Amazons and Hechettes, again (#SFWApro)

As I’ve mentioned before, Amazon is trying to squeeze better discounts from publishers, with tactics including refusing to pre-order books from the publishers in question and delaying shipments.
Amazon earlier this month argued that it’s really looking out for customers as this will all lead to lower prices for consumers down the road. The company has also proposed letting Hachette authors keep 100 percent of their purchase price while the dispute lasts, if Hachette agrees (at time of writing, Amazon had not actually talked about the offer with Hachette).
Amazon’s latest argument is one I’ve heard previously from other blogs: Ebooks shouldn’t be more than $9.99, given the lower costs of production compared to hard copy, and authors should get more royalty. And the lower price increases sales so much everyone wins and makes more money.
John Scalzi questions Amazon’s assumptions about correct pricing and whether cutting price will automatically increase sales. He also makes an excellent point about the fundamental assumption ebooks should reflect lower costs of production: Do people also demand restaurants cut soft drink prices to reflect how cheap soda really is? (“Please stop making the cost of production argument for books and apparently nothing else in your daily consumer life.”)
Walter Jon Williams looks at Amazon’s current finances and finds current losses as Amazon moves into new markets against tougher competition. So he concludes Amazon has an added incentive to cut costs everywhere it can, which will inevitably come back to bite authors too. And that the fact Stephen King, JK Rowling and so many other big authors go with traditional publishing is a sign that yes, going with a publisher does give authors something of value. John Scalzi gets into that here, pointing out that while he could sell his books via self-pubbing, his publisher gives him services (cover design, distribution) so he doesn’t have to deal with that stuff. And for right now, that works out well for him.
As Scalzi and Williams say, it’s not that Amazon’s evil, but just like Hachette it’s looking out for its bottom line, not for the good of the community. Which is a perfectly normal thing for any business.

1 Comment

Filed under economics, Writing

One response to “Amazons and Hechettes, again (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Amazon: we will convert couch potatoes to readers, trust us! (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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