Pennyworth AdvicePublishing BizWriting

On Amazon (Again)

I haven’t spoken about the Amazon-Hachette stuff again, mostly because I don’t have time for the army of angry self-pub evangelists who inevitably descend (and send me nasty, ungrammatical, indifferently punctuated screeds) but thankfully, I do not have to with Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi doing such a good job.

Here’s Scalzi:

…I really really really wish Amazon would stop pretending that anything it does it does for the benefit of authors. It does not. It does it for the benefit of Amazon, and then finds a way to spin it to authors, with the help of a coterie of supporters to carry that message forward, more or less uncritically.

Look: As Walter Jon Williams recently pointed out, if Amazon is on the side of authors, why does their Kindle Direct biolerplate have language in it that says that Amazon may unilaterally change the parameters of their agreement with authors? I don’t consider my publishers “on my side” any more than I consider Amazon “on my side” — they’re both entities I do business with — but at least my publisher cannot change my deal without my consent. Which is to say that between my publisher and Amazon, one of them gets to utter the immortal Darth Vader line “I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it further” to authors doing business with it and one does not. (John Scalzi, link and italics his)

Scalzi also points out that Amazon’s math is dependent upon the assumption that Amazon is the only book retailer that matters, instead of being “only” 30% of the market. (I put quotes around “only” because that’s still an incredible amount of market share for one company to have, really.)

I’ve been asked what I think of Kindle Unlimited–here’s Harry Connolly on that subject, which sums up everything quite nicely. After seeing what similar things did to the music industry, and taking into account Amazon’s business practices and history, I’ll take a pass on the whole damn thing. My publishers may offer some of my books through Kindle Unlimited, and I suppose I’ll see what happens there, but left to my own devices–whether it’s for my self-pubbed work or if I’m given a choice about other works, I’ll just say a polite no thank you. Shares out of a fund just seems like another way of saying “do it for the exposure!” And we all know how I feel about that. Also–and this is the bigger reason–I do not trust Amazon in this situation. Yes, I sell books through them and am using their Audible arm for the SquirrelTerror audiobook, but their business practices are such that I am incredibly hesitant to engage with them further. I won’t do KDP Select for the same reason–it’s a bad business decision for me, given Amazon’s behaviour.

And that’s that.

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Consumers are also to blame with the whole Amazon thing. People fail to see that Amazon is the Venus Flytrap of the online world, they only see the pretty face and the sweet nectar…


Here is a simple info graphic on why publishers and author have zero leverage against Amazon. Yes they could care less you are whining. If you don’t like their business terms distribute elsewhere. It similar to a Book Store not doing pre-orders for your book or advertising it.


I dont buy from Amazon at all.

Christine Hansen
My dear Lili, I find it utterly astonishing that anyone would presume to tell you how to run your business, which is what that angry army of self-pub evangelists is trying to do. To put it quite bluntly, it is none of *their* business. It is sad that many in our society do not understand how ridiculous and disrespectful it is to expect writers, artists, and musicians to cave to market forces as wielded by Amazon and others of that ilk or to disregard the value of our efforts simply because what we offer the world comes from our heads,… Read more »
Eliza Marie Jones (@elizamariejones)

Well said! I’m going the self pub route, but I’m not the type to shove my method in someone else’s face. No matter how we publish, we are all writers trying to make money with what we love doing! I’m glad to see you compare an author’s career to a mechanic and dentist, because often artists don’t see themselves as businesspeople. We have to be in order to make a living.


Congratulations Amazon. You’ve managed to get me to start buying books online from BOTH B&N AND Apple.