“Real” books, contracts and “evil” Amazon

I’m neck deep in final edits for Duty from Ashes, the second book in the Honor & Duty series written under the pen name Sam Schall. Because of that, my brain has been steeped in space marines, bad guys and things that go boom and not necessarily at night. As a result, I forgot that it is Tuesday and my day to blog. Fortunately — I think — the demon kitten oh-so-helpfully got me up. After extricating my hand from his claws and staggering into the kitchen in search of coffee, I started scanning my usual sources for topics for today’s post. Oh my, did I find some.

Let’s start with this article from USA Today. I knew from reading the headline that it was probably something that would have my blood pressure rising. After all, how else would I react to “Real books can defeat Amazon and e-books”?

Wait! What? Real books?

Then I started reading and I realize the headline was only the beginning.

The book business believes that Amazon is unfair in the way it sells books. It believes, in fact, that Amazon in its sales practices β€” pressuring the book publishers to lower their prices and profits β€” is the enemy. Amazon’s ultimate design, publishers believe, is to ruin them or to wholly shift the center of gravity in the business from the creators of books to Amazon, the dominant seller.

Oookay, yet another journalist — and I use that term loosely — who believes that the publisher is the creator of books. It always amazes me when someone who writes for a living is so willing to hand over the title of creator to the entity that simply distributes the created work. Folks, think about it. Publishers publish. They arrange for distribution and sales channels. They do NOT create the book unless you are looking solely at the printing or conversion into digital format.

But let’s continue.

The book business response has been to protest hotly and try to wage a moral war against what it sees as an immoral competitor β€” having, for instance, its writers sign petitions and ads.

Moral? Huh? I’m not even sure where to start here. It is moral to keep royalties low and to manipulate royalty reports through the use of BookScan, which does not report every sale or even every sales outlet? It is moral to have their authors sign petitions and ads and then deny that they, the publisher, had anything to do with it? Funny, that isn’t exactly my definition of moral.

I am not surprised that Amazon’s attempt to maximize its profit is seen as immoral. Clearly the article’s author is of the ilk that believes capitalism is evil and succesful businesses should give up their profits in an attempt to prop up the business practices of other commercial enterprises that are killing themselves through poor decision making.

Need you more proof that the author is anything but unbiased in his belief that Amazon is evil and publishers pure?

The curious thing is that while Amazon is undercutting publishers (suggesting, in the case of Hachette, its most forceful antagonist, that both Hachette and Amazon forgo e-book profits, handing them directly to writers), publishers actually have much greater leeway to undercut Amazon.

Funny how he fails to note that this suggestion was made by Amazon in an attempt to help the authors Hachette has been accusing it of hurting. Note also that the author of the article fails to say how Amazon then, when Hachette refused this proposal, offered to pay the authors directly, without any funds coming from Hachette. That, too, was refused by the publisher. But it is Amazon that is evil and trying to “undercut” the publishers.

I will admit, the article does make one or two good points. But my real complaint is its basic premise that only publisher can save books and that e-books aren’t real books and anything coming from anyone but a traditional publisher is not a real book. It is time the article’s author, like so many publishers, come out of the cave and look around. The world has changed and product demand has changed. If publishers are to survive, they have to adapt. All the protestations against Amazon and e-books aren’t going to help.

On a related note, Hachette may have dug its heels in too deeply where Amazon is concerned. While no official announcement has been made — that I have found — sources in the know say that Amazon and Simon & Schuster have inked a new deal with puts in place a modified version of the agency pricing model. According to Publishers Weekly, the new deal will take effect the beginning of next year. The deal will allow S&S to set the price for both hard copy and e-books but will, apparently, also give Amazon some leeway to discount prices. That is the big difference between the agency pricing model that was struck down by the courts. If the story is true, then Hachette has lost some of its advantage by being the first to negotiate a new contract with Amazon. How long it will now take them to reach an agreement probably depends on how much crow Hachette and, to a lesser extent, Amazon are willing to eat.

So we are, again, at situation normal. Traditional publishing — with a few exceptions — and their proponents want to lay all of publishing’s ills at the feet of Amazon. It wants to continue the myth that there would be no books without publishers and anything but a “real” printed book is not a book. I don’t know about you, but I can read an e-book just as easily — sometimes more easily — than I can a “real” book. I can certainly enjoy them the same as I can a “real” book. More to the point, unlike those cave dwelling publishers, I know that there would be no books without the authors. THEY are the creators. Publishers are, at best, distributors these days.

And now, it’s time for me to get back to my not-book. Go write and, better yet, read a book. The author will thank you.

72 Comments

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72 responses to ““Real” books, contracts and “evil” Amazon

  1. Sure, indie books are counterfeit books, didn’t you know that? :-p

  2. E-books are not real books? They miss the point. Books are an evil way to put story tellers out of work. You think e-books are an evil advance in technology that must be stopped? You are not regressive enough. It used to be a good story teller could make a fine living squatting by the fire ( which was a benefit right there in cold weather) and get a choice cut of Mammoth for telling a good tale. Pretty soon hunters painted vivid graphics on the cave wall and the story tellers were damaged in a way that eventually came to full maturity in Power Point.
    Mobile story telling made further inroads with the invention of stone tablets and then clay and cuneiform. People didn’t even have to go to the cave to see the pictures – the story could come to them. The media slowly improved until with a codex you could carry the story around in your pocket – and it didn’t require a share of the hunt to tell the story OVER and OVER again effectively for FREE!
    This has to be stopped and things brought back to their natural origins. Why the next thing you know they’ll figure out how to do the same thing to Ogg who chants and beats a log to get fed.

    • I have misplaced my like button. (This us especially amusing to me as verbal storytelling is currently the way my stories get in front of audiences.). Oh and warn ogg that they’ve replaced his drum with a variety of contraptions covered in skin and his chanting us being threatened by a thing called ‘rap’.

      • Robin Munn

        OG NO CAN SPELL “MAMMOTH CRAP” WITHOUT “RAP”!

        Sorry for the caps; they just came out that way. Apparently Og doesn’t believe in this newfangled “lowercase” nonsense.

    • Bonus points for the shot at PowerPoint!

      You really need to expand this into a full-blown blog post/article. That would just be epic.

    • riteturn – Mackey Chandler wins! Fatality! Flawless Victory!

    • I’m one of those actual storyteller types and must concur with this assessment.

      Before these newfangled book things, stories lived and breathed and changed with the teller. Stories were like wild critters, running free. Then someone trapped them in books and they withered and died. Now stories are just stored on a shelf, like taxidermy projects. Left to grow old and musty and never, ever changing.

      You want to know what killed stories? Books did! As a result, I’ve been forced to do fewer storytelling performances so I can dedicate more time to stuffing and mounting my stories for book publication.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Not everyone likes the idea of a story changing from one teller to the next, or even from one telling to the next. I can’t stand concerts, because they change the music that I expect to hear, and that makes me want to pull out the musicians’ fingernails.

    • then someone came up with the concept of bards, singers and thieves in one and that killed the roaming story teller business. πŸ˜›

  3. Remember folks, when you’re a biased journalist, you never let the facts get in the way of the narrative!

  4. I personally like the feel of a ‘real’ paper-and-ink book. But…
    they take up a huge volume of space, while a Kindle is relatively tiny and holds thousands of words, which is what really defines a book. My iPad is larger, clearer, and can display larger words which are easier on my old eyes. Nothing traditional publishers can say will change that; I can carry a suitcase full of books on vacation, just as an example, or one iPad.
    There’s also the cost factor; I’ve often purchased a book at the airport, boarded the plane, read the book, then discarded it rather than pack it in an already stuffed suitcase. And bought another book for reading in the hotel.
    Technology has passed traditional publishing. Gutenberg put copyists out of business, the devices that store and display thousands of books and magazines in one tiny electronic device have put traditional publishers out of business. Amazon is just one source that gets those books into my viewer. At the moment, Amazon leads; but Apple, should it ever realize that book sales have more profit potential than music sales, has the capability (and financial resources) to take over the market from Amazon.
    ALL the companies are merchandisers; the don’t create, they buy products at a discount and sell them at a profit.
    But Apple adds something Amazon doesn’t; it has a paid staff of ‘creators’, people who design devices and write software as well as sell. As soon as they realize that authors could be valued as the company’s employees currently are, as a source of long-term profit rather than cash cows to be milked immediately, that option is waiting. It’s what traditional publishers do, sign authors to contracts so that future output is ‘owned’ by a company.
    So far, I don’t think any of the e-book purveyors is attempting to do that. There’s no need; the author of a bestseller is offered the same rates, so far as I know, that I am. I get marketing tools for publishing exclusively with Amazon for a set period, but that’s it; I don’t get better domestic royalties. So when I DO write that bestseller, I’ll happily market it through anyone who will pay me.

    • There’s something close to your last point, where Amazon gives authors who go exclusively with them access to additional, and possibly more profitable sales channels.

    • You’re right about Apple. But for it to really become a serious contender against Amazon, Apple is going to have to change its mindset about how content is uploaded to it and it is going to have to be less restrictive about the use of certain apps. Not every author has a Mac or can afford one — and that is a necessary component if you want to upload to iTunes (or it was the last time I did it). Then there is the ebook creation app (sorry, it’s morning and I don’t recall what it is right now) that creates ePub files that Apple’s license says can only be used to make them for iTunes. If you use it for other stores, Apple can demand a cut of your royalties.

  5. Bringing authors and readers together more easily than ever before, giving more options to authors allowing them to get paid more is apparently a great evil. @_@

    • All hail Beelzabezos! (stolen from a tee-shirt available at ThePassiveVoice.com)

    • But how dare they actually make books easier to get and make it easier for authors to get their work into the hands of the masses. How can we guarantee the masses, who can’t judge for themselves, are reading what we want them to read without the gatekeepers? (Going to rinse out my mouth now.)

  6. robfornow

    This paper books over eBooks is the part that gets me annoyed the most. I too prefer paperbacks; but, the accessories necessary to a paperback are a pain sometimes. Easy chair, good light, privacy to read in peace are necessary to good paper reading. Reading a book on a crowded airplane is the same either way. It’s the writer’s ability to take your mind away from the constantly shifting in his seat neighbor that counts. What really annoys me is the Facebookers and their obsession with paper and posting Huffington Post book recommendations (Message books) for young people. It’s more the implication that it is only the books produced by the big five that qualify as ‘reading material’ I have a tendency to think of them as progressive coffee table books myself. That and the/my sour grapes of their ignoring my recommendations that they get ‘good indie books’ for their kids.

    • Robfornow, I hear you. Frankly, I don’t care what format a book is in as long as it does what I want it to do — entertain if it is fiction, give me information I’m looking for if it is non-fiction. As someone said above, I do tend to read more e-books now because I can adjust the size of the font and can carry a kajillion books with me on my iPad or tablet or kindle or whatever platform. It is also nice to be able to connect to the internet, open up Amazon’s site and get a book basically instantaneously. But books are books, no matter what their format.

  7. Uncle Lar

    Will repeat a post I put up over on Sarah’s FB Diner that illustrates how Amazon is actively supporting anyone remotely interested in going indie.
    TradPub only ever had three things going for it: cash advances, author support, and a lock on the market. Advances have gotten thinner by the day, support is scarce to nonexistent, and that lock’s been picked. Then you have Amazon actively providing stuff like what’s described below. I’d say Hachette et al need be very afraid indeed.

    For a variety of reasons I went ahead and registered with Kindle Direct Publishing, mostly just to check out the process and see what they had available in aids and assistance.
    Just got their October newsletter. Will take some time to digest all that’s in it, but one of the featured bits was about Kindle World where they are making select author’s worlds available for anyone to write in. The premise presented is fanfic made legitimate. Not sure how I feel about this, but what an interesting concept.
    If nothing else, I strongly suggest any potential writer go ahead and register with KDP. It’s free and seems to offer a good bit of potential.

    • Keith Arnold

      Uncle Lar: I saw that post you put up yesterday at the Diner, and Sarah’s link an hour ago to this post. Like you, I registered with KDP about eight months ago, and I’m nursing an ongoing fantasy about finishing my project, publishing it, and someday being able to quit my day job.

      I think what frosts me the most about the article was the phrase “pressuring the book publishers to lower their prices and profits.” Vigorous writing is concise, and Strunk & White would have replaced that whole bleat with a single word: “competing.” Competition in the marketplace based on price is far removed from immoral; in fact, the brick-and-mortar publishing houses that have honed the fine art of simultaneously screwing authors on royalties while gouging the buying public on price have much to answer for, and are part of the reason e-books have taken off.

      I have to confess that I’m a latecomer to e-books; for far too long in the technology cycle, I was a book snob, ever ready to pronounce disdain for people who didn’t understand the superior experience of paper brushing against one’s fingers. That lasted until my wife gifted me with a base-model Kindle, which I barely used for my first six months. Two years later, my Kindle is stuffed to capacity, and my backup archive on my home computer would make Henry Bemis salivate.

      As I dusted off my renewed desire to write, several authors regaled me with their stories of how much they enjoyed the Kindle model and found it more fair than their prior experiences with the brick-and-mortar publishers. With a little luck, I’ll have similar accounts to share in the not-too-distant future. Thanks for the encouragement —

    • ah playing in another authors world. There’s an anthology of one of those worlds stories written by other people coming out…late next year I think and bet your ass I’ll buy it.

    • Uncle Lar, Amazon is no angel but it is certainly better than a lot of the alternatives, traditional publishing included. Just the fact that I can now find books I want to read is reason to celebrate what Amazon has done. Of course, the fact that it also allows me to sell my own books — and make money doing so — is also something I very much appreciate.

      I’ll admit, I’m torn on the Kindle World experiment. Yes, it does allow you to play in someone else’s sandbox but your rights and the monies you make from it are severely limited. I would rather put that sort of effort into writing in my own worlds and not having to give up my rights. But that may be because I haven’t done any real fanfic writing since I was in school and that was back in the stone age. πŸ˜‰

  8. David, internet troll

    I am in the enviable position of being on the cusp of finishing my first novel. (I will probably get the darn thing done before November 1, then what am I going to do in November while all the cool kids are doing NaNoWriMo?) I have been thinking about what I want to do with the book. I have toyed with the idea of submitting to traditional publisher(s) (really publisher, I am pretty sure Baen is the only one that might accept it), but I am currently unemployed and need to start doing something to help the cash flow. I have no idea whether I can sell enough copies of my book to actually do more than allow me to buy a hot chocolate occasionally, but I have heard too many horror stories about months-long waits to hear back from publishers about submissions to want to risk that.

    I think this post may have been the final nail in the “maybe I’ll try a traditional publisher” coffin. It sounds to me like I have at least as good a chance of monetizing (I hate that word) my writing doing indie as I would trying to get it published the regular way, and I will start seeing results much sooner.

    So, you have convinced at least one more idiot to throw his hat into the indie ring.

    Keep an eye out for “The Crimson Cost of Justice,” coming to a Kindle near you.

    • robfornow

      Another way of looking at it is as Amazon being the world’s slush pile. Only you get paid something while its being reviewed. The more sales, the more money coming in, will tell the publishers that you may be worth looking at. Larry Corria did that, Baen saw his writing and signed him up. That’s better than having a 22 year old journalism intern judge your book for Tor.

    • “what am I going to do in November while all the cool kids are doing NaNoWriMo?”

      Write another book, of course!

      πŸ˜‰

      • LOL. So true. Of course, that was my answer until a certain Sarah we all know and love informed me I was doing NaNo with her. πŸ˜‰

    • David, first off, great news about your book.

      I don’t want to discourage you from trying to get your foot in the door of traditional publishing if that is the way you want to go. I’ll even admit here — as I have on other occasions — that I would love to have a book come out under the Baen aegis. However, you are right. It takes time. Unless you have a direct line to Toni or one of the other editors there, you have to go through the slush pile. Then, if you make it through there, you have to wait for Toni and company to get back to you and it doesn’t happen overnight.

      If you do go the indie route, make sure you have someone else put eyes on your novel before you put it up. Have them look not only for the usual proofreading stuff but for plot problems as well. Make sure you don’t leave Joe hanging off the metaphorical cliff in chapter 3, never to be heard of again. Also, look over the posts that have been done here about cover art. People do still buy with their eyes.

      Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’re here to help — just remember that we are all fighting to get work done by November so we can take part in NaNo or move on to the next project or whatever. πŸ˜‰

      • Fortunately for me, my wife is actually gainfully employed with a decently paying job. So, we actually have the wherewithal to pay for those services, and I have always planned to go ahead and get someone professional to go over the book. I have been shocked at some of the Indie stuff that got out the door, including first novels in a series that are riddled with grammatical, spelling and usage errors [I kept wanting to scream “it is MORALE officer, not MORAL officer, nitwit!” at one book]. To be fair, in at least two of the series, it appears the authors have employed professional help in their later efforts, as they greatly improve with time. I can’t imagine letting something out the door in that shape. Truth be told, if it HAD gone out like that, as soon as I got the money, I would have pulled it, had it decently copyedited, then reissued it. I couldn’t bear the thought of having something with my name on it with that many errors.

        Of course, the book isn’t actually in my name, it is in the name of my main character….Hmmmm.

      • Oh, forgot. I am pretty comfortable with art stuff. I am a twenty year veteran of video game programming, specializing in graphics, so I know my way around the usual suspects and I have a fairly decent sense of composition. I already have the font, cover composition and colors picked out. My current issue is whether I go with an old Japanese woodblock print as the main image on the cover (the novel is set in 12th century Japan), or try and get a more stylized, updated version.

        • I have been using these people: http://www.ebooklaunch.com for my cover designs, for three books now (just got cover #3 today) I’m very happy with their work. I like their prices and their turn around time is fairly quick. I’ve been using their premium level btw.
          I’m actually thinking of having them redo a couple of covers on my older books. Their covers do seem to get people’s attention.

    • David, Internet troll, my first book is now out, in both “Dead Tree” and Kindle. KDP also allows (if you have _both_ versions available), a “discount Kindle version,” if you buy the “DT” version. Mine is, CT Version $7.19, Kindle (full price) $3.99, Both available for $9.18 (if you buy the kindle version under their program). I think that’s a *great* idea. I can sell, two versions, get royalties on both, and make more money. BTW, you set Kindle and discounted version prices.
      Re: your “need for income.” I’m in a Nursing Home, on Medicaid, and I get to keep $42/month, of my income. That’s one reason I have both versions available (and an audio versions, as soon as I can come up with money). If I sell ~14,000 copies/year, I can get *off* Medicaid. (Which is why I have three cookbooks, and a “treatise” on the problems of being handicapped, in an able bodied world, coming out in 2015.

  9. ohhh you said “space marines”. Why did you do that? it sets off the serious ptsd I have over Black Library trying to copyright it and say no one else can use it. *sniff* now I’m all angsty and teary and shit. look, I’m twitching…

    • jselvy

      Games Workshop complains about theft of IP like a loan shark complains about usury.

    • Bwahahaha. I did it because I’m evil and because I have space marines in this series. As for you twitching, you don’t fool me, wolfie. You twitch in your sleep because you are dreaming of terrorizing the unsuspecting. Hehehe

      • *grumble* stop giving away my secrets Amanda. OTOH as I told someone upstream, or maybe it’s downstream in this thread actually. “someone probably should have warned you about me”

  10. Kirk

    I’ll throw this out there, right now:

    The traditional publishing model needs to die. Period.

    Stop and think about it: What the hell is copyright supposed to do, in the first place? Is its purpose not to help spread and disseminate knowledge, improving society?

    We’ve turned it into a license to steal, both from the authors and from the public in general.

    Cases in point, and one of my rather pet peeves with the way things are in this sadly diminished age: Case one, that of Isaac Asimov’s oeuvre, the fact is that a lot of his really good stuff isn’t in print, and is damned expensive to try and find. I very badly want to get my hands on a copy of his Realms of Algebra, but the used book market has those things going for sixty-seventy dollars for a ratty paperback copy. It’s also not available electronically, and it is actually probably one of the more valuable and timeless explications of algebra out there. Why the hell isn’t in the public domain, if the people who hold the copyright to it refuse to make copies available at an affordable price?

    I would hold that if the people/persons holding the copyright do not make copies affordably available, then the copyright ought to be lost. Otherwise, that whole “public benefit” theory of the copyright starts to come into question.

    Case two relates to cost. I’m desperately trying to get my hands on a copy of Anthony King’s The Combat Soldier: Infantry Tactics and Cohesion in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The library can’t get it for me, and the interlibrary loan wait is looking like a couple of years. Amazon has a copy of it, but they want something like $113.00 for the damn thing, which is straight out. I might spend that kind of money for a reference book whose quality I know, but I don’t know whether or not this work is one I would be willing to lay out that kind of cash for.

    Given that the cost these days for creating a copy of this sort of thing electronically is so low as to be almost undefinable, I’d really love to know what possible justification there is for cranking up the price to that level. Sure, it’s not a mass-market work, but… That much money, for something written by a professor at a publicly supported university, and whose salary/expenses are thus paid by the public? Mmmm… I’m not a UK citizen, but it strikes me that the public is essentially paying for this work twice. And, since it’s being used to justify changes in public policy, namely over the integration of women into the Infantry, I really think that it ought to be more available than it is. All I’ve got so far, from discussions with others, are the carefully mined quotes from it, which I really can’t argue with, not knowing the context. Sooo… Again, why is the public paying to support copyright, in this case? Where’s the general benefit?

    The system, as conceived, is broken. The circumstances in which it was conceived have changed so utterly as to make the base assumptions meaningless, and it’s past time for us to completely re-think the entire concept.

    And, hell… I’m not even touching on the whole “dead list” issue, where the publishers of fiction don’t make older works available. You have no idea how grateful I am to Baen for making P.C. Hodgell and the team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller available again. The idiot editors at their former publishing houses ought to be crucified and then burnt upon a pyre of all the other crap they chose to publish in lieu of these authors. There’s a list of people I wish were still writing, but who were apparently abandoned by their publishing house in favor of the “new hotnesses” who couldn’t write their way out of a friggin’ paper bag…

    • David, internet troll

      You can go ahead and get the book and then take advantage of Amazon’s generous return policy, after all. You have 30 days. I call it “Buy before you try.”

      • Kirk

        Nah… That’s just a tad too unethical. My sainted grandmother would purse her lips, and think badly of me, wherever she is these days. God help her, she did try to raise me better than that. And, some of it actually took.

        • how’s this for unethical? buy it, read it, scan it and put it out there.[or send it to gutenberg project. Yes I AM an evil minded wolf. someone around her probably should have warned you about me

          • Oxford University Press says there is an ebook, but they do not say who is selling it. I did not see it on Amazon.co.uk or Google Play, but it looks like it is just taking them awhile. (Cambridge is also slow about getting ebooks available and taking your money, and they favor selling thru Google Play.) Check Kobo et al.

    • Uncle Lar

      The good news is that traditional publishing, as your examples illustrate so well, has been fatally sick for some time now, and is in its final death throes. Or, more precisely, the traditional houses will wither and die away into small literary imprints loved by the snooty pretentious crowd while real authors self pub or write for a decent house such as Baen where they get the respect, support, and compensation they’ve so richly earned.

    • Now I can understand your peeve with the Asimov book being out of print, but quite frankly, I’ve bit the bullet and paid the price for books like that. sometime you get lucky and find something you really want for a good price and sometimes you have to “pay the $2.00” to use the old NY Jewish saying. As for the infantry book that book is in print from a University press and that price isn’t out of line for that kind of book. I’ve got a stack of books of one kind or another that I paid similar prices for. Those books have small print runs for a very limited group of interested people and the Universities have to justify the costs. On the other hand the fact that the university wants to do the book is what makes it available at all.

      • tell me about it. My sister when we were out one day last year to the used book store, paid $80 for the two volume set of The Constitution and The Supreme Court. A Documentary History. 1st edition circa 1966

    • elainethomp

      /unlurk/

      Have you tried ABEbooks.com? i can often find used books more cheaply there. . . . does a quick search for the Asimov… 54 hits, prices starting at $15, which is far better than above $50 for a ratty paperback.
      nothing so good on the Anthony King book, though.

      I, too, hate the copyright situation. There’s no justification for the copyright period being so horrendously long.

      • Alan

        A little broader search than even ABEbooks.com is addall.com – includes ABE and a bunch of others, for new books (www.addall.com) and used books (used.addall.com). A meta-meta-search if you will.

  11. David, internet troll

    Really? I just consider it the Amazon version of looking at the book in the bookstore before buying it. I probably send back about 10% of the books I get from Amazon, because they are not what I thought they would be when I got them. I don’t consider that unethical. I am buying them sight unseen, after all. If it turns out not to be what I thought it was, why shouldn’t I be able to take it back?

    • Grrrr. That was meant to be a reply to Kirk above.

      • Kirk

        I can only do that when the book or product is not as described or flawed, for some reason. Once the damn thing is in my hands after being shipped, my subconscious says “It’s not returnable, absent a flaw…”.

        Hell, about the most I can do when a book shows up damaged is write a bad review about the packaging. It’s just the way they installed the wiring, I’m afraid. Although, I do see the point you’re making, now, I just can’t do it.

        • Kirk, that’s how I am as well. I tend to check out the preview to see if the writing is something I want to read. That only leaves the physical condition of the book to be a factor in if I keep it or not — well that and did the seller send me the right book (I’ve had that happen before when buying from an Amazon Associate).

          I’ll also admit that I’m even less likely to return a physical book now, after having my e-books and print books up on Amazon, than I used to be. The reason? There is a group of readers, mainly in a particular genre, that buys your e-book, keeps it long enough to read it and then returns it for a full refund (ie, all within 7 days). It is infuriating and there has been a pattern, not only in my sales but in other authors’ I’ve talked to as well. New book comes out in this particular genre. Sales are made and then, title after title for the first month or so, returns without negative reviews and almost to the same percentage point as the book before the current one. Shrug.

  12. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    The stupid is strong with the USA Today as well. Here’s the deal folks: First and last. ANYONE who tries to tell you that the Publishing House is the creator of a book, and not the author, is a liar, a lunatic, an idiot, or a combination of those three.

    Publishers will not defeat Amazon. Because it’s only because of the stupidity of the Publishing Houses they are competing with Amazon. Amazon is nothing but one more distributor. And if they were competent at doing the things they CLAIM to do for their authors, it would be one they could use or ignore without consequence. It isn’t because Amazon is competent and they are not.

    • Thanks for the reblog! One minor nit, Amazon is in competition with them because of the KDP program. It gave us an alternative path and that, in traditional publishing’s eye, is the real problem. It let us break the chains the publishers had on us and it has shown readers that there are good books out there that don’t require the gatekeepers to make sure it is what we ought to be reading.

      • I think we’re talking past each other a bit here. My point is that if the publishers actually did their job, KDP would not represent a threat to their market share. Indie, even with Amazon’s incentives, doesn’t have the promotional or distributional mass to compete with a large, well-orchestrated campaign.

        Now, because they’re generally incompetent, and o/s of Baen and a couple others, believe the Law of Supply & Demand really doesn’t apply to them–let alone the principles of marginal costs and diminishing returns–they put themselves in a position where KDP represents a viable threat.

        And of course, I despise the gatekeepers as much as you do. πŸ˜‰

  13. My question for all of you is simple:
    Should I go exclusive with ‘evil’ Amazon? Or keep selling through multiple channels?
    This is for my latest series of course. I ask because while I’m selling a ton a month on Amazon, I’ve sold only 4 or 5 on Barnes and Noble, and maybe 60 or so on Smashwords/itunes/scribd combined over the last two months.

    But getting onto that exclusive list might increase my sales even more. If the sales on B&N and the other channels were better, I wouldn’t do it, but it seems my prime demographic is Amazon. And with Book 3 coming out next week, I’m starting to think that maybe I should switch, and bring the first two of the series over there as exclusives as well.

    What say the rest of you?

    • Oh, the point of this being, (and that I forgot to make) if Amazon is so evil, and my books are ‘not books’, why are they paying me so much money?
      If this is Amazon being evil, I wonder what their being ‘good’ would mean? They’d give me a movie deal?

      • You can’t do the whole Kindle Unlimited thing unless you are Amazon exclusive, right? That seems like an interesting prospect, I might consider exclusivity just for that.

        • Yes, I’d have to take my books off the other sellers. Normally I don’t do that, but in this case I’ve sold like 99 percent of my copies on Amazon and I’m thinking that my demographic for that series is all at Amazon. So it just might be the thing to do.
          It’s just not an easy decision to make, but I think I’ll probably go with it.

          • John, even a year ago, I might have cautioned you to think long and hard about not doing it. But now, with smartphones and tablets able to have apps from all the main booksellers, there is really no reason not to go exclusive. Owners of Apple products can download the kindle app and shop on Amazon and read mobi files without any trouble. So that hurdle is no longer all that important. But if you do go exclusive, track your sales for that first three months and see if you are losing sales or if you’ve made up for the sales from the other outlets.

            • Yeah, that’s pretty much what I’ve been thinking too. Give it a try for a quarter and see if I really like it or not. Back when I started out I’d do it for a quarter when each book came out, so I could try the free give-away promotion. I learned that those really aren’t worth it that much.
              Now with the borrow option for prime members, I’m thinking it might be worth trying again.

      • You might try it for a quarter or two — when you go exclusive with Amazon, you are agreeing to a 3 month period. Note, if you do this, you need to click off the option for auto renewal if you are considering it as a trial only.

    • My (micro)publisher and I are testing the Amazon exclusive waters with my next book and, retroactively, my first one. The publisher has seen the same level of non-Amazon sales you’re reporting with other projects, so we figure we’re not really risking more than a handful of sales by going exclusive on Amazon.

      I’ll try to come up with some useful information and, next time this subject comes up, pass it along.