If you haven’t read Part One yet, you may find it here.
Let me start out by stating that I’ve been tossing around the idea of a Part Two for the last week or so, but wasn’t sure about it until a friend told me how much she appreciated my original post. I was leery because my first post generated quite the feedback, and I didn’t want to become too one-sided and alienate you, my readers. Let me be clear: Yes, I will ALWAYS promote buying locally. But Yes, I use Amazon when there are things I can’t find in the store, and will probably continue to do so in the future. And Yes, I have purchased books through Amazon in the past solely due to the “cheap” factor. But this dispute has really changed my viewpoint on the whole thing. There are both new and used indie bookstores in my community, and I fully intend to use them from here out. I know for a fact that if your local store does not carry a book you are looking for, at least 95% of them are willing to order it specially for you. You just have to ask!
So no, I am not urging you to go Amazon-free. But my research shows that Amazon RARELY makes any profit from selling books to consumers (too many articles to link here, but if you do a Google search you can easily find the proof of this). They make their profit from the publishers and/or authors, which is PRECISELY why this dispute is happening. Amazon uses it’s insanely cheap book sales to lure us, the consumers, into buying other, more profitable items from their site. Books are merely a marketing tool for them, which should make you afraid about how much they may be affecting what we read.
If you’re confused about what’s going on, The LA Times posted a great article on June 3 listing the basic facts.
It should also be noted that several articles have reported that Amazon is the source of about 50% of American book sales. Yes, be very, very afraid.
Since my Part One was posted, Amazon continues to delay Hachette book shipping for at least 2-3 weeks, sometimes for 4-6 weeks or even longer. Amazon is also not allowing ANY pre-order sales of Hachette books, and even keeping some authors unlisted. Several sources have noted that 60% of Hachette’s ebook sales come from Amazon, so this is definite a big deal. The first thing I personally noticed was that I started getting emails from chain bookstores, such as Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble, offering sales on Hachette pre-orders. Next came the nation-wide response from indie bookstores: anything from proudly displaying their Hachette titles, to offering 20-30% discounts on Hachette books and/or pre-orders. If you know anything about indie bookstores, that is a pretty large hit for them to take, so you know this is more about taking a stance against Amazon.
On June 4th, Stephen Colbert did what he does best and brought the dispute to the Stephen Colbert Show. You can watch the full segment here, it’s hilarious. But really, he does a great job at explaining what’s going on, and pointing out how it’s hurting authors, especially new/debut authors. Better yet, Colbert even promotes a bookstore called Powell’s in Portland, Oregon. According to the Oregonian, Powell’s happily saw a huge spike in sales thanks to that little bump from Colbert, and their best sellers have been primarily Hachette titles.
On June 5th, Hachette announced the layoff of 3% of it’s employees. The publishing house claims it is unrelated to the Amazon dispute, but you have to wonder don’t you? (See NPR link, or any other news article on Google… really guys, this stuff is everywhere right now.)
On June 10th, the NY Times posted that Amazon is in a battle with Warner Home Video as well. You cannot currently preorder movie titles such as the extremely popular The Lego Movie or 300: Rise of an Empire from Amazon, though once the movie is out, Amazon seems to still be making these movies available, which differs from how they are treating Hachette. According to the Times, this refusal to sell the movies is an attempt to gain leverage with Hachette, though I personally don’t see/know the connection there other than to show that Amazon is trying to throw its weight around.
Bloomberg tells us that there are other large publishers that could soon enter this dispute with Amazon. Both Simon & Schuster (My beloved Stephen King!) and HarperCollins (Veronica Roth!)’s contracts will soon be up for negotiation as well. Will they stand with Hachette and tell Amazon’s who’s boss, or accept whatever renegotiation Amazon wants to make? I highly recommend the Bloomberg article if you want the from-the-beginning details of how this all got started, as it does explain that the publishing houses themselves are definitely not fully in the right here, either.
Last but not least, this opinion article from the Huffington Post argues that this isn’t a seller vs. publisher debate, but a traditional publishing vs. self-publishing debate. A good article for those who love Amazon for the self-publishing opportunities.
Oh, and everyone should check out the IndieBound Reader app from the American Booksellers Association. It gives you a platform to purchase ebooks from independent bookstores, and is available for both Android and iOS!!
(As a side note, have you heard about James Patterson’s $1 million pledge to indie bookstores? Can you tell I’m pro-buying local yet? hahaha)
Okay guys, it’s your turn.
I want to hear YOUR opinion on the Amazon versus Hachette debate, so sound off!!