The first draft of the next novel is finished. I’m considering The Old War as the working title, just for something to call it. Leaving that aside for a month or three I need to do further preparatory work on the remaining Tales of the Thief-City stories so I can try and do them during NaNoWriMo this year, and another short piece is nagging at me for attention.
To try and keep some content appearing here – in word count if not substance – here’s some meandering thoughts on the recent Amazon-Hachette trouble.
The Amazon-Hachette Slap-Fight
I’m sure most people have by now heard of Amazon’s fumbled attempt to gain public support in their conflict with Hachette (a public move they felt forced into after authors called them out on their somewhat childish blockade of Hachette authors’ works as part of a negotiation).
As a KDP author I received their email call to arms against the bullying publishers (I assume all KDP authors received it, since I’d hate to feel I was special). After wading through their rambling plea, I did indeed feel a swelling of anger. Just not at Hachette.
Ignoring the fact that high prices on traditionally published books gives self-published authors an advantage, in the long term it does me no good for Amazon to gain control of the large publishers, which appears to be their goal. Why should I therefore support them in bringing public pressure where their bullyboy tactics have failed?
Not that I particularly support the publishers. They’ve made mistakes in pricing ebooks so high which must have cost their authors, and their slowness to get to grips with ebooks and the changes to the market have allowed Amazon to gain so much control.
Particularly irritating is when Amazon (or any big publisher) claims to be working for the betterment of books, readers, or writers. While I certainly appreciate what Amazon have helped achieve in the growth of ebooks, and the services they provide, it’d be wrong to view the company as purely benevolent (and their attempts to monopolise the market with KDP Select readily dispel such illusions).
Individuals working for Amazon may well see that as a goal, but Amazon and the publishers are themselves corporate entities. They survive by making money, and they became so successful by making more money than everyone else. Any ideal they work towards is one where the majority of money from book sales reaches them.
There’s nothing inherently wrong, or evil, with this. It’s what they are. The only problem comes when people want to see them as something else. Publishers publish what they think will sell, because otherwise they’d go out of business. Amazon sells at low prices to maintain a cashflow and to push competitors out of business so they can then raise their prices (from a pragmatically cynical point of view), because this is how they survive.
It’s not personal – because corporate entities aren’t people – it’s business.
Of course for a company fixated on global domination, their amateurish attempts to manipulate events don’t bode well for when they do take control.