Maglomediac: Amazon vs. Hachette vs. Indie Author?

Amazon_Hachette_Indie_AuthorThe feud between Amazon and Hachette has been filling news feeds and websites for some time now as both sides claim to be the victim. What facts we do know are that Amazon wants to control the book market for obvious reasons: Increased book sales means increased income. Amazon is a business, and Amazon wants its money. Hachette–also a big publishing company–makes a valid point in that Amazon’s tactics of raising Hachette authors’ book prices, delaying shipping, and recommending similar, cheaper books will bring in less revenue for the authors, and, likely more important to the businessmen and women within Hachette’s corporate world, less money to the publisher itself. This isn’t to say that Hachette doesn’t care about its authors, but at the end of the day money is what matters because these are businesses, and they need money to function.

As this debate continues, it seems as if people are siding with Hachette more than Amazon, which makes sense to a certain degree. Hachette sells books. Authors are their interest, while Amazon sells everything. Amazon doesn’t necessarily need to sell books to turn a profit. Therefore, if Hachette sells fewer books, their entire company suffers, but if Amazon sells fewer books, they have tons of other markets to ensure they continue to make money. However, author David Gaughran makes a valid point in his article, Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin, in which he says,

“It’s almost like it’s the result of a very smart PR campaign. It’s almost like Hachette is part of a giant mass media conglomeration with billions of dollars of revenue and hundreds of outlets in which to push its message. It’s almost like Hachette is part of an international publishers’ association which has explicitly stated it will be flooding the media this year with stories intended to advance its interests.”

And with good reason, too. As I said, Hachette depends on the sale of books to make money, whereas Amazon does not.

However, it has become apparent that Hachette authors are blaming this debate on the Indie author–most of whom struggle to barely make any money, have little to no marketing or PR budgets, and who oftentimes barely sell over two hundred of any book. This isn’t to say Indie authors are victims by any means. Selling books is a business, and to sell books you first have to write a good book. Is there a higher chance you’ll read a good book when buying it from a “Big 5” publisher? Yes. It’s obvious that the ease of point-and-click publishing has allowed a flood of every kind of book imaginable into the market. Good books, bad books, books with typos, books with obvious plot holes, books with well-developed characters, books with fantastic endings, books that will make you cry, books that will make you laugh. However, blaming Indie authors for a feud between Amazon and Hachette doesn’t make sense.

Amazon implementing self-publishing was a business decision. They’re able to sell even more books than before with very little cost to them. The author pays for the book printing and the shipping. Uploading a book to sell on Kindle has no cost at all. It makes money, and Amazon took advantage of it. Yes, clearly Amazon is attempting to make more money, monopolize, control the book-selling market, whatever you want to call it. Yes, Hachette authors are potentially in trouble because of Amazon’s actions, especially those authors with debut novels out. If no one buys or pre-orders their first novel because of Amazon’s tactics, it’s impossible for those authors/Hachette to make any money. That being said, blaming the Indies is not the solution. This dispute is Amazon vs. Hachette, not Amazon vs. Hachette vs. Indie authors. Every author has the same opportunity and right to be as successful as another author as long as they’re putting in the appropriate amount of work: writing a damn good book; taking pride in what they write; standing behind what they produce. It’s not the Indie author’s fault that Amazon is pulling these tricks with Hachette. Amazon does control a large portion of the book market, and part of that has to do with their implementation of self-publishing, but it’s not the Indie author’s fault that there is a dispute between Amazon–A major book publisher–and Hachette–A major book publisher. Taking it out on the little guy because giant book machines are squabbling isn’t the right thing to do.

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