Friday, May 20, 2011

Indie Bookstores Boycott Konrath?

It's come to my attention that on a Yahoo group for booksellers there has been a call to boycott Amazon's new Thomas & Mercer imprint. I signed with Thomas & Mercer for STIRRED, the eighth Jack Daniels novel, co-written with Blake Crouch (who will chime in on this topic after me).

I've also heard that certain booksellers want to return any books of mine they have in stock as a punitive measure.

So signing a deal with Amazon makes me the enemy of bookstores?

Me, who has signed at over 1200 bookstores? Who has thanked over 1500 booksellers by name in the acknowledgements of my novels? Who has named five major characters in my series after booksellers?

Now I'm the bad guy, for wanting to continue my series and make a living?

You may know that my publisher, Hyperion, dropped my Jack Daniels series after six books, even though they continue to sell well as backlist titles. The only way I could get print books in the series into the hands of fans was to sign with another publisher.

Thomas & Mercer stepped up to the plate to give my fans what they want: more Jack Daniels books.

Amazon allowed me to get into bookstores--something self-pubbing couldn't do for me without a lot of extra work on my part. They offered me a terrific deal, and have done more marketing and promotion than any of the publishers I've previously worked with.

They've treated me with nothing but respect, listened to and implemented many of my ideas, and have been an absolute joy to work with.

They're the new publisher on the block. But they're already doing it better than anyone else.

This trend won't end with me. Amazon will continue to publish more and more authors, because the major publishers are making a lot of major mistakes and a lot of writers are getting hurt by the Big 6.

So my question to indie bookstores is: When other authors sign with Amazon, and they will, are you going to boycott them as well? What happens when it is a major, bestselling author? Is this how you service your customers, by limiting the amount of choice they have?

I'll be honest. I'd love it if my books went out of print, so I could have the rights back. I'm getting financially reamed by my publishers, just like every other author is. Sending my books back isn't hurting me in the least.

But it saddens me that any bookseller would take such a limited view of my intent.

My goal remains what it has always been: to write books for fans and make a decent living.

I get a lot of hits on this blog. I could mention the name of the bookseller that thought up this boycott, and ask my readers to boycott them right back. I bet I could even get a picket line going to protest.

Of course, I would never do anything like that. I love bookstores. I want them to succeed. I haven't done many signings lately, but I'll be at the Printer's Row Book Fair in Chicago on Saturday June 4th at 11:30 am, signing at Big Sleep Books, one of my favorite indies.

I'm not the enemy. Neither is Amazon.

The threat to bookstores is a technology that is rapidly being embraced by readers.

I didn't invent ebooks. But for the first time in my writing career, I'm making a comfortable living because of them. So are many other authors.

This doesn't make us bad. It doesn't make us anti-bookstore.

It just makes us human.

The times are changing. In a few years, there may not be anymore chain bookstores.

The indies have a chance to survive, and even thrive. But only if they embrace change.

Being afraid of change has never lead to success.

So what can indies do?

Read on. Blake and I have a few ideas...


BLAKE SEZ:

I’ve published four novels with the legacy publisher St. Martin’s Press. For my first two, I toured extensively, on my own dime, across the country, almost solely visiting indie bookstores. I did this because I love indie bookstores, the booksellers, the owners... you can feel the love of books when you walk into one, which is often absent in the chains.

My decision to release RUN on my own has been extensively chronicled on this blog. It had nothing to do with turning my back on Indie bookstores. It had everything to do with seeing the change happening in the market, and wanting to make a living for my family.

My agent tried valiantly to sell RUN to Big 6 publishers, for many months. There were no takers. And yet, I've managed to sell 20,000 copies on my own in just a few months, and I'm currently in talks with a well-known independent bookstore to release a limited edition hardcover version of RUN.

So to have indie bookstores now calling for the boycott of my work is baffling, but I understand this is a scary time for bookstores. When panic sets in, this leads to knee-jerk reactions.

I recently met with the book-buyer at my local indie store to discuss this very thing... what do indies do when they’re losing writers to ebooks.

First of all, I think indies need to understand that the vast majority of the writers whose work they try to sell are getting reamed financially by their publishers. They’re probably not making a living on the books they write. The vast majority of writers get dropped by their publisher. And those who don’t are fighting a battle to survive that is largely out of their control. For every Patterson or Grisham you have, there are hundreds, if not thousands of books that fail. I understand you need those heavy-hitters to keep your lights on. But I need ebooks to keep mine on. This would seem to set our interests against each other, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

Ebooks are here. They’re now the preferred way to read, and lashing out against writers embracing this to make a living isn’t going to change anything.

My choice to sign with Amazon was twofold: (a) it allows me to reach more readers and fans than I ever could on my own; (b) Amazon is also releasing a trade paperback of Stirred, and will have the full distribution power of any major New York publisher. Even on the books I release myself, I make everything available in print, and these are easily ordered from the major distributors.

The bigger question, the one I discussed with the folks from my local bookstore, is what happens next for Indies?

Here are some ideas Joe and I had:

1. Sell used books. There are billions of books in print, and they aren't going away anytime soon. Joe's publisher charges $7.59 for an ebook of Fuzzy Navel. You could sell the used paperback for $1.99.

2. Remember why people shop indie. My local store has the best, most knowledgeable, well-read staff around. They can turn you on to a book you’ll love based upon a short discussion. They read constantly. There is still something about a live, in-person recommendation that beats reading Amazon and B&N reviews any day. I have no doubt that Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado will survive as long as there are publishers, because the experience they give the customer walking in the door is unmatched, and you simply cannot get it on the Internet.

3. Author events. But you need to give people a reason to attend other than just a signature. Perhaps an exclusive short story from that author, free to everyone who buys a book. Perhaps a $30 admission includes a book, a coffee, a copy of the talk on DVD, and a signed t-shirt. Give your customers something they can't get elsewhere.

4. Start publishing. If you're an indie store beloved by authors, ask those authors for a story to put into an anthology, which you can then publish in print or as an ebook. Or ask favorite authors with out-of-print backlists if they'd like to partner with you to re-release those books. If Amazon is becoming a publisher, why can't you?

Between Joe and I, we have over twenty book-length works available. If you'd like to publish any of them and sell them out of your store, contact us. We'll give you an 85% royalty, send you our already formatted interiors and covers, and you can print and sell as many as you'd like. Or we can do the printing, and ship them to you signed, and give you the same 40% discount the major NY Publishers give you per book.

These are trade paperbacks, 9"x6", priced at $13.95.

Our titles include:
65 Proof (Collected Stories)
Shot of Tequila
Disturb
Trapped
Endurance
Origin
The List
Suckers
Jack Daniels Stories (Collected Stories)
Horror Stories (Collected Stories)
Flee
Draculas
Banana Hammock
Run
Desert Places
Locked Doors
Serial Uncut
Killers Uncut
Famous
Serial Killers Uncut
Fully Loaded (Collected Stories)
Thicker Than Blood

You might think, "That's a nice gesture, but how will it help me compete?"

Between Joe and I, we've sold over 400,000 self-published ebooks. I'm betting some of your customers would want the print versions of these.

And we're just two authors. Imagine doing this with a hundred authors. Your own imprint, selling books the chains don't sell, signed copies that Amazon doesn't sell, for a higher profit margin than you get anywhere else.

5. Ebooks. Google Books has been underwhelming so far. But the ABA is a powerful group, and certainly this coalition can get a system in place to get the works of writers to their fans. Indies selling Indies. With the current retailers pretty much letting anyone publish anything, there is a window here for the ABA to hone the overwhelming sea of crap currently offered by other ebook retailers and to present a better Indie bookstore.

Imagine the Indiebound Indie-bestseller list. Indie recommendations. Indie book groups. Then you’ll be able to have virtual events. Internet booksignings using Autography to sign ebooks and Skype for the author talk. We've already partnered with OverDrive to get our books into libraries, and we're on every major (and minor) ebook platform.

Indie bookstores should have a platform. You're a smart, tough, dedicated group who loves to read. You don't need to wait for others to bring you into the fold. You can create your own ebook network.

When this happens, Joe and I will be the first in line to give you our work to sell.

Nobody wants to see the Indies disappear. There is a tremendous opportunity here, but it starts with taking the emotion out of how you view ebooks and looking at it with an eye to what customers want.

What they want hasn't changed. They want your advice about what books to read.

You just need to figure out how you can best serve them in this brave, new world.

411 comments:

1 – 200 of 411   Newer›   Newest»
JonathanDAllen said...

Wow, this is the first I'd heard of the boycott. Definitely agree with you on where things are headed, and I think you have a lot of great ideas in this post. The attitude that a lot of booksellers (and publishers) have toward Amazon unfortunately reminds me of the RIAA/filesharing thing all over again. Rather than try to adapt to the changing market they'd prefer to try to stuff the genie back down in the lamp. I had higher hopes for the industry, but I guess some people, at least, are ahead of the curve having seen what came before.

Anyway, great blog! I just discovered you and have enjoyed it so far. I'll be linking you from my own.

Ken Lindsey said...

Great post, guys!

I just want to say that you have lifted my opinion of you (as super important as I'm sure it is haha) once again, by not lashing back at the bookstores. Well done.

Great call to arms for all those indie stores that are wondering how to compete.

TK Kenyon said...

Right on Joe!

I love that you were kind and didn't attack back. Shows your generous nature and good spirit. You even gave them ideas to increase their revenue streams. You guys are wonderful.

Honestly, your ideas almost made me want to open an indie bookstore. (I'm sooooo busy.)

One of the things that I'm busy with is writing a daily writing prompt for writers at: Dr. Kenyon's Daily Writing Apple.

It's a writing prompt to help you with your work-in-progress, not start something new.

One Dr. Kenyon's Writing Apple a day keeps the writer's block away!

Gregory said...

I have found that just because I used Createspace (which is owned by Amazon) to print my book, booksellers are nearly disgusted. When I contact bookstores they are "Sweet! A local author! Let's get your book in the store!" Then they ask, "Who's your publisher?" And when I say, "Well, Createspace prints my book." All of a sudden, they want nothing to do with me. Strangely enough, at a recent book signing at an Authors Event at a major bookseller, I sold 20 books in less than an hour...the ONLY author to sell more than 3 and the ONLY author to sell out of my books. Even after that they didn't want to order my book.

So I think the booksellers need to wake up even more and tailor their shelves to what the readers want and to what is good for them locally. Why wouldn't you carry a successful book from a local, indie-author? It sucks for the boycott, but luckily there are so many other ways to sell!

Great post!

Gregory
Nightcry Official Site

Ella Schwartz said...

It is my belief that while the likes of Borders and Barnes and Noble will suffer a painful demise, it is the small bookstore that is poised for a major comeback. If they handle things right!

Bookstores need a reason to survive, and that reason is a book lover’s need to be part of a bigger community of book lovers – and that is the one service that Amazon, Google, and Apple cannot provide, but the neighborhood bookshop can!

Any brick and mortar shop wishing to thrive in today’s landscape must reinvent the business model to provide services that are impossible to offer via the Internet. Book clubs, writing circles, and author signings, are just a few examples. A small bookstore in my neighborhood recently opened for business. They are offering book-themed birthday parties (think Fancy Nancy or Harry Potter). What a brilliant idea!

If a bookstore wants to be around in five years they must find that special something to bring customers through their front doors, and that will not be books alone. It is these other services - the human interaction – that will drive customers. I’m rooting for the small bookshop!

But blaming authors like Konrath for the death of the indy bookstore is pointless. They need to stop pointing fingers and start reinventing themselves.

R.E. McDermott said...

Terrific post and you're both to be congratulated for taking the high road and not lashing out. While this 'boycott' idea is disturbing, I think you hit the nail on the head when you point out it's mainly driven by fear of the unknown.

I think it only a matter of time before your excellent suggestions are adopted in whole or part.

Joe Konrath said...

I'm not a small business owner, but my father was.

He never feared competition. Not even in the form of mega-companies with wider selections who undercut him on price.

He figured out how to thrive by concentrating on his strengths, not by being bitter.

He died 20 years ago. The store he opened is still in business.

If a storm is coming, you prepare for it. You don't blame people who are selling umbrellas. You don't close your eyes and hope it will go away. You don't get mad at God.

My gripe has always been with publishers, never with bookstores. And I've been pretty transparent about this.

I can't help but wonder why some indies think my abandoning the Big 6 means I'm abandoning them.

John D said...

Sadly, it's easier to lash out than to adapt to the new business paradigm. But lashing out isn't a good survival strategy. There are two realities these bookstores need to accept:
1. The boycott will have little to no effect on Konrath and others like him.
2. The boycott will do nothing to improve business for indie bookstores. I can't see large numbers of readers increasing their book purchases at indie stores because said stores have pissed in Konrath's corn flakes.

Angela McConnell said...

I think you guys handled this with grace and smarts. Not only by not calling down retaliation for what is, right put, a "knee-jerk reaction" by this particular bookseller, but for putting your heads together and offering alternatives...smart alternatives. I would love to see indie booksellers give publishing a try. The tides are changing quickly in publishing...better to start paddling than stand around with everyone else complaining, "Gee, the water's rising awfully fast."

Vesa said...

The market is changing and Indie Bookstores must also adapt.

- E-books through online.
- Paperbacks through createspace and others.
- Special edition hardcovers through a network of indie bookstores?

I would love to see this it could be the niche market the bookstores need. If i love a book enough i want a hardcover version from it..and if the small local bookseller sells that special edition the choice would be clear.(unless the author sells it on his website..or through another service)

Joe Konrath said...

By the way, anonymous comments are allowed, so any indie bookseller who wants to post their point of view is welcome to.

Will Granger said...

The dinosaurs also probably gasped and cried out as they realized they were not going to survive.

Steve said...

People in our business (and I've been a bookseller for two decades) need to realize things are changing. My feeling is that within five years, printed books will be the literary equivalent of vinyl.

Joe Flynn said...

"I'll be honest. I'd love it if my books went out of print, so I could have the rights back. I'm getting financially reamed by my publishers, just like every other author is. Sending my books back isn't hurting me in the least."

I have a question about your comment above, Joe. I had a two-book deal with Bantam. My agent, with great foresight, kept the ebook rights for me. But Bantam says because they have a few hundred yellowing mass market paperbacks of my two Bantam titles, they retain the print rights. Does your contract allow you to claim your titles are out of print simply because they're not in book stores? If so, maybe my agent could have worked a little harder.

Also, Blake is right about bookstores doing boutique publishing. Several years ago, my wife bought just such an edition from one of my favorite authors, the late, great James Crumley, as a Christmas gift for me. Crumley inscribed a personal note and signed it. It's probably the most valuable book I own, and has a wealth of sentimental value, too.

Robert Carraher said...

Can you imagine if a small consumer electronics retailer decided to boycoy MP3 Players? How about if they'd boycotted CD Players when they came out/ Would they still be around? Boycotting an author because of who or how they release their books is cuttig off your nose to spite your face. Indies can already get in on being eBooks providers.

Angelo said...

Well, maybe somebody still thinks this is 1911 and not 2011. Book business was the last champion of the 19th century still around before e-books and I can understand the rage and the fear of a bookstore dealer that see Amazon like a kind of a electronic Satan.
Everybody remeber how music market has changed, right? Nobody can stop things like that, you have to stop trembling and start thinking about your business if you want to stay on the market. This post gives away some ideas, I like to suggest another: ask your customers!

Daryl Sedore said...

This is an example of fear, weakness and pride. It's a disgusting boycott.

Those same booksellers need to read this post.

Keep moving forward Konrath...

Donna Caubarreaux said...

Great idea of giving the indie bookstores ideas for maintaining a bottom line.

The book "Who Moved My Cheese" would help them to realize that things are different now. Changing their business platform as technology grows is the key.

In order to grow, they must think 'outside the box' and reading your blog for several months has given me quite a few ideas on how to sell ebooks/soft covers/audio/special editions, etc.

It's a wonderful world out there for indie authors who can finally make some money on their own.

Thanks to both of you for being gentlemen. The world is short of them.

Robert Carraher said...

How about if record sellers boycotted Ray Charles when he left ATCO and signed with ABC-Paramount Records who gave him the most libreal contract of any recording star up to that time? ABC not only gave Charles a nice guaranteed annual advance, but higher royalties and ownership of his masters....seems pretty much a paralell with authors and Amazon.

Bjorn Karger said...

Karger's Literary Laws (circa 2011):

1. Brick-and-mortar "new" bookstores, "indie" or otherwise, are obsolete

2. Brick-and-mortar "new" bookstores, "indie" or otherwise, are inherently anti-indie-writer

3. Therefore, no need for brick-and-mortar "new" bookstores ("indie" or otherwise), so watch them quickly fade out

3. Replace "bookstores" with "publishers" in 1-3 and repeat

Karly Kirkpatrick said...

Love it Joe and Blake. Great postitive response from you both! I totally agree with the advice you've got for the bookstores and I wish they'd see that we are in this together. It would be great if more indie bookstores would get behind us/make partnerships. It would be great business for everyone!

Karly Kirkpatrick
www.darksidepublishing.com

G. P. Ching said...

What a sad state of affairs when a bookstore feels they need to attack an author for trying to do the best they can in today's publishing paradigm. Kudos to you for supporting independent bookstores, even when a faction is being less then supportive of your work.

Anonymous said...

A quick Google search reveals no Konrath boycott at all, and no indies on Twitter or Facebook have mentioned it. This feels a bit like a straw man argument designed to generate industry headlines and persuade indies to carry print books published by Amazon. To start a conversation that hadn't really been ongoing. A few booksellers may have been chattering about a boycott online, but there's no real effort underway. (With respect, why would anyone boycott an author for whom there's no significant demand? Not in physical bookstores anyway.)

As for Amazon not being the "enemy" of indies, when will you acknowledge that it's Amazon's anti-e-fairness lobbying that drives mom-and-pop retailers insane, their bogus "nexus" argument and the tens of millions of dollars in corporate welfare they receive annually while indies are required to pay their fair share? Amazon bullies suppliers, agressively undersells, treats books as loss-leaders, evades taxes, robs local communities of billions in revenue, and enjoys the unfair sales advantage that comes with all of it. Which is why they fight so hard to preserve it. And you think that's just fine. More than that, you advise the rest of us to accept it as well.

Forget the e-book revolution for a moment, and forget the Amazon affiliate program -- what about the many sprawling Amazon distribution centers scattered across the country? How do they not qualify as a physical nexus? How do they not qualify as brick-and-mortar? Until the playing field is leveled in that regard, Amazon is the enemy not only of independent bookstores but of small business generally.

Then there's the shilling done by authors and bloggers across the web. You've trained readers to go to Amazon for everything, not just books, then become sanctimonious when indies rage against Amazon's tax avoidance, corporate bullying, and high-profile tantrums that have even gone so far as to cause buy buttons to disappear.

You routinely accuse publishers of being Luddites, and many of your admirers adopt that view uncritically and accuse indies of burying their heads in the sand. Meanwhile, you ignore almost entirely the root cause of their anger. You have a big megaphone and a direct line to the decision makers at Amazon. You say you love indies. Join them in taking a stand on the e-fairness issue. I'd be curious to see how long your friends at Amazon remain "an absolute joy to work with."

-Brandon

Jude Hardin said...

From my (limited) experience, it seems indie bookstores are in a bad mood these days. My publicist at Oceanview tried repeatedly to schedule signings for me with some indie stores; when she finally got to talk with someone, they were cranky and rude and wanted guarantees on attendance and the number of books that would be sold. One of them even sent us a form to fill out, lol. It seems to me such disdain for new authors is no way to run a bookstore.

On the other hand, the managers we approached at some Books-A-Million stores were polite and receptive and gave us the green light for events with no problem.

I'm wondering if a certain indie store in Kentucky is sorry now for turning us down, since we sold out at our BAM signing just a few miles away.

jtplayer said...

I was on vacation a few months ago and had an interesting conversation with the owner of an indie bookstore in Bishop, Ca.

We were talking ebooks and the big 6 and the current state of publishing, and as soon as the conversation turned to Amazon things went downhill fast.

In short, this particular owner would not carry any books put out by CreateSpace. I understood her argument on an emotional level, but still walked away scratching my head.

Why limit yourself as a business owner? Makes no sense to me.

On the other hand, Amazon has managed to snag the majority of my book and music buying over the last few years, to the detriment of the brick & mortars that used to get my business.

Anonymous said...

I read and write multicultural literature, pretty exclusivey. My local "indie" in a suburb of a major east coast city does not routinely carry some of the books I want to read. You know who does? Amazon. You know how I can get it instantly, instead of waiting for the bookstore to order it for me? I can order it on my kindle or ipad.

Grow up, Indies. Provide a service I need. You can't operate a for-profit business based on the charitable impulses of your customers. Yes, I love the feel of books. But you know what I love more?

Reading books.

Rick said...

Anonymous,

what about the many sprawling Amazon distribution centers scattered across the country? How do they not qualify as a physical nexus? How do they not qualify as brick-and-mortar?

Sorry, you're overreaching here. I have the misfortune of living in a state with an Amazon distribution center--in fact, it's thirty miles away in Campbellsville, KY--and I guarantee you it qualifies as a physical nexus. I pay sales tax on every Amazon purchase I make, including books, including ebooks.

And I still buy my books from Amazon.

K.L. Dillon said...

I'm just going to re-iterate what Blake said which is whoever started this (absurd) boycott is just demonstrating a kneejerk reaction b/c of the rapid change going on throughout the publishing industry (from e-books, to Amazon deal to the Big 6 not adapting).

I think someone just took it the wrong way, confused intent, and immediately just lashed out. Which, in turn, is human. Ultimately, though, they'll realize that this Amazon deal is a GOOD thing b/c authors full of e-book/publishing wisdom like Joe and Blake would much rather help indie bookstores than hurt.

Great post! And Blake, I just finished Run and it was just awesome! Job well done!

Michael Bracken said...

For good or ill, Amazon closes distribution facilities rather than pay sales taxes:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-10/amazon-com-plans-to-close-texas-facility-because-of-regulations.html

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Rick, but Kentucky is one of five notable exceptions, along with Kansas, New York, North Dakota and Washington -- the only markets where Amazon couldn't weasel out of the nexus argument or, in the case of New York, where they lost a high profile court case, which was recently upheld in New York Supreme Court. Everywhere else the company operates distribution centers they enjoy (and fight tooth and nail to preserve) their unfair tax advantage. This is common knowledge to anyone who follows the e-fairness issue even casually.

-Brandon

Gary Ponzo said...

I find it incredible that a bookseller would boycott an author on such petty grounds. It's like the Yankees boycotting fans who wear Mets hats to Yankee stadium. Really? Are you that insecure?

Eric said...

It’s Fear.

The boycott simply comes from a fear of change. Small bookstore owners are looking at the destruction of the big publishers and the changes in the book industry and they are scared that this will happen to them.

Because of this fear they feel that they must strike out and find someone to blame and that someone happens to be Amazon.

It doesn’t matter of the company is big or small but if they don’t see the change coming and adapt they are going to go under. It’s the companies that realize that there is also opportunity in change that are going to be successful.

Personally I think that small book stores which have a loyal fan base are going to survive much easier than the large box stores.

Vivi Anna said...

Wow! Just wow.

Great ideas for bookstores. I'm hoping some enterprising individuals take you up on your offer.

Saffina Desforges said...

This is a VERY interesting debate and one which I will follow with bated breath. I am eagerly awaiting Joe's response to Anonymous's post ref: there not actually being a boycott at all. Is this a tactic to have Joe name the store or is there some fact to their statement?

Over to Joe...

Saffina
http://saffinadesforges.wordpress.com

Selena Kitt said...

"If a storm is coming, you prepare for it. You don't blame people who are selling umbrellas."

Joe... if this whole ebook thing doesn't work out... have you ever considered starting a t-shirt business? ;)

Anonymous said...

Saffina, I also wrote:

"A few booksellers may have been chattering about a boycott online, but there's no real effort underway."

Emphasis on "no real effort." No accusation of total fabrication here, just a reality check. Konrath will blow this up in order to generate publicity, which is what he's best at. My argument has to do with Amazon and the e-fairness issue.

-Brandon

Chris said...

I'm not the enemy. Neither is Amazon.

I agree with a lot of things you say in this post, Joe. But probably not the above statement re: Amazon, or at the very least I have reservations.

Amazon may not be the enemy, exactly, but I certainly wouldn't called them friend. Right now I think of Amazon more as the bad boy your parents don't want you to date: exciting and sexy and irresistible...and terrifying. Because if you give up everything to jump on the back on his motorcycle and ride out of town, there might be no going back. That could be a really bad thing when you look back years later.

I just wonder what will happen whenever the future of publishing actually arrives (I think we're only in the shift now-- if what we had before was model A, then what we have now is model B which is neither model A nor the model C we'll have in the future). When that happens, you're dancing on the graves of "legacy" publishing and Amazon is the only major game in town left. Then all of a sudden that good treatment and killer royalty rate and nice living begin to evaporate because it no longer suits Amazon to offer such advantageous terms, no need to lure authors away from their publishers. And who's to tell Amazon any different? Leverage went the way of "legacy" publishing.

My misgivings about Amazon and the future of publishing aside, this type of boycott is not something I can get behind and I think it's extremely short-sighted of bookstores.

Suzanne said...

I was a bookseller, I specialized in rare, out-of-print, and hard-to-find books on Southwest history. But I did not limit myself to that alone. I also sold used books and new books written by local authors. It was hard for the new, unknown writers to find market shares or even get placed on shelves in chain stores. So I gave them a place to sell.
I was lucky enough to live in the Panhandle of Texas where I had access to many locally well-published authors like Jodi Thomas, to name just one.
These authors supported me in many ways. They signed many books in my store and recommended my store as well as other area stores who supported them.
The economy and digital books finally combined to bring an end to my store. Sad for me, but no one's fault. It's a sign of the times. It's competition: the American way at it's finest. I'm sorry my store is gone, but I'm proud of my writer friends and continue to support them in any way I can.
I would NEVER have boycotted a publisher, or a writer because they went digital--even if I didn't like the writer's work or maybe their personality. When you sell books, you sell books, period. It's an insane and self-defeating policy. Reading is what it's all about to me. The expression of the human soul and spirit in fiction and nonfiction.
These indie booksellers who are participating in this boycott are wrong-minded people and will be their own downfall. Let them play with fire. They are not going to turn back time.
I own a Kindle and an ipod. I listen to audio books and read both paper books and digital books. I buy my books new AND used, whereever I can find them. I love reading. I love books in all forms. But I am a realist. You have to keep up with the times.
I am so sorry this is happening to two fine writers. But I feel that it won't last long. I sincerely hope I'm right.

jtplayer said...

"Then all of a sudden that good treatment and killer royalty rate and nice living begin to evaporate because it no longer suits Amazon to offer such advantageous terms, no need to lure authors away from their publishers."

This.

I've maintained for some time now that putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket makes as much sense as blindly clinging to the "old" publishing ways.

Nothing is forever, despite Joe's claims to the contrary, and it wouldn't take much for the paradigm to shift in ways that cannot be seen right now.

kathleen shoop said...

It's gettin' hot in here!

My goodness, I should be surprised, but I'm not. My indie bookstore, Mystery Lovers, in Oakmont has been wonderful to me. And as Blake and Joe have experienced at other stores, everyone who works at Mystery Lovers is widely read and ready to assist customers and authors.

Having said that, I was in the middle of several conversations at a writing conference last week which featured authors, agents and editors slaying Amazon and it's pricing, it's bestseller lists, it's business, saying Amazon hurts everyone.

They're only concerned about everyone when they're in the everyone (perceived to be) and then what they mean is "it hurts me." (displaced anger of course)

One author even said out loud, "how can we save the publishers?" I choked on my cheesecake.

When's the last time a publisher lamented their inability to save its authors or those authors who aren't even at their table?

I'm not savvy enough to know how any of this is going to turn out, but boycotting books ain't gonna pay anyone's bills. Well, maybe it'll hype up Joe's and Blake's sales but I guess that will just mean more business for Amazon!
The Last Letter--May 2011

Garry M. Graves said...

"...I can't help but wonder why some indies think my abandoning the Big 6 means I'm abandoning them...."

...they're scared. Many, most, small businesses today, are in survival mode. The economy.

They strike out at anyone or anything.

Nevertheless, some small businesses will triumph just like some indie bookstores will survive. They must change with the marketplace...the market drives the economy. If market changes, you change.

Didn't surprise me seeing JK take the high road in responding to boycott, real or not. Reading this blog for a anytime...most will read the decency of him.


--gg

Anonymous said...

Bookstores have taken a hit with Amazon. In the beginning, Amazon was just a silly on-line store of no consequence; today, a behemoth. With small bookstores feeling the pinch, and some seeing numbered days, why open up their doors, shelf space, to get screwed more deeply by Amazon?

Selena Kitt said...

When's the last time a publisher lamented their inability to save its authors or those authors who aren't even at their table?

But that's rather the point.

Why should Amazon care about authors?

Don't mistake Amazon for your friend. They're no more a friend to authors than the Big 6 was/is. Their terms are just currently more favorable, that's all, and that makes it a mutually beneficial relationship for authors/Amazon. For now.

But I'm rooting for B&N and the Nook, and hoping Borders/Kobo can figure their way out of their mess, and looking forward to Google taking off. Because having all my eggs in one corporate basket is just not good business practice.

jtplayer said...

"He died 20 years ago. The store he opened is still in business."

The bigger question is...why isn't Joe running the family business?

kathleen shoop said...

@Selena
I don't mistake any publisher or distributor for my friend! Didn't mean to imply that.

But the fact is, Amazon and now Barnes and Noble (loving Pubit!) has let me in on the game. That's exciting and scary and I don't know where the hell it will go, but now, I can play. And for that, for now, I am satisfied.

It's a remarkable shift in publishing that has given me access to readers without the prior okay from industry insiders.

I've written a really good book--three books, actually--and it's only through these alternative channels that I've been able to offer my book to readers.

No, I'm not on Amazon's radar screen, I'm sure I'm not. But I sure as hell am not on the industry movers and shakers' lists either. I'm well aware of my smallness in this business.

But this way, with Amazon and Pubit! I am reaching readers. That's huge and that's because of Amazon and lately, because of B&N.

Perhaps that (alternative channels people like me have access to) will all go to seed next week. My job now is to keep writing and get the word out. Like any writer no matter where they're published.

Ender Chadwick said...

jtplayer said: "I've maintained for some time now that putting all your eggs in the Amazon basket makes as much sense as blindly clinging to the "old" publishing ways.

Nothing is forever, despite Joe's claims to the contrary, and it wouldn't take much for the paradigm to shift in ways that cannot be seen right now."

This is a good point. So does one choose the evil one knows or the unknown quantity that is offering opportunity at the present? If, indeed, the former is even an option. For many it is not.

As for the original post, it seems awfully shortsighted of those particular bookstores but glad to see you guys took the high road on the matter.

Joe Konrath said...

A few booksellers may have been chattering about a boycott online,

Which they were. Which is clearly stated in this blog post.

This blog is about writing and publishing. A bookseller boycotting Amazon's imprint, and my books, is both relevant to the topic in general, and me personally.

With respect, why would anyone boycott an author for whom there's no significant demand? Not in physical bookstores anyway.

Ever notice how when people say "with respect" they mean "fuck you"?

With equal respect, you should have done your homework. I've sold 300,000 ebooks. I've sold many more books in print than that.

I'm betting one or two of them were sold in bookstores.

As for Amazon not being the "enemy" of indies,

I get it. Big Business = Bad.

It's not my job to defend Amazon. Nor is it my job to counter the things they do that you disapprove of with things they do that are good for the world in general, and me in particular.

But the focus of this blog is about boycotting my books and returning them, and how Indies can compete. Since you brought up the straw man fallacy, certainly you know that this is what you're doing? You're completely disregarding the entire point of the blog to go on a rant against Amazon.

You routinely accuse publishers of being Luddites,

Which they are. I have 2+ years' of blog entries to back this up.

You say you love indies. Join them in taking a stand on the e-fairness issue. I'd be curious to see how long your friends at Amazon remain "an absolute joy to work with."

E-fairness? Seriously?

Amazon has allowed me to make a good living selling my writing--something the legacy system didn't allow for.

Business isn't fair. I'm keenly aware of this. I never got coop, big print runs, huge ad campaigns, and a proper chance at finding an audience. I was never a bestseller, and I could very easily have considered that unfair because I never got the keys to the kingdom and that big bestseller push.

I didn't whine, though. I soldiered on, until I found a way to succeed.

Ironically, Amazon helped by leveling the playing field for me. Now I can sell as many books as I'm able to, without and constraints.

Perhaps, next Olympics, we should make Mike Phelps tie an arm behind him before he competes, because he's so good it's unfair to the other swimmers.

Or maybe we should ban him.

Or maybe, just maybe, the other swimmers can step up their game.

Joe Konrath said...

The bigger question is...why isn't Joe running the family business?

Because Joe is a writer.

Joe Konrath said...

Why should Amazon care about authors?

Caring is the problem.

Business is business. Liking who you're working with, and wanting them to succeed, is fine.

But, ultimately, we align ourselves with those who help us make money. When that is no longer happening, we move on.

Joe Konrath said...

New quote for possible Bartlett inclusion: "If it's raining, sell umbrellas."

Dawn said...

Ouch,
I can't get over they'd boycott you! I love the indie bookstores because they have cute, unusual items that I don't see in chain book stores (I confess, I'm a journal slut), but this is just creating a no-win situation for everyone.

--ditto to Crouch on how indie stores can survive by transforming
--props to Konrath for being a gentleman and not turning this into a frog / monkey scenario.

And folks, lets not forget that even Shakespeare had to pay the rent. Disagree if you'd like, that's fine, but don't diss a dude for wanting to make a living doing what he loves.

Joe Konrath said...

With small bookstores feeling the pinch, and some seeing numbered days, why open up their doors, shelf space, to get screwed more deeply by Amazon?

No one is getting screwed by Amazon.

Amazon isn't costing anyone any money. On the contrary, they're saving a lot of consumers a lot of money.

It's those very consumers who are hurting bookstores, by taking their business to Amazon.

Don't blame that woman your husband is two-timing you with. That woman is out for herself, and owes you no loyalty.

Blame your husband.

Selena Kitt said...

Don't blame that woman your husband is two-timing you with. That woman is out for herself, and owes you no loyalty.

Blame your husband.


------------

Dang, you're on a metaphor-roll, Joe! ;)

Mark Asher said...

Blake, I haven't seen $2 used books in some time unless they're on the quick sale table because the store wants to get rid of them. Most mass market paperbacks are going for $3-4 now.

Question for you guys: Will B&N stores carry your Amazon title?

And one more question: You've been very much pro self-publishing. If Amazon offered to publish every book you'd write from now on under the same terms as Stirred, would you take them up on that?

Robert Burton Robinson said...

@Joe: Amazon has allowed me to make a good living selling my writing--something the legacy system didn't allow for.

Before Amazon introduced a new device called the Kindle (that few people wanted at the time), I was selling a couple dozen self-published paperbacks per month.

In April, I sold 9,285 Kindle books. This month, I'm going to hit 20,000.

Amazon may not be my friend, but they are currently one heck of a likeable business partner. ;)

Joe Konrath said...

You've been very much pro self-publishing. If Amazon offered to publish every book you'd write from now on under the same terms as Stirred, would you take them up on that?

No.

I'm happy doing one book a year with Amazon. They're fun to work with, do a good job, and promote the heck out of the book.

But I love the freedom of self-pubbing. I enjoy coming up with an idea on March 1, and having it live and for sale by March 31. Nothing is faster than a one man operation.

Ty Johnston said...

This boycott is beyond petty. It's stupid. If you run a store and decide not to carry the product, how do you plan on staying in business?

Mark Asher said...

@Selena: "Don't mistake Amazon for your friend. They're no more a friend to authors than the Big 6 was/is. Their terms are just currently more favorable, that's all, and that makes it a mutually beneficial relationship for authors/Amazon. For now."

This is so true, and for indie writers Amazon has been somewhat generous because they want to grow their ebook business and indie writers produce books that are cheap and help promote ebooks.

Once Amazon feels that market is firmly established and is the dominant form, I'd expect some changes. They may lower royalty rates. They may institute more quality checks and force small publishers to pay for it through publishing fees. They may cull ebooks that don't sell.

One of my biggest concerns is that once the big publishers decide to go all-in with ebooks at the expense of other forms, they may be able to pay Amazon for premium placement and visibility at the expense of indie books. If you look at the top 100 even now there's been a resurgence of traditionally published books and the indie books aren't as visible on that list as they used to be.

Selena is right in rooting for B&N and Borders. We need them. I'd even go so far as to root for Amazon losing sales to them. I think we'd be better off if that happened.

Will Granger said...

It is almost a cliche to blame the big bad corporation for your lack of success.
Amazon has at least let me in the game, and like Joe said, it didn't cost me a cent.
I believe in my books, and now I have at least got a chance, and I have some control. I'll take this chance over a hundred agent rejection letters any day.
Thanks Amazon, and Joe.

Ty Johnston said...

@ Mark Asher

I buy hardbacks for $1 and paperbacks for 50 cents all the time. And I'm not talking just old paperbacks with the backs torn off, nor old hardbacks from authors no one has ever heard of. Check your local Goodwill stores and antique/junk shops.

TF Rofkahr said...

Fear makes people do things that don't make much sense. I love bookstores in general and I hate that the best thing thing to happen to authors in a really long time is probably one of the scariest things to happen to bookstore owners.

Suzan Harden said...

This boycott blows my mind. Ironically, when I was in the pharmacy the other day (husband v. wasp) waiting for a prescription, I browsed the bookrack. I was surprised to see a number of Amazon Encore paperbacks displayed.

Things are changing. Everyone will need to change with them or die.

Anonymous said...

So Amazon isn't screwing the brick and mortars and Walmart isn't screwing the mom and pop stores, and Exxon isn't screwing the local gas stations. It's those darn consumers who are looking to get something cheaper. They're the problems. For sure. Trouble is they are also your readers.

Anonymous said...

When someone pays the rent and the light bill for an independent bookstore, then they get a say in the business. Until then, they don't. If an author, publisher or other third-party doesn't like what a bookstore is doing, too bad. If a bookstore doesn't want to carry books published by Amazon, that's their right; just like it's their right to not want a paritcular author for a signing.

Joe Konrath said...

It's those darn consumers who are looking to get something cheaper.

Cheaper. Faster. More choice.

Read Eat People by Andy Kessler. Also watch the Bullshit episode by Penn and Teller on Walmart.

It's easy to wish for the old days, buy technology and lower prices is what makes the world a better place than it was yesterday. The standard of living has never been so high.

If we didn't have companies constantly striving to get things done better, faster, and cheaper, we'd still be huddling around our candles, unable to read because we couldn't afford books.

If you want consumer dollars, here's a hint: give the consumer what they want.

Joe Konrath said...

If an author, publisher or other third-party doesn't like what a bookstore is doing, too bad.

Call me Mr. Concerned. If you were walking down the street hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, I'd try to help you.

Do I care if bookstores carry me or not? I'm saddened by it, considering the amount of effort I've made helping bookstores make money. But it won't hurt me in the long run.

Anonymous said...

"Do I care if bookstores carry me or not? I'm saddened by it, considering the amount of effort I've made helping bookstores make money."

Indies build personal relationships with authors. If you've appeared at an indie for a signing, that will trump all else. That store would never boycott you. In fact that polaroid of you cutting the cake or mesmerizing that mesmerized audience is probably still thumbtacked on a wall somewhere.

jtplayer said...

You know Joe, I'm sure there was a time when you thought Hyperion was the cat's meow too. And now...

So in the past you've supported bookstores, terrific. But what have you done for them lately?

Well, you've promoted ebooks and indie epublishing as the be all and end all, going so far as predicting the end of print publishing as we know it.

And, you climbed into bed with and become a vocal cheerleader for a company that has done nothing to date to "help" bookstores. And now that company wants to expand even more into print publishing, grabbing an even bigger piece of the action than they already have.

Things change, as you keep pointing out, and the more volatile the change the less any one person has all the answers.

Time will tell.

Joe Konrath said...

That store would never boycott you.

Sadly, I know this isn't the case.

There's a very ugly but real part of human nature that causes us to resent, envy, despise, ridicule, and condemn those who succeed.

We love it when celebrities fall. We happily, publicly, and quite rudely criticize public figures. Some sports starts are truly hated. There's a whole industry devoted to selling disrespectful images of politicians in various forms.

Studies have shown that people would rather make 75k a year if their coworkers were making 50k, than make 100k if their coworkers were making 125k.

It's odd. Ask anyone who is successful if they lost friends once the money started rolling in, and they all say yes.

I'm an unintentional spokesperson for a wave of technology and change that will put many people out of business. In helping authors make money, it could be said I'm hastening the demise of the legacy system.

I'm an easy target. Even if I signed at your store before.

Of course, some folks are above that.

Michelle Muto said...

I'm saddened to hear it has come to this, Joe. Truly. I hope it is just a handful and that they'll soon come around.

Fear does strange things to people. I personally think the deal with Amazon was a good one.

Anonymous said...

Two different issues here:
1) Should Indie booksellers stock Amazon's new Thomas & Mercer imprint?
No they should not, since there is only so much space in a physical store and supporting Amazon is not in our interests.

Nothing personal just business.

Very few Indies stock Sterling titles for the same reason (Sterling is owned by B&N).
Sorry but Indies are very unlikely to stock print titles published by Amazon except for runaway bestsellers.
2)Should a bookseller return any of your books they may have in stock as part of some silly boycott. No they should, since that would be childish and accomplish what exactly?

Would like to point out that the tax issue has really nothing to do with fairness. Amazon is getting a leg up on its competition via a government subsidy.

On the whole ABA bookstores will not be looking fondly on authors who appear to be shills for Amazon. If we go out of business then so be it. At least we will not have given our enemies the rope to hang ourselves.

Joe Konrath said...

Things change, as you keep pointing out, and the more volatile the change the less any one person has all the answers.

As times change, so do I.

The answers for right now, and for the easily foreseeable future, are with self-pubbing ebooks.

James H. Byrd said...

Let them boycott. Bookstores are cute and I like them, but to a self-publisher, they are irrelevant. As Dan Poynter is fond of saying, bookstores are a terrible place to sell books.

Authors need to start making decisions based on where things are going, not where they've been.

Where things are going, there won't be very many physical bookstores. Print books will be an anachronism.

As for returning your books, hell, they would have probably done that anyway. That's what book stores do. They buy more books than they can sell, trash them, and return them to you.

Don't worry about it. Focus on where things are going, and leave the bookstores to resentfully defend the demise of their business model. Let them wring their hands instead of putting those hands to work trying to do something realistic about solving the problem.

The bookstores must reinvent or die.

Ender Chadwick said...

Mark Asher said: "Selena is right in rooting for B&N and Borders. We need them. I'd even go so far as to root for Amazon losing sales to them."

and: "One of my biggest concerns is that once the big publishers decide to go all-in with ebooks at the expense of other forms, they may be able to pay Amazon for premium placement and visibility at the expense of indie books."

Not trying to get into a flame war here or anything but I feel it's much, much more likely that B&N, and/or Borders would succumb to this type of behavior than Amazon.

Although I admit, it's a possibility with any of them.

Karen Woodward said...

I was stunned to hear that you, of all people, would be boycotted by indie bookstores!

Love Blake's ideas, hope the indies listen.

John Hutchinson said...

We are VJ Books (an independent) and have had the friendship of Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch since their first books came out. We miss their new titles from our shelves, but do admit that I have read them as eBooks. Their talent hasn't gone away. It's just delivered in the new format. Publishers have been ripping off the talent for over 50 years, under sharing the profits, and dictating what will be written. I applaud the authors who are brave and creative enough to find a better way to feed their families.

We are seeing this change in the market as an opportunity, and are publishing under our own imprint (Norwood Press) signed hardcovers of many of these eBook only titles for our collector customers.

Our first, Alan Jacobson's new Karen Vail novel, INMATE 1577 will be released in July. Blake Crouch's RUN will be available in the fall.

Anonymous said...

"Sadly, I know this isn't the case."

Unfortunately, loyalties sometimes get washed away by time. In most cases, though, they don't.

"There's a very ugly but real part of human nature that causes us to resent, envy, despise, ridicule, and condemn those who succeed"

Agreed. That's why I remain anon.

Shawn R said...

I love good bookstores. But the most convenient one for me, Borders, started bungling so badly that they drove me to the Kindle. My favorite indie bookstore, Mysteries & More, in Nolensville TN, used to let me order stuff online for delivery to their shop, but that option doesn't appear available anymore & they are a little out of the way for casual browsing. So as a reader, I tend to go with ebooks almost exclusively.

Mysteries & More is a lovely shop, too. It's a mix of new & used, w/a fabulous layout, easy to access all the books, good prices, loving attention. I'd love a bigger, cross genre layout modeled on that.

And as a writer, I'd love to see indie bookstores also court their local writers ... have a cafe, free wifi, writing desks & tables, etc. I'd pay a small cover fee or monthly rental to have a convenient place I could take my netbook, that's away from the distractions of work & home, where I could sit for 3 or 5 or 7 hours at a time & just write. With snacks or cold & hot drinks, maybe sandwiches ... almost like a "club" for writers.

As a reader, I'd love to have an indie-wide sales platform, so I don't have to go just to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. As a writer, it would be brilliant to have yet another platform, another revenue source for book sales.

I almost never go into Borders anymore. I'd go back to bookstores if they had more to offer me, and I would happily buy online from them. I'd even invest in another ereader that could access non-kindle formats (because by the time they got that up & running, I'd bet there will be ereaders cheap enough to make it feasible. Even better, the indie-online collective could partner with an ereader manufacturer & sell those).

Great ideas. I hope somebody listens.

jtplayer said...

"I'm an unintentional spokesperson for a wave of technology..."

Unintentional?

C'mon man, I hardly think so.

You've chosen this path Joe, as you have chosen to be very vocal about it.

There's nothing wrong with that at all, but please don't try to sell it as something different.

As far as our desire to see celebrities fall, I think it's the douche bag assholes we like to see get their comeuppance.

fantasydreamer12 said...

I love indie bookstores. The local indie bookstores I've been to all had self-pubbed books by local writers, side by side with large publisher published books. I'm surprised a group of indies would oppose your books.

Joe Konrath said...

You've chosen this path Joe, as you have chosen to be very vocal about it.

I've chosen to inform authors how to make money and avoid getting screwed. That's always been the goal.

I did not wake up one day and decide to become famous by tearing down an industry.

I like that people are getting the message. I would prefer to not be the messenger.

I don't crave public attention, which is why I avoid it.

And I don't believe any of the publicity I'm getting from this blog or from my opinions has much of an effect on my sales.

This blog is about passing along what I've learned. Always has been. And that agenda is the only one I've ever had.

Whereas your agenda seems to be to contradict the majority of everything I say, which makes me wonder why you hang around here.

Anonymous said...

Your Olympics metaphor is apt, Joe. Entirely fitting. But unsurprisingly you have it exactly backward. Instead of handicapping one participant in the race, the rule-makers have handicapped every swimmer in the pool but one: Amazon. Using your example, then, Phelps is the only swimmer in the water allowed to swim unobstructed. That he happens also to be the strongest swimmer of the bunch only highlights the absurdity of it.

You write: "E-fairness? Seriously?"

Yes. Seriously.

That you don't understand the magnitude of the issue, that you treat these legitimate concerns so callously, with no conception of the real-world consequences for small businesses, that you talk endlessly about having to make a living while ignoring the fact that indies do too, even as you offer transparently self-serving hints for staying in business -- all of this makes you complicit.

You're right about another thing, too. You don't have to defend anything Amazon does. But don't feign surprise when certain indies choose not to respect you for celebrating what Amazon does well while ignoring the fact that they're the worst kind of corporate citizen. You talk about indies "whining" about Amazon, when in fact many of them lobby for e-fairness change, and write, and think, and educate others. Look at Melville House, for example. Read their blog. You seem baffled in the face of that kind of passion. Confused in the presence of people who actually believe in something other than profit. Meanwhile your fans in the peanut gallery cheer and shake their heads and talk of social Darwinism.

In the end, the issue isn't as simple as your simple-minded dismissal of my argument: "I get it. Big Business = Bad." I believe that's clear enough in my post, and will let it stand.

And I'm well aware of how many books you've been selling. You never stop talking about it.

-Brandon

Shawna said...

I love, love, love my local bookstore and I'm most certainly sad to see them struggling.

But times they are a changing.

No one ever guaranteed anyone that a particular industry was going to be around forever.

I'm sure when cars started ruling the roads horse drawn carriage companies were none too happy.

Like any business, bookstores will adapt or die out. There really is no other choice.

jtplayer said...

"Whereas your agenda seems to be to contradict the majority of everything I say, which makes me wonder why you hang around here."

I'm only speaking my mind Joe, as are you. And I hang around here because I glean much useful information.

When I feel compelled to disagree, or state a differing opinion, I do. Not sure why you choose to go after me sometimes, or why you'd even have a problem with that.

Oh well.

I'm not the enemy Joe. I'm sure you can relate.

jtplayer said...

Oh, and I do not have an agenda Joe. Any more than you do.

Have a great day dude. Try not to get so chapped about things.

I only hate you 'cause you're rich ;-)

S Alini said...

It's understandable that independent bookstores would feel threatened by ebooks. But to blame authors is a mistake. This is a natural evolution of economics. The consumer is indicating a growing preference for ebooks because it has benefits that physical books do not. We authors also prefer it because too many of us were shut out of the old system.
So if I owned a bookstore I would resent this growing trend. But I would recognize it's inevitability and act before it's too late.
S Alini
The Strange Journal of the Boy Henry

Joe Konrath said...

I believe that's clear enough in my post, and will let it stand.

The only thing I like more than being outright insulted is sanctimony. It means I'm getting to people.

And I absolutely adore it when someone does it in a veiled attempt to be civil. So thanks for that.

Now let's get to the meat of this.

If you want customer dollars, serve your customers. If someone serves them better, blame yourself and your customers, not the competition.

Blame never really solved anything. That's why, during the decades I busted my ass, struggling to succeed, I never blamed anyone. Sure, I understood how I was getting screwed by the system, and I didn't like it, but I didn't whine and I didn't stand piously on my high horse condemning those who did succeed.

Instead, I kept at it, learned the game, and figured out how to win.

Confused in the presence of people who actually believe in something other than profit.

I hope believing in something other than profit makes you happy, but you don't seem to be happy.

Me? Happy as hell. Living my dream. One I fought long and hard for, and one I'm lucky enough to have accomplished.

One that I'm sharing with other authors, who seem happy to hear it.

My fans cheer because I'm a positive influence, not a negative nelly blaming others for his misfortunes.

You talk about indies "whining" about Amazon,

No I don't. Try not to misquote me. It makes you sound stupid.

Meanwhile your fans in the peanut gallery cheer

I encourage everyone to have fans in the peanut gallery. It's awesome.

Ain't easy to acquire them, though. Especially if you're a tool.

Said with respect, of course. :)

T. Roger Thomas said...

I'm sorry to hear about a boycott for any author that hasn't shown up to the house of a supposed 13 year old only to find the To Catch a Predator crew instead or something similarly heinous.

The way I see it, bookstores are going the way of music stores but they won't completely die out.

T.K. Murphy said...

I think it is human nature to lash out at change. I have worked mostly in corporate IT and have watched all the changes. I lived through the dot com boom, when I remember, there was a company that was giving BMWs to their employees and then watched the same technology destroy many workers lives- as it allowed the same job to be done in any part of the world.

Some of my many friends affected blame the corporations or the governemnt or a combination of both. (As a beginning writer, it gives you plenty of material!) . But on a serious note, it is painful to watch your livelihood go up in smoke and long for the good old days. Quite a few are in dire straits, unable to go back to work, because they have been affected mentally-it is tough to go from a valued employee whose skills are sought after to some contract worker who gets six month contracts in different parts of the country and no expenses and still have the "employer" threaten to ship your gig off to another country-no matter how good or knowledgble you are. A sense of helplessness sets in. I am sure the auto workers must have felt the same way.

I am sure all the people who made a living out of horses felt the same way, when the automobiles started to become a viable means of transport. While horses have managed to stay around-they certainly are not considered as the primary means of transport. epublishing is not going away, just like offshoring or shipping off manufacturing jobs to China is not going away-unless some new paradigm/technology/natural calamity forces us to change and adapt again.

I think one needs to look at the now and adapt. Not carrying Amazon's book is not going to change the indie bookstores' fortunes-it is a purely emotional gut wrenching reaction to something that is perceived to be taking their livelihood away. I think one needs to move past that and look at reality. How many of those bookstore owners still buy at mom and pop stores or just order online? How many of them still go to travel agents instead of buying online? One needs to change and adapt.

Even if the change is "bad" , us small folks really don't have the power and strength to change the entire world and best change with it-like they say, "If you can't beat them, join them" !

Robert Carraher said...

JT "So in the past you've supported bookstores, terrific. But what have you done for them lately?

Well, you've promoted ebooks and indie epublishing as the be all and end all, going so far as predicting the end of print publishing as we know it."

You are comparing apples and apple growers here. I fail to see how supporting indie book stores and and promoting eBooks and Indies Publishers are at odds with each other. eBooks and Indie Publishing might hurt the Big 6 or the Trad Publishers, but you could ask what have they done for the Indie book store? What did the Bric and Mortar Super Stores do for the indie? Nada.Now, Amazon can provide not on;y a one stop shop for all your books and music AND is publishing at better pay rates and with a more open market for the authors and suddenly the authors taking advantage of that is bad for Indies? I don't see the connection.

Anonymous said...

"Booksellers will have to find a way to participate in the electronic age" — Fertilizing Amazon's garden isn't participation?

courtesy of Tim Spalding

Robert Carraher said...

Indie book store already can participate in the eBook business. Witness Russo's Books in Bakersfiled, CA. (just happens to be one I know about) that provides Google eBooks in EPub for down load at their store. And I am sure Russo's isn't the only Indie taking advantage of offering eBooks. Further, I heard yesterday that Amazon is no longer selling JUST MOBI/Kindle, but also EPUB, and they will take submissions in EPUB (which is becoming the standard).

Joe Konrath said...

Fertilizing Amazon's garden isn't participation?

Exactly. Just like I fertilized the Big 6's garden.

If by "fertilize" you mean "shit all over them."

Be proactive, not reactive. Quit bitching. Experiment. Learn. Fight. Succeed.

Or be a victim. The world loves victims.

Joe Konrath said...

Holy moly, how did I miss that?

http://goodereader.com/blog/tablet-slates/amazon-to-allow-epub-ebooks-on-the-kindle-e-reader/

Robert Carraher said...

You mean I knew something about the eBook biz before you? Damn!

Mark Asher said...

"Not trying to get into a flame war here or anything but I feel it's much, much more likely that B&N, and/or Borders would succumb to this type of behavior than Amazon.

"Although I admit, it's a possibility with any of them."

No flame war. Here's how crucial visibility can be: In early April B&N de-ranked a number of erotica books by a thousand spots because they wanted them out of their top sellers list. The sales for those titles fell through the floor, all because being dropped from 72 to 1072 meant their books were being displayed a lot less frequently. For some of those writers their sales have never recovered. We'd like to think a good book at the right price sells itself, but there's a lot more going on beyond the writer's control.

Amazon and B&N control the visibility. They can put up for sale some of that visibility, and I can't think of a reason why they won't as long as they are careful about it.

I'm not whining about this. It's just recognition of how much power the big publishers may be able to throw around when they really zero in on ebooks as their mainstay.

Here's one more look at it: Each customer visit to Amazon gives Amazon a chance to display X number of books to that customer before the customer leaves the site. Those books that get displayed are the only ones the customer has a chance of buying unless he makes a specific search for a title or author. The big publishers may eventually end up buying a majority of those display opportunities.

Obviously, Amazon's overriding concern is to capture a sale during the visit so it will display the books it thinks the customer will be most likely to buy, be it a book from a big six publisher, one of its own books, or an indie book. But there's still room in that kind of algorithm to charge for display opportunities that fit a customer's profile.

Walter Knight said...

Amazon has allowed me and others to be successfull and profitable authors.

As far as I am concerned, the sun sets and rises on Amazon's ass. God bless Amazon and Kindle.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how standing by my post is sanctimonious, but so be it. And if my dislike for you is clear, fine too. But I'm not "trying to be civil," Joe, I'm actually being civil, disagreeing with you and exchanging ideas without outright insulting you, even despite your "fuck you" and "tool" reference.

Words fail you, it seems.

In any case, hearing you accuse someone else, anyone else, of sanctimony is ridiculous. You specialize in sanctimony and condescension. It's what's made you "famous," as you put it, and even inspired the goofy bulls-eye T-shirt you've mentioned sporting at BEA next week. Will you be wearing a leotard and cape too? Our beleaguered hero.

You write: "If you want customer dollars, serve your customers. If someone serves them better, blame yourself and your customers, not the competition."

The best indies already serve their customers brilliantly, and will continue to do so long after an e-fairness law passes nationally. Which it will. Does that mean small business owners shouldn't fight for e-fairness right now? And keep fighting?

Amazon isn't in need of corporate welfare. They're not a small start-up, and it's not the early '90s anymore. The impact of Amazon's nexus loophole (the kind of loophole people typically despise when other corporations abuse it) affects not just small businesses, but the communities they serve. You want to help indies? Support e-fairness. Encourage others to stop shilling exclusively for Amazon. Or at the very least allow that it's not in the best interest of indies to help Amazon profit. It's just business, as you always say.

The best indies have weathered storm after storm, including the rise of the chains. They'll weather this, too, but not because they decide to carry a handful of your books.

And remember, Joe, there's a difference between a boycott and curation.

-Brandon

I.J.Parker said...

I'm a midlist author who has been hurt by one of my legacy publisher not promoting my series and then dropping it when it did not sell well. Thanks to a great agent, I found two more publishers. Alas, while my sales rose steadily and my excellent reviews multiplied, sales still weren't large enough to please the big houses. I'm at the point of going to Amazon with future titles.
In fact, I already have 4 of my novels on Kindle, making 70 % instead of 15% (which is what my big publisher pays me, and I can set the price. Thanks, Joe!

As for book stores: they have been part of the problem: they do nothing for a midlist author with moderate sales. They don't carry my books, even when they are pubbed by SMP and Penguin. They return any orders within a month if unsold. The effect on my sales is disastrous, and my publisher blames me.
So why should I care about the stores?

Robert Carraher said...

Mark A. There's nothing really new in that. If you've ever been in Walmart, or your Local Chain grocery Store and wandered by their book department. You'll notice (withe the possible exception of Walmart) that they have a limited number of books. After all they sell other things. My Safeway will have around 20 "Best Sellers" and they are even marked on the shelf that way. 1 thru 20. Well, if you take that list, in that order home and do some research, very few of those books will be on any recognized "Best Seller" list. In short, they make their own list. They decide what they want you to see. I've even seen this in the chains. If anything, Amazon hasn't to my knowledge sucumbed to this marketing practice.

Christopher said...

The boycott is a ridiculous ideal. I used to manage an idie bookstore and appreciated each and every author who walked through its doors.

It's a scary time out therre for everyone but e-books are hear to stay. Now indies have to get in front of it. I recently published my first short story collection (just as a test run for my novel). Next week my first novel comes out. This is a novel I tried for years to sell to publishers. I have so many wonderful rejections and had so many close calls it was just time to give it a go on my own.

Maybe it isn't good enough but we will soon find out. I know my short story collection sold more copies than I thought it would. Now I am going to try and build a career. Who knows where it will take me. I am sad I won't be able to sit in a bookstore and sign a book. I know I want to. Maybe some day.

I happen to think the death of chain stores which is happening can be an incredible thing for indies. Printed books are not going away. They need to embrace the change and find a way to make sure they survive. A boycott is not the answer.

Thank you Mr. Konrath I may fail at this endeavor but you inspired me to take it. I don't mind failing an attempt.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

So-called "e-fairness" isn't going to happen, not least because there's nothing fair about it. Then there's the small matter that the Constitution prohibits states from interfering with interstate commerce. A state cannot tax a transaction unless that transaction occurs entirely within that state, period.

But that's a red herring, anyway. Even if Amazon collected sales tax on sales to every state that would do almost nothing to help indie bookstores, which will fail for the same reason that traditional publishers will fail: their cost structures make them uncompetitive with newer business models, and there's nothing they can do to change that. Indie bookstores are, in economic terms, inefficient, just as traditional publishers are. There is nothing they can do, nothing they can change, that will fix the problem.

Just to break even, they have to charge premium prices, and there is no service that they provide or can provide that justifies those premium prices. All the coffee bars and free Wi-Fi and personalized advice in the world doesn't make up for the fact that they charge too much for everything and have no choice about doing that.

I used to love indie bookstores. I spent tens of thousands of dollars in them over the years. But, other than pure used bookstores, I haven't been in one in years, and have no plans ever to be in one again.The crowd-sourced reviews and "also-bought" features of Amazon.com and B&N.com put the personalized advice in indie bookstores to shame.

I don't doubt that a few indie bookstores will survive a while longer, but not many and not for all that much longer. They simply can't compete. Sure, I regret their loss, but wishing things were still the way they used to be is a waste of time.

SandyT said...

"And, you climbed into bed with and become a vocal cheerleader for a company that has done nothing to date to "help" bookstores."

That is like Microsoft helping Apple, isn't it?

This whole conversation sounds like the movie You've Got Mail. "It isn't personal, it's business." I am curious now how reviewers will treat books printed by Createspace. The minute a lot of books were being produced via print-on-demand, some publications excluded them from consideration.

Mark Asher said...

"Mark A. There's nothing really new in that. If you've ever been in Walmart, or your Local Chain grocery Store and wandered by their book department. You'll notice (withe the possible exception of Walmart) that they have a limited number of books. After all they sell other things. My Safeway will have around 20 "Best Sellers" and they are even marked on the shelf that way. 1 thru 20. Well, if you take that list, in that order home and do some research, very few of those books will be on any recognized "Best Seller" list. In short, they make their own list. They decide what they want you to see. I've even seen this in the chains. If anything, Amazon hasn't to my knowledge sucumbed to this marketing practice."

I know. I guess my point is that we may start to see things getting tilted heavily in favor of the ebooks coming out of New York again. I think it's suited Amazon's purpose to encourage indie books because those low-priced books in turn have helped ebooks flourish.

In the future when it's an ebook world Amazon may optimize revenue by selling visibility and encouraging the sale of more expensive ebooks. They ain't making much on a $0.99 ebook once you take out CC fees and overhead costs.

Joe Konrath said...

Will you be wearing a leotard and cape too?

Only for your wife.

Robert Carraher said...

Yep, lists can be manipulated, and even Amazon did to an extent a year or so ago. When eBooks first started to really take off half of their "Best Seller" lists consisted of Free books...how can something be a best seller if it's free? Of course, they wanted to "sell" the fact that eBooks were popular, but they were swiftly called on that little white lie and started listing "Most Downloaded" etc...And I've suspected that even "respectable" Best Seller Lists like NYT were somewhat manipulated as the big houses had the clout to get there books reviewed, and listed (or even counted for that matter) so I wouldn't be in the least surprised if at some point that visibility was was "sold". After all, if Google can auction off words for their search engine, why not auctiuon off "Shows"? I guess the bottom line will be just that, how many books the author gets paid for. Personally, I am usually looking for at least an author, if not a specific book when I go to Amazon. That was why I started shopping there in the first place. They had things the store front retailer didn't. But, I'll also admit that I have made purchases once I've found what I was looking for and Amazon flashes up their "What Others Bought" after buying this book you searched for. We only have Amazons word for that.

David A. Todd said...

I'm going to Printer Row BF, but I don't think I'll get there till Sunday. Sorry to miss you.

Barry said...

Great post, guys, and indie booksellers, Blake's point #4 sounds like solid gold advice to me. There's a classic disintermediation play available for indie authors and indie booksellers (in fact, for all booksellers) and someone's going to make it happen. Why not have that person be you?

Ender Chadwick said...

@Mark Asher,
I think perhaps you missed my meaning. I understood what you were saying about the Big 6 buying visibility. What I was pointing at is that you were saying that and saying that you hoped B&N would take Amazon's market share. My point is that I believe B&N is much more likely to end up selling it's visibility.

Darlene Underdahl said...

Messed with the wrong guys...

Anonymous said...

I'm posting as "anonymous," but I work at an indie bookstore. Lately, we've been trying a few new things - including a "reading lounge" area, and a small cafe. Of course, we still have readings and local author events which draw small-to-medium sized audiences. We're keeping our noses above water. So far.

We like indie authors. If an author comes to us with copies of their book to sell, we take them on consignment. If one of our customers (or an employee) finds an indie writer online whose work we really like and that we think will appeal to our market, we'll try to see if that writer has paper copies of their books that we can stock. We actually rearranged our shelves recently to give us more room to display the indie writers' books. And they're selling - just about as well as the other books in the store. Of course, we cater to a rather eclectic readership. :)

Sure, we've taken a hit as ebooks have become more popular. But we took a hit when the big-box stores came to town as well. That's business. We just keep adapting.

Elizabeth

rictheturtleryan said...

Having just entered the writing world I am befuddled by the turmoil. If I write a book and sell it on my own and somebody buys it we are the two that have to come to terms. Seems to me a lot of the whining on this post is about tax problems and that is an issue that is definitely a problem in America. We need to do away with all deductions and make everybody pay a flat tax or sales tax. When I am on disability and pay more in taxes than a corporation like GE that makes over five billion in profit. The system needs fixed. Ebooks are coming and that in an unstopable tidal wave that is coming regardless if we like it or not. So people better start adapting. It makes green sense if not dollars and sense.

Kate Madison, YA author said...

@Robert Bruce Thompson "So-called "e-fairness" isn't going to happen, not least because there's nothing fair about it. Then there's the small matter that the Constitution prohibits states from interfering with interstate commerce. A state cannot tax a transaction unless that transaction occurs entirely within that state, period."

But that's the point the states are making. Texas is saying that all transactions originating from people living in TX and shipped from depots in Tx should be taxed bc of the benefit of doing business entirely in TX.

Am I not understanding the issue clearly? I thought that was the complaint.

Anonymous said...

Here's how indies are different from the Dying Giants. Bear with me.

Borders had chairman named Ron Marshall who came to them from the wholesale grocery industry where he had been under suspicion for insider trading.

He was a top-down, my way or the highway mish mash of Dale Carnegie Zig Ziglar forcefulness.

Associates were to required to jump the customer within ten seconds of entering the store, introduce ourselves, learn the customer's name and his wishes and how Borders could "serve" them.

Associates watched training videos on how to properly ambush customers--and had to sign official documents that acknowledging they had watched the videos and fully understood their duties.

Employees were required to enthusiastically recommend books most of them had not read. These books were called "make" books.

Borders had special incentives on "make" books, more than a few of which were clunkers that publishers needed to unload.

Managers whose "make" sales lagged were required to report progress hourly or face possible termination.

At indie bookstores, employees actually love books and have read the ones they recommend. Borders employees are, by and large, also knowledgeable book lovers, but all that took a backseat to management's car lot/furniture store high pressure ideas of what consumers wanted.

Ron Marshall is gone (to A&P, which canned him in less than six months!) but the new management is just as clueless. This time next year, Borders will be a memory.

Question is, will indie bookstores realize that they have a super opportunity by being inventive in and receptive to the new era of book sales? Or will they just be pale, small, local imitations of the big boxes?

Michael Kingswood said...

Wow.

The sheer amount of paranoia and misplaced anger some have espoused here is amazing.

First: someone mentioned their fear that Amazon will turn it all around, not let indies in, screw everyone once they've got a corner on the market, etc.

Not gonna happen.

For one thing, Amazon doesn't have, nor will it have, a monopoly position. In reality, a monopoly is almost impossible to obtain without government interference. But even if they did get monopoly power, what incentive would they have to do these nefarious things? Why remove titles that don't sell well or refuse to let some people sell without passing some barrier? Ebooks are essentially free revenue for them. There's essentially no cost to storing and selling them, and basically no risk. So they give up at most a couple megabytes of the multi-petabytes of hard drive space they have on their servers. OOO! Big cost there. There's only upside for them to allow indies to sell on their site until the cows come home. Given that, why bother having "quality checks" or whatever for the baseline epublishing package? More premium stuff is another matter, but they're already being selective on that, so no change there.

As to the reduced royalty meme, again I'm not sure I see how that happens, again absent a monopoly. As long as B&N, Smashwords, and whatever other companies that will decide to cater to indies in the future exist as competitors, there will be an incentive to not make their terms too bad for the authors, for fear of losing the product stream. Beyond that, look at my previous argument: it's essentially a free revenue stream. They're getting 30-65% of every sale (depending on the sales price) for essentially zero cost and very little effort. That's a great deal for them. Sure, getting, say, 50-80% or more would be better, but again they're not going to go there as long as the competition doesn't. And anti-collusion laws will prevent them from deciding together to do so.

So relax about all that, at least for now.

And then we have the reflexive "big business is spawn of the devil and killing mom and pop" meme.

Please.

Mom and Pop, if they go out of business, go out of business because they don't offer customers as much value as the competition. Period. It's not some sinister plot, as Joe pointed out. It's the natural course of nature. I guess we could stop it, if we all decided we wanted to pay more for everything and have to take longer to get it. But we don't. So sorry, there's no going back.

But what really gets me is the diatribes against favorable tax treatment for corporations. Not that I disagree, per say. I don't think any business should receive any subsidies or any tax advantages of any kind. Ever. What gets me is when people make statements like in one of the comments above, talking about how Amazon is a bad business neighbor because they get some subsidy or other.

Huh?

You clearly haven't thought this one through. The problem here isn't Amazon. Or the oil companies, or whatever corporate Boogie Man you wish to hate. The problem is government. And specifically government that is too big, with too much power and that intervenes with too heavy a hand in economic events. Amazon et al can't give themselves subsidies or tax breaks. Without big government none of these alleged horrors could happen (of course we're never treated to exactly what harms is caused by them except for the sob stories about Mom and Pop who couldn't compete). I find it amazing that people are so quick to label corporations as the big bad guys while they ignore the true culprits.

Joe, I've hogged your comment space enough for one night. Sorry about the novel.

Rick said...

I'm reading Appetite For Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age (ex-library copy bought for $1 from Better World Books) and the writer is quite clear that Apple's only interest in creating the iTunes store was so people would have access to lots of music for those highly profitable devices. The income from selling songs was and probably still is incidental.

If Amazon wanted to make serious money from ebook sales, they'd be just as eager as the publishers to keep the prices high. Instead, they are facilitating a flood of cheap ebooks ... likely so that people will have plenty of reason to give in and buy a Kindle.

So I wouldn't worry about Amazon somehow gaining control of the market and then squeezing in some way. It's to their benefit to keep those floodgates open very, very wide.

Joe Konrath said...

But what really gets me is the diatribes against favorable tax treatment for corporations

What gets me is a seeming belief that saving on sales tax is why people shop at Amazon, and that's why the Indies are being hurt.

So stores want to boycott me because Amazon doesn't want to pay state tax? WTF?

I can understand states wanting money. I can understand Indies not thinking it's fair. But I don't believe Indies think they're being drummed out of business because Amazon isn't paying sales tax.

When I buy on Amazon, I pay for shipping, which is often more than sales tax.

Sales tax is not the problem. Customers leaving print for new technology is the problem.

Joe Konrath said...

Just a quick note to say that lots of people are saying smart things on this issue, and I appreciate all comments, even the insulting and sanctimonious ones.

Conflict is good for a blog. Keeps things interesting.

But only dish it out if you can take it. And if you're posting anonymously, I tend to lose my manners rather quickly.

Kiana Davenport said...

@Joe Konrath...Dear Joe, I'm glad you brought up this Indie Stores subject, because something weird happened at the HAWAII BOOK AND MUSIC FESTIVAL last week in Honolulu. I was on a panel discussing the future of publishing and the ebook revolution. It was a full-house and the audience were very curious about self-publishing ebooks and thus were asking lots of questions.

I'm new at indie ebook publishing, nonetheless I was chosen as the poster girl for this panel dis-cussion. A woman stood up and asked me the approximate cost of cover design, formatting and uploading an ebook. And how soon an average author might see royalty checks.

I was about to answer that an average cost is between $500-1,000, and that I saw royalties checks, though small, within a month. Before I could answer, the owner of an indie bookstore grabbed the mike and shouted, "THE AVERAGE COST IS $5,000. AND MOST EBOOK AUTHORS NEVER SEE A DIME IN ROYALTIES."

I grabbed the mike back, called him a bold-faced liar and asked for his source of information. But then another panel-member, a small-press publisher stood up and seconded the indie store-owner. For a moment I was speechless...they know each other...to me it seemed an out and out conspiracy. So that's what I announced into the mike.

Thank God I had support in the audience. A man stood up and called them BOTH liars, and explained to the audience that HE had designed and formatted his own ebooks for nothing...No Cost!...and his five books are selling very well. People applauded him. This is what they wanted to hear.

Long story short...it turned into a free-for-all, indie
stores and small-press publishers wagging their fingers at half a dozen of us independent eauthors.
You know the drill, 'rats deserting the ship.'

Finally things calmed down and I asked the indie store-owners why they were conspiring against us, why bad-mouthing us, giving out false information. We are authors in a dying print industry, simply trying to make a living. One of them finally took the mike and spoke the truth. WE DON'T SUPPORT YOU BECAUSE... WE'RE SCARED."

That's it Joe, bottom line. They're scared blind. And so they shoot themselves in the foot, by boycotting
bestselling authors and their books as you mention in this blog. I also feel there may be pressure from the Big 6 on these indie stores to not carry certain books or authors.

You have a lot of clout, that must scare the hell out of them, so why does this boycott surprise you? Authors have historically been considered the bottom feeders of publishing. Now we are in ascendence and print publishers and stores are facing potential obsolescence.

I believe if indie stores and small presses can hold on, they will rise again, and publish and sell quality books like they used to before the nightmare of conglomerate publishing. In short, they need to adapt. They can't stuff the genie back into the bottle.

If indie stores were smart, they would be reading this very blog and incorporating your excellent ideas on how to increase revenue and join the revolution.

Its easy to exercise noblesse oblige when your on top, still I would like to say, Joe, how great it is that you showed class by not attacking them back.

Imua! Press on, and my alohas from Hawaii. Kiana Davenport, Author

Ender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ender Chadwick said...

"I can understand states wanting money. I can understand Indies not thinking it's fair. But I don't believe Indies think they're being drummed out of business because Amazon isn't paying sales tax."

I can understand how this would get you fired up. Especially after your history. I am curious though, is this primarily an "on principle" type thing or do you feel you'd actually lose a noticeable amount of money but such a boycott?

Personally I wouldn't think so. But what do I know?

Ty Johnston said...

Here's the truth of the matter, what it all boils down to ...

Booksellers can talk about their right to not carry a particular publisher, or they can talk about taxes or the unfairness of e-commerce, or how the government should change this or that. They can also talk about how they're not in it for the money.

None of the matters. Let me repeat: NONE of that matters.

Booksellers can want and hope until the cows come home. The same could be said for any writer, publisher and even Joe Konrath.

What matters is what the CUSTOMER wants. If for whatever reason the customers are dropping your store or website or whatever, YOU have to change if you want to stay in business. Even if you're not in it for the money, you're not going to be around much longer if there's no money coming in.

I don't care if you hate capitalism and money and everything that goes along with it. When you are trying to sell something, it's the customers who ultimately decide.

Cathy Titus Neumueller said...

I buy hardbacks for $1 and paperbacks for 50 cents all the time. And I'm not talking just old paperbacks with the backs torn off, nor old hardbacks from authors no one has ever heard of. Check your local Goodwill stores and antique/junk shops.

I find great inexpensive (50 cents to a couple of dollars) books at library used book sales all year. Goodwill and garage sales are good too. I have hundreds of unread books yet I love my Kindle. Its great having lots of choices.

Joe, I can't wait for Stirred but I'll be sorry to see the series end.

Mister Snitch! said...

"Ron Marshall is gone (to A&P, which canned him in less than six months!)"

I looked everywhere in the canned goods aisle and I could not find Rob Marshall anywhere.

"That is like Microsoft helping Apple, isn't it?"
When Apple was going under, and Steve Jobs came back, Bill Gates actually did pump some Microsoft money into Apple.

jtplayer said...

"When I buy on Amazon, I pay for shipping, which is often more than sales tax.

Sales tax is not the problem. Customers leaving print for new technology is the problem."


With free super saver shipping, deep discounts on hardbacks and trade paperbacks, the 4 for 3 offers on mass market paperbacks, and no sales tax, there's simply no way a brick & mortar can compete.

And this has been going on a lot longer than cheap ebooks have been available on Amazon.

The lack of sales tax is only one competitive advantage Amazon enjoys.

I'm not knocking it, as I've taken advantage many times myself when I could have just as easily bought from my local bookstore. Although I do try and make regular purchases from said bookstore, as I did Tower Records when they were struggling to hold on.

Marie Simas said...

This thread is crazy!

I loved Kiana Davenport's story. I was dying to go to the Hawaii Book Festival this year and I would have loved to meet her and see the fireworks.

Bookstores aren't losing business because of Amazon. Bookstores are losing business to the Internet because it's a 9,000 times easier to find what I want and order it-- and have it come right to my doorstep. I pay sales tax, and shipping on all my purchases.

Like Joe said, people shop online because it's easy. Not because of sales tax.

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eloheim and Veronica said...

I burn a lot of cd's. If I buy them in my small town, it is $25 for 100. If I drive 45 minutes to the next town and find them on sale they are $15.

I got the bright idea to check Amazon last week. They were $13.95 and since I ordered two, I got free shipping.

Ordering from Amazon, I saved at least 1 1/2 hours plus about $10 in gas --wow, I hadn't thought about that, $4.25 a gallon adds up.

So, $50 buying in town, $40 (with gas cost) buying in the next town, or $28 plus saving 1 1/2 hours of travel buying on Amazon......not a tough decision.



Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

The Homo Spiritus Sessions, Vol. 1, Vol. 2

jtplayer said...

"Like Joe said, people shop online because it's easy. Not because of sales tax."

They shop for both reasons. To say differently is flat wrong. While some may not care about free shipping and no sales tax, many others certainly do.

And of course brick & mortar bookstores are losing money to Amazon. I'm not saying that's wrong, just that it's factual.

I don't believe Amazon is a bad guy in all this, even if I do lament the loss of my beloved bookstores.

Chris said...

Kiana - This is off topic, but I bought your book after you were featured here and it is truly wonderful.

Chris

Marie Simas said...

I'm not saying that's wrong, just that it's factual.

All of your "facts" are in disagreement with my "facts."

Your "factualness" does not trump anyone else's "factualness."

wannabuy said...

@Rick:"So I wouldn't worry about Amazon somehow gaining control of the market and then squeezing in some way. It's to their benefit to keep those floodgates open very, very wide."

I agree. As soon as Amazon drives away authors, I'll buy a new 'reading vehicle.' So would most 'intense readers.'

Besides, Amazon's market share keeps sliding. B&N is about to launch a new Nook. The IPad2 is selling very well...

Amazon is as much a boogeyman as Sony.

I'd say more about the boycott, but with two young kids and all the candy for sale near the counter at our local bookstores, I'll order online, with respect. ;)

Neil

Robert Carraher said...

All this talk of the sales tax issue reminds me of one of the first things I learned in business classes and repeated to me numerous times throughout my career. It is every citizens responsibility to pay as few taxes as possible. In Amazons case it is a competitive advantage, one of many and I do believe winning competitions is good business. On the sales tax front, a couple milion Washington Staters "cheat" everyday, when they , to shop for everything, including groceries. See Washington has a sales tax, Oregon doesn't. The sales tax argument is important to politicians trying to scrape every penny out of the public, being able to beat the sales tax game is important to companies and consumers.The Washintonians that beat their states sales tax probably amount to more money than all of Amazons sales tax that they beat.

Anonymous said...

Was a Konrath fan before. No longer. Not even because of signing with Amazon, but for alienating yourself.

Thanks for the info. Will take it and run. But not interested in a person who shouts the loudest.

No tools required.

(Oh, and this is my first ever anonymous post.) But then, why should you care about turning people off, especially if you're still going to sell books. I think there's a slogan for that, "Winning!" Good company, then.

James said...

Indie bookstores can get angry at Amazon, but they shouldn't take it out on authors. An author's business is to get his/her books published in whatever way maximizes profit and/or the number of readers. Given the current state of publishing, ebooks are the best way to do this, for some authors. This is not a "consorting with the enemy" situation.

Amazon is offering authors a good deal right now, so it is natural that some would focus on using them as a publishing and distribution point. They may not always offer such a good deal, though - Amazon is notorious for pulling shady crap out of nowhere, particularly when it comes to LGBT materials. For now, though, it is worth it to work with them.

I would never suggest that anyone put all their eggs in one basket, however. Why NOT publish ebooks on as many platforms, using as many different vendors, as possible? Competition among online bookstores is healthy, and necessary to keep everyone in line.

@Joe - You mentioned Overdrive, to get your ebooks into libraries. Please consider working with other library ebook vendors, too, as they become more numerous. There are a LOT of libraries that are looking to get out from under Overdrive, which is vastly overpriced.

Joe Konrath said...

Was a Konrath fan before. No longer. Not even because of signing with Amazon, but for alienating yourself.

This isn't a fan blog. My readers don't care about the publishing world.

This blog is for writers.

Do you know what alienates writers? Bad information. Preaching fear. Whining. False hope. Fallacious arguments. Pointing fingers rather than taking responsibility.

Do you really think I care if you like me or not? Seriously? What are you, 13 years old?

You want to read the advice I'm offering, that's fine. It's the reason I offer it.

You want to be an ass clown, go play elsewhere.

Joe Konrath said...

This thread is crazy!

Better crazy than boring.

Ender Chadwick said...

Wow, this thread was going all night while I slept.

Don't any of you have beds?!

In all seriousness though, it sounds like I may be alone in this but I couldn't actually care less if the brick and mortar stores close up.

Where I live my choices are B&N and Borders, both don't seem to even know the concept of customer service.

Or I can go to a few mom&pop stores, both are a decent drive, their selections are hit and miss and both are operated by pretentious, hipster types that act like they're too good/cool to care what I want.

I'd never considered ordering books from Amazon until I bought a Kindle. I don't know why it never entered the realm of possibilities for me but I wish it had. I would have been ordering all my books for years to save myself from dealing with my average bookstore experience.

Marcel said...

The lack of sales tax is only one competitive advantage Amazon enjoys.

Ponder this phrase. Imagine how it would be to live in this world. Were I a gifted wordsmith, I could maybe write a book about it!

Robin Sullivan said...

Really sorry to hear about this. But in the end, I think you'll still do very well dispite their short sighted perspective. It is discouraging though that everything in this business has to be so hard. Finding Agents, getting a contract from a publisher that doesn't limit your ability to earn a living, getting noticed, I could go on and on.

I really love and respect athors - you are in a business that works very hard against you and each time you get punched down you get up and keep going because you love what you do. I applaud you all.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

Donald Wells said...

Indie bookstores boycotting certain authors or publishers is meaningless. It's like debating which curtains to hang up in the Titanic.

Print is dying and in a few years will be a niche market at best. I've seen surveys that show that most buyers of eReaders are in their fifties. These are people who actually have fond memories of browsing in bookstores and collecting hardcover copies of their favorite authors books.

Their children and grandchildren are growing up with iPods and laptops, they browse online.
I live literally less than a minute from a two-story Barnes&Noble and have not set foot in the place in over a year, yet I browse Amazon daily.

The future is digital.

Not only would I not want to own a bookstore, I wouldn't want to own any brick & mortar store. Online shopping gets easier and more attractive every year and the current generation loves Ecommerce.

Change is always painful to someone. If I were making my living from physical books right now I would be very scared.

Publishing is not only going digital, but independent. We, writers, don't need legacy publishing anymore, neither do we need agents who suck up 15% percent for life (An intellectual property lawyer can do what an agent does for a one time fee.) and we don't need brick & mortar bookstores.

The future of publishing can be summed up in one word--Independent, Independent as in one, I, writer, alone.

PJ Lincoln said...

@Ty Johnston said: "I don't care if you hate capitalism and money and everything that goes along with it. When you are trying to sell something, it's the customers who ultimately decide."

Bravo, Ty, and bravo Joe. As a writer, all I've ever wanted is chance to get my stuff in front of readers. My first attempt, frankly, has gone over like a lead balloon. But that's okay because ... I get to keep trying.

If I ultimately write something that consumers like/want, I'll sell. If I don't, I won't. I can live with that. At least I have a chance now.

Really, I don't get the personal swipes at Joe, here. Does he self-promote? Sure. But what's wrong with that? The advice he offers is really invaluable.

Thank you, Mr. Konrath.

jtplayer said...

"Ponder this phrase. Imagine how it would be to live in this world. Were I a gifted wordsmith, I could maybe write a book about it!"

Hey man, I'd love to live in a world with no sales tax. Out here in California we're getting reamed hard.

This is one reason I buy a lot of my books from Amazon. And it's an advantage they have over brick & mortar bookstores. To say otherwise is wrong.

And as I sated earlier, combine no sales tax with deep discounts and other special offers, and their free shipping, and you have a sales model that just cannot be beat. Except by shopping at a garage sale or Goodwill.

I also stated earlier that I do not believe it is wrong for Amazon to do this. It's just business, right? But this is the primary reason bookstores are failing in the competition. And when you add the rising popularity of ebooks to the mix, it becomes nearly hopeless.

If no one's walking in the door and actually buying something, you ain't gonna make it, plain and simple.

jtplayer said...

"Your "factualness" does not trump anyone else's "factualness."

I didn't say it did. Take a deep breath and reread what I posted.

You made a statement about why people buy from Amazon. You didn't equivocate. You said they are not lured by the lack of sales tax.

I disagree. They are lured by many things, including the sales tax advantage.

And what's this "easy" nonsense. Unless you live in some small burg out in the middle of the sticks, and your choices are limited, how is it easier to buy from Amazon?

Oh right, the one-click deal. I guess that makes it easier. Well maybe for ebooks, 'cause how else are you gonna buy them? But for anything else Amazon sells, it's just as easy for me to drive right down the street to my local store and make my purchase, and walk out with it in my hand. No waiting for it to show up at my door. And if it's damaged or defective in any way, I can drive right back down the street and return the damn thing. Easy.

Russell Brooks said...

Wow! Ain't that a kick to the gonads! Imagine them doing this after all you've guys done to help indie authors as well as Joe's booksigning ventures. I'm surprised that Indie booksellers have taken this rotten attitude towards you.

Here in Montreal, two local indie booksellers in my hometown are willing to stock the paperback version of my novel. Then again I've noticed that physical books are still very popular up here in Canada and that eBooks have not gained the same level of popularity yet. But I hope they don't start doing the same things too.

Russell Brooks
Author of Unsavory Delicacies

jtplayer said...

If the sales tax advantage isn't such an "advantage", then why is Amazon fighting so hard to keep it?

Amazon Pressured on Sales Tax

T.K Murphy said...

The indie bookmakers are just lashing out. Since I was in IT, I watched so many of my friends who had been employed and in demand for decades, go to being unemployed and unwanted. Tough to swallow when you are in your 50s, have college age going kids and do no qualtify for medicare yet.

Even tougher, when you realize that the corporations that just laid off entire teams to hire in other countries, are actually sitting on the highest profit margin in decades-if not ever. But what can you do? You stew for a while and if you have bills to pay, you get up, dust it off and find another alternative-what choice do you have??? You can blame the govt or the corporations-increasingly I think they are one and the same-the lobbysists and corporate donors have way too much power. But as an individual what do you do? You can cut your expenses to the bone-but do you really want to live at this lower level of income for ever? You have to find another niche and move on.

It is tough and has been tough in America for quite a while now-for people ranging from auto/manufacturing workers to now white collar workers-but until the macro problems are fixed, we have to do something for our own survival. There is no longer any tide that lifts all boats-the current environment is more every man for himself.

The indie bookstores are not doing themselves any favors by not carrying Amazon titles-Amazon won't even notice. They have to sink or swim-either adapt or go under.

I am not too happy with all this free trade, deregulation and all this markets are so pristine that they will fix themselves mantra of the last three decades-especially with countries like China that don't play fair. But what can you as an individual do, except adapt and change and move on? it is gut wrenching-but this is reality and so many Americans are faced with this new reality. You can blame the govt or the corporations and be worried about the dismal future for our kids-but we still have to deal with the present and keep going and thrive if possible.

Anonymous said...

Ass clown? This is exactly what I'm talking about. Keep shouting. And of course you care if we like you. This blog isn't for fans. True. But it is for writers and it is for YOU. How many times do you promote your own books? This blog is a form of self-promotion. Without it you wouldn't sell as many books. You'd still sell enough, though. So why do it? This blog just isn't about helping other people (which you have done). But it's also about showing the world how great you are while drumming up sales.

I've noticed your ad hominem attacks before, but I've balanced them against the good things you've had to say. There is something about some people who become too successful. They lose perspective. They begin to think they're always right.

Sure... no problem. Will go play elsewhere. And hopefully LOTS of others do, too--somewhere where we forget your brand. Konrath made himself, but if this is going to be the way of it, he's unmaking himself, too.

Ass clown? And I'm thirteen?

With much respect to you.

Mark Asher said...

"But even if they did get monopoly power, what incentive would they have to do these nefarious things?....Given that, why bother having "quality checks" or whatever for the baseline epublishing package?"

Amazon has already offshored an initial quality check, though I think it's more along the lines of checking to make sure some knucklehead doesn't try to upload another guide to being a pedophile again. So yes, there are some costs associated with policing indie books that I doubt Amazon worries about with books from the big publishers. Those costs may increase. There have been complaints about the poor quality of many indie books so it's possible Amazon may step in and do more of a check. I'd expect the cost of that to be passed along to the publishers, i.e., indie writers.

Anyway, I don't see anyone banning indie books. I do expect to see some barriers erected to improve quality once there are five million ebooks for sale, which could happen in a few years.

(Another thing to consider is how database searches will be handled when the number of ebooks is five times what it is today? Will that have an impact on the speed at which search results are returned?)

"As to the reduced royalty meme, again I'm not sure I see how that happens, again absent a monopoly. As long as B&N, Smashwords, and whatever other companies that will decide to cater to indies in the future exist as competitors, there will be an incentive to not make their terms too bad for the authors, for fear of losing the product stream. Beyond that, look at my previous argument: it's essentially a free revenue stream. They're getting 30-65% of every sale (depending on the sales price) for essentially zero cost and very little effort. That's a great deal for them. Sure, getting, say, 50-80% or more would be better, but again they're not going to go there as long as the competition doesn't. And anti-collusion laws will prevent them from deciding together to do so."

Remember, when Amazon started the program the royalty rate was 35%. They raised it to 70% to encourage the ebook business. Once the business is firmly established is there any reason why they might not drop the rate down to 50%? That's typically the margin on paper books.

People will not pull their ebooks off Amazon if Amazon drops the rate to 50%. Why would they? That's lost sales. That 50% rate may be what the big publishers are getting now too -- their terms are surely different from the KDP terms.

I'm not saying it will happen but if it does it won't surprise me. Amazon didn't raise the rates to 70% because of a troubled conscience. It was a decision designed to build the ebook market. Once ebooks are the main market, which may be only a year or so away, why not try to squeeze more profit out of it?

Anyway, I think it's good to at least consider some possibilities. The idea that you can count on 70% for a long-tail, ten year revenue plan seems naively optimistic.

wannabuy said...

Anon,

Put a name behind your rant and someone might take you seriously. It is *so* easy to set up multiple Blogger profiles that you could truly still by anonymous.

It isn't as if a new anonymous doesn't attack Joe every few days. Why specifically did you start ranting? Because Joe signed with a publisher that would put his books in stores? I find that exciting!

The big6 have naturally tried to fucus the money at the top of their pyramid; this put the author at the bottom.

I find this boycott ironic. If Joe's older books go out of print, he'll make far more money. ;)

Neil

wannabuy said...

@March:"The idea that you can count on 70% for a long-tail, ten year revenue plan seems naively optimistic."

No matter what Amazon wants, Google books will always be a threat. They'll never be able to drop the author's cut below Google. If they match, Google books would (finally) take off... The #1 vehicle for ereaders is already an Android device; even Amazon's rumored tablets are Android.

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

Sure... no problem. Will go play elsewhere.

And yet, here you are again.

I really can't put into words how little I care about what folks think of me.

But I am able to put into words what I think of you.

Those words are: ass clown.

They begin to think they're always right.

I'm not always right.

But I am right about you being an ass clown.

It's not ad hominem, because you aren't giving me an opportunity to attack your argument. You have no argument, so there's nothing to attack but the ass clown who keeps posting over and over again, like some kind of ass clown.

One of the advantages of my position is that I don't have to suffer fools. Or ass clowns. I can call them out and kick them out.

Your next juvenile post (and I know you're dying to respond) will be deleted. Go write your own blog about what a dick Konrath is. I'm sure all of your fans will inundate you with comments of support.

If you really do believe you have some sort of argument, drop the attitude and try posting anonymously again, stating your precis politely. Not with contempt disguised as civility.

I'm always happy to debate.

But I also don't mind dishing out the bitchslap, and you're making it too easy.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to print sales it is the big guys - B&N, Walmart, Costco - that count. Did Amazon give you an undertaking that these stores would be stocking you?

If these stores won't stock Amazon published titles then I fail to see the point of publishing through these new Amazon imprints.

As I understand it the fear that B&N would refuse to stock her titles was behind Amanda Hocking's refusal to sign with Amazon.

Mark Asher said...

"No matter what Amazon wants, Google books will always be a threat. They'll never be able to drop the author's cut below Google. If they match, Google books would (finally) take off... The #1 vehicle for ereaders is already an Android device; even Amazon's rumored tablets are Android."

Why would a writer take his books off Amazon if they lowered the royalty to 50%? Readers don't care what royalty rates writers are getting. They won't stop shopping at Amazon unless writers act as a cartel and remove books, which ain't gonna happen.

Do you remember when Amazon removed a number of erotica titles? A lot of those writers were indie writers. We had a long comment stream about it here. You know how many writers said they were going to yank their books off Amazon in protest?

Zero.

You think Joe would yank his books off Amazon if they dropped the royalty rate? He was selling on Amazon when it was 35%!

Again, I'm not saying it's going to happen, but I can't think of any reason that would prevent Amazon from lowering royalty rates. Writers want to sell in as many different stores as they can, as a rule. There are even some Amazon markets where 35% is the standard royalty, and writers have the opportunity to opt out of those markets. I bet you none do, because 35% of something is better than no sales at all.

C. Pinheiro said...

If the sales tax advantage isn't such an "advantage", then why is Amazon fighting so hard to keep it

Amazon has never opposed an Internet sales tax (a flat rate on purchases). In fact, they have pushed for it.

The main reason that Amazon opposes sales tax based on it's affiliates is because it's wrong. An affiliate does not create nexus. Plus, there are almost 7,000 individual local, state, and city angencies that collect sales tax at different rates. Each one would require it's own tax return. It's an accounting nightmare, and I understand why Amazon fights it.

As for the California sales tax issue, you cannot buy on Amazon and avoid sales tax. The purchases are all subject to "use tax" which must be reported on your return. To not do so is basically admitting to tax fraud.

Joe Konrath said...

But for anything else Amazon sells, it's just as easy for me to drive right down the street to my local store and make my purchase, and walk out with it in my hand.

Actually, it's easier to be on the sofa with my iPad, in the car with my iPhone, in be or in the bathtub with my Kindle, or on the computer, and order something that I know will be in stock, which will be delivered (in the Prime program) within a day or too.

Running to the store takes a lot more effort than pressing a button.

Ebooks aside, Amazon has an incredible selection of goods. More than any brick store. For me, price isn't as big a concern as availability and ease of purchase.

Something else Amazon does is inform me about potential purchases. I love it when a knowledgable bookseller talks to me about books. But those people are becoming fewer and fewer. Amazon's review system isn't as good, but it gives me more data than just the back jacket copy.

jtplayer said...

"As for the California sales tax issue, you cannot buy on Amazon and avoid sales tax."

Sure you can, it's done all the time.

Oh, right, we're supposed to self-report. Sure, OK.

Yeah, I admit to tax fraud. So sue me.

Joe Konrath said...

If these stores won't stock Amazon published titles then I fail to see the point of publishing through these new Amazon imprints.

I've seen my Amazon books stocked in various stores. Better still, I've already gotten a nice royalty check for print sales.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

But for anything else Amazon sells, it's just as easy for me to drive right down the street to my local store and make my purchase, and walk out with it in my hand.

This may be true for you, but it isn't true for me.

I was looking for printer paper. There were many, many choices on Amazon. I ended up getting 10 reams (1 case) of 100% recycled paper.

Weight 50 pounds. I can't lift 50 pounds.

Ordered from Amazon, less than $50 (Wow), free shipping.

UPS brought it to my door.

Bonus? Ordered on Friday and it showed up Monday even though I chose super saver shipping.

Sure Amazon has its issues, but I can't see the argument for them not adding convenience. It's also very cool to have UPS bring heavy packages TO you rather than having to get help to get the box into the shopping cart, get help to get the box into the car, and then get help getting the box out of the car and into the house.

Selection, time saved traveling, having it delivered to my front door, those are the conveniences that Amazon adds. Excellent pricing is wonderful as well, but isn't always the driving factor.

Veronica
The Choice for Consciousness: Tools for Conscious Living, Vol. 1

The Homo Spiritus Sessions, Vol. 1, Vol. 2

C. Pinheiro said...

Yeah, I admit to tax fraud. So sue me.

As someone who has worked on a number of these use tax audits, I would not admit this in a public forum. California's aggression in this area is legendary.

And I always self report. That's what all tax reporting is-- self reporting.

It doesn't change the fact that buying on Amazon doesn't save sales tax in California, if you are reporting your income correctly.

jtplayer said...

Sure Joe, pressing a button is painless and easy.

Likewise, driving a few miles down the street, holding in my hands the object I want to purchase, and taking it home with me a few minutes later is pretty damn easy too.

Unless of course the purchaser is a hopelessly lazy slob.

Certainly, if you live in a rural area and the choices are few it makes perfect sense to buy things online. But the notion that it is "easier" to buy through Amazon or any other Internet outlet is not definitive.

It's about options and the personal choices we all make as consumers.

Eloheim and Veronica said...

The purchases are all subject to "use tax" which must be reported on your return.

I'm in California. So many business people I have talked to don't even know what use tax is! Can't imagine they pay it if they don't know anything about it!

One of my friends had never even filed out her business property tax statement.....

jtplayer said...

"UPS brought it to my door."

Did they carry it into the house for you as well?

Eloheim and Veronica said...

Did they carry it into the house for you as well?

Yep, when I am here the UPS dude will bring the heavy packages right in and put them on the counter. Most recently, paperbacks of my book from LSI. Those boxes are HEAVY!

jtplayer said...

"I would not admit this in a public forum. California's aggression in this area is legendary."

As someone who survived a State Board of Equalization audit of my ex-wife's business, I'm well aware of how aggressive the State of California can be.

That being said, I'm hardly concerned about admitting in a public forum that I buy books from Amazon and don't report the sales tax.

Ender Chadwick said...

"Did they carry it into the house for you as well?"

Dang JT, I don't always agree with what you say here but I've always been able to respect you. This is kind of mean and thoughtless though. Really it would be easy enough to piece it out ream by ream at the door if needed.

I live next door to a disabled man who has almost everything delivered for him. Sometimes the delivery person will help bring it in, other times I lend a hand.

Not a big deal really. Him going to pick those things up from a store would be a whole other ordeal though.

And although she doesn't sound nearly as bad off as my neighbor, I think it was a valid point.

Joe Konrath said...

Unless of course the purchaser is a hopelessly lazy slob.

That about sums me up. Along with the others who are spending billions at Amazon.

Mister Snitch! said...

"I really can't put into words how little I care about what folks think of me."

It's actually quite (almost painfully) evident that you think a great deal about what people think of you. I like the blog and all that, but you really do not take criticism well.

Joe Konrath said...

I've got a dozen or so people in my inner circle who know me. Their opinions matter. If you ever run into any of them, feel free to ask them if I care about what people think.

I'm great at taking criticism. There's a difference between taking criticism and tolerating ass clowns.

I don't expect ass clowns to understand this, because they are ass clowns.

jtplayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jtplayer said...

Apologies to all. I was only trying to be humorous, not disrespectful. Fail for me ;-)

J. Viser said...

Good post.

There will be some indie bookstores that learn how to create an irresistable experience for readers. Far from a threat, self-publishing and ebooks represent two trends that forward-thinking indie booksellers can leverage at a time when they need an edge over the big box retailers.

For example, now that my ebook sales are beginning to increase, I am receiving requests for print copies. After all, it is hard to sign an ebook or pass it down to a friend or relative.

I would love it if local bookstores in Denver would sell print editions of my ebook. It would be an absolute pleasure to help them in my locality differentiate themselves from the big box stores. I know they value the craft of writing and they don't see books so much as a commodity like Costco and Sam's Club.

Important to me as an author, is that I believe my brand and vision would benefit from the personal touch and love of books that only an indie bookstore can provide. Not sure how to approach them, some of the posts on this thread are making me wonder if it is a waste of time to do so.

I am finding the stories on this thread of how some bookstores are reacting to self-published authors disturbing. If an author has decided to choose self-publishing, for whatever reason, then Amazon-related services are relatively inexpensive, high-quality and easy to use. That's exactly what the self-published author needs.

There's some irony here, too.

For an indie bookstore to shun a self-published author for using Createspace or by signing with Thomas & Mercer, then they are forcing buyers to go to Amazon!

Amazon is not going away in the foreseeable future. The indie bookstores that come to that conclusion will find a way to leverage the technology and self-published authors to their benefit. If Amazon gets a cut, so what? They created the technology platform enabling a flood of new books for readers and deserve to earn a return on their investment.

Ella Schwartz's post on this threat highlighted some great ideas on how indie booksellers can change the game and leverage their strengths. Because of human interaction and expertise, I prefer to shop at smaller hardware stores instead of the giant warehouse chains. The same is true of indie bookstores.

Self-published authors represent a huge source of new content and stories that an indie bookseller can use to create a unique and compelling experience that Barnes & Noble, Borders and others simply can not, or will not, replicate.

Mister Snitch! said...

"I've got a dozen or so people in my inner circle who know me. Their opinions matter. If you ever run into any of them, feel free to ask them if I care about what people think.

I'm great at taking criticism. There's a difference between taking criticism and tolerating ass clowns."


As I anticipated, my comment re Konrath's ability to tolerate criticism prompted a testy denial within ten minutes. Thanks for confirming my thesis.

Robert Carraher said...

I'm legally blind, can't drive....well, I can, but the citizenry and the police and my doctors are happier of I don't. I also live in a rather rural area. Thank the fates Safeway delivers, my meds come in the mail, and damn near everything else I can get delivered at either no cost or rather reasonably....except for Chinese Food, I can't find anybody delivers Chinese....

Joe Konrath said...

I've been acting childish, and an apology is needed.

I am truly, deeply sorry, that you are an ass clown.

Jen said...

Joe, I seriously don't think you care (which is refreshing) but the more you call the ass clowns ass clowns, the more I adore you.

Mister Snitch! said...

"I am truly, deeply sorry, that you are an ass clown."

What's really sad here is that you think you're being original, amusing or clever.

But you sure proved me wrong, didn't you?

Selena Kitt said...

Unless of course the purchaser is a hopelessly lazy slob.

Or insanely, monumentally busy. If you're working 40+ hours a week, taking kids to all their activities, trying to care for an aging parent, all while working in time for writing the great American novel and occasionally getting your lazy ass to the gym, it can be hard to find time for things like "shopping."

Convenience and cost. I love having stuff delivered to my door. And the more rural we get, the better that option becomes.

@Robert - great, now I have a craving for Chinese food! :P

Robert Carraher said...

Selena, me too, but they still don't deliver....

jack said...

Wow!! I finally read through all of the comments

I was curled up in the corner shaking with fear until just moments ago.

When I finally recover from the shock of this hostility, I think I am going to buy Joe a drink! The words "ass clown" have never given me more joy! Lmao

Jack

My blog: Osric’s Wand Blog Spot

Anonymous said...

We don't shop at Amazon because we're lazy - we shop there because we're too busy to go searching at multiple locations to find the item(s) we can quickly and easily purchase on Amazon. The lack of sales tax and super saver shipping are just bonuses. I generally work 10+ hrs per day so Amazon is a lifesaver (as are the other online retailers I use). I don't want to spend my weekend time shopping at anything more than a grocery store. So no, I don't agree that driving to a store down the street is as easy as Amazon. Millions of other shoppers agree with me.

Every time I see Joe get snarky with someone on here I laugh. Ass clown. Laughing again :) It never gets old.

Dallas reader

Kiana Davenport said...

Hi all. After my posting yesterday on the backlash of indie bookstores towards eauthors at the HAWAII BOOK FESTIVAl, I remembered a recent email from an indie bookseller that I had forgotten. She had also posted a message to me on Joe's 3/25 blog.

It's important and gives me hope that there are booksellers out there trying to adapt (and maybe down the road they will balance out the jackholes boycotting Joe's and other bestselling books.)

"Dear Kiana, I am the owner of an indie bookstore and carry all your novels...etc. etc...congratulations on your first indie ebook...etc. etc.....When publishing electronically PLEASE consider google ebooks as a platform, too. That way independent bookstores like us can continue to support your work. Wishing you all the best, Lynne Almeida."

She was modest, she didn't push the name of her store. I think its in S. California. Reading this note from her cheered me somewhat. There ARE small booksellers trying to adapt and I am happy to support them as they try to support us.

I am now a certified ebook junkie, but I still love small bookstores, their homeiness, and tender regard for the printed word. I still love print books, the smell and feel of them, and I love booksellers like her, who still care about authors, no matter what venues we take to publish our work.

If we can just delete the jackholes, and work with people like Lynne Almeida, maybe this growing schism between 'us' and 'them' will dissolve, and not become a great divide.

I'm trying to track her store and will post it here. Dealers like Almeida need to be encouraged and supported. And thanked. PS...I don't format my own books so can someone please tell me what google ebooks is? Is it just another platform? How can she profit from that? Its not like B&N and their Nook.

Thanks. And for all you writers out there, here's my quote for the day. LEAP! AND THE NET WILL APPEAR. Alohas for now...Kiana

Kiana Davenport said...

@ Chris...Dear Chris, Mahalo a million for your good words about my ebook (which I refuse to mention here, that would be overkill). Its still a miracle to me that a book NY publishers turned down is now published and out in the world.

Like thousands of writers I was inspired by Joe Konrath. So I wish 'Anonymous' would get off this site, take his/her bad energy somewhere else... maybe use it to write a book. Alohas and imua! Press On! Kiana

Eloheim and Veronica said...

I hope folks will share their experiences with Google eBooks. I have only read that they are "difficult" to deal with, but haven't done any research yet.


Veronica

Selena Kitt said...

Selena, me too, but they still don't deliver....

Tell you what, I'll pick some up and come over! ;)

Anonymous said...

Defensive much? You always seem to want it your way and call those who think otherwise names like 'ass clown'.

Gimme a break.

Conor said...

Sorry to hear about the boycott. Hope they come to their senses soon.

jtplayer said...

You guys are too funny. Sure, people shop at Amazon because they're "too busy" to drive down the street and do it. Hmm...ok, if you say so.

The people I know (and millions of others) buy from Amazon 'cause the shit is cheap. Period. And there's no sales tax. And the shipping is often free.

But as I stated earlier, there are certainly many reasons why consumers buy stuff online, not the least of which is convenience. Whatever works for you is fine by me.

And yeah, I work 40+ hours a week, take care of my kids, go to the gym, pursue my hobbies, visit friends, etc., etc. And yet I still find time to go to Target or Walmart or Lowe's or Home Depot or Staples or Barnes & Noble or any number of other brick & mortar stores to get my business done.

Just like I buy plenty of cheap shit from Amazon when it makes sense to do so.

Robert Bruce Thompson said...

Joe,

Just out of curiosity, how does an ass clown differ from a garden-variety troll?

Robert Carraher said...

Now you're talkin' Selena...Hot & Sour Soup, General Cho's Chicken, Crab Rangoon, and don't forget the fortune cookies ;-)

wannabuy said...

@JTPlayer:"Sure, people shop at Amazon because they're "too busy" to drive down the street and do it. Hmm...ok, if you say so."

There is a reason parents bought diapers.com. Diapers are the 'gateway drug' to Amazon prime. When the choice is give up sleep, give up time with the kids, or join 'Amazon mom,' I know dozens who joined 'Amazon mom or prime.'

Neil

Joe Konrath said...

Just out of curiosity, how does an ass clown differ from a garden-variety troll?

A troll stirs up trouble just because they're something wrong with them developmentally.

An ass clown reads a long, multi-layered blog post, replies to one specific detail (ignoring the rest), and then uses it as a launching point for their own, skewed agenda, spewing out their idea of reality in a disrespectful way.

Then they're genuinely insulted when someone calls them on it.

If we ever run into each other, Robert, I'm the happiest guy you'll ever meet. Nothing offends me. Nothing angers me. I've bought drinks for people who have called me "asshole" to my face.

Life is too short to take this seriously. But that doesn't mean I have to suffer fools, especially in my house.

My blog is my house. Behave. Respect the host. Or take your ass clowning elsewhere.

Joe Konrath said...

You always seem to want it your way and call those who think otherwise names like 'ass clown'.

No. I just call the ass clowns "ass clown."

Take a good, hard, soul-searching look at yourself. This is my blog. I have to be here.

Why are you here? Why do you keep responding?

Could I tactfully suggest a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor? They change people's lives, and make them happier and more fulfilled. No joke. If you're this angry at some guy on the internet whom you've never met, call your doctor.

Peter Turner said...

You say: "I'm not the enemy. Neither is Amazon.The threat to bookstores is a technology that is rapidly being embraced by readers." Well, there's a lot more to it than that (full disclosure, I'm not a bookseller, but a publisher). Physical bookstores like the Indies get a much lower discount than Amazon, so there's a built in reduced margin. More to the point is that a physical bookstore has a very hard time capturing a print book sale if they don't have the book in stock (and their cash tied-up in holding the stock), while Amazon mostly sells books it doesn't inventory, but gets through distributors. Simply put, Amazon has a dramatic advantage in terms of cash-flow. That said, it's great to see authors suggesting some ideas booksellers might adopt. I know several of more proactive and influential booksellers and all I can say, is they're work at it as best they can.

Basil Sands said...

Definition:

Ass-Clown: Like a butt-head, but with a red nose and painted on fake smile

also see: Poopy Brains or Grinch

Trish said...

Good grief!

Keep writing, Joe.

And I agree, ass clown makes me laugh out loud.

Trish

David Gaughran said...

I think indie writers and indie bookstores should work together.

After all we are both groups of people that love books and want to sell lots of them and get as many people reading as possible.

We're not in competition with each other. We're in competition with the Simpsons.

Dave

P.S. Joe: You could always self-publish a book called JOE'S CANDIDATES FOR INCLUSION IN BARTLETT'S. Sell it for $0.99 and you might outsell Bartlett's!

jtplayer said...

"There is a reason parents bought diapers.com. Diapers are the 'gateway drug' to Amazon prime. When the choice is give up sleep, give up time with the kids, or join 'Amazon mom,' I know dozens who joined 'Amazon mom or prime.'"

I'm not sure what all of that means Neil, but let me say this, I've raised two kids and bought and changed as many diapers as my wife did. And worked a fill time job at the same time. I bought all those diapers at my local Target store. It never once got in the way of my sleep or my time with my kids.

But hey man, that's just me.

Again, it's mainly about price. Amazon sells cheaper on most things. If people had the ability to buy from their local brick & mortar for the exact same price as Amazon, I'm willing to bet most would do it. "Local" being the key word here.

jtplayer said...

"I think indie writers and indie bookstores should work together."

I completely agree.

But I can also see why some indie booksellers are a little butt hurt over Joe's enthusiastic embracing of all things Amazon.

wannabuy said...

@JT:"I'm not sure what all of that means Neil, but let me say this"

What it means is that non-readers I run into while traveling are trying to convince me as a parent to take advantage of the time savings of Amazon prime/mom. i.e., I just renewed my drivers license online. There is a growing sub-group of society utilizing online shopping to gain back as much as a day or two per month.

This is a meme I hear from someone new every week just as I meet someone new every week who switched to ebooks for easier large type reading.

This isn't a comment on how someone parented a decade or two ago. Heck, today's longer commute times alone require creative ways to 'gain back' time. Not to mention how the average American work week has grown over the decades...

For example, one reason I love ebooks is that I often don't have time for a trip to a bookstore. I'm reading on my Kindle the new book by Nathan Lowell without having to drive. :) Oh wait... The local bookstores have less than 25% of the sci-fi books they did two decades ago; Nathan had zero chance to make it onto the shelves.

Neil

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