Friday, November 15, 2013

AiIP: Amazon Strikes Back

In what I can only assume* is in response to my boycott of Amazon in favor of pursuing sales through indie bookstores and other avenues, the sales giant and new face of publishing announced that indie bookstores can now sell Kindles and get a 10% cut of ebook sales.

Booksellers responded, in internet parlance, LOL.

And who can blame them? Even if at first blush it seems like something designed to partner up with brick-and-mortars, as a few booksellers point out in there: Amazon has never really done anything to help anyone but Amazon. This certainly fits that- 10% of the five bucks or so most ebooks cost isn't paying anyone's bills, and after two years even that goes away. To be fair, it is at least similar to the model that Kobo uses (I love Chuck from Village Books being super blunt in there). But in the end, the customer ends up at Amazon- or, like many people I have talked to- turned off to the bookstore for throwing in with Amazon.

That same Village Books blog has an excellent post about why it's better to link to a brick and mortar store (who probably sell online and can ship anywhere) than to Amazon (hint: Amazon doesn't care), but that hardly solves the ebook problem.

Which leads to the problem within the problem, namely that Amazon isn't even reinventing the wheel- they're just copying the already-flawed wheel. It's square, it's clunky and it doesn't work. Because if someone is buying an ebook, they're not going to go to a bookstore for it, are they? The overall model of bookselling needs to change in order for this to work.

The first dang thing that needs to happen is every copy of a physical book needs to come with a digital option, one way or another. Be it a code in the hardcopy, or something, just... make this happen. Please.

Secondly, there needs to be a way for those brick and mortar stores to sell directly, not through Amazon or even Kobo. Some indie version of the Nook (how it relates to a chain of bookstores, not how crappy and irrelevant it is). But those titles need to be available for download off that stores website, where that store gets a much larger cut than 10%.

And finally, the Mexican standoff of Amazon vs indie bookstores vs indie publishers needs to stop. Amazon is satiated by the above steps, but it still leaves indie publishers without a way to get their books into book stores. A lot of this is because printing costs can be prohibitive, but I would like to see indie bookstores be more inviting. If nothing else, by selling ebooks on their sites, but even better to have a process in place for purchasing books from indie authors.

I have harped on quality from day one, and I think this would help, since an author who has gone through the process of getting a book to print vs just uploading one to Amazon is likely better and more careful. With more and more authors going the indie route, it only makes sense for bookstores to include them.

I hope you're enjoying this little sojourn with me- I know it's a bit of a deviation from what this space usually is, but I feel this is important and want to highlight it. In any case, I have but one more piece on the subject for next month, along with some (hopefully) exciting announcements, which will put a bow on this whole thing. When I first talked to The G about this, and what it would contain, he suggested the 'Adventures in Indie Publishing' title. It's an adventure, for sure, and I hope you enjoy reading about it.


*this assumption is incorrect.