This started out with me reading on my blogreel as I woke up and got ready to write today. I saw there had been a lot of activity in the Amazon VS Hachette debate and started building my Sharing the Wealth for the week.
Two hours later, I have a full article with over a dozen sources. It wasn’t hard to see that I just need to publish this as is.
The battle between these two companies is ridiculous, not because Amazon is a bully or Hachette is a snake, but because this is just a business negotiation, nothing more, nothing less, and in the end it will be nothing more than a business decision.
Don’t take my word for it though, I have a lot of people below who’ve waded in.
First, Amazon started removing buy buttons from Hachette preorders. Overall, I think this is a bad move because it really goes against the grain of the customer experience, I however could see this as a possible contractual consequence of negotiations going sour or because of alleged reports Hachette isn’t meeting its shipping deadlines. You never know, and never will know, who was forced to do what by whom.
This behavior drove many to defend Hachette and lament Amazon, including one retailer who undercut Amazon’s price. Which just sounds like a business decision rather than a show of support, but whatever. Kristin Nelson at Pub Rants called Amason a hypocrite, while Tobias Bucknell (who is, for better or worse, always the social warrior) took down his Amazon buy buttons and called for more competition in the market. Staffer’s Book Review even made the analogy of Amazon being a robber baron, with publishers as the union, come into break up their actions.
One of the things people keep accusing Amazon of is being a monopoly. The only thing I can say to that is, well, yeah, when you invent the product in the first place, you tend to have a pretty big market share. They made ebooks a thing and lead innovations in all ecommerce, that’s why they have such a big slice of it. They’ve definitely done some shady shit, just like the publisher in question, but at the end of the day they offer more value to customers and that’s why they see the success they do.
Ideatrash basically called for an all out boycott. My problem there being that, where in the hell was all this fucking injustice talk when Penguin bought Author Solutions? Where was all the talk as publishers, agents, authors have continued to label indie authors as hacks, amateurs, and rookies? As they trashed any book that hadn’t had to jump through the hoops?
Lastly, we have Lilith Saintcrow, who defends the antiquated business practices of Hachette while blasting Amazon for being a big corporation. Maybe it’s because Hachette is the smallest publisher of the Big Five, but it seems a lot of people are forgetting it is a massive company owned by an even larger publisher which is itself owned by one of the largest media coconglomerates in the world.
Luckily, there are a few people disagreeing with these statements, quite well if I might add. Joe Konrath fisked Ms. Saintcrow, responding to some comments from Scott Turow (our favorite lunatic) and James Patterson as well. As usual, these people make a business transaction into a social issue, as if Amazon is raping and pillaging authors, all the while laying no blame on the publisher.
The Watershed Chronicle also makes an argument for context but it’s TeleRead and the Almighty David Gaughran who, to me, have the best summations of the situation. As with most things, there is a lot going on here, and there is always, ALWAYS context that isn’t reported.
At the end of the day, this is a negotiation. I will guaran-damn-tee you that, right now, there are other negotiations going on with dozens, if not hundreds, of Amazon’s Suppliers. I will make the same guarantee that Hachette is negotiations with other customers. Authors are pissed because their book sales are going down, sure, but that is the unfortunate reality of being involved with a corporation. I will tell you, Amazon is not concerned about this. Bookselling stopped being their primary revenue generator a while back, and if the Random Penguin is looking at this, taking notes, thinking they’ll be able to leverage their size against the world’s largest river, they’re in for a rude awakening.
Welcome to business.