion as simple and foolproof as Amazon’s. DON’T send me back snide emails about formatting that works great everywhere else.
        b) allow me to beam stuff from your site to kindle that works in it. If you have an ereader, great for you, but make sure I can also upload my Amazon library to it. I’m not going to ditch my investment in Amazon even if I DO like your reader.
        c) Attract CUSTOMERS by having an easy, clean interface and ease of searching.

        NONE of them do that. Most don’t do any of the three. This is not Amazon’s fault, but theirs. So, Amazon’s overwhelming advantage? They’re handing it to Amazon.

        May 26, 2014
        • Eamon #

          NONE of them do that. Most don’t do any of the three. This is not Amazon’s fault, but theirs. So, Amazon’s overwhelming advantage? They’re handing it to Amazon.

          ^This.^ And worse, they’re making decisions in opposition to their best interests that are, as near as I can tell, solely to spite the big bully of Amazon.

          See: B&N’s refusal to stock Amazon imprints in their stores. Amazon offers to send their customers to B&N’s brick and mortars (something Amazon does not have) and instead of saying “Sure! And then I’ll see what else I can sell ’em while they’re here!” they say “No. We don’t want to taint ourselves.”

          Idiots.

          May 26, 2014
          • According to a friend of mine who dabbles in it, the one advantage B&N has is it’s a bit friendlier to Erotica. He also asked me why I don’t have Kiwi on it. No, they weren’t connected statements.

            Well, I never really managed to get through Smashwords, and so today I was looking at B&N, trying to figure out which of the fifteen different domains they have is the one for ebook publishing (nookpress.com as it turns out). I suppose I can live with the “We’ll sit on your money until you have $10” thing. That won’t bother me when I’m famous (snort).

            May 26, 2014
  15. Robotech_Master #

    Technically, the publishers settled without admitting guilt, at least legally speaking. It’s kind of academic given that Apple was found guilty of colluding with them, and you can’t have a collusion without other colluders, so you could say they were found guilty by association.

    May 24, 2014
    • Yes, and technically all royal children were the king’s but there’s a reason we say “more bastards than a royal family line”

      May 24, 2014
    • Kate Paulk #

      Yes, and *technically* there’s nothing at all wrong with the sales numbers the publishers give their authors. Despite this there’s an awful lot of people – including IP lawyers – who are pretty sure the *real* reason the publishers settled was because if a forensic accountant ever got hold of those books there’d be a LOT of editorial and other staff doing time.

      This will of course remain speculation until a forensic accountant does get to examine the books. There are, however, rather a lot of examples of physically impossible sales numbers being given to authors as justification for non-existent or ridiculously low royalty payments.

      May 24, 2014
    • Actually, even giant publishers can’t afford to fight the federal government. Only Apple has the deep pockets to do that and Apple had bad luck in the judge they drew. At a website where lawyers rate judges, she’s got ratings for temperament and objectivity in the 1-2 point range on a ten-point scale. You can see that here:

      http://www.therobingroom.com/RatingListing.aspx?ID=1403

      May 24, 2014
      • Robotech_Master #

        Because people who lost cases before her are naturally going to be neutral and unbiased, and would never think of trying to blame someone other than themselves for screwing up their legal arguments.

        May 26, 2014
        • comment of the thread, Robotech_Master. And of course lawyers never try to pervert the course of justice, weaken the reputation of those that don’t ‘co-operatively’ see things their way, or take petty revenge. They have such a shining reputation for integrity.

          May 26, 2014
  16. Alright, quick scan won’t find me the response, possibly it was elsewhere… someone claimed that losing Amazon won’t lose the publisher the share of books that they currently sell via Amazon because the hard core fans will go elsewhere for the books.

    That ignores that Amazon also pushes the books on folks who couldn’t give two toots about the publisher’s big name authors, and only tried them out because they were suggested. And all future hard-core fans that would be recruited via Amazon. And that third parties will still sell the books on Amazon– I got my daughters the first ten books in the Hank the Cowdog series, and every single one of those is personally shipped by the authors. A lot of them are still on Amazon, just at higher prices. (I emailed to ask and the husband sent a very nice letter back; yay, old ranchers!)

    May 24, 2014
    • Foxfier — NO writer ever has enough hardcore fans, anyway.

      May 24, 2014
      • True – while hardcore fans will crawl over broken glass to buy anything with the author’s name on it, their numbers are often quite limited. What a writer needs is a large cadre of softcore fans (no safe words needed for these folks) who are willing to part with some beer money to get the author’s latest work because they remember the author gave them a good read the last time around. (“Hey, here’s a Kindle book by the lady who wrote that Darkship book, and it’s only a few bucks. What the hell.” *click*)

        May 24, 2014
      • Especially the writers of Dinosaur Porn….

        May 25, 2014
    • All I know is that I try more new fiction from Amazon when I can do it for $5 or less. Authors I know I like (like Sarah) I’ll pay more, but paying hardcover prices for an e-book ain’t happening.

      May 24, 2014
      • Amen.

        May 24, 2014
      • You’re exactly right snelson134. That’s why the DOJ’s pursuit of the Big Six was so ridiculous. Let the industry giants overprice their books. It’ll only help the sales of smaller publishers and less-known authors.
        And eventually, they’d come to their senses and price ebooks more reasonably.
        Corporate executives don’t like being bossed around by lawyers and courts. This legal squabble will probably make that learning process move slower and take longer.

        May 25, 2014
        • Their pursuit for PRICE FIXING and forcing customers to pay more was ridiculous?
          Good NIGHT. You’re drunk or stupid. Stop this.

          May 25, 2014
    • Foxfier – he’s really, really good people. My mentor is a cousin-in-law of his, and we’ve met a few times. If you can find them, his books about cowboying are great, as is “Through Time and The Valley” about the Canadian River.

      May 25, 2014
      • I plan to buy all the Hank books first, bit by bit. Too bad we didn’t have $200 for that nice big discount on the whole series.

        May 25, 2014
        • Oh!

          Their store:
          http://shop.hankthecowdog.com/Set-of-63-Hank-Paperbacks-avg-419/productinfo/PA63/

          When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to read anything above what I was “tested” at reading for, until they put me in special ed and the teacher basically said my therapy was to pick anything I wanted.

          Somebody must’ve really liked him– or been a cousin or something– because every single paperback that had been printed at the time was there, and I read them all. Several times.

          May 25, 2014
  17. Jeez, can I be set up or something to NOT get auto-moderated for posting a single Amazon link?

    May 25, 2014
    • Unfortunately no. It’s WordPress and it ignores OUR settings (two links or more.)

      May 25, 2014
      • That’s why it surprised me, it was only one link.

        May 25, 2014
      • Oh, I misread, your setting is two links or more, and that’s getting ignored.

        May 25, 2014
  18. Just added this quote to my collection of links I’m compiling at my personal blog, and thought it should go here, too. From a legend of Science Fiction, Jerry Pournelle. “Of course they pay it to the publisher. Now if that publisher – the one who posted it on Amazon – is me or my agent, as it is whenever our contracts allow that, the money comes directly to me. If it goes to one of the Big Five publishers, they collect the money, and collect the money, and collect the money, and after a year they send a check for the amounts collected during the period of one year to six months ago; then they wait six months to send any more. Sorry. I’m getting off the subject. But the point is that Amazon has publicly said that one of their goals in the book selling business is to keep authors happy. I do not believe that any of the Big Five publishers has that as a goal.”

    May 25, 2014
    • Thank you Cedar and thank you Jerry, who btw has more publishing creds than anyone alive, so he should know.

      May 25, 2014
      • Old, white male. Probably racist. Certainly cisalpine sexist. Skim Until Offended, Discount, Attack-Attack-Attack, Lather, Rinse, Repeat…

        May 25, 2014
  19. Reblogged this on Elene Sallinger and commented:
    I happen to agree here…

    May 25, 2014
  20. Nice one, Cedar.

    May 25, 2014
  21. Theo Black #

    All of this is food for thought. I agree that the problem here is not Amazon, it’s that independent authors including myself haven’t figured out how to pick up the marketing function that publishers perform for the lucky few writers they can take on. Absolutely correct that this is a business issue, not a moral one.

    May 25, 2014
    • If you read the http://www.accordingtohoyt.com site, there are weekly book-plugs– it’s at least as good as an end cap from the publisher.

      May 25, 2014
    • Console yourself. Publishers don’t even perform it for the “lucky few writers they can take on” — they perform it for maybe 5% of those. The extent of publicity I’ve had is from Baen and it’s not MAD publicity. The other houses? NOTHING.
      So, you are in the same place as everyone else, except a few darlings. Be not afraid.

      May 25, 2014
      • Theo Black #

        Good words. Thx.

        May 25, 2014
  22. Jack Millis #

    Thanks for posting this. I got a Kindle when they first came out, then a couple of years later I bought this Kindle Fire. I would not have come across authors that I thoroughly enjoy AND I probably wouldn’t have been able to find a re-release of a book that has been out of print for years. But most impressive to me is that Amazon is donating 5% of all purchases thru a specific Amazon.com website to help restore our temple that sustained damage during a recent fire.

    May 26, 2014

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