First, congratulations to Edan Lepucki, whose first novel, California: A Novel, hit the NYT Best seller list when Stephen Corbert endorsed it as example of of her (and his) publisher Hachette being bullied by Amazon over price fixing. How marvelous to be the center of attention particularly when it doesn’t involve you per se.
The Hachette versus Amazon controversy has been mostly about author pay, the price of hard copy books and publisher’s margins, all the arguments depict Amazon as bad – very bad – and Hachette as the last vestige of traditional civilization. The only company who really cares about authors is the legacy New York based publisher. The men who bring you the beautiful, book store distributed books. This is the way it’s always been. And the fight to keep it that often explodes into acrimony, as it did with Hachette.
I have my doubts about the good intentions of Hachette. I am a Kindle author. In the last four months (thank you for buying the Real Estate Diva books!) I made more money through Kindle than I’ve ever made with my hard copy books. So when this article arrived in my in box, I was more than happy to read it, and pass it along.
Here is the main idea of the Amazon letter
“Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents — it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.
With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution — places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion.”
Here is more about the argument by Hugh C. Howey, author of Howl and first author to negotiate a traditional publisher to keep his e-book rights.
This explains why we can often find a revolving rack of romance novels next to a fish bait freezer. A juxtaposition that always amuses.
I am now outlining the third Future Girls book. To create the future, I extrapolate out the present and so I think of these kinds of situations a lot. Will “real” books die out because of e-books? Nope. Are e-books, like paperback books changing the game? Of course. Is this surprising? Not to anyone except the Miss Havishams in New York.
Are ebooks a good idea? I don’t think that’s the question. The question is, how to cope with change. As the members of an industry convulsed with change, are you dealing with it graciously? Intelligently? Or are you burgeoning a new opportunity with old weapons?
I was happy to receive this side of the Amazon/Hatchette argument. But I would, I teach critical thinking.
Lepucki’s book is available on Kindle for $7.99
My book, Death Revokes the Offer is available on Kindle for $2.99.