I’ve seen this come across my radar a couple times this week, so before I put up today’s final Boosting the Signal post, I’d like to talk a bit about the huge brouhaha I’ve heard about going on between Amazon and Hachette. Agent Kristin Nelson talks about it here, and she links off in turn to this post on the New York Times. Author Lilith Saintcrow talks about it here.
In short, Amazon’s been throwing its weight around again because a publisher wouldn’t play ball the way Amazon wants it to. And the people who get stomped on when kaiju of this size start rampaging through a city? Readers, because they can’t get books they want, and authors, because their sales take it right in the teeth.
Here’s the thing–Amazon has a massive share of the ebook market. Ebook authors, especially people as smallfry as myself, who’re indie or digitally published or maybe both, can’t not deal with Amazon. And I do have to admit, Amazon’s won this market share in some ways because everything I’ve heard about the various flavors of Kindle is that they’re awesome. Also, fair play to Amazon, they also have excellent customer service; their customer service people have been great every time I’ve dealt with them.
But at the big-picture level, the level at which the kaiju start stomping, that’s when I start going NOW HOLD ON A MINUTE.
It’s bullshit like this on Amazon’s part that’s specifically why I’ve made a point of not buying ebooks from Amazon, despite the fact that I do like me some shiny gadgets, and despite the fact that I’m sure Amazon would deliver me a super-convenient, super-nifty tech experience if I felt like buying a Kindle. I make one exception to this, and that’s if there’s a particular author I wish to support with my money, and his or her book is only available electronically via Amazon. Otherwise, I’ll be looking at buying them in print–and if I buy them in print, I’ll get the book directly from the author if I can.
The vast majority of my ebook purchases are done either via Barnes and Noble (even though B&N has been said to be tottering for months now, and I have massive issues with their customer service, and especially their poor Mac support), or via Kobo (to support their partnership with indie bookstores, especially because I like giving Third Place Books some of my money, too). When I can, I’ll buy directly from publishers like Angry Robot, or right off of Carina’s site if we’re talking my fellow Carina authors. If we’re talking indie authors, I’ll see if the book’s been deployed to Smashwords.
And this kind of thing is specifically also why I elect to put my self-published work out on other venues besides Amazon, as well, even though I’m aware that I’m very possibly robbing myself of sales. I want to be in a position where I can encourage potential readers to support other sites too.
I’m not going to go so far as to say indie authors shouldn’t publish their stuff to Amazon–because that’d be sales suicide. I’m not even going to say that authors shouldn’t exclusively publish with Amazon, because it’s a very legitimate question as to whether it’s worth an author’s time to go exclusive or not. I can make that call with impunity because I have a well-paying day job. Other indie authors don’t have that particular luxury.
But with my reader hat on, I can definitely vote with my wallet. Even though it means managing my ebooks might take a bit more work. I’m willing to make that effort. And if you want to make that extra effort too, think about buying your ebooks from other sites–especially directly from publishers, if you have that opportunity, because that’ll have the added bonus of making sure more money ultimately gets into the hands of your favorite authors.
Other things you can do, as a reader: if you’re aware that your favorite author has books on sale on sites besides Amazon, spread the word. Link to them. Talk them the HELL up on Facebook or Twitter, especially if they’re indie authors, because I guarantee you they’ll need every bit of exposure they can get. (C.f., why I’m doing the Boosting the Signal posts.) And if you’re cranky about Amazon’s tactics, tell them. Lay it out in no uncertain terms that you’re not going to give them your money, and why. And while you’re doing that, tell the Internet, too.
‘Cause yeah, one person can’t take a kaiju down. But if enough of us act and make the Internet fall on its head, it can stun even the biggest of kaiju. And then we can all get back to the important business of reading and writing our books.
ETA: Kristin Nelson put up another post here. More links to come if I find them.
ETA #2: Author Alex Conall posts on the matter on Dreamwidth here.
ETA #3: Tobias Buckell is decidedly unamused and has pulled the Amazon buy links for his works off his site in protest.
Harry Connolly also speaks out. (Note: I’ve supported Mr. Connolly in recent Kickstarter work, in the name of supporting indie writing.)
And Fred Hicks has spoken out on Twitter:
I’ve canceled all my open orders and preorders with @amazon and it’s staying that way until they stop bullying Hachette & their authors.
— Fred Hicks (@fredhicks) May 23, 2014
ETA #4: C.E. Murphy would like you to pre-order her next book from anywhere but Amazon, if you think Amazon’s recent behavior is unacceptable.
ETA #5: Rachel Caine is also protesting Amazon’s behavior:
Readers, do everybody a solid: buy your books from someone NOT CALLED AMAZON. Support other bookstores.
— Rachel Caine (@rachelcaine) May 26, 2014
As soon as I get home from my trip tonight, I will be removing links to books on Amazon US from all my websites. #amazonsucks
— Rachel Caine (@rachelcaine) May 26, 2014