Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cry Me A River

Poor little Hachette has been crying up a storm over its dispute with Amazon, and it has only gotten louder over the last week.  Hachette is upset that the world's biggest book distributor has basically told them to get bent.  Of course, given that Amazon has told its customers to go to other avenues to get the books they want, Hachette has a real easy way to build up a little good will in this dispute - lower the prices of its e-book selections.

But that's just crazy talk!

We all know that neither Hachette nor any of the other Big 5 publishers will do that.  It hasn't even been a year since a judge ruled that the major publishers, in conjunction with Apple, colluded to artificially inflate the prices of e-books.  When companies go to such lengths to stack the deck, they won't suddenly turn around and do something as drastic as lower their prices for the poor customers they claim to care so much about.

I find all of this angst towards Amazon amusing.  It's not that I have any great affection for Amazon - after all, they're a business as well, and they'll do what they feel they have to in order to make a few bucks.  However, at least they're honest about it.  The major publishers are all sunshine and unicorn farts to the rest of us about how Amazon is putting brick and mortar bookstores out of business.  It's funny that they weren't lamenting Barnes & Noble of Borders putting small mom and pop independent bookshops out of business in the early 90s.  And the major publishers sure as shit weren't protecting authors when they started consolidating and putting smaller presses out of business.  In those days, self publishing was a joke, the last resort of the failure.  However, now that circumstances have changed, they want to claim they're the big protectors of the literary world.

For years - nay, decades - traditional publishing has used its power like a club, intimidating writers into signing woefully one-sided contracts and maintaining its own market share.  Now that this model no longer holds true, they're crying like scalded calves, and we're supposed to feel sorry for them.

Forgive me for not buying the bullshit.  They had their chance.  Now that the market has changed, they still won't move into the present.  That speaks less like someone who understands its customers than it does like someone trying to hold onto power that is rapidly flittering away.


  1. I have been thinking about this a lot lately in terms of how this battle with Amazon will affect the publishing and book industry. It makes me wonder if we'll shift away from the online store and go back to bookstores as a result? Maybe I'm just wishful thinking. ;) By the way, I tagged you in a writing blog hop post, so come by and see when you have the chance!

    1. I admit to being torn, while simultaneously amused at the irony. I love to browse a bookstore all day, but places like Barnes & Noble took out smaller stores, and now they're griping about losing out in a similar way to Amazon.

      Also, thanks for the mention on your site - you have a great blog, and I hope everyone who comes here visits it...both of them. :-P

    2. You're welcome! :) And thanks for the compliment on my blog(s) :) It means a lot. :)