I am a writer, editor, electronic book maker (reading, not the ponies) and reader. I am also damned sick of listening to huge publishing corporations whine about amazon.
I love amazon. I worked with them when they were a start-up, Jeff Bezos screaming on the phone to Rebecca that the cookbooks were in the warehouse. I watched them grow and grow and Jeff become one of the best businessmen on the face of the planet. Amazon is a great American company. It serves its customers and works on our behalf. It keeps its prices low – just like Target, Walmart and every grocery chain on the planet – and you get your goods in a day or two.
The makers of books now have to compete with the makers of everything else. I say physical books are the same as a router or a rake or tire iron: a useful object. Not holy, not guaranteed, but useful. What makes a book is a beginning, middle and end with great writing in between. Doesn’t matter if it’s on paper or a screen. Everything else is noise.
This amazon fight appears now to be about summer homes and keeping that extra person on staff – I mean look at the writers complaining. Colbert and Patterson don’t have enough money for lunch? And I don’t see how B and C level authors are even in the fight because publishing companies no longer want to publish anyone but the famous. (Their secret word for that is “platform.” If you don’t have it, it means “Sorry, not famous enough.”) Sorry B and C list; We once loved you but now you must die.
Why can’t Hachette do something that every corporation does on the face of the planet? NEGOTIATE. BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOUR AUTHORS RATHER THAN ANOTHER WHINY SAD AMAZON VICTIM. Nobody did anything to you, Hachette. And if you can’t operate within the framework of the system, try selling tires?
Amazon is capitalism. Amazon figured it out as publishing companies watched the technological advance and did nothing to further their business. I know. I sat in meetings from 2007-2008, and the publishing corporation’s innovation in the face of technology to was to lay off hundreds of workers.
They all still have huge production departments, but no place to sell books. Walking though a B&N is like wandering northern Nebraska looking for a jigsaw puzzle for Aunt Bea. Independents are a fetish stop for people who wear crocs. Even World Book Night got canceled.
I say amazon has always been the book publisher’s friend. But more importantly, amazon cares about readers. That’s who I’m for too.