The Publishing Industry is Past Due for a Change
Authors, publishers, and agents — we all know it. If you want to sell your book online, you have to play by Amazon’s rules, and that means how you format, price, discount, distribute, and promote.
Does it nor scare anyone that not only does Jeff Bezos and Amazon have a stranglehold on the success or failure of our books, ebooks, graphic novels, and audiobooks, but they have such a monopoly when it comes to selling any good that society automatically assumes shopping means Amazon.
When it comes to our books, no matter what our publishers say or advocate for, Amazon is going to do what is the most profitable for them. For example:
- Amazon withholds ebooks from being sold to libraries — Bezos prefers you pay him for ebooks and blocks the ability for libraries to legally get copies for their patrons.
- In 2008, Amazon’s Booksurge started contacting publishers and telling them that eventually, the only print on demand titles that Amazon would be selling would be those printed by their own company — In 2009, Booksurge merged with CreateSpace, which in turn went by the wayside in favor of KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Print. You can now choose a program called KDP Select and let Amazon control your book 100%. If you only plan to deal with Amazon, this is fine. They control 80% of the book market. But if you want to go “wide” and use other services like Apple Books or Barnes & Noble, you are out of luck. You cannot even sell the book on your own website. I, for one, don’t like giving one company that amount of control over MY WORK.
Amazon holds the cards and will continue to make decisions that add to the billions of dollars in Jeff Bezos and his shareholders coffers. Sure, some authors are making thousands with Kindle, but what if Amazon decided to change everything up tomorrow?
What if they wanted 90% of your royalties instead of 40%? By that time, Amazon may have effectively quashed all competition and will be the only game in town. What if only they had complete control over what you charge for you books? What if they are the only ones with editorial rights and they only can decide on the content of your book?
Seem farfetched? Maybe. When one company has that much control over the capital flowing in and out of the publishing industry, after they get all the money, what is left?
But now, authors and publishers should be sick of giving Amazon that much control. Think about it, the publishers have lost all their power to Amazon, and even they won’t speak up because they fear for their ever-dwindling piece of the pie. They started losing money when everyone starting going indie and now Amazon is taking over everything else.
Authors are back to where we started. We used to have to cow-tow and jump through hoops for the big publishers and the agents who served them, and now Amazon has taken control, and mark my works, will start changing the rules to benefit themselves.
Are we going to let that happen?
What Are We Supposed to Do?
Amazon is successful because they cater to what the people want. More than anything, consumers want everything to be simple. They don’t want to be inconvenienced.
“Why don’t you buy that eBook from the authors website?” I say
“Nah, I’ll just buy it 1-click through Amazon, it’s easier.”
Most people will buy in favor of easy than what is right. Who cares if Amazon is a monopoly and Jeff Bezos could feed the world 10 times over if he wanted to? He will never choose to help anyone and nothing will ever “trickle-down,” so every book you buy just adds more numbers to Bezo’s already disgusting wealth.
“But, it’s just so easy. I can buy a book, and if I need underwear, or fishing lures, or a gallon jar of cinnamon, I can get that delivered too!”
The Bezos thanks you!
The only way to break up the monopoly is to start buying from Mom and Pop bookstores, and Amazon’s competitors — better yet, directly from the author themselves.
And it’s not just books. Stop buying for convienence and start doing what is right. Myself and people like me have started down this road. We bought everything on Kindle. We were part of the Amazon Associate Program and made money from other peoples purchases. We did all our Christmas shopping on Amazon.
But all that has changed. I stopped buying Kindle books and picked up ePubs, or hardbacks. I buy from the author if I can. My newest favorite is Apple Books.
We never needed the stamp of approval of the big publishing houses, and now, more than ever, we don’t need a company as disgusting as Amazon telling us how, when, why, what, and who when it comes to our books.
I realize I am taking a chance by alienating all the people who swear by, build courses about, and make money from Amazon. I realize what I say is unpopular.
“After all, who wants to make waves? Isn’t good just the way it is?”
Certainly. You can keep things the way they are, but somewhere down the road — days, weeks, months, or years — Amazon will change the game to make it more profitable for them at the expense of you — the author or publisher.
Do you think it will be any easier to change the system when they have their fingers around your windpipe with one hand, while the other goes through your purse for your last dimes and nickels?
The time for change was yesterday, but that is in the past now, so the time for change is now.
Won’t you join me?