War on Amazon? Why?

Quoted from the article:

“It’s probably not a coincidence that many of the most strident anti-Amazon advocates are making millions (in Patterson’s case, hundreds of millions) of dollars within the publishing system as it currently exists. It’s simply human nature to believe that a system that has worked for me is a just system, a desirable system, the best or possibly even the only system, and that anything that might change that system is illegitimate, menacing and even evil.

But look: if Amazon is indeed doing so much to destroy literature and all the rest, if the situation really is so dire that the US government has to pass laws to fix it, why haven’t Patterson, Robinson, Russo, Turow and other anti-Amazon authors demanded that their publishers pull their books from Amazon? How can someone condemn a company’s evil, monopolistic, culture- and livelihood-destroying ways … while continuing to make millions of dollars working with that company?

All these reactionary tendencies have been amplified by the current contract dispute between Amazon and Hachette, one of the New York Big Five and the publishing arm of Lagardère, a multinational with something like $10bn a year in sales. What’s most interesting about this dispute is that no one outside the principals knows what’s really at issue (the negotiations are subject to a confidentiality agreement), so the tendency in some quarters to call Amazon a “bully” or even “evil and malignant”functions as a kind of inkblot test, where participants project their unconscious biases unto an otherwise hazy image.

But ask yourself:

  • If it’s evil, malignant and bullying for Amazon not to stock Hachette’s books (assuming this is even what’s happening; common sense suggests the truth is otherwise), why is it OK for Barnes & Noble and various independent booksellers (which areare actually thriving) to refuse to stock Amazon-published and self-published books?
  • Why was there so little outcry a little over a year ago regardinga similar dispute between Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster?
  • No other bookstore on earth offers Amazon’s selection. So isn’t every other bookstore by definition refusing to stock more books than Amazon does? Why is this OK?
  • Why was it OK a few years ago when the Big Five all threatened to pull their books from Amazon (collusively, as it turned out) if Amazon didn’t agree to raise its prices? Amazon is evil for refusing to buy some books from publishers, but it’s still OK for publishers to refuse to sell Amazon any books at all?”

 

You can read the rest of it HERE

 

I happen to agree with the article. I’m tired of hearing about how Amazon is the big bugaboo. It’s nothing more than a company offering a wide range of services and products. It’s only successful because so many people choose to use those services and buy products from there. Amazon is not putting a gun to people’s heads and forcing them to buy from the Amazon website, or publish with KDP, or sell their products through their website.

People do it because they like shopping in their pajamas, they like not having long lines at the registers, they like being able to read reviews on a product before deciding to buy it, they like the fact that 99% of the time what they are looking for is in stock.

Authors like to publish through KDP because they like the freedom of being an indie, they like the royalties offered.

Companies decide to sell products through Amazon because its a good way to reach millions of customers.

Years ago, Wal-Mart put mom and pop stores out of business. It wasn’t because Wal-Mart went and burned their competitors stores down or anything like that, it was because people liked having so much available in one place and chose to shop there. Wal-Mart didn’t put mom and pop stores out of business, customers did. And now Amazon and Costco and Target are putting the squeeze on Wal-Mart, or rather customers are because they are choosing to shop elsewhere.

The same is happening with the publishing industry and bookstores. Amazon isn’t putting a strain on either one of them. Customers and authors are. Authors are choosing to skip the whole query letter, Big 5 thing and forge ahead as indies (and yes, many of us choose it. I didn’t go indie because of rejection by the agents or the Big 5, I skipped that altogether because I have no interest in a book contract). Customers are choosing to shop for their books on Amazon rather than brick and mortar stores (interestingly enough, everyone wants to ‘save’ B&N when just ten years ago B&N was the big bugaboo because people were choosing to shop there rather than small indie shops), they are choosing to buy e-books instead of paper books.

And, in the midst of all of this, the small independent book stores are seeing a resurgence of popularity. Why? Because they are finding their niche. They are finding ways to offer experiences that can’t be duplicated by big box book stores or the internet. And that is called competition. It’s call free market. It’s called capitalism. And if the Big 5, Wal-Mart, big box book stores, etc. want to survive, then they need to quit whining, quit screaming that the government needs to completely take over the free marketplace so that they don’t have to change, quit stomping their feet and start competing. Start finding ways to offer what the internet cannot.

Personally, I despise shopping in brick and mortar stores. I hate the fact their are two dozen registers and only five of them are open. I hate that half the cashiers are slower then cold molasses and don’t know what their doing. I hate finding the shelf empty of what I need because someone didn’t order/stock it. I hate the bathrooms that are generally icky, the crowded isles, the air conditioning that is either set to Antarctica or barely on (and in the winter the heater is set to the same).

I like getting books immediately on my Kindle. I don’t mind waiting for paperbacks to arrive right on my door step two days after I order them (especially because the nearest book store is 50 miles away and it isn’t because of B&N, the nearest one of those is 120 miles away), I like being able to browse a wide variety of products (many of which aren’t even available where I live in the middle of nowhere), read the reviews, order and have it show up on my doorstep two days later.

I’m one of those customers driving the others out of business. I’m one of the authors making the Big 5 nervous. And you know what? If either of them want that to change, they had better gets their heads out of their collective rears and start finding a way to compete with the above.

 

HERE is another article about this subject that is well thought out.

6 thoughts on “War on Amazon? Why?

  1. Very interesting perspective! I’ve heard a lot of hate for Amazon, and also a lot of love. As someone who doesn’t feel particularly strongly one way or another, I quite enjoyed reading your opinion 🙂 I have to say that I do still like going to brick and mortar stores … but nothing beats the convenience of the internet!

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  2. Good post, both the original article and your thoughts. I work at home and try budget my trips to stores so I use Amazon. I’m a Prime member and save every week on shipping costs by going through Amazon. And I live in a state where taxes are charged for Amazon sales–I have no problem with that. I also publish my books on Amazon and buy my books there. Do I like everything they do? Absolutely not, but it would be a miracle for something as large as Amazon to be able to please us on all counts.

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