Reading All Eyes on Amazon Publishing in this week’s (August 8th) PW really got me to wondering: is the industry really worried about whether or not Amazon can pull this off—or just flat-out scared of what they can do?
I mean, has Amazon failed at anything?
Really (I just can’t think of anything…can anyone else; okay, so they had some computer problems—who doesn’t)? They’re the “standard” by which many compare (or rail!) against. It seems to me that if Amazon really is into publishing (and I think they’ve already shown they are…) they will succeed—and do so mightily. I mean, the concern I read in this article was akin (in my little mind) to asking if Random House would be able to start up a new distribution center.
So I ask this: so what if Amazon decides to publish? There’s apparently no law against it, and isn’t it really just about getting your words out to an audience? Assuming the quality’s there, what’s the problem? Heck, look at the inroads self-publishing is making, even with Famous Folk. Yes, the argument is that Amazon breaks down existing traditional structures and pricing, yadda x 3, but everyone has been complaining about how books have been created and distributed and simply handled for years. All those wasted returns, the late payments from publishers, and whatever else what ails ya.
It looks like someone has, indeed, found a way around some of that, no?
And if it’s not perfect, what is?
Also understandable, some are just plain pissed off at Amazon “stealing” business from established brick-and-mortar stores. I understand that, too. As one seller said, gee, let’s stock their books to further drive our stores out of business.
Many in and out of the industry (including the brick-and-mortar bookstores) have been lamenting for years that things need to be changed, but that change has never come, has it? I found irony in one indie store saying that, sure, they’d carry Amazon books…if they’re (among other things) returnable; I thought, wow, wasn’t this one of the huge sticking points for pushing for book distribution reform?!
In the traditional world, it’s still (from what I see) basically the same. Sure, there’s worry about digital this and that, but from my limited vantage point of not yet being traditionally [book] published, there are still large numbers of books made the old way, sent out the old way, returned the old way, accounts-payable the old way. Again—to my limited POV—where’s all this massive industry wide reform everyone’s always harping about?
And don’t get me wrong—I have nothing against traditional publishing in the least; I’m one of those who loves hardcopy books (actually prefer reading mass market paperbacks). If others love e-books, more power to them, I’m just not a personal fan of em; I love the tactile feel of books in my calloused hands. If dropped in water they dry out, if kicked around, still readable. And any issues with lining walls at home with them?!
Surely, you jest!
Now, I would jump at the opportunity of any publisher interested in taking me on. I’m just questioning what seems obvious to me.
So, if the whole point is to be published, what difference does it really make if Amazon.com publishes our books, or Random House? Even AuthorHouse (ooooh, self-publishing…a whole nother argument, I know!)? Advances, maybe, but how about author income on the back end? Quality—I don’t know, don’t know how the books look, short of what I see on their site, but I’m betting that probably isn’t going to be an issue, especially e-books. I’m sure their print books will look every bit as professional as anything else Amazon.com has ever done. And they are hiring freelance editors. If it’s about distribution—really is that the all-consuming, soul-searing concern? I supposed it could become a problem, sure, anything’s possible, but somehow I think a multibillion-dollar corporation like Amazon.com will work that one out.
But if it’s fear…well, Amazon can’t control everything….