“Is Amazon Really the Devil?” A number publishing industry pros told Publishers Weekly they think the satanic characterization has been oversimplified, especially with respect to the etailer’s current stalemate with Hachette. The Amazon-Hachette dispute is allegedly over failure to agree on ebook pricing.
Citing the Authors Guild position that publishers are offering unfair ebook royalty rates to authors, and the less impassioned industry response to Barnes and Noble’s reduction of Simon and Schuster orders last year, Guild President Roxana Robinson told PW it’s “a question of who’s being the biggest bully at the moment.”
An independent publisher who was quoted anonymously asserted that Barnes and Noble is the bigger antagonist.
“[I]t’s B&N that’s really evil,” the publisher said. “although now they’re supposed to be so great. They make us change covers, editorial, all kinds of crap, and the returns. B&N used to be just under a quarter of our sales but with massive returns.” By contrast, the publisher said, Amazon generates about the same percentage of sales with far less returns.
Porter Anderson, director of the AuthorHub at this year’s BEA, placed the onus on publishers.
“[P]ublishers need to start selling directly and reach out to readers,” Anderson prescribed, using BEA’s consumer event and BookCon as examples. “Find the readers rather than bitch about Amazon.”
I place the onus on writers. As the industry shifts, writers must seize the opportunity to take more ownership of the retail and distribution of our work.