Book of Oberon Available for Pre-Orders, and a Contradiction, and an Unanticipated Amazon Rant

Amazon has The Book of Oberon available for pre-order for $58.50, with the book being scheduled for April of next year.

Also, I’d appreciate suggestions as to companies other than Amazon to whom I can link for books.  The whole affair with Hachette has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

For the most part, I’ve been appreciative of Amazon over the years.  Having a single distributor that can consistently stock small and mid-level press titles is a great boon for publishers and authors on specialized topics.   There’s certainly negotiation that goes on behind the scenes on the price of particular points, as there is with any other distributor.  Nonetheless, if that distributor decides to make some books harder to obtain than others, all other factors being considered, then that distributor has really failed.  If your job is to sell people books, and you decide to make it harder to do that, then you’re not doing what you’re supposed to.

There’s a lot from Amazon about how much this benefits authors.  Don’t believe them.  If Amazon wants to sell books for well below retail, that’s making less money for the authors.  Hell, when I wanted an e-book copy of my edition of The Long-Lost Friend to read on Kindle, I had to buy it myself.   I’d say that, taking into account the book trade’s standard contracts, the cuts from distributors, the culture of making scanned copies of books free on the Internet, and the various content aggregators that re-market people’s work for their own profit, this may be the period where authors and other content creators are respected less than any other.

Then again, no one’s planning to burn me at the stake, which means I’m ahead of the game.

So, anyone who wants to send me some independent booksellers with excellent shipping to whom I can link when new books come out, I’d appreciate it.  Otherwise, I’ll be sending people to publishers’ websites more.

ADDENDUM:  I’ve had some objections relating to my Amazon position that I’d like to address.  The most common one is that this is simply a negotiation between a distributor and a publisher.  This is true.  Nonetheless, such negotiations can occur without the largest distributor in the world simply deciding to make vast swaths of information mostly unavailable to the public.  That certainly does not serve its customers, and those customers are free to make their decision to shop elsewhere.

Published in: on August 9, 2014 at 9:57 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Most authors link to Barnes & Noble or IndieBound. I’ve found a few more ebook publishers, notably Book View Cafe and Weightless Books.

  2. Though I appreciate that there is a desire for solidarity and some discomfort with Amazon’s business practices in this case, please remember that it’s not a football game.

    • I have read the link, but I’m not sure I agree. To me, information is a necessary good for a republic. As a result, a company that has a large share of the market has a responsibility (at least in my value set) to ensure that such information is available at a fair price.

      An example from a professor I know: There’s nothing wrong with a publisher maximizing profit by marketing those books that sell best and not marketing those that don’t. There is a problem with a publisher buying up the rights to competing works in a field, some of which are classic studies still useful for practitioners, and keeping them out of print so they can sell their own books.

      A non-publishing example: Grocery stores should be able to make a profit. If the only grocery store in town decides to make a profit by tripling all of its prices one day for no other reason, or by charging different prices to shoppers based on their ethnicity, it suddenly becomes a moral issue.

      • OK, and I agree with that. My understanding, though, is that the issue is one of how to price intangible items, not one of suppressing information. To be sure, I disagree with Amazon’s stance on this, but it is purely, as far as I can see, a matter of business, not a moral issue. In fact, as I understand it, Amazon is the party asking for a cap on pricing, so the grocery store analogy definitely doesn’t hold.

  3. Send me where you want but I’m still buying on amazon or nothing, most likely, and only if an ebook is available. The days of buying paper copies of books you’ll read once are over.

  4. As to buying your own book on Kindle, that makes no sense to me. Either your own publisher should have given you the kindle format book they submitted to Amazon (and you could just copy it to your kindle over USB) or, if you made it yourself, you should have had a copy. Why did Amazon have the only ebook copy out of your whole chain of folks?

  5. “Then again, no one’s planning to burn me at the stake, which means I’m ahead of the game.”

    I’ve always imagined you’re more a ‘pressed to death with stones’ kind of guy…

  6. Thanks Dan. This is a reverse of the classic scenario where a monopoly jacks prices or slashes quality to rip off customers–now the middleman is squeezing the suppliers (publishers/authors). If Amazon pricing will wreck the publishers’ business model, the publishers should walk away. If you want something and don’t find it on Amazon, you’ll Google for other sellers and find it quickly, anyway. This is an (admittedly painful) opportunity for publishers to cultivate a diversified web/app/device market for e-books. In a perfect world we could divorce arts from profit, but we are a long way from that…

  7. can’t wait for that book

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