We've had many discussions in the forum regarding Amazon and the future of print books. There's an excellent, in-depth article in The Nation entitled "The Amazon Effect" that addresses the past, present, and future of book publishing, and the profound impact that Amazon and e-books have had on the industry. I'd be interested in hearing what you think after reading the article.  

http://www.thenation.com/article/168125/amazon-effect?rel=emailNation#

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I heard they colonized Manhattan.. There's evidence for that.

Thanks.  I find that easier to believe that retails sales are reported.  I'm sure there is major hanky-panky there, but that's not like the scenario I mentioned above.

Not a cliche.  I never got the first bit of grooming by either of the two big-six publishers I had.  So you tell us about the chosen few that publishers decide to make an investment in.  That should simply make the rest of your authors, who get no grooming and no investement and no 11-book patience, twice as angry.

I just used those writers as examples -- I could have named plenty of others who, yes, get grooming and investment and patience. I'm sorry you don't feel you were well-treated, I.J. -- but that doesn't mean it's a universal experience.

And sometimes the big-name authors get into a rut and produce mediocre books. Take Daniel Silva. His early books were great. This week I slogged through The Defector and it was awful. I skimmed the last 100 pages of the 497 page book. Silva sells books on the basis of his early work. I haven't read many of his more recent novels and after The Defector, I won't be reading any more. Alan Furst does a much better job with historical spy novels, as does Olen Steinhauer.

How do you explain this, Neil?

Explain what, Susan? You don't feel he's as good as he used to be, so you're moving on to other writers. Obviously, a lot of readers feel he's doing just fine, so they continue to buy his books. It's just a matter of personal preference.

I like Furst and Steinhauer, too, and they're both developing significant audiences. Furst's latest big is a substantial bestseller, and Steinhauer's latest only just missed the list.

Neil, you are the one person on here whose opinion on this topic I'd most like to hear.

Do you think amazon might threaten publishing?  

Do your colleagues see it as dangerous?

I see little evidence of regulating monopolies, especially the US.   I'd love to be able to buy a cheap computer with another OS than Microsoft.  

My worry about them isn't just "what monopolies can start doing when they're the only game in town", but also the attitude.  Amazon bothers me with all their "exclusive" deals.  Why would Select need to be exclusive?  What, their free loan books would have trouble competing with books at higher prices on smaller stores?  

But there's no doubting that they've created an amazing new book industry and that it's great for writers.

But then, I always thought it was great that guys would want to give me free candy and buy me free drinks.

You may have to look outside the US to see regulated monopolies - and it doesn't have to be a single company to be a monopoly, just a small number that all act the same (especially in industries that require huge amounts of start-up capital). We avoided most of the world's banking issues the last few years in Canada by having heavily regulated banks. Way too heavily regulated if you listen to the bankers, but none of them have had to be bailed out. There are half a dozen big banks, so it's not exactly a monopoly but they all charge pretty much exactly the same rates for the same services.

Amazon is definitely aggressive and shouldn't be given a free ride. It's worrisome that they've gone into publishing as well as distribution and retail sales. I lost a lot of sales when IPG initially refused Amazon's 'deal' (okay, the truth is I don't sell any books anyway, but I like to think not having them available on Amazon made a difference ;) The same thing happened to me when my last book was published the same week MacMillan had their fight with Amazon).

Someday Amazon may have to be broken up like the movie studios/theatres and AT&T were.

As for Neil's point above, I have to agree. I have had a publisher stick with me for four very poorly selling books. And they're going to publish the fifth if I can finish it. Hey, fifth one's the charm, right?

 

 

That's behind much of my concern, John.  (Like "concern" matters in something like this--it's like being concerned for the environment of degeneration of political dialog or something).

When I heard they were doing book publishing it kind of pricked up my ears.  You get something that's already totally vertical, then they start going horizonal, too...

Between Kindle, CreateSpace, a hard copy publisher and they're retail muscle... well, I'd hate to have to compete with that.  And they are obviously on a scorched earth competition policy.  And just getting started, really.

Meanwhile, yeah it's a brave new world.  Never, never land for writers and readers alike.

Nope.  Sorry, John.  I do hope yours is.

Oops, here I go again, taking issue with John's examples. You think the AT&T breakup was good? All we got was a bunch of little Ma Bells with the same outrageous pricing policies. How about cable companies? There's a monopoly if I ever had to deal with one. If I want to watch TV, I pay Cablevision whatever they want to charge. Period. (no satellite dishes allowed on my building)

And movie theaters? Whoa! Now we have 20-plexes where you're charged outrageous prices to get crammed into little teeny boxes with the rest of the herd. The one and two screen places are almost non-existent in my area.The last art house theater in Harvard Sq just closed. In Cambridge, f'gawds sake!

 

Cable companies are only monopolies if your jurisdiction allows only one chosen company to have access, so that's a local issue and not quite the same as what we're getting at here. Satellite is a way around that. I don't know if the law has changed, but there used to be a federal reg that denied HOA and condo boards the ability to prohibit satellite dishes for the same reasons you're talking about. (An ex-wife used to work in the industry.) You might want to check on that. Just because your building says you can't have a dish doesn't mean they're acting legally.

The movie theater example has nothing to do with breaking up the monopoly. The problem there is the virtual monopoly created by the merging of many movie chains into a few. This is much the same as the AT&T breakup, though the effects on pricing there have since been leavened by access to cell and internet phone services.

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