Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hachette Men

There was a big flap in the publishing world as a feud erupted between the big publisher Hachette and Amazon.  I linked to an article on our Twitter account at some point.  The gist is that Amazon demanded concessions from Hachette and after they refused to give tribute to Caesar, Amazon took their books off sale.

Predictably authors took to Twitter and Facebook to protest this move by the Evil Empire.  I don't really feel any sympathy for either side.  The simple fact is Hachette is not some little Mom and Pop operation being threatened by Wal-Mart moving into town.  They're another huge, faceless, evil corporation.  It's really a clash between huge corporations who both want to maximize profits for shareholders and Wall Street.  Unfortunately authors get caught in the crossfire.

A year or two ago I wrote a similar blog entry about Barnes & Noble as they appeared to be dying.  The title was something like, Don't Cry for B&N, Book Buyers--or something equally subtle.  The point was that as I said about Hachette, B&N wasn't some little independent store.  In fact they gleefully put independent stores and rivals like Borders out of business.

That's the problem with the book world today.  We want to say this side is Good and this side is Evil, but mostly it's all different shades of Evil.  It's Game of Thrones, not Star Wars.  There aren't any white hats on the field.

For me as an indie author who makes most of his money from Amazon and owns a Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire it actually behooves me to root for the Empire.  And let's face it, if I tried to submit to Hachette they'd laugh me out of the building.  So I'm not going to lose a lot of sleep if they have to pay a little more in concessions to Amazon.  At the same time, having a strong publishing industry is probably a good thing for indie authors because it keeps the Empire in check.  If all the Big [however many now] went out of business and Amazon hardly had any serious competition in the book market it would be easy for them to decide that instead of paying 70/35% royalties to pay 10% royalties.  And what could I do about it?  Competition, free enterprise, etc. is good.

Anyway, as is usually the case this is not a black-and-white issue, more shades of gray.


  1. I wrote a comment earlier, but I don't see what happened to it. Basically, the Big Number don't distribute directly to readers, so they're not in competition with Amazon in that respect. What we indie authors need are more distributors like Smashwords. And I think if Amazon did reduce royalties to 10%, indie authors would raise prices to compensate and build a new distribution system.

  2. We're all frogs in a pot.
    I want to hope that we would develop some other way of getting stuff out there if Amazon, or anyone, put the squeeze on.

  3. You're right Pat. Its hard to feel bad for evil corporations. That's why I didn't cry for Blockbuster.

  4. Game of Thrones is a good comparison. Really, this has nothing to do with us as authors, even though Hatchette and others would like us to believe that.

  5. I'm glad you pointed out the hypocrisy of one giant mega-corp trying yo garner my sympathy because another one is playing dirty.

    I do worry more about Amazon's monopoly than I do Hatchette though. So I'd like to see this empower other players to eat into some of that market share Amazon has.

    I doubt it, though.