The Bottom Line of Publishing vs Amazon vs Authors

Posted on Posted in writing

I’ve been holding off on chiming in on the Amazon vs. the entirety of the publishing world for a while now. Heck, I didn’t plan on actually saying anything about it publicly. That all changed last Friday evening while I was sitting on the Self-Publishing Panel at American River College’s annual creative writing weekend. When we opened things for questions, a lady stood up and went on a long rant about the evils of Amazon, how they are trying to destroy publishing, and how they don’t care about writers. I responded, and might have been a little too harsh with her, and for that I apologize… HOWEVER… I’m a little over this whole torch and pitchfork thing we have going on as we back whoever Amazon is arguing with over money this week. I figured since I took a public stance in front of a crowd of hopeful writers, I should put my stance out where everyone can see it, not just the few people attending that panel.

Here’s the bottom line, and as a certain world leader puts it, “Let me be clear,”

Amazon does not care about writers.

Get that? Here, let me repeat that, in case I didn’t get my point across:

AMAZON DOES NOT CARE ABOUT WRITERS!!!

There. I said it. I know a bunch of people throughout all levels already agree with that. Then I I got a little harsh with the lady railing against the evil retail empire, and where it’s time for a bit of reality check.

Anyone who ever believed that Amazon cared about writers is either naive or delusional. Amazon is a business. Amazon cares about what will make it money. They negotiate with other businesses to maximize their profits. That’s what successful businesses do.

So, then I got even harsher when I offered up:

Barnes and Noble and the New York Big 5 don’t care about writers either.

Yeah. I went there. Allow me to repeat that, in case I didn’t get my point across:

BARNES AND NOBLE AND THE NEW YORK BIG 5 DON’T CARE ABOUT WRITERS EITHER!

Sure, certain individuals in the publishing world might care about individual writers, but the bottom line is that the publishing mega-machine doesn’t give a rat’s ass about writers. They are businesses. They care about profit. This latest thing between Hatchett and Amazon is just a pissing match between two massive corporations trying to make the biggest profit possible. Are writers caught in the middle? Sure, but we’ve always been caught in the middle. We were caught in the middle when it was Borders and Barnes and Noble against the New York 6. (Notice how that number has gotten smaller?) If they did care about writers over money, we’d never have anything like the mid-list death spiral.

Anyone who ever believed that New York Publishing or Barnes and Noble cared about writers is either naive or delusional. Just like Amazon, they are businesses. As businesses, they care about what will make them money. They negotiate with other businesses to maximize their profits. That’s what successful businesses do.

Yeah, they all work with writers, Amazon, New York Publishing, Barnes and Noble, all of them… however… don’t think for a second that you are something sacred to them. Considering the amount of times I’ve heard publishers talk about the amount of submissions they churn through in a month, and considering some of the things that so many people complain about hitting the bestseller lists *cough* DavinciTwilightShadesOfGrayCodeEtc *cough* I’d put down good money that we’re all pretty expendable. Hell, even Viking let Stephen King go over money…or that’s what he claims in his book On Writing.

So, can we stop singling Amazon out as the bad guy out to get the writers and grind them away. Amazon has good points and bad points. New York publishing has good points and bad points. Let’s stop defending one against the other. They will all give us the shaft, and the do, whenever it’s in the best interest of their profits. When it comes down to it, it’s really us writers (whether you’re self-published, traditional, or one of those strange hybrid guys like me) against them, and by them, I mean Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the New York publishing mega-machine.

The more they fight, the better it is for us. It may not look like that in the short term, especially for writers with Hatchett right now, however, each time this happens and the dust settles, we writers wind up having more options open to us so that we can play the game we want to, not the way they want us to.