Friday, March 7, 2014

ACX's Big Change And No Real Competition


Amazon has changed the royalty structure of their audio book division in a move that will harm self-published authors and narrators. We call them stupid, dumb, insane, but we know the reason why they're doing it. Amazon wants to be the online Walmart, and will do anything to secure that treasure trove.

They employ the same kinds of techniques Walmart uses, such as taking a hit in one division, because another is doing well. Barnes&Noble can't compete with that; have you seen their prices for movies and music? Books are what make Barnes&Nobles money, and Amazon makes money off of more than just books, so they don't mind price-matching and pricing down to hurt the competition. That's all fine a good, from a consumer's perspective, until there is no more competition. The same goes for authors.

Amazon has countless stories of authors putting up their books for sale and becoming successes. How many stories does Nook have? None. How many stories does iBook have? None. There exists no accounts of any author finding an overwhelming benefit outside of Amazon. Here's the reason why, Nook and IBook are not willing or don't want to put any comparable services for self-published authors to use, such as KDPSelect. Am I supposed to send my book exclusive for Nook, if there is no significant advantage (royalty rates, promotion, visibility, etc..)? Of course not, that is why Amazon is as big as it is, and it's less of the consumer's and author's fault, and more of the competition.

Nook has always been trying to catch up on the Ebook craze, and at the same time, didn't want to give respect to the self-publishing crowd. Barnes&Noble was(still is) entrenched with traditional publishers. It's why when entering a store, the first aisle is filled with the brand new published books by recognizable names. Where am I supposed to go, Nook Press? That's a sorry excuse, and one that doesn't help in the slightest.

We must keep in mind that this change isn't a blow against self-publishing authors, yet. This is a foreshadowing of what is to come. What we can do is publish to other retailers, either directly or through Smashwords, but it doesn't really feel good. The audience isn't exactly there, at least in the quantity of Kindle, so it's more like a well-meaning gesture. Why wasn't there a mass exodus of YouTube Content Creators when Google changed the Terms of Service late last year? Because there was no other real competitor that can touch what YouTube does.

Amazon cannot be allowed to reach that level of power. If they do, it's back to the dark ages for authors everywhere.