Sunday, November 23, 2014

Burying the Hatchet

Well, the scuffle between Amazon and Hachette appears to be over...for now.  Both sides are claiming victory in a moderately complicated legal argument and business dispute.  Hachette will continue to charge more than is reasonable for ebooks in an attempt to protect paper sales, although Amazon is providing financial incentives for them to discount the work.

The folks who make millions of dollars in this, like Doug Preston, are thrilled, although that won't stop them from telling the DOJ on Amazon.  Something about monopolies, even though you can also buy books online from Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google.  I did a quick search for anything Preston said about the collusion amongst ebook publishers and couldn't find it, but no matter, because Amazon is the big baddie here due to big profits or something.

The press, who has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo - they all go to the same cocktail parties - is playing this up as a big win for Hachette.  Of course, they're also leaving out some very important facts on the case - facts like how Amazon wasn't delaying shipments(how do you delay shipment on books not in stock?  If you have no contract, would you stock a book on the off chance you might someday get paid?).  Facts like how traditional publishers pay 15% royalties to authors, and only then twice a year(whereas Amazon pays 70% of the sales price and does so monthly).  It's always so funny to watch some folks portray themselves as protecting the little guy when the people they defend are in the habit of screwing the little guy.  Yes, millionaires like Preston are fine, and if that's the way they want to do things, that's okay, but they should stop pretending it's about anything but self-interest.

Meanwhile, Amazon has Hachette books back in stock again and is chugging along just fine.  Their publishing market continues to grow as more and more writers question the need for a traditional publisher.  I still think Hachette needs Amazon more than Amazon needs Hachette.

What does this mean to you?  Not much.  Your Hachette titles will no longer take as long since books will now be in stock, and those titles will also be much higher than necessary, thus pushing people into the indie market and protecting paper sales for those who still really want books by the writers selling ebooks too high.

So go out and pop some bubbly, for the great war has ended!

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