Saturday, October 11, 2014

Amazon and Hachette



I guess it was a matter of time before I posted my own piece on the Amazon-Hachette feud. It's been the story for months, so let's get right into it.

I like Amazon for the same reasons plenty of other writers and readers love Amazon, they changed the status quo for the better. Lots of construction, dust, and noise in a surprising amount of time. This has been and continues to be a paradigm shift in the publishing industry at a lightning pace.

There was always going to be a change in the contracts between Amazon and the Big Five. When the self-publishing craze took off it was part of the package deal. Amazon would use the power of their new found marketplace for better deals, and big publishers would use their power they've amassed for years to resist. The new hypothetical contracts wouldn't turn out the exact way Amazon wants it, but it wouldn't be what Hachette wants. That's what one can safely assume when two powerhouses collide with one another.

Where did this train come off the tracks? When Hachette has chosen to let their contract expire in March and since not focused on negotiating for their authors. That's the heart of the matter, this trade contract.

Amazon has proposed multiple ways of supporting Hachette authors and still be able to carry on negotiations with Hachette. If I was a Hachette author, I would be furious that my publisher is blowing off these avenues that have direct impact on me. The fact of the matter is it's not the big authors who are hurt, it's the mid-list and debut who are affected the most.

Every time I read another article in favor of Hachette, I notice the focal point of criticisms has little to do with the situation. Most of them ignore the fact that Amazon is offering different solution to authors during this time, or Hachette has a history of colluding for ebooks prices. The dispute is more of a catalyst for the commentators. It's a moment in time where their sentiments can be funneled into their overarching disposition on Amazon. Because let's be honest, Hachette doesn't catch headlines, Amazon does.

The worst part of all this is Hachette is ramping up the stakes in a situation that doesn't call for it. The immediate result is negative, and the net value will be negative. I love the activity the situation has sparked, I just feel all of it is being wasted on a needless dispute.

One would think there are enough problems that big groups and authors can band together and help remedy. Several long term and fundamental issues that have been plaguing publishing, like bad contracts, terms, rights, royalties, etc.. Bigger issues than Hachette not having a contract with Amazon.