The week started off with a post from Tracy Hickman, responding to the Joe Konrath post in my Sharing the Wealth last week. It’s very well done, and makes me respect him a ton more, but I guess I still don’t really understand what his biggest problem is. I think it all comes down to price, and he’s blaming that on his lower earnings. To me, price is the wrong thing to blame for this. I would argue this has more to do with a changing industry than anything else, specifically changing genres, booksellers (of which his type of fiction was so dependent), and selection.
The Hardman Writing Stylus discusses competition in the market. It makes an analogy between the car industry back at the turn of the century (the one most of us were born in, not the one we’re currently in) and authors. At that time there were a couple thousand manufacturers of cars, vs the few dozen we have now. It crowded that market, choking those that couldn’t keep up. I would say something like this will happen, but mainly because people who don’t really want to write as a career will move on to something else as they get bored or have their dreams realized.
The London Book fair opened with a keynote speech from Anthony Horowitz, who discussed how Amazon is evil. He goes on to discuss how they’ve dominated the bookseller market and don’t pay their fair share of taxes to the U.K. The horror! The thing is, he then goes on to discuss how much he loves them and that’s really the problem. So, as an author and consumer he sounds fine, it’s only as a supporter of traditional publishing that he seems to have a problem.
Amazon is discussing their vision for the future of self-publishing. It’s interesting, because they’re really just saying be a hybrid, that in a few years you’ll just be an author and no one will really look at how your portfolio is distributed. I’d like to see Fine more involved in the industry, before this I didn’t know who he was.
Forbes has a great post on how Jeff Bezos and Amazon decodes customers (brought to us by Passive Guy). This, the mindset of leaving a position for the customer at every meeting, is why they win. Passive Guy, and Amazon themselves, say they see authors as customers. I do not agree with this at this point. I love amazon, I love KDP, but I’m a supplier not a customer. Amazon’s treatment of their Suppliers has, as with any large company, been very severe and strict. It takes a lot to keep that machine running and they have no patience for anything but perfection. I hope they see us as customers, maybe that’ll keep them from dropping their royalty, but I don’t see it that way quite yet.
Scott William Carter makes the comparison between paperbacks at the turn of that aforementioned last century, and ebooks now. Cost went down, and people complained, people being everyone but the people who bought them.
Business Insider discusses Amazon’s Pat to Quit program, in which they will pay a warehouse worker $5,000 to quit. I believe they got this from Zappos (who they now own), who offers it to their customer service people after they complete their training. This is to get rid of people who don’t really want to be there, and helps cultivate a better workforce. Look, working in a warehouse is hard. Hardest work I’ve ever done. Also the most satisfying. It’s brutal and hot and sweaty, but it pays well and the dust from the belts and boxes is easier to wash out of your hair than burger grease.
David Guaghran compares price to value, and how that should apply to books. The whole, my books is worth more than that, is such bullshit. How much do you think it costs to make an ipod? You think it’s a couple hundred bucks? You’d be dead wrong, at least for the ONE ipod. If they only sold a few, it would costs MILLIONS to make an ipod. That’s how you have to think of your book. All your cost is fixed, the more you sell the more of those costs get diluted and the more money you make.
He also revisits 15 ways KDP can improve. Some have passes, others have failed, but a great analysis.
Speaking on that whole value thing, the Watershed Chronicles has an analysis of the value proposition booksellers have (or think they have) to readers and why they’re failing to find buyers. His followup is just as good.
Amazon is acquiring comiXology. I posted, I wanna say a couple weeks back, about comic book adaptions possibly becoming a thing, ala ACX. I could, very easily, see this making that happen. Amazon needs a place that sells comics to make this happen. Now they have it.
Calling it this week. Everyone have a great weekend!