Amazon Begs Indie Authors To Help Fight $10bn Media Conglomerate. You couldn’t make it up…

Go Global In 2014

When it comes to desperate measures and stooping lower than a snake’s testicles nobody does it better than Amazon.

Emailing KDP authors begging them to write to those nasty people at Hachette is bad enough. But to dress it up with a load of bull about paperback prices, World War II and George Orwell takes sad to a whole new level.

As Amazon rightly say, “We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies”.

In the next breath, “We’d like your help. Please email the CEO of Hachette and copy us.”

Amazon implore us to tell him in no uncertain terms, “Stop using your authors as leverage.”

Quite right, Amazon. It’s fine for you to use KDP authors as leverage in this dispute which has nothing to do with us, but how dare Hachette do the same thing.

“We want lower e-book prices,” says Amazon, the company that is encouraging indie authors to raise prices through Pricing Support, while penalizing us with lower “royalties” if we try to offer readers a real bargain. Apple still pay us 70% if we price below $2.99. Amazon take 65%.

“Hachette does not (want lower prices).”

Bull. Hachette wants the right to charge a premium for new releases, just like every other entertainment media does.

A quick glance at Amazon’s listings will show only a handful of Hachette titles are priced above ten dollars. The bulk are well below ten dollars, with many at indie prices, and even free.

“Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices… Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.”

Curiously Amazon omitted to mention that they are currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission for illegally scamming millions from parents of children using free Amazon apps. Not some accidental scam. The FTC has Amazon internal emails confirming Amazon was aware of this for a long period and chose to do nothing.

“Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. The FTC highlighted one internal communication in which an Amazon employee likened the growing chorus of customer complaints to a “near house on fire.”

This of course is not in any way disrespectful to Amazon app customers.

Amazon says Hachette “think books only compete against books.”

And Hachette said this when, exactly?

“But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types.”

Says Amazon, with its unlimited “free” streaming of video and music for Prime members.

“Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99.”

Therefore it is eminently good business sense for Hachette and every other publisher to sell a new release at $14.99 while readers are willing to pay a premium for the new release, and then sell to all those others at $9.99 at a later date.

It’s interesting to note that Macmillan, Penguin-Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, etc, etc, are all selling new releases at $14.99 and Amazon is making NO fuss at all about this.

Where is the Amazon email asking us to spam the email boxes of the CEOs of Macmillan and co. telling them to bring their prices down because consumers are suffering?

This has NOTHING to do with benefitting consumers and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that Amazon can’t get its own way with a particular supplier in a particular dispute.

Amazon is and will remain for some time the most important outlet for most indie authors. That doesn’t mean we have to respond to this kind of underhand interference in a dispute between Amazon and a supplier we have nothing to do with.

As Amazon rightly say, Hachette is “part of a $10 billion media conglomerate.”

Amazon omits to mention that Amazon is a $150 billion conglomerate.

WTF is a company that size doing begging indie authors to intervene to help it settle a dispute with another supplier?

You couldn’t make it up…

 

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6 responses to “Amazon Begs Indie Authors To Help Fight $10bn Media Conglomerate. You couldn’t make it up…

  1. Yes, and that shockingly silly and one-sided story featuring ‘man-of-the-people’ Preston in the NYT is perfectly acceptable. Maybe if Amazon forked over 100 Grand for an ad in the paper they could get the Times to run a story with their viewpoint in it. The ignorance and bias being spouted about this situation is turning me off of some authors and media outlets. Amazon is correct in their comparison of paperbacks and e-books. Do some research and you’all see that the same entities acted the same way when they were screaming that paperbacks were ‘devaluing literature’ and were going to bring down publishing. It’s just ridiculous. How are we supposed to take these people seriously when the biggest book news of the week was a new book by Grumpy Cat? They need to get over themselves. Most people aren’t going to pay a higher price for an ebook than for a paper copy, they’ll just buy something else. You can say that’s wrong until you’re blue in the face, but that won’t change it.

  2. “Most people aren’t going to pay a higher price for an ebook than for a paper copy, they’ll just buy something else.”
    If that’s true, then higher ebook prices are a self-limiting phenomenon. Let publishers charge what they want. If consumers think it’s too expensive and refuse to purchase them, then publishers will respond by lowering prices.

    • That may be what will happen, but that’s not going to be very good for their writers short term. The publishers seem to feel that if an e-book is too expensive people will just buy the hardback. I think people will either look for a less expensive e-book or they won’t buy a book at all. How does a midlist author have a career this way? A new book has a few weeks to make money and if it doesn’t the publisher more than likely will not give the author another contract. I don’t think Amazon is acting altruistically, but I think their numbers are correct. They want to make money and they have more experience selling books to readers. Publishers have experience selling books to bookstores. Now, long term I think it will be good for writers if big publishing goes away. People will self publish and small publishers will make a comeback, and readers can buy what they want and not what a few people in a couple of cities decide that we should be able to read.

  3. I can’t wait to see next weeks installment of this riveting soap opera!

  4. Matt Owens Rees

    When you hit one of their limits you may find you can’t follow those who are retweeting you unless u unfollow so else. crazy

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