My Own Personal Grey

Two Strange Things


First: I can no longer say I don’t own a car. After 14.5 years without one, I finally broke down and bought a 16-year-old Toyota so I can manage the groceries and errands for the boat and get to a lot of my appointments, signings, friends, and so on without either begging rides, taking the bus, or dealing with issues related to the motorcycle’s limited carrying capacity and weather protection. I’m keeping the bike, and I think it’ll still be primary transport for a lot of things, but… I do finally have a car. ~sigh~

Second: Amazon UK is coming under pressure from the Hachette Group–which happens to be the parent of my UK publisher–for making unreasonable demands for discounts much larger than those enjoyed by any other book retailer in their market (they already buy at 51% or more off cover price while other booksellers buy at less than 50% off cover–usually 40-45% off.) This isn’t limited to the UK, but as of yet, no one else has pitched a bitch and told Amazon they won’t play by those rules. I’m pleased that someone is telling them to back down–I think Amazon has been increasingly arrogant and abusive of their suppliers (publishers and–ultimately–writers) in the book market–both US and UK–and nothing has been said. Last year they bought Audible and earlier this year, they laid down an ultimatum to POD publishers that they could no longer manage their own stock if sold by Amazon, but must allow Amazon’s POD subsidiary, BookSurge, to do all the printing, binding, and distributing of their POD books sold through Amazon. I can’t help wondering when they will make the same demand for all audio books. They already have quite stiff requirements for electronic books being made available for Kindle while Amazon does the conversion to other formats–not the original publisher. Practices like these remove market choice and place the producers at Amazon’s mercy with a result that the producers of the materials get less and less money while Amazon–under the guise of offering lower prices to consumers–makes more and more.

I’m not against profit–hell no!–but I am against being abused by someone in the single-minded pursuit of same. Since I make less money per book when my publisher makes less money per book, I don’t care for the discount. But more than that, I despise the tactics and the attempt at monopoly and control that Amazon seems to be pursuing. Online bookselling is a lovely idea and it ought to lower overhead, allowing booksellers to make more profit by selling at normal price, or to discount prices while still making the same profit per book. What Amazon is asking for is not a reasonable approach to the market and suppliers, or even to readers.

I hope Amazon UK and its parent will reconsider their demands.