Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The eBook Apocalypse Part II: The revolving story of us versus them.

I have never met and indie/self published author that hated Amazon. I am sure they are out there, but for the masses there is love or respect for The Zon. There is a good reason for that, Amazon makes what we do possible. They get a lot of credit--good and bad--for allowing people to self publish, but let us be frank; they are the bread an butter for a lot of the independent publishers too. My co-op included. For reference, an indie publisher is any publisher outside the big six...*counts* er, five, publishers and their imprints (of which there are A LOT).

Penguin and Random House recently morphed into some type of megazoid publisher, that just leaves Hachette, Macmillion, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.

The more I talk about Amazon, the more people I meet who hate my guts. They love to tell me how wrong I am, and if I miss commas. They love to tell me they hate what I am doing, but not any of them have been able to prove that I'm wrong. They just don't like me.

So far, these people have all had one thing in common. They are all committed to traditional publishing. And that's great! I am a firm believer that everyone in the "book industry" is on the same side, even if we don't like each other. (One day, I want to sell my book for half off at the Walmart too.) Oddly, these people tend to be the ugliest to me. Not all of them! Some are FAB! But the self published and the micro published have caught on to the fact that they are their brand. They know being a vicious bitch on social media will catch up to them--and quickly. Agented writers that haven't sold a book, and don't have fans, or a publisher to please probably aren't going to see the effects right away. But I am a firm believer in Karma.

I freely admit, there is all kinds of hostility, and it is on both sides. The thing is, when one gets on their platform and screams that Amazon is evil and shouldn't exist; the other group hears that they are evil--and that they shouldn't exist. It can't be both ways, and most people don't even try and pretend it is. They don't want Amazon to live, and they don't want indies to live either. It's nothing personal, except when it is. The traditionally published make more money in real books than indies and self published authors. It's because they have great distribution channels, and we don't. So if Amazon fell, they'd still sell books. But if Amazon never existed, then the waves of small presses wouldn't exist, and self publishing would still be completely laughable--though I am sure they still think it is. There would be no Amanda Hocking, no .99 Millionaires.

I revised this article four times, and almost always and three AM. I had to do that because of how quickly the publishing world changes; and because people keep pissing me off on the internet. In the amount of time it took me to run through this thing again, I am worried Barnes & Noble will have wheezed its final breath and this whole last bit will quickly become faction.

Just to recap: If Amazon fell, no more indies. There is no one ready to step up and fill their shoes, and I am not sure anyone would want to if Amazon was no longer there to compete with. The Nook branch of B&N lost millions of dollars last year, and the only one that has enough devices in hand to take on Amazon is Apple--and they had to go be taken on by the DOJ and lose. Read that article here.

BUT what would happen if Barnes & Noble shut their doors for good? You know, after systematically destroying most indie book stores. Like they have done. Well then other than the big box stores, as mentioned here, there really isn't anywhere else for them to go. Except for back online, where the playing field isn't at all in their favor. You can argue that their books are in some cases better edited, that they sometimes have better covers, but the thing that really speaks to be people is the almighty dollar. Most readers don't know that I might miss a comma in the next sentence, but they know if they like a story. They will see them side by side on Amazon, and if they have no idea who any of these people are, they are probably going to pick the one with the better price tag. There is less risk.

It helps that every day people are becoming smarter about publishing. A professional looking cover can go a long way.

You could even argue that all self published books are crap! But I am a capitalist. I believe that the market does a good job of weeding out the garbage. I also believe you are far less likely to pick up a lemon on Amazon than you are just browsing in Barnes & Noble. That is because on Amazon all the reviews are just there, you can read through the first part of book in both places but only one will get you looks from the teenager in the Starbucks if want to read a big chunk. You don't have to just look at the cover and read the blurb, at least I hope you won't.

With the stakes so high, it's no wonder we're all yelling at each other on Twitter. Still, I stand by what I said before--we are all on the same side. Do you agree?


Katherine Hajer said...

I totally agree. BTW, when I took a course on getting published a few years ago, the prof (formerly with b Penguin Canada) did cover self-publishing as an option, and explained the difference between that and vanity publishing.

This raises some larger points about mass consumerism in general. I loved the line about Wal Mart -- it summed up things nicely.

Angela Kulig said...

Yeah, once upon a time I was a marketing manager. SO I understand mass consumerism quite well. Sometimes those truths make me very unpopular. ;)

Thanks for reading!

Andy H said...

great stuff angela...keep up the good work!

Larry Kollar said...

Sooner or later, Amazon will shoot itself in the foot. Someone other corp will claw its way to the top, but it won't be a big publisher. It will make reading devices, and will recognize the power of indies to fill those devices with cheap or free content.

So I don't think our distribution channels will go away for very long if Amazon checked out. We're too big (and eager) to ignore now.

Angela Kulig said...

You are more of an optimist than I am Lar--you keep that up so I can mooch some of the positive thinking from you ;)

Unknown said...

Good article. I'm interested though, are there any area's you think Amazon could improve? or what would make you move over to a competitor?

Angela Kulig said...

There are always room for improvement, sadly my areas of expertise reside in marking so I tend to wish they could improve their "public image."

Only I know that's probably impossible. If you are a regular consumer you could like Amazon because they are great. Some groups loathe Amazon and that won't change by anything. They could rescue orphans from burning buildings ad give grants for local bookstores--people would still find a way to hate them.

Though that last one would be AWESOME. Someone should tell them.