Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
Welcome to round two in the Hachette vs. Amazon kerfuffle. Forgive the post title, but this feels like the bad sequel to a movie blockbuster dud. They followed the formula, should have made and killing, but instead got killed. Honestly, this ongoing issue is taking on the trappings of “class warfare.
Some frustrated authors are calling for a boycott of Amazon and signing an open letter drafted by Douglas Preston. Signatories include James Patterson, Stephen King, Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Donna Tartt, Anita Shreve, and Philip Pullman. The SFWA also endorses this open letter, although they did it without consulting their membership.
The Legacy Team argues that Amazon is boycotting Hachette authors, refusing to discount the prices of books, and slowing delivery of books by several weeks. These authors have been supporting Amazon since “it was a struggling start-up,” and argue that this is not “the right way to treat your friends.”
All warm fuzzies aside, this is about money. Check out the investor report from Lagardère, the parent company of Hachette.
Self-published authors, including Hugh Howey, JA Konrath, David Gaughran, and Barry Eisler, have responded with a petition of their own, which now boasts over 7000 names (including mine, in the interest of full disclosure).
The Independent Team argues that legacy publishers, including Hachette, have a history of treating authors and readers poorly. Amazon, however, has empowered both authors and readers. They allow authors a viable way to control their creative content, publish on their schedule, and make a living off their craft. Readers are not being spoon-fed what an elite group in NYC deems acceptable for public consumption and can make choices on what books are popular by voting with their money.
Hugh Howey points out that everyone, even Douglas Preston, wants what is best for writers. Too bad we can’t agree on what that really is.
And over at A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, JA Konrath has been arguing for writer’s independence since 2012 and encouraging writers to publish since 2010. He hopes that this issue will help authors see that they really do have a choice on how they publish their work.
Amazon’s boycott of Hachette’s books is a “phantom boycott” according to David Gaughran. Amazon is not taking pre-orders of upcoming Hachette releases. While no one has the inside scoop on negotiations, it is likely they are not taking orders because they are not confident at this stage of the negotiations that they will be able to fulfill those orders.
Barry Eisler also mentioned that Amazon tried to make Hachette authors whole and forego all profits from their books. They would allow 100% of that money to go directly to the authors. Hachette said no. Who really has authors’ best interests at heart?
As for my two cents, the legacy publishing model is outdated. The Big 5 keep fighting for the status quo and don’t realize that the ship has already sailed. I keep thinking that someone will wake up and realize what technology has done to their cozy little industry, but no luck yet.
If you feel the same way as either of the camps above, please share your thoughts. And if you are so inclined, go sign one of these petitions and become part of the change.