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.
Dear Cammy. Yeah...I didn't sell my soul to anyone...I sold a series of books to a publisher. Am I missing something here. We're all adults engaged in a discussion. I'm offering a viewpoint of someone who has actual knowledge that's relevant to the discourse and your response is...my soul?
Here's the reality...Amazon has opened up the market. Amazon makes publishing available to all writers. And it makes our work available to all sorts of people who can't afford the price tag on works published by traditional publishing. More books to more people. That's a good thing to me. Maybe you disagree. And that's fine. But don't worry about me or my soul...we're both doing fine.
Gotta watch being cute around this place I guess.
Sorry if your souls feel threatened by my my careless little comment. You can relax. The evil woman was kidding around and the debbil ain't after ya.
Frankly, I do thing that there is a lot of danger of amazon becoming an all-powerful monopoly that has final say over book sales across the board in a possible future.
And I think that people who don't look beyond, "But standard oil has lowered gas prices soooo low" to what might happen when the other filling stations go out of of business could be a little short-sighted.
As well as people who were just so tickled about how wonderful things were going for them under the Third Reich--and there were millions of them.
I think that's a fairly adult discussion type of thing. But that's OK, I can see you're worried about your souls, and I take it all back.
As a frequent tosser of flip lines, I enjoy yours Cammy. Don't shrink from trying to make some of us laugh. Everybody isn't going to like it, but so what. Everybody doesn't like ANYTHING.
And my soul thanks you as well.
god is not great. Yesterday militant muslims in Egypt murdered a man because he was in a park with his girlfriend (they weren't married). I can't get excited about souls and what happens to them. I worry more about living breathing thinking people.
What I like about Amazon is that they take a piece of every book sold so they don't need to limit the number published or care what's in them.
I can see a time when Amazon starts charging a fee for indie authors to upload books, especially when they become the biggest publisher and get a bigger piece of their own books.
I like Amazon because they remind me of organized crime - it's just about the money. They didn't get into books because of any love of books, it was just the easiest commodity to start selling online. It's a product that can be sold with 'no money down,' so to speak. And then they discovered that people will actually supply them with an endless amount of product for free. It makes comparisons to other businesses difficult.
Monopolies that have no value-add aren't really so bad - they can be regulated (I know that sounds crazy to Americans, but it actually can work ;).
I agree, John, it is all about the money. I think the same can be said about traditional publishers today. The days of editors grooming and mentoring authors is pretty much gone. Now, it's more about signing the latest celebrity or stamping a well-known author's name on a book while someone else writes it, or having someone write a series after the original author has passed away, i.e., Robert Parker). It's rare when a "new" fiction writer breaks into the New York Times bestseller list. Amazon does offer some hope to lesser known writers.
I know this editors-don't-groom-authors-anymore meme is pretty popular on the internet, but it simply isn't true. Yes, the big-name authors are obviously important to us, and, yes, there are plenty of authors who never make it big, but a lot of our bread and butter comes from bringing people along. I'm looking right now at the jackets of two bestselling authors on my office shelf who didn't break through until, coincidentally, their 11th book each -- it happened exactly because of the steady book-by-book development that the meme says doesn't exist. I'm looking at the jackets of three first novelists I'm publishing this year, each of whom is getting a push out of proportion to what they'll probably net because we're making an investment in their careers. And it's rare when a new writer breaks onto the NYT list? As I write, I'm looking at a copy of the NYT bestseller list for July 15th (we get them 10 days in advance): On it are two first novelists, Maggie Shipstead and Karen Thompson Walker, plus two wickedly good writers who have never even had a sniff of the list before, Jess Walter on his 4th novel, and Gillian Flynn on her 3rd novel. Not one of these people is a "big name," but all are worthy of their breakthrough.
So can we scrap the cliches?
It's nice to get insight from inside now and then.
It's great to hear that you're working with and publishing new novelists. And yes, when I looked at the most recent list of New York bestselling authors, there were a few new or unfamiliar names on the list. Still, the majority of writers on the list were familiar names we see time and time again. It is rare when someone new is added to the list. I didn't say it "never" happened nor did I say that editors "never" groomed or worked with authors anymore. That we see the same authors on the NY Times bestseller lists may say more about consumer's tastes than publishing house choices.
Interesting comment, Neil, in light of some recent post here that caught my eye. They were saying that the NYT list is not, in fact based on retail sales, but on what is shipped by publishers--including potential returns--and that therefore can be self-fulfilling. And that the list is "fed" by publishers, not "seached" by the NYT.
I found that unlikely, but who would know. Maybe you. Any comment on that?
The NYT list is absolutely based on retail sales. I've known lots of books with big ship numbers that never made the list at all, and books with relatively low ship numbers that did make it, because of their velocity that particular week (usually the result of a media hit or a concentration of good reviews).
People often ask me, "How many books does it take to make the NYT list?" I always say, there is no such number. It all depends on what books are selling at what rate relative to all the other books out there in that particular week.
Anybody who thinks otherwise probably also believes that the moon landing was staged in the Arizona desert. Or was it New Mexico? I never can remember.