Amazon is killing the bookstore

I’ve been against Amazon for years. Anyone who’s spoken with me for 10 seconds or less about Amazon’s bookselling policies, the Kindle, or their treatment of authors and publishers knows how I feel about them. I’m not exactly subtle in my distaste for Amazon’s strong-arm policies or their desire to kill the traditional book and bookstores altogether.
But I’m also aware I can come off a little evangelical, a little too much end-of-the world (or, more appropriately, physical book). I’m aware that for people who are more interested in the low prices than the ethics or morals of Amazon’s author treatment; or people who don’t realize how important the publishing companies model still is for new authors who are trying to break in to the business, to get recognized, that I appear too harsh. Amazon cannot offer the package deal — the editing, artwork, advertising, pay advances, and endorsements — that established publishing do. It’s simply not enough to tell new authors to self-publish, it does not recognize the complexities of the situation or that traditional publishing companies are not the only victims of Amazon’s behavior.
I met Sarah Rees Brennan, a new author, at Powell Books’ Wordstock in Portland, OR.
I heard about Scott Westerfeld through Sarah Rees Brennan.
And was introduced to the wonder and beauty that is
Laini Taylor (a local author!) through Wordstock.
Which is promoted and funded through Powell Books.
It’s not as simple as write book, publish book. There are steps in between, even for e-books — editing and re-writes, proper formatting of the filetypes, and advertising/ awareness. I know that I can be off-putting to people who don’t necessarily care about what goes into actually getting a good book out and available; only that they pay what they feel is an okay price.
Well, the writing on the wall, my wild-eyed Cassandra-esque warnings from way back when I first comprehended Amazon’s business model (well before the first Kindle) are coming true, and I’m not the only one noticing it.
New York Times is writing about how Amazon wants to kill the bookstore, and while B&N is putting up a good fight, nothing is certain. The Author’s Guild outlines the backstory of Amazon’s strong-arm tactics; their bullying of publishing companies and authors alike, and how they became a monopoly. Even Writer’s Beware Blogs has featured Amazon’s KDP program, with it’s non-competition clause that prevents enrolled authors from selling their books elsewhere; Amazon’s habit of underpricing books to the detriment of authors and their publishers; and Amazon’s decision to ignore publishing companies wishes and illegally enroll their books in their Lending Program without permission.
This is a horrible, unethical company. I’m not against e-readers — I love my Nook Simple Touch, as everyone who spends half a minute in my company knows — I’m against Amazon, specifically. I hope more people start reading the news and listening to what’s going on, and I hope more people get the key points that can be summed up from all this information:
  • Buy a Nook, save the books. Barnes and Noble wants to save the bookstore. They are offering competitive, great tech in their e-readers, and are taking over more market share of e-books every day in their quest to save books and bookstores. Buying a Nook is a tangible step we can take toward saving bookstores, while buying a Kindle is a choice to help kill the bookstore.
  • Amazon is bad for authors. The publishing industry sucks and needs to change, yes. But as bad as they are, they are not as bad for new authors trying to break into the field as Amazon is. Amazon consistently undercuts author’s prices, rights, and selling choices.
  • Amazon is an unethical bully. Amazon is a monopoly, and they wield their economic clout with crude, bullying tactics that negatively affect everyone, including their customers — don’t forget when Amazon illegally sold digital copies of 1984, and when they were challenged, pulled every copy (remotely) off their customer’s devices . . . and only reimbursed them when the outcry started. Amazon is still pulling this illegal type of shit — they rolled out their illegal Lending Library in November 2011.
Readers and writers need to educate themselves and be aware. Move away from the Kindle. If the Nook is too expensive for you, there are other great readers out there — the Kobo, the Sony, or the iRiver Story. Yes, I’m personally a Nook fan, because I own a Nook and I’ve followed their company and I’m an aspiring technie nerd, so I know how well-regarded their tech is. But if you care about books, about quality literature and bookstores and authors — the all-necessary content creators — if you care about these things, then here’s the deal: Literally any e-reader is better for the industry than the Kindle and Amazon. 

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