Windows into the Imagination

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Fallacy

Just read another blog post that made me laugh. Are writers truly that naive to think that Amazon loves them and are a great boon to writers and won't screw them in the end?

Do they think bookstores are so 'selfish' that they're only thinking of themselves and refuse to sell great books?

Okay what are these people smoking? Bookstores are a business. They are there to make money. If something will make them money in the end, they will do it. If something won't, they won't do it. Same goes for Amazon. Do you really think it's they're TOO SELFISH TO MAKE MONEY? Please use your brains.

They are selfish. No doubt about it. They are selfish enough to do the things that they know will make them money and get rid of those things that cause them more trouble than they're worth. Like customers demanding their money back for buying crap. If trad published books were crap, wouldn't you think the customers would be complaining about them and sending them back in droves instead of self-pub books?

Amazon has been desperate to open bookstores and has been for years. Do you really think that bookstores are disappearing anytime soon? Amazon certainly doesn't think so and they know better than anyone else. They don't do anything unless it will net them loads of cash.

As for traditional bookstores not stocking Amazon books...seriously, do you really think it's about authors? 

Or is it because they really really don't like Amazon because it has regularly screwed the bookstores the past few years. They send customers as spies to brick-and-mortar bookstores in order to get their prices so they can always offer lower prices, a clearly offensive tactic and they expect those same brick-and-mortar stores to welcome them with open arms? Seriously. It's not about authors. It's about being pissed off at Amazon.

And self-publishers...hmm how many times have I had readers and bookstore clerks complain about the low quality of the self-pub books they originally were willing to put on their shelves. Because some did, until they were burned and got complaints from their customers. That's a fact. Can you blame them for not wanting to stock self-pub books anymore? They're not a charity.

And for those who insist that there are trad pub books that are just as bad. Really. Name 10. And list all the errors in them compared to any 10 randomly picked self-pub title that have barely gone through editing.

Do you seriously think people will believe that works that have been properly edited are of lower quality than non-vetted works? Do you really think experienced editors who do it for a living are stupid and no better than your completely unexperienced cousin or friend editing your work?

Do you think anyone with a brain would believe that? Why don't people pull their kids from school because obviously receiving an education and having skills and experience is worth nothing according to these self-publishers.


The quality has somewhat improved. I know a couple of self-publishers who have their work properly edited who are really good. Most of them don't whine incessantly like many self-publishers, esp the newbies who don't have a clue, do. They let the quality of their work speak for themselves.

And really, are loads of authors leaving trad publishing? I've been to many conventions that have loads of authors. Yeah, don't believe that at all.

The fact is that trad publishing has cut their lists of authors, and cut them again. I have no doubts that many of these ones who are no longer with trad publishing and are bashing them, people 'assume' have left because they're fed up and not because they were dumped.

I actually know and have met trad authors who are quite happy where they are. Most of them don't bother with the new wave of authors coming in outside of the system. It's not even an issue. Their opinion is that time will tell. It always does. They're not concerned. And why should they? Statistically, trad publishing isn't really doing that badly, though they are being pushed by Amazon (note, that does NOT equate self-publishers though many seem to think they're one and the same). Amazon doesn't represent self-publishers and couldn't care a rats ass about authors. The only reason why they're supposedly giving them a 'great' deal (yeah, some deal...dump all the work of producing a book on the author and take a huge chunk for doing next to nothing except provide an online bookshelf to put your book) is to screw the competition so that Amazon can have a monopoly.

The threat is that Amazon can afford to sell products below cost in order (which presumably is illegal) to screw the competition.

Don't believe it? Three very big wake up calls that self-publishers seem to have completely missed this past  year because they have been navel gazing.

One. Amazon has opened their own trad publishing imprints. The only thing self-publishers seem to see is...yay, that's good for us. They completely miss the point. Do you really think Amazon believes in self-publishing if they have made a serious effort to get into TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING?

Guess what the implications of that are. Take a real, educated, objective guess.

That's because it is where the future is. Amazon knows that. They believe it so much that they're spending loads of money to set up these imprints PLUS trying to get into brick-and-mortar stores or thinking of establishing their own.

They're not in it to lose money. So is trad pub or brick-and-mortars going to die? Not according to Amazon who is throwing a whole whack of money at it.

Wake up!

Second. They're paying huge advances in order to lure away big name authors. People think they're nuts because there is no way they will make money from it. But guess what. It's the same thing they're doing with the Kindle and selling below cost. It's being done to screw the competition. Amazon is willing to lose that money because it knows the trad publishers can't afford such crazy advances. But in order to keep those authors, trad publishers may be forced to. Something they can't afford.

Underhanded tactics? Predatory practices? Amazon is well known for them. Do you honestly think they won't do the same to authors?

Why do you think so many authors refuse to have anything to do with Amazon? I was at a writer's convention this weekend and some authors are livid at what Amazon has been getting away with and always recommend that people buy their books from anywhere except Amazon.

Self-publishers a threat to trad publishers and brick-and-mortar stores? Let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's Amazon with its megawads of cash and predatory practices that is the real threat.

Three. When Amazon first introduced the KSP program, 'allowing' people to sell their books for free in return for helping Amazon screw the competition by making those books exclusive and tying customers to Amazon because Kindle format is proprietary, the best-seller rankings included the free downloads numbers.

We know what that meant. The higher you were in the rankings, the greater the chance your book was included in the recommended list on other books' pages, or the 'people who bought this also bought this lists'. That was and still is GOLD. To be recommended by the Amazon calculation engines is a sure sign that you've succeeded and are going somewhere.

Guess what, as of last year, that started changing. Because Amazon realized that free downloads were worth jack in terms of real value.

So a major advantage of giving  books away for free in order to help Amazon, was no longer that much of an advantage except for Amazon. That's a fact.

Partway through last year, they weighted the free downloads at a percentage of real sales. Then, they stopped that all together and it didn't matter how many were downloaded free, they had no impact on the bestseller calculations.

Gee I wonder why Amazon did that? The majority of people who use the free program are self-publishers and some indie publishers.

Trad publishers on the whole won't touch it because they have no interest in shutting the doors to all other platforms, including other online sellers. They're not stupid.

Giving Amazon a monopoly is like jumping into a pool full of sharks. It may 'promise' that it won't eat you, but who really believes that from past experience?

Just ask all the people who've had their reviews deleted without warning or explanation the last week, and who Amazon refuses to listen to even if their beef is genuine.

Ask the book reviewers, some of whom refuse to post on Amazon. I wonder why...must be because Amazon is a cuddly bear and a generous uncle all rolled into one. Not.

I can't believe some people still think Amazon is such a great boon to writers and are doing things to help them. I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same people who actually believe the Amazon lie about the Kindle being sold out. Look at the real numbers people. It ain't even close to the truth. Amazon is one of the most secretive companies. It refuses to release any real numbers about overall sales of books or the Kindle or how it does its bestseller calculations. All it gives are vague generalizations and claims without anything to back it up. It's one of life's big mysteries.

Fortunately, people who work in this industry for a living actually keep track of numbers and look at real values and they say Amazon is full of crap with its 'claims'. If they laughed any harder, they would be rolling on the floor. They must look forward to each Amazon press release because it's chock full of comic material.

I can't wait for the other shoe to drop for people who actually think Amazon is great for writers. It has already started if they're paying any attention. I hope you have a life-raft to crawl into because the shark is turning.

Not that I love trad publishers, esp those ones who are run by the accountants. I think that it is a golden time for writers and we are gaining more leverage during these times and I hope that sticks and trad publishers wake up and treat writers better. But I don't think they're the enemy, not by a long shot. I do think Amazon is the enemy though and I hope that the naive self-publishers that have entered the business recently will find that out before it's too late.

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