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.  


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Absolutely agree on the Amazon merchandising.  I've been buying all my books from them.  They've been totally reliable and make it one-click easy.  Just recently,  got a Lee Child novel I bought used (he is a bestseller and doesn't need my money).  The book was stained a bit.  When Amazon solicited my reaction to the sale, I told them.  They refunded my money.  I hadn't asked for that.  I'd just been grumbling a bit.  I don't think a used book store would do that.  Neither would I think of going back for my money.

Must confess I skimmed the article. At this point I'm happily spending the money Amazon deposits in my bank account each month for the hundreds of Kindle copies sold of my 2 New Orleans crime thrillers.

However, I don't know if anyone read the related article at the bottom of the post. It's titled How German keeps Amazon at bay and preserves its bookstores ... or some such title. Here's a brief quote.

But you might want to read the entire article.

"With a population of 82 million, Germany is a knowledge-based, economically successful society with around 2,000 publishing companies and more than 3,500 serious independent bookstores staffed by licensed booksellers (most of whom have completed an apprenticeship of up to three years, including vocational training in cultural history and economics). In Berlin, a city of 3.4 million people, close to 300 bookstores provide outlets for more than 400 publishers. The typical neighborhood bookstore in Germany has two employees, possibly three, and some of them know their bookselling history: there must be at least ten shops in the country named Shakespeare and Company, in tribute to the legendary bookstore established in Paris in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, the original publisher of Ulysses.

To be a bookseller in Germany carries social prestige. It is a job dominated by women, most of whom have a college degree. Quality bookstores provide their customers with good advice and regular nightly readings by authors, usually charging a €5 fee per person. They can fill orders quickly as well: for more than four decades most German bookstores have been electronically connected to wholesalers, who guarantee that any book not stocked by a store will be delivered within a day, sometimes within a few hours. Considering that Germany is about the size of Montana, this is not surprising.""  END QUOTE

Yowza!  Nightly readings (with an admission fee) by authors. And nowadays, of course, most of the remaining bookstores in the US are staffed by college educated workers who can't find a job anywhere else. 

Even for English language titles, it seems like Germany is the next big e-book market.

More than India?

My novel, Blues Highway Blues, was published by Thomas & Mercer in June.  I have nothing but great things to say about how they've promoted and marketed the book.  The fact of the matter is that Amazon is opening doors to countless writers who would never otherwise have a chance.  More than that, Amazon makes novels available to readers in a way that "business as usual" in publishing never did.  Just look at how things have changed since Amazon entered the market:  Every writer now has opportunities that didn't exist just a few years ago.  People are reading with renewed interest.  Where's the downside?  What's the danger?

That's what everybody says when they sell their precious soul to the devil.

Aw gee, you mean I have a precious soul?  What does it look like? I'm not convinced I have one. I better go look for it.

Seriously, I have to agree with Eyre. Amazon has treated me very well. They even have honest to gawd humans answering the phone. [I don't know if they have souls, I didn't ask ... ]

All I know is, I'm making money selling my novels. After paying my dues for 20 years and writing the obligatory QUERY letters to literary agents and having them ask for the complete mss, only to have them say "Oh we love your writing but the thriller market is sooooo competitive, we're just going to blow you off."

So now, hundreds and hundreds of people are reading my novels and actually enjoying them enough to write fan emails to me and put up reviews on Amazon ... in the US and UK.

What's not to like?

I'm sure your soul is darling, Susan.

Wow! A lot of subliminal feelings in these comments. Rest assured, writers...wherever this publishing market swings there will always be need for us--unless, of course, they figure a way for robots to write what only the human mind can conjure. I'll lay my bets on human writers, thank you very much!

I think there might already be some robots doing romances and westerns.

Seriously, Mark, I was talking about that a while back with some folks and they idea was,  they might be able to make robots to painting and sculpture and a lot of things, but not writing.

I think it's true.  You go to a fancy gallery and you see a LOT of stuff a bot could have done.  And I actually saw an exhibit of sculpture designed by a program and produced by printing out metal, however that works.  They said it could just as easily have been printing chocolate frosting.

But writing's different.  It's based on stories, based on human feeling and perception.  I think we'll be the last ones to go.  :-)

Well, when fanfic makes the bestseller list, you already have robots.  Add to that piracy, and readers will be supplied for many years without anyone having to sit down at their computer and hammer out another original work.  (Sorry.  I'm in a very bad mood today).

Writing fiction could be a considered a waste of time in the future. We have lots of stories, more than anyone could ever read. Why bother with new ones? Time would be better spent providing other services for needy people. (Just reread "1984" and I'm in a mood this morning. )


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