My Own Personal Grey

Ah, Amazon…


With all the current kerfuffle about Amazon’s removal of Macmillan books from their virtual sales "floor" (they aren’t refusing to list the books offered by their associates, only to list Macmillian in their own sales space which is their right,) I’m amused as all hell that I pulled Amazon links off my site last year. I’ve had some strong philosophical and business objections to how Amazon’s business model has been trending with respect to my industry for quite a while. I don’t want to support a business whose practices abuse my industry and cut seriously into my ability to make a living. I’m not demanding or expecting them to change–their model is what they choose, and it’s not up to me to dictate to them how they ought to run their business–but I don’t have to support it when it I find that model unreasonable and unfair to me. This is why there are no Amazon links on any of my websites and haven’t been for some time.

There are also no links to other retailers either, since I don’t want to be in the position of being blackmailed with "but you have so-and-so" by every retail chain and marketing dude in the business. The exception is those specific, local retailers who offer the service of selling and shipping signed books to my fans. These are retailers with whom I have a mutually agreeable relationship and I support and link to them because they support me.

And that’s the key, here: "mutual".

For a long time, the relationship between publishers and super-retailers like Amazon and WalMart have been controlled by the retailer. The supposition seems to be that the publishers need the retailers more than the retailers need the books. But that isn’t true. If you’re a bookseller, you need books (duh). It’s reasonable to negotiate for the best deal you can get and to choose your inventory selectively. It’s unreasonable to throw a hissy fit when you don’t get a deal that is unreasonably one-sided in your favor. It’s also unreasonable to engineer monopoly control of online retailing and distribution of books in all divisions by insisting that, if you want to be listed at all, POD books be printed only by your printer, that e-books be formatted only for your reader, that audio books be sold only through your vendor and expect suppliers to swallow that meekly under bludgeon of "we’re the biggest/only game in town." These are all things that Amazon has attempted with greater or lesser degrees of success in the past five years. And that is why I don’t support Amazon–they are making a grab at monopoly (or near monopoly) of online distribution of all content forms.

No matter how you feel about Amazon in general, the Kindle, the iPad, e-books, the book industry, or any of the rest of it, it is wise to consider what you are supporting when you give any company your money. Or your links.

I am not published by any subdivision of Macmillan and their current issue is not a personal one for me, but it is a highly-visible indicator of the corporate model that Amazon has chosen to embrace to which I do have strong personal objections. I don’t like monopolies. I don’t like abusive DRMs or "licensing" property. I don’t like backdoor thefts. I don’t like exclusive channels. So, I don’t like Amazon’s practices. So, there won’t be any Amazon links on any of my sites unless and until they change their tune on all these issues. And not just a little; a lot.

If you want to know more about this issue, I strongly suggest taking a look at John Scalzi’s post on the topic. As usual, Scalzi has rounded up the pertinent facts and links and made it pretty easy to understand.