There has been no shortage of coverage of the Amazon/Hachette dispute in recent weeks. A Google search of “Amazon vs. Hachette” brought up 7,260,000 results from several reputable sources — The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Forbes, and plenty of others. Briefly, for those who haven’t been following the news, Amazon and Big Five publisher Hachette Books Group are arguing over how much of a cut Amazon should get from each sale of a Hachette eBook. While they duke it out behind closed doors, Amazon is delaying shipping of Hachette titles and is not allowing pre-orders of upcoming Hachette books.
I’m not going to claim I know enough about this to take a side. Honestly, I don’t think either corporation is completely in the right. What I do know is that while these businesses are fighting, readers and writers are losing. Readers are missing out on opportunities to purchase books they want to purchase and to discover books they may love because Amazon, which accounts for roughly 50% of all book sales in the United States, isn’t listing those books. Writers are losing opportunities to sell their books or have their books discovered by new readers. This is bad enough for bestsellers like James Patterson and J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith). But for debut authors, it is a career changer — perhaps even a career killer.
If a debut author loses sales because her books aren’t listed on Amazon, then publishers (both Hachette imprints and others) will see those numbers as an indication of that author’s success, and may be more reluctant to publish future books she writes. Yes, authors are expected to do some of their own marketing these days, but when they’re cut from a major retailer like Amazon, that’s a huge blow.
So for now, I think I’ll let the corporations duke it out. I’ll be getting my Hachette titles from the library. (And while I may not be purchasing them, I’m talking them up to my patrons, who will often sample a new author at the library and buy his future books.)
Where do you stand on the Amazon/Hachette dispute?