Amazon the Conqueror by Ellen Hopkins
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Amazon/Hachette Book Group battle, but in case you’re in the dark, Amazon wants to set the price for Hachette e-books. Hachette believes that the publisher should make that decision, and Amazon has responded by delaying shipment on Hachette books, as well as disallowing pre-orders. So who gets hurt? Hachette authors, of course. Sure, J.K. Rowling and James Patterson can take it in stride. But what about debut authors? As Sherman Alexie said on his Colbert appearance, “Presales determine the sales of a book . . . [without preorders] the book is dead.” It isn’t a new tactic. Amazon pulled the buy buttons from McMillan titles over a similar dispute, and they’re playing the same game with Disney over DVD/Blu Ray pricing, so you won’t be able to preorder upcoming releases like Maleficent and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The mega-corporation claims they’re protecting their customers, but they’re leveraging their bottom line. Yes, the average person is interested in convenience, and in paying as little as possible for a product. Amazon excels at both. But there’s something missing in this equation that neither the company nor its bargain hunting clientele are considering.
A book is not a “product.” It is a creation, and has value that goes way beyond paper and ink. An author will spend many months (in some cases, years), crafting a story worthy of reading. How much is that time worth? How much is creativity worth? What about the cost of education, continuing education, conferences, seminars, promotion, marketing, etc.? Beyond hardcovers, even e-books need publishers, editors, copy editors, designers, publicists, and more. Their expertise is invaluable.
I’m not here to debate traditional versus indie publishing, but even indie authors, not to mention consumers, should be very concerned about the possibility of Amazon becoming the only game in town. Competition is a good thing. Should there not be a choice of how to publish or where a book sells, there are no options. The “conqueror” holds every card, and becomes free to set pricing at will. And if you happen to be an author, that company decides your value.
Amazon sells my books. (You can even preorder them, at least for now. It’s rumored that if Hachette caves in, my publisher, Simon & Schuster, is next on the chopping block.) But Amazon didn’t build my career. I did that, through years of education, craft building, experimentation and self-promotion. S & S did that, through the expertise of their staff. Brick and mortar bookstores, with booksellers hand-selling my books, did that. And librarians who knew just the right book for that certain teenager did that.
Oh yes, another big move afoot is doing away with libraries, supplying students with Kindles, and subscribing them to the Amazon Lending Library. And who at Amazon, do tell, will spend the time to pick out the perfect book for a kid who hates to read?
Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, Identical, Tricks, Fallout, Perfect, Tilt, Smoke, and Rumble, as well as the adult novels Triangles and Collateral. She lives with her family in Carson City, Nevada, where she has founded Ventana Sierra, a nonprofit youth housing and resource initiative. Visit her at EllenHopkins.com and follow her on Twitter at @EllenHopkinsYA. For more information on Ventana Sierra, go to VentanaSierra.org. Her latest young adult novel, Rumble, is now available!
Shelf Pleasure knows just how you should spend this upcoming ..
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..