[T]he narrative that Amazon wants you to believe—that publishers make books more expensive than they need to be and keep authors from making money—is a lie.
A world where everyone self publishes will mean fewer authors making a living and fewer books that reach their full potential as art. Period.
All the hats off to Penguin and Macmillan for holding their ground in what is clearly a poor attempt to give Amazon yet another advantage in the e-book market. Aren’t we supposed to oppose monopolies in this country? Anyway. If you’re interested in the fate of literature (and if you’re following me I hope to god you are), give it a read. Very short.
Only about $1.25 of the price you pay for a physical book is actually going into the paper, glue, binding, etc. The bulk of the money is going to the production of a quality product - from attracting talented writers with advances to insightful editing, careful copyediting, and marketing to help the book stand out.
When Amazon sells the eBook version of a print book for $9.99 they’re absorbing the loss in order to control the market. But if the publishers all go under, leaving Amazon as the only viable source for books, Amazon will be then forced to create an inferior product to keep prices down. They can’t edit, copyedit, design, and promote books without additional costs. And if you need proof, just look at the eBook originals that Amazon sells now. Typos everywhere, whole books plagiarized off of internet sources, design like reading a Word Document and no way to tell which books will be good because there are just 25 million titles and aside from a few “top 10” lists, no way to discern quality (especially when 5-star ratings on Amazon can be bought).
Meaning that, once the publishers and booksellers do go under, we’ll all be looking at a market full of inferior quality books. Think about a book you really love - one that’s helped you solve problems, or inspired your creativity, or fueled your imagination, or provided hours and hours of entertainment… is that worth only $10 and no more? Think fast, because in a few years, you might not have the choice.
The retailer’s growing list of critics, however, argue that Amazon has $48 billion in revenue but hardly any profit, proof that its approach is opportunistic and unsustainable. When traditional publishers, booksellers and wholesalers are destroyed, these opponents say, Amazon will be left with a monopoly that will be detrimental to the larger health of the culture.
This article sums up the problem with Amazon really well. Also, kudos to EDC for dropping them!
I feel the need to post this article solely because of how completely outraged it made me. Sorry, Forbes, keep your business ideas out of my publishing.
Don’t insult traditional publishing or call it old-fashioned. Art is old-fashioned, if old-fashioned means that it takes a lot of time, sweat, dedication and love. Mass-production says nothing of quality. And just because Amazon may have the “means” to handle publishing (although I think that means is really dedicated editors, which they don’t have) they’re not going to use their money on actually ensuring a book’s quality. Why do we need agents, accused here as being middlemen? Well because big companies (like Amazon) can take advantage of writers, and not many people whose chosen profession is clacking away at a keyboard are experts in copyright law or deciding what rights to sell or for how much. Agents protect writers, they have the writer’s best interest at heart (at least that’s what a good agent does). And if the only books this article can site as not being able to pick up traditional publishing the first go-around are John Grishams I am so incredibly far from convinced.
Found this blog mentioned on Twitter, and I had to post it. It’s a genuine, and incredibly sad, post by a man who has “published” seven titles with Amazon, and has only sold 24 copies, earning him a total of $10.50. And of course that’s the case, if anyone can be “published” through Amazon, then why would you buy the book? The buyer has no idea of what level of quality they’ll be getting, but it’s probably not up to par. And of course Amazon is too busy trying to suck the life out of independent bookstores (and Barnes and Noble) to bother publicizing those poor writers. This is why Amazon isn’t the answer. This is why we need publishers, now more than ever. Publishers and editors aren’t middlemen between us and writers, they improve quality, they publicize, they make sure that their writers are treated well and that we, the readers, hear about them outside of the goddamn internet.
Writing takes, among other things, an almost insane amount of stubbornness and work. It’s one of the main things that this novel is about, at its core, and the solution, I’ve found, is to always have trusted friends nearby who can keep pushing you onward.
Kristopher Jansma, (on the upcoming publication of his first novel)