Living for the Revel (catvalente) wrote,
Living for the Revel

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Amazon and More Fail

So Amazon has apparently pulled all Macmillan titles from its store--that includes Tor, but also a whole lot of other presses, too. The speculation is that this is over a price dispute wherein Macmillan wanted the option to raise their ebook prices and Amazon wants to set the prices.

Now, I think ebook prices are already too high, but that's actually not the point here--Amazon should not be able to dictate what a publisher charges for their books, nor should they throw a fit and start strong-arming like this if publishers don't cave. There is far too much market concentration for behavior like this--Amazon is such a massive force.

But it's the writers who get screwed in this, just like in the Google Books issue. My books are unaffected--right now. And I expect this will be resolved by the time that I move fully into the arms of that very company. Both Tor and Feiwel & Friends are owned by Macmillan, and they are publishing several books of mine next year. But it's not about one author or company.

If Amazon can get away with it once, they will only keep doing it to other companies whenever they aren't getting what they want. They have a long history of this kind of nonsense. If it were Random House, if it were indie presses, if it were anyone, it would still be flabbergasting that such a move could be considered. Amazon cannot control ebooks to the extent they seek to--it is a bad, bad idea.

There's no comfortable underdog here. Both Amazon and Macmillan are huge companies, and if all the rumors are borne out, it's all about money and what's right be damned. On both sides. But Macmillan should be able to charge whatever they want for their books, since that's their right as a supplier. If Amazon wants to marry their 9.99 price point, they should take the hit for it. These are robber-baron tactics--and don't even think this has nothing to do with the iPad and Macmillan's deal with them. We are headed into a world where publishers have exclusive deals with e-reader platforms, and it sucks.

Cory Doctorow has a lot of good things to say here. The DRM issue is horrible, and it's why I don't and won't own a Kindle. (My Sony eReader has no DRM and reads all files.) If Amazon cared about readers, they wouldn't be trying to dunk Macmillan's head in the toilet, they'd be doing exactly what Doctorow suggests.

The lesson, I suppose, is go out, walk into a bookstore, and buy a hard copy book that cant' be erased from your drive, that you can lend and use as you please. Because if the big kids have their way, they'll send the ebook the way of the CD, gouging us for prices and holding the technology back for the last dollars they can make from it.

But hey, I'm sure it's an "accident." Just like the last time.
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