Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fear Is Unattractive

For quite a while now, various book-related entities have been painting Amazon as a monopolistic monster. There have been pages-long screeds and responses and counter responses and so forth. I'm gonna keep this blog post as short as possible.

Bottom line of what's happened: Publishers had their comfortable way of doing business for many years, then Amazon came into the picture with a new way of doing business. In the process, Amazon has threatened publishers' ways of doing business.

Let's look at this. A company comes along, offers what looks like a much better deal for everyone involved. What's wrong with that? Nothing, really. This is the free market. It's competition. So why is Amazon the bad guy here?

My advice to publishers: stop whining about Amazon. Fear is unattractive. Use that energy you've been spending whining and use it to focus on how YOU can compete with Amazon. I recommend raising author royalties, for one, and realizing that many customers prefer ebook. Stop pricing ebooks higher than print books and release them at the same time.

I am very thankful for Barnes and Noble's Nook and for Smashwords. They are awesome Amazon competitors, and I believe competition is healthy. Amazon has flaws and warts, yes. Amazon probably needs BN and Smashwords to keep it in line.

Healthy competition is good! Whining isn't. ;-)

*** This blog post is NOT for these publishers who have already taken a look at themselves and who have adjusted their business practices accordingly. This blog post is for these publishers who are apparently baffled as to why their authors are leaving them for Amazon's imprints and/or for indie publishing. These publishers tend to blame Amazon instead of looking at themselves, which is where the problem may be. Go for higher royalties. More transparency. Clearer contract language. Get books out in a more-timely manner. Just simply treat authors better and give customers what they want (such as lower prices for ebooks than for print). These are the publishers in danger of being extinguished if they don't do something soon. These are the publishers who need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

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