The corporate heel crushing poor publishers (who prefer to do the crushing)
The outrage on a largely Trad published writer’s list I belong to on reading Matthew Yglesias putting forward this article was… so thick you could cut it with a knife. That was more than I could say about the response from one of the pampered intersectional dahlings – she’s of course entitled to restitution because she’s been oppressed twice (or so you ought to know and suitably grovel) which (I paraphrase) was that Amazon is an evil giant corporation and just interested in making money, and didn’t people understand the psychology of it?
Ain’t no knife tough enough to cut that.
It’s quite difficult, and I say this as a largely self-sufficient nutbar, to be ‘free’ of corporates. They certainly are involved in everything – from her bank account, her food, her internet, her cell phone, her mortgage, and yes, her sainted publisher. And as far as I can work out, any bits that aren’t corporate in the average urban dweller’s life are most probably run on taxes, which, um you’ll find corporates (including her sainted publisher holding corporate,) do their best to let someone else – like a working stiff, pay. Private individuals or small or family companies… get shafted. But as someone once said power corrupts, but we need electricity, and yes, everyone – including her, including me, would prefer to pay as little tax as possible.
For us it’s just less possible.
Corporates, in theory at least, do try to make money. That’s understandable, and something one can work with. Of course, they’re also bureaucracies – or, unless severely an constantly pruned by their shareholders, develop into that. And bureaucracies (of which governments are subset) only make money (or anything else) for others as a bare minimum part of their survival strategy. If they can survive and perpetuate themselves, as much of what they harvest as they possibly can will stay with themselves, and of course their loyalists will get the crumbs.
You see, making money may be a corporate strategy – which doesn’t mean the loyalists are favored, but those make most money for them, but for bureaucrats… it’s about control, power and a personally comfortable (and lucrative) fief. The can work hand-in-hand, and you can design your corporate so that in theory HR will not quietly filter for their own kind (their purpose, they are the genitals of the corporate beast) in at the expense of making money – but it is a constant struggle (and yes, I see it in Amazon too). The key of course is making their survival dependent on keeping customers and suppliers happy for a long time.
They think the best way of doing this is to have them entrapped, and fungible.
Oddly, very strange, that’s good for bureaucrats, bad for customers, suppliers, and yes, the long term future of the business. Because neither customers nor suppliers are really that fungible. In reading and writing, much, much more so. I’m sorry, Ms PC Blossom’s Grey Goo book of Bad Western Men will not replace the latest Sarah Hoyt, or David Weber without my blinking an eyelid, or withholding my money.
If Corporates want to enslave me… as a writer, they need provide something I need, and do a better job than I can myself (two things come first to my mind here: firstly impeccable record-keeping and accounting; and secondly effective retail marketing. Both are things that evil coroporate Amazon does well. Both are things all Trad publishers do for varying degrees of bad. Yglesais is right. They need to up their game, instead of hoping authors will do it for them, for free, and without noticing that Amazon allows up to the minute accounting transparency and rapid (by comparison) regular monthly payment. And as a reader, they need to give me something I can’t get easier, cheaper and better elsewhere.
My psychology, which I am sure is vastly inferior, says I kind of like both sides of that deal, as reader and as a writer. I hope they make some money out of it, as a reward for not feeding bureaucracy.
I hope I do too. I’m kind of sick of being delicate about the weight of the crushing heel.