Amazon, the online Juggernaut of books and a whole bunch of other stuff, has been in the news again in regards to book prices and deals with publishers. Negotiations are with the publisher Hachette and neither, no doubt, will want to give in.
The negotiations center around e-book prices and co-op deals (go here David Gaughran’s post for a decent explanation). Amazon has been accused of delaying delivery on books, saying a book is out of stock and pointing customers to another book, and saying several books aren’t available for a few weeks. If true, all of these tactics are very underhanded and petty. Or if Hachette is just running a smoke and mirrors PR campaign, that is equally underhanded and petty.
What lies at issue for me is both companies are playing with people’s lively hoods and passions. I understand companies wanting decent contracts that favor themselves and the other side not wanting to give in because they want something favoring themselves as well. They are businesses and the purpose of a business is to make money. When that battle involves someone’s work, the battle affects more than the company. Publishers clearly need to get with the times and update their antiquated contacts. Much like the legal industry has come to understand, publishers need to realize business is done differently today. Technology has changed the way books can be accessed, printed, and distributed.
There are scores of writers out there who have taken the self-publishing route and Amazon does a good job at offering these writers a way to sell their books. There are also scores of writers who don’t want to go with self-publishing route and want to sign with a traditional publisher. Both of these types of writers should have the option of pursuing what works best for them. Traditional publishers need to step outside of the box they are so entrenched in and start looking at different types of books/writers. Stop pursuing the next 50 Shades or the next Dan Brown. Start looking at something that is a bit different and doesn’t fit the mold of the next best seller or fit into an easily identifiable category. Take a chance and change how they do business.
I do not own an e-reader (yes I could download on my phone/tablet/laptop, but I like physical books, sorry) so I may have a slightly skewed viewpoint, but that’s Okay. Everyone should have a viewpoint. I do not want Amazon to be the only book seller out there (I don’t think they want that either). I don’t want Barnes and Noble to close. I don’t want to see another indie bookstore close. All of these retailers offer choices to the customer, which is good for everyone.
Choice is what is needed, for the seller, the buyer, and most importantly, the writer. The writer is who I love, who I look forward to when a new book is set to come out, who I don’t want to see be limited or, worse, discouraged and give up. So Amazon, Hachette, and whoever is next: get it together. Figure out a new way to do business. Stop living in the box and take a chance. You aren’t the important ones here. The writer and the reader are.