In a departure from my usual blah-blah-blahing about book things, I’d like to take a minute and inject a little humor into the THEY DID WHAT? discussion on this topic today.
Okay, so I woke up to some serious pre-coffee b.s. this morning. If you guys haven’t heard about the Amazon-Hachette spat, you are also probably unaware of the email WTFery Amazon sent out to everyone with a KDP account.
Now, you can read all about this in the words of people more eloquent than myself here:
Chuck Wendig’s post (warning: contains potentially offensive words)
Matt Wallace’s post (warning: contains potentially offensive words)
John Scalzi’s post (warning: contains potentially boring words)
Lemme boil it down for you. In the letter today, Amazon asked every author with a KDP account (most of which are self-published and have ZERO to do with Hachette) to email the CEO of Hachette and flood him with all sorts of harassment. They included said CEO’s email address and also asked to be CC’d on said email.
My initial reaction to this:
Oh yes I did.
The further along in the email I read, the more I was like…
I actually wondered if it was some kind of joke.
And then I realized…
Nope. Not a joke. A quick check of the interwebs revealed that Amazon had, in fact, just asked a whole bunch of indie authors to troll a person for a purpose we have NO STAKE IN.
So. Much. WTF.
This, on the heels of self-publishers being forced to join KDP Select if they want to be part of the Kindle Unlimited program for which they’ll receive the payment of some elusive, random sum Amazon will determine after whatever amount of time it deems necessary, rather than the nice, absolute sum that trad publishers and a select few very popular self-publishers (think Hugh Howey et al) will get. Not to mention that, in Amazon’s letter, they claim that one of the perks of ebooks is that you can’t return them.
Ebook returns have been one of the biggest pains in the butt since ebooks came along. People read them, return them, and then brag about it. Seriously. There are SHELVES dedicated to bragging about this on Goodreads. SHELVES, people.
And yet, those prickly points aside, the fact remains that Amazon is asking uninvolved parties that won’t see a single benefit to getting involved to do exactly that. UNLEASH THE INDIES! THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!
This pretty much sums up how I feel about this:
I hate other people’s drama. I have plenty of my own to want to be dragged into this mess too.
And so, in case Amazon might be unclear as to whether or not I’ll be participating in TrollFest ’14…
And I’m pretty sure a lot of my indie author friends feel the same way.
If you liked this post, you can read more of my words in book form. Totally unironically (I may not like the letter, but momma didn’t raise no fool), you can find one of them right here:
Nice. Except we do have a stake in it. If they win this against big pubs what chance do we, as indies, have to fight it if they make us price to their standards? My reply to Amazon is here: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com/2014/08/so-amazon-asked-me-to-express-my.html
Starla Huchton says
Frankly, indies (in general) don’t have any chance. We either accept their terms and sell there, or we don’t. Can we try to band together to bring change? Sure, but good luck getting as many authors as you’d need to agree to the same terms. Amazon isn’t perfect by any standard (which wasn’t really what I was saying here), but neither are big trad pub houses. If Amazon gets bad enough, people will simply leave, much like what happened to MySpace when Facebook came along. When there’s a better option, folks will generally take it. And, honestly, I’m fine with trad pubs pricing higher. I’m not in competition with them anyway. I could expound on plenty of points, but I don’t really think my opinion amounts to much on this. Hachette will listen to its board and stockholders, as will Amazon. All the rest of it is just noise.
Well said. Let them price higher. I’m not in competition with the Stephen Kings of the world anyway. (But I would love to be. tee hee)
“And I’m pretty sure a lot of my indie author friends feel the same way.”
Considering the number of indie authors who present themselves as Amazon loyalists, I’m afraid not. In fact, I’m surprised there isn’t already someone hasn’t “fisked” this with more GIFs.
Starla Huchton says
And they’re entitled to their opinion, too. I just really don’t see the sense in getting wound up about it, or involved in it any more than this. But they are certainly welcome to.
Katherine Owen | Writer says
The whole thing is deplorable. Thanks for making me laugh.
Sarah Wilder says
This mirrored my own reaction to that ridiculous email to the T.
Well snarked, madam. Well snarked.
So, it’s okay for Hachette to have their authors write op-eds and spread lies and disinformation but it’s wrong for Amazon to ask its authors to respond?
You all do realize that big publishers’ end game is to destroy e-books, yes?
Starla Huchton says
I don’t think that’s okay either. Both Stephen Colbert’s anti-Amazon crusade and Patterson’s extremism bug the hell out of me, but that’s their choice to do so. Also, it’s their incomes being hurt by this dispute, so they have skin in that game. What does an indie author get out of this in the end, one way or the other? We’re still subject to Amazon’s terms regardless. The whole thing is simply poor form. Frankly, if Hachette succeeds in keeping their prices higher, that means I don’t have to lower mine any more to compete. Additionally, what good does emailing the Hachette CEO do besides harass him? Now, if Amazon were asking for testimonials from authors to take out its own ad, that’d be one thing. But they’re not. By taking this lower road, it does them no favors, and just makes the war that much uglier. Yuck.
Percival Constantine says
Two things here:
First off, Hachette shouldn’t be involving their authors. Being against Amazon doing this doesn’t mean I’m for Hachette doing it.
Second, I’m an Amazon author? Please show me a copy of the publishing contract I’ve signed with them, because I sure as hell do not have one. I am not an Amazon author, I am an independent author. Amazon is just one of the stores I sell my books on.
Starla Huchton says
Perhaps they meant we’re part of this nebulous “Amazon Books Team”? I just…. ugh. No.
Unlike people who distribute via KDP – who do not have a dog in this fight – Hatchette authors are directly and materially impacted by it.