Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fisking Salon and Rob Spillman

Updated below.

Just when I think media coverage of Amazon/Hachette can't get any worse, Rob Spillman gets everything wrong in today's Salon.

Seriously. Everything. Doesn't anyone fact-check at Salon? Are there editors?

Rob in bold italic idiot font, my responses in plain reasonable text.

If you are an author, how can you possibly defend Amazon? 

Because Amazon is responsible for tens of thousands of authors making money, many for the very first time?

Is that a decent reason?

Here's another: I published with Hachette, and they suck. Poor royalties, shitty one-sided contract clauses, mediocre distribution, short-sighted editorial decisions.

Want more reasons to defend Amazon? Read my blog. Since May, I've been detailing how Hachette and its defenders have been morons, and Amazon has tried several times to end this dispute.

But don't let facts get in the way of a good story.

In their ongoing contract dispute, Amazon is punishing Hachette by disappearing their author’s books, delaying shipping, and directing customers away from titles by recommending others instead.

Just like I'm punishing you, Ron, because I don't subscribe to Tin House magazine, which you edit. I don't advertise in your magazine. I don't buy your books. I've never spent $25 on a Tin House tee shirt, either. And I certainly don't promote anything Tin House on my blog or homepage.

Am I a villain, preventing you from making a living, because I'm not giving you money and ad space? Do I have some sort of obligation to you?

Or maybe... wait a second here... are YOU the villain?

I don't see any copies of MY novels for sale on your website!

Why aren't you selling my books, Rob? All I see are books by other authors. Why are you selling their titles and not mine? Why are you punishing me like this?

Could it be that Tin House can sell whatever the hell it wants to? Because that's how capitalism works?

As for Amazon, aren't they also allowed to sell what they want to? And if they are having a dispute with a supplier, aren't they allowed to use leverage to get the terms they want? Or do they have to roll over because a supplier says so?

If you agree with the latter, maybe I will subscribe to Tin House, and then demand you publish my short stories, advertise my books, and sell my tee shirts (the shirt has a picture of me on it, giving you the finger). Because if we're throwing the free market economy out the window, I want to be able to dictate everything Tin House does, and make sure it's all in my favor.

Also, send me ten thousand donuts. Because I said so. If you don't, you're a bully.

In response, hundreds of prominent writers joined together to send an open letter to Amazon protesting their thuggish tactics.

Well, if you want to get technical, only a few dozen of those writers are what I'd label as "prominent". But there are many I'd label as "misguided" or "ignorant of the facts" or "motivated by greedy self-interest."

But there are several hundred who are the prisoners of Hachette's thuggish tactics.

You know, Hachette, who wants to keep ebook prices high in order to protect their paper distribution oligopoly. Remember? There was a DOJ suit you may have heard of? Hachette was guilty of collusion? Price fixing? Ring any bells?

How about Hachette's refusal to help their own authors? Do you recall when Amazon tried, on three separate occasions, to take Hachette authors out of the line of fire and monetarily compensate them during these negotiations?

Who is the thug? The one who has NO contract with authors but is offering to help them, or the one who HAS a contract with authors and refuses to help, or reach an agreement so their authors can go back to making money?

However, not all writers are on the same page. A few have come forward to say that they have Amazon’s back. 

A few? Did you go through every name in our petition supporting Amazon, and out of 8600 names only find a few writers?

I'll bet you one of those nifty $25 Tin House tee shirts that we have more writers than Preston's petition.

The most vocal is Hugh C. Howey, whose self-published sci-fi novel “Wool” has sold a half-million copies on Amazon. In an article in today’s New York Times, Howey defended Amazon and characterized Ursula Le Guin’s statement that Hachette’s tactics amount to censorship as “mostly lying.”

Did you read the article, Rob?

A commenter on the Passive Voice blog, Mir, is the one said Le Guin is "mostly lying."

And you edit a magazine? Do you do so with the same care you wrote this article? Meticulously checking facts and confirming details?

Mostly lying? That’s the equivalent of “a little pregnant.”

Bad analogy. A better one is, "Rob Spillman is mostly an idiot".

See, I can guess that maybe, sometimes, you aren't always an idiot. An idiot would make a glaring mistake like the Howey misquote. An idiot would make a ridiculous comparison between "mostly lying" which means "a lot of lies mixed in with a little truth" and "mostly pregnant" which means "pregnant."

But I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and not call you a "100% idiot" because maybe, elsewhere, you've written stuff that isn't idiotic. Hopefully.

Howey, like most writers who are Amazon defenders, is a self-published genre writer. 

Can I rewrite that sentence without the bias it reeks of?

Howey is a hybrid writer who has published on many platforms and with many companies, including Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, and Simon & Schuster, has defended Amazon because he, and tens of thousands of other authors, are treated well by Amazon, given great royalty rates, fair contract terms, and control over their careers.

(And he has become the Times’ go-to author to predictably take Amazon’s side; yesterday’s piece was at least the fifth he has been quoted in since the end of May 2014.) 

And now, Rob, you have become my go-to author to quote. But I'm not going to call you and ask for specific quotes. Like the NYT, I'm going to take things you've said online, and use those quotes to make you look bad.

I know this current piece of yours attacks both Hugh Howey and Amazon, but how do you really feel about Amazon, Rob?

"Once again, Amazon is a step ahead of their competition." - Rob Spillman

Rob, that makes it sound like you're on Amazon's side. But this current piece makes you seem like you're delusional and deathly afraid of Amazon. Like you're worried they're going to spy on you, NSA style.

"...my paranoid self can’t help but imagine that Amazon already has my data in its claws." - Rob Spillman

Yikes. That does sound paranoid. Do you have any particular reason to hate Amazon, Rob, other than paranoia?

"My first publishing job, in 1987, was at Random House." - Rob Spillman

Ah. I see. Maybe you could have disclosed that in this anti-Amazon rant, huh?

And maybe you can do just a tiny bit of research next time and see where the NYT is getting its Hugh Howey quotes, so you can read them in context. Because taking quotes out of context just doesn't seem fair, does it?

The most elite among the romance, fan-fiction and sci-fi writers can do quite well on Amazon—according to Slate, self-published titles made up 25 percent of the top-selling books on Amazon in 2012. This bank is good news for Howey and company, but at what ultimate cost?

What ultimate cost? Let's see:
  • 70% royalties in most markets
  • 12 different countries to self-publish in
  • Author keeps their rights
  • No non-compete or next option clauses
  • KDP Select is optional and offers additional benefits
  • Control over content, title, and cover art
  • Incredible speed to market
  • Monthly payments
Ulp! That sounds awful!

I'd much rather sign with Hachette, who pays 17.5% ebook royalty rates, owns the book for my life plus 70 years, won't let me write other books, can change my title at their whim and force me to accept shitty cover art, takes 18 months to publish and pays me every 6 months, and can't even make a deal with the LARGEST BOOKSTORE IN THE WORLD, which severely compromises my sales.

Yeah. That's the much better option.

By getting in bed with a rapacious efficiency, a corporation that prides economy over artistry, profits over people, they are no better than Ayn Rand libertarians who decry sales taxes and then complain about how underfunded their local public schools are.

Rob, you're seriously making me rethink my "Rob Spillman is mostly an idiot" statement earlier, and forcing me to lean toward the 100% alternative.

No Amazon author is in bed with Amazon. When authors have goals that align with Amazon's goals, it is mutually beneficial. When authors and Amazon have different goals, authors can leave because self-pubbers DON'T SIGN A CONTRACT WITH AMAZON.

Hachette authors, on the other hand, cannot leave Hachette. The publishing term for this is "fucked."

Can you show me how the Big 5 value artistry over Amazon? Seems like the Big 5 only publish some books. That sounds a lot like limiting artistry.

As for profits over people, Amazon gives authors 70% royalties, and offered to pay Hachette authors out of its own pocket. Hachette gives authors 17.5% royalties, and refused to pay authors out of its own pocket.

Also, your analogy just plain sucks. Can you show me where authors making a fortune off of Amazon are complaining that Amazon doesn't care about people or artistry? Can you quote me one rich Amazon author who has said this? For that matter, can you quote me one Ayn Rand libertarian who eliminated sales taxes then complained about underfunded public schools?

Honest question, Rob; do your analogies get any better?

There are several other analogies one could use, such as selling your land rights to a fracking company. You may get a mountain of cash, but your land is poisoned. Oh, well, let future generations deal with the cleanup. 

Answer: No. Your analogies don't get better. And neither does the article.

So I've sold over a million books on Amazon, but in doing so I've ruined... um... what have I ruined? What's being poisoned here? What needs to be cleaned up?

What the hell are you actually trying to say?

In a spectacular bit of short-sightedness, Howey complained to the Times that independent bookstores “blacklist my books.”

Yeah. He said that because, you know, indie bookstores blacklist his books.

See, he used the word "blacklist" correctly. Indie stores refuse to carry his books.

They have a right to not carry his books. It's called capitalism. But I didn't see your Salon article calling indie bookstores "thuggish" or bemoaning how indie bookstores are "punishing" Howey. Or me. Or thousands of other indie authors.

Bias much?

So, let me get this straight—you would like your books, which are published by the company whose avowed goal is to eliminate brick and mortar stores of any kind, to be carried in the same brick and mortar stores your publisher is trying to destroy?

Note to Rob "mostly an idiot" Spillman: Amazon isn't Howey's publisher. Howie self-publishes. Amazon is a platform he publishes on.

I won't speak for Howey, but I personally don't care if my books are in indie bookstores. I was one of the first authors they boycotted, and my sales haven't suffered. But I think it would be a good thing if reporters actually reported, and both sides of a story given equal weight.

Amazon isn't boycotting Hachette books, even though that term is trotted out regularly. So are other loaded terms. The NYT and Salon apparently get tiny elf priapisms repeating this nonsense. But when there is an actual book boycott mentioned, the NYT and Salon treat it with derision, sarcasm, and contempt.

It would be nice to see a bit of balance in the media.

Happily, there are bloggers like me, who have the freedom to call articles like yours bullshit.

Maybe Howey needs to be reminded that Amazon is the company that notoriously squeezes the little guy. They instituted the “Gazelle Program” to “deal” with small publishers. Oh, you are thinking, how cute, swift gazelles! No, Amazon aimed to isolate wounded small publishers — then hammered them with ruthless terms. 

Sort of like Hachette hammers authors with ruthless terms?

Look, I signed the Hachette contract. No one forced me. I found it to be unfair, but I accepted those terms willingly. That's what happens when one party has more negotiating power than the other party. It's called business.

This is the company that relentlessly fights local sales taxes, has horrible warehouse conditions, and introduced an app that would let you scan a book in a bookstore then order it from Amazon at a discount. 

Hey Rob, I'm from Illinois. If I plunk down $40 for an 8 issue digital subscription to Tin House, how much of that do you give to the Land of Lincoln?

Also, have you ever worked in a warehouse? I have. It was horrible. Can you find me a warehouse job that isn't horrible? Instead of parroting other stories you read, can you maybe do a bit of research and see how Amazon's warehouse conditions compare with, say, Walmart's? Or Nike's? Or Hachette's? I'd like to know. I don't think anyone should have to deal with unsafe, unfair, or horrible working conditions, and I'd like to know how bad Amazon is compared to everyone else, rather than just hearing all the time that they're bad.

And lastly, can you show me how fierce competitors who aim to lower prices are bad for customers? Or how high prices are good for customers?

This is the company that would like to have complete vertical integration, where they publish and sell all books, eliminating rival publishers, bookstores, along with anyone who works in publishing.

Wait... I finally get it. You want Amazon to be a company that fosters competition and works to limit its own market share. You know, like all other companies in the world. Because none of them would want to ever get rid of their business rivals.

Did you actually reread this article before you published it? You know, in a kind of editorial capacity?

What company encourages its own competition? Why would you say something so stupid?

INT. COCO-COLA BOARD MEETING, DAY

The CEO speaks to the BOARD

CEO: Today, we're going to pull out of ten major markets in order to allow PepsiCo to better compete with us.

BOARD: Hurray!

CEO: Then we're going to double our prices, chasing customers away from our brand and encouraging them buy our rivals' products.

BOARD: The stockholders will love us!

CEO: Then we're going to split our own company into fifteen competing companies. Two of those new companies will be dedicated to tracking down and beating up people who use our products. Our Superbowl commercial this January will show three thugs kneecapping a blind, elderly man who is sipping a Sprite.

BOARD: Thanks for the advice, Rob Spillman!

What is particularly galling to book lovers is that Bezos really could care less about books. As super-agent Andrew Wylie put it, “Amazon is nothing more than a trucking company, a digital truck company.”  

Okay, not to be all grammar anal, but the expression is "could not care less". I'd normally forgive this, but you were quick and eager to point out (incorrectly) how you didn't like the term "mostly lying". And I'm pretty sure Bezos's personal opinion of books doesn't gall book lovers. Because book lovers can get the widest selection, at the lowest prices, on Amazon, and that's what they tend to care about.

Last I checked, Andrew Wylie didn't have a big S on his chest and could leap tall buildings, but you're allowed to think he's super if you want to. I couldn't care less. (see how I did that?) But again, who cares if Amazon is a digital trucking company? That's what readers want.

SuperWylie, however, probably doesn't like it, because he's being disintermediated. Maybe he can use his super freeze breath to stop progress.

In his book, “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” Brad Stone explains how books were just a gateway, a testing ground for selling everything from shoes to salamis. 

Okay, you've finally hit on an important point. I mean, there is a huge difference between books and salamis. Have you ever had a Dostoevsky grinder? It's too long, and almost impossible to digest.

Conversely, nothing of substance can be printed on cured sausage.

These are completely different products, and shouldn't ever be sold under the same roof, because...

Uh.

Hmm. Can you explain why books are somehow sacred, and food isn't?

According to George Packer’s thorough and sobering New Yorker profile of Amazon, the company now makes $5.25 billion on book sales, only about 7 percent of the company’s $75 billion in total yearly revenue. This is chump change to Amazon, yet this amount still accounts for half the book sales in this country. 

Your point? If you get near one, make it.

Many, like Salon’s Richard Eskow and now Franklin Foer, writing in the New Republic, have begun to argue that Amazon is close to establishing a monopoly, and that it’s high time the Justice Department to step in and deal with the monster they’ve helped create through inaction.

You know that monopolies aren't against the law, right? Neither are monopsonies, which is a much better description of what Amazon might be.

When a retailer fights to keep prices low, which benefits customers, for some insane reason the government considers it a good thing.

Books are not widgets. They are art and ideas. 

So I don't have to pay $40 for a subscription to Tin House? You're making it free because art and ideas aren't products to be bought and sold like widgets?

They have lasting cultural value beyond immediate sales. 

How does the writer get compensated for the value he contributes to culture? Do we get to eat for free? That might work, unless food also has a cultural value beyond immediate sales. It might. I hear a lot of farms are subsidized. Maybe writers could be, too.

Hey! Great idea! The government will decide what's worthy to publish! Isn't that better than Amazon letting readers decide what they want to read on their own?

Publishing is a community, an ecosystem where we all contribute so that it not only survives, but thrives. 

You actually just wrote that publishing exists for publishing's sake, and we all need to support it.

Really. That's what you wrote.

We're really creeping toward that 100%...

Howey and company are eschewing community for efficiency.

Translation: Thinking outside the box can hurt those who depend on the box for expense accounts and 401k plans, even if it benefits those pesky readers.

And, for now, they are reaping the financial rewards. 

Sounds awful. All those poor writers, making money.

One has to wonder though, will Howey and company still be making bank once Amazon is the only game in town? Or will Howey and his cohorts find their profits diminished when Amazon, not needing to compete with other publishers, sets whatever terms they would like. What happens when the only books that exist are being published and sold by Amazon?  

Oh sweet Jesus with a chocolate filling, what name could we possibly call a horrible situation where there is no competition in publishing and authors are forced to accept shitty terms?

Oh, yeah. We call it "publishing"

At least we used to, until Amazon came around.

When the only forum to discuss the merits of any book is on GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon?

Holy shit balls rolled in oats! Amazon is buying the entire World Wide Web!?!? There won't be anywhere left on the Internet to discuss books?!?

Won't someone think of the children!

Dear Mr. Bezos, when you own the entire information superhighway and every ISP and URL, please don't charge an email tax of more than three dollars...

Ethically, do you want to do business with a company that is capitalism at its very worst?

Of course not. That's why I got my rights back from Hachette and now self-pub via Amazon. Duh.

According to Forbes, Jeff Bezos is now the 20th richest person in the world, worth $30.2 billion. He got there by being the most ruthlessly efficient seller our country has ever known. 

In other words, Amazon will destroy the world with enormous selection, great prices, and terrific customer service. Those bastards.

But think of all the bodies that have been trucked over along the way—the hundreds of bookstores and publishing houses, not to mention the tens of thousands of writers who have been squeezed by shrinking margins. 

Um, so far the only writers being squeezed are those who have signed with publishers.

But you can go ahead and worry about the wolf that may eat you next year, rather than the tiger currently gnawing on your leg.

In the end, you are judged by the company your keep.

If that's the case, Salon is the worst online magazine ever. Or everr.

Rob Spillman is editor of Tin House magazine.

Hmm. Maybe I spoke too soon...

Rob emailed me to reply to this post, and I emailed him back. The result was a follow-up article on Salon.

77 comments:

Mustard Jones said...

Reading your blog is enough to make even a non-writer consider writing something, just to reap the Amazing Amazon rewards! It seems to me this Amazon vs the World argument comes down to Olde Worlde romanticism, that we should preserve and nurture indie book sellers, legacy publishers etc through a sense of nostalgic value, and New World efficiency, that we should progress into an environment of true capitalism and survival of the fittest business. I can see merit in both, but as a writer, I would definitely opt for the latter.

Dana Stabenow said...

What is particularly galling to book lovers is that Bezos really could care less about books.

I'm betting Mr. Bezos cares a little bit about books. He's married to a novelist.

Marcel said...

Ayn Rand libertarians? Really?

Anonymous said...

Is this relentless tide of bullshit working? Are these people actually having an impact with the fearmongering, misquoting and bad journalism?

--Mac, who for some reason can't input an email to identify myself

Steven Konkoly said...

Articles like Spillman's are clearly the "death rattle" of the legacy publishing's media stranglehold. At this point, any magazine or newspaper article written against Amazon should simply cut and paste Spillman's mess and rearrange it a little to look like something different. The articles have become eerily similar in content and tone over the last month. The end is nigh for this crew.

Broken Yogi said...

Great article. Only one error that seems to get repeated alot:

You know that monopolies aren't against the law, right? Neither are monopsonies, which is a much better description of what Amazon might be.

Amazon is not a monopsony, and it's negotiations with Hachette prove that point.

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition:

In economic theory, market situation in which there is only one buyer. An example of pure monopsony is a firm that is the only buyer of labour in an isolated town; such a firm would be able to pay lower wages to its employees than it would if other firms were present. Though cases of pure monopsony are rare, monopsonistic elements are found wherever there are many sellers and few purchasers.

Here's Wikipedia's definition:

The microeconomic theory of imperfect competition assumes the monopsonist can dictate terms to its suppliers, as the only purchaser of a good or service, much in the same manner that a monopolist is said to control the market for its buyers in a monopoly, in which only one seller faces many buyers.
In addition to its use in microeconomic theory, monopsony and monopsonist are descriptive terms often used to describe a market where a single buyer substantially controls the market as the major purchaser of goods and services. Examples include the military industry,[1] space industry,[2] and the prison industry.[3]


Okay, so, first, Amazon is not the only buyer of books. For print books, there are all kinds of bookstores, large and small, chain and independents. For ebooks, there are other ebook retailers such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. They have a large market share, and thus strong negotiating power, but they are not the only significant buyer and reseller of books.

Second, and even more tellingly, Amazon is not able to dictate terms to its suppliers, the publishers. Look at what's going on with Hachette, a major supplier. Amazon has made its demands, and Hachette has turned them down flat. It is even refusing to negotiate with Amazon unless Amazon gives in to its own demands. That means Amazon cannot, by definition, be a monopsonist. If it were, Hachette would have no choice but to agree to Amazon's terms.

There's a history to this as well. Back in 2010, the major publishers all ganged up and demanded that Amazon agree to its terms, rather than that they agree to Amazon's terms. Who backed down? It was Amazon. They were forced to agree to the publishers' terms, rather than the other way around. That means that it wasn't Amazon who was acting as a monopsony, but the big publishers who were acting as a cartel-monopoly.

After the JD lawsuit, and the court finding that the major publishers had indeed acted as a cartel, new negotiations have been scheduled, with Hachette taking the first turn. The fact that they have again refused to agree to Amazon's terms, but insisted again that Amazon agree to their demands, shows that Amazon is not a monoposist who can dictate terms to their major suppliers. In fact, if the other major publishers take the same hard line that Hachette is taking, once again it will probably be Amazon who will have to give in, not those publishers.

cont.

Broken Yogi said...

cont.

So it is the major publishers who are acting as a monopolist cartel, dictating terms to their buyers. And likewise, they are acting as a cartel-monoposist to their own suppliers, the authors whose books they buy and then resell. It is the major publishers, acting as a cartel, who dictate to most authors the terms of sale for their books. Those terms are virtually the same across the board, for almost all authors, and those authors are forced to accept those terms because of the power of that monopsony. The only significant exception to that is self-publishing authors who use Amazon or other platforms. But these authors are denied access to most of print distribution by that same cartel of monopsonists.

It's important to remember this. The history of negotiations between Amazon and the major publishers shows that Amazon is not the monopsonist power at work here, but that the major publishers have effectively functioned as a cartel-monopoly on publishing, refusing Amazon's terms, and dictating their own to it. Likewise, it is the major publishers who are the monopsonist buyers of authors' products, dictating to them the terms of most book contracts.

If there is a monopoly or monopsonist power that needs to be broken up in the publishing world, it is that of the major publishers. In that respect, Amazon is a force that is helping to weaken that monopolist and monopsonist cartel, by both functioning to bring down prices, and to provide authors with an alternative and competitive method for publishing their ebooks. So they are not the proper target of those concerned about publishing monopolies and monopsonies. It's the major publishers who ought to be the targets of such concerns.

Anonymous said...

Okay, have an opinion if you want to, but if you’re purporting to write a piece of journalism, you’ve got to get the quotes right. Putting the “lying” quote in HH’s mouth is just plain bad reporting (and should have a correction/apology posted at the end of the article). And I’m too much of a classicist to accept “could care less” as anything but ridiculous and flabby grammar.

antares said...

[Y]ou can go ahead and worry about the wolf that may eat you next year, rather than the tiger currently gnawing on your leg.
LOL. Best laugh today.

Ever notice that the only sources Spillman and company quote are the New Yorker and the New York Times? Can anyone in Manhattan see beyond the Hudson or the East River?

Mike Coville said...

A few? Did you go through every name in our petition supporting Amazon, and out of 8600 names only find a few writers?

Whale Math(tm) strikes again.

Arphaxad said...

There is a reason I never read Salon, and this article is just one of many crap filled propaganda pieces you will find there on a regular bases. Do yourself a favor and avoid Salon at all cost.

Peter Spenser said...

I know. I sympathize. I can picture you, sitting there getting so pissed at Spillmen and all of the others that your fingers are just flying over the keyboard! But you shoot yourself in the foot about accuracy and fact checking when you misspell Ursula Le Guin’s name and then miss catching it before publishing your post. Love you anyway.

w. adam mandelbaum esq. said...

Amazon is not a monopoly,but the last ditch defense of traditional publishing is a monotony.

Sue Trowbridge said...

When/where did Amazon say its "avowed goal is to eliminate brick and mortar stores of any kind"? I just read yesterday that they are planning to open a store right here in San Francisco.

Peter Spenser said...

@ w. adam mandelbaum—
“…the last ditch defense of traditional publishing is a monotony.”
Very good, and very true! This is all getting very old. Even Hugh Howey said recently that perhaps we should all give it a rest. (And maybe let Big Publishing “Rest In Peace”? LOL)

Joseph Ratliff said...

So, we have "Streitfeldian" from an earlier post, and now we can have...

Spillmanian.

:)

These desperate sounding articles written by supposed "leaders" in the literary community (and Streitfeld) are comical to read.

They do understand they are not doing a thing to help their "cause" right?

The main reason... no valid points.

Amazon isn't a monopoly, a monopsony (rare anyhow), or anything else. In fact, not even close. Wal-Mart would have to be classified as a monopoly if Amazon were.

They keep selling more and more books, not less and less (so not destroying anything).

Their arguments have been clearly dispelled numerous times, yet they continue to rehash them.

They are damaging their brands (Streitfeld his own, and Tin House now).

Holy hell, they are sounding shallow and superficial in their writing.

And 5 more myths about Jeff Bezos dispelled...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-jeff-bezos/2013/08/09/279dec20-0071-11e3-9a3e-916de805f65d_story.html

Ken Lindsey said...

So, I just wanted to chime in really quick here. As a person who actually worked in an Amazon warehouse, as well as an A.R.E. warehouse (they make truck camper shells) and the S.M.I. warehouse (they deal with precious metals and coining) I just want to say it wasn't bad.

I mean, it was loud and I got sweaty sometimes, but that's what happens when you're working in a factory instead of polishing your very own special snowflakes. In fact, Amazon was much easier to deal with than many other places in the same sphere. They paid well (better than most other jobs in the area at the time I worked there) and had better than average benefits. The only horrible thing about that place when I worked there was their "no books on the premises" policy, and that just meant I had to read in my car during lunch.

Joe Konrath said...

But you shoot yourself in the foot about accuracy

You seem to be suggesting that a typo in a blog carries the same weight as an article in a major online magazine written by a self-proclaimed editor.

Really? They're equivalent?

Is it also equivalent that I fixed my typo immediately (thank you for pointing it out) while Spillman has been told of his many errors for 24 hours and hasn't done any corrections or retractions?

I can picture you, sitting there getting so pissed at Spillmen

That's Spillman. But I love you anyway.

:D

Joe Konrath said...

When/where did Amazon say its "avowed goal is to eliminate brick and mortar stores of any kind"? I just read yesterday that they are planning to open a store right here in San Francisco.

Good catch, Sue.

James F. Brown said...

I saw a post on TPV about this article, and clicked to it.

My take: Spillman makes Streitfeld look like Bill Moyers.

The guy is drenched in his own spittle.

Alan Spade said...

@Ken Lindsey: thank you for your testimony.

I was on a signing session on Sunday, and I met a woman, a company works doctor, who told me that she was boycotting Amazon because Amazon "abuse its workers", by her own words.

Of course, she also said that she love physical bookstores, so in some ways, she's probably biased.

But she seemed honest, and she's a company works doctor.

I like many things that Amazon do, but I hope that Jeff Bezos realizes that there should be a way to satisfy BOTH his customers and his workers? Is there only capitalism, or would it be possible for enlightened capitalism to exist?

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

One of your best ever, Joe! But actually, I don't think 10,000 donuts would be good for anyone. So if he sends them, I'll eat one for you. Make mine a chocolate glazed. Or one of those kind with whipped cream stuffed in the middle. Yeah, that sounds good.

Back to writing so that I can make money from the evil that is Amazon. Bwahahaha!

Guy Anthony De Marco said...

I'm wondering when Salon and its ilk will see the rising of the tide and bail on Spillman and his sockpuppetry.

A bit off topic, but I know you write in the horror field, Joe. What's your take on the Permuted Press debacle?

Randy Morris said...

I love how Spillman gives you two options:

1. Make boatloads of money self-publishing on Amazon.
2. Take an "ethical" stand against Amazon.

Uh... I think I'll go with the boatloads of money option. Thanks. :-P

Barry Eisler said...

The hardest thing about responding to the Spillmans of the world is how boring it is. They just keep writing the same tired bullshit arguments that have been repeatedly demolished.

There were a few good parts, though. Yes, mostly lying” is like “a little pregnant”? I guess, if you live in a world where people can only lie about everything or tell the truth about everything and in which there are no degrees of lying or truthfulness and in which the perjury oath doesn’t have to say “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” because that’s all redundant because people either 100% lie or 100% tell the truth.

Mr. Spillman certainly is possessed of a sophisticated, nuanced view of human nature and behavior!

Joe, one small thing you might have overlooked (understandable in the toxic spill of bullshit you were wiping up): can Spillman quote an Amazon spokesperson declaring that the company's goal is to eliminate brick and mortar stores? Assuming he knows what “avow” means and was using it correctly?

Man. It's like the media is running a contest for Stupidest Article on the Publishing Revolution, and every week there's a new frontrunner.

Barbara Morgenroth said...

Are the elites capitalists or are they socialists gaming the capitalist system like in every other socialist or communist country?

Scott Dyson said...

You didn't really need to fisk it. The "stupid" shows through brightly in this writers own words.

tonyl said...

I thought I read that in addition to San Francisco (about which I hadn’t heard), New York and the big five were all a twitter (Maybe not on Twitter) about Amazon opening a new B&M store on New York’s West Side. Something about, I’ll avoid that store like the plague, said one publishing executive.

SJArnott said...

Spillman: ‘Howey defended Amazon and characterized Ursula Le Guin’s statement that Hachette’s tactics amount to censorship as “mostly lying.”

As JK pointed out: wrong person. Apology? Libel suit anyone?


Spillman: “Howey, like most writers who are Amazon defenders, is a self-published genre writer.”

JK: “Can I rewrite that sentence without the bias it reeks of?”

I think most of the bias is not against ‘self-published’, but ‘genre’. If Spillman ever opened a package to find a ‘genre’ book inside it, I can imagine him holding his breath, picking it up with a moist towelette between thumb and forefinger, and flinging it out of the window.


JK: So I've sold over a million books on Amazon, but in doing so I've ruined... um... what have I ruined? What's being poisoned here? What needs to be cleaned up?

You’ve sucked that money out of the pockets of legacy literary authors. You’ve ruined their holiday plans (Florida, not Tuscany, this year). You have to clean up their mounds of tear-soaked tissues.


JK: “Also, have you ever worked in a warehouse? I have. It was horrible. Can you find me a warehouse job that isn't horrible?”

I have too. It was okay. The only Amazon warehouse I ever saw inside looked cool. Perhaps that’s the only one they let cameras into.


Spillman: “In his book, “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” Brad Stone explains how books were just a gateway, a testing ground for selling everything from shoes to salamis.”

Books were a gateway because legacy publishing is a cartel that used to have the only means of book distribution sewn up. It was a bloated, non-competitive ecosystem ripe for disruption. And once Amazon’s web presence and distribution infrastructure were set up on the back of the book trade, it was a simple matter to open the doors to anyone else who wanted to sell anything on-line (and if anyone is still wondering why Amazon doesn’t discount ironing boards – see previous posts - ask yourself where the margin is. Ironing boards are made by dozens of manufacturers who compete fiercely. Margins are tiny. Unless you already have a stake in the business, there is little incentive for the outsider to dip their toe in the retail manufacturing ocean – they'll get in bitten off).


Spillman: “They have lasting cultural value beyond immediate sales.”

Presumably the genre books that make the sales are too trashy to have any lasting cultural value. In Spillman’s world I would guess that genre novels are only tolerated so long as they prop up ‘real’ literature.


Spillman: “Publishing is a community, an ecosystem where we all contribute so that it not only survives, but thrives.”

A healthy ecosystem thrives because it recycles dead things (circle of life - they wrote a song about it). A thriving publishing ecosystem is one that is dynamic and aggressive, it is not an old folks’ home for tired old companies who don't want to change their tired old ways.

Spillman: “But think of all the bodies that have been trucked over along the way—the hundreds of bookstores and publishing houses, not to mention the tens of thousands of writers who have been squeezed by shrinking margins.

Did tearful executives from Barnes & Noble and Waterstones flock to the stores of indie booksellers with muffin baskets to apologise for putting them out of business? Didn’t the Big Five get so big by gobbling up their smaller, weaker brethren. Legacy publishing had been squeezing writers for years before Amazon came along. Legacy publishing could do it because it was a cartel that controlled paper distribution and writers had nowhere else to go. Amazon can never be the cartel that legacy publishing was, because it does not, and cannot, control the distribution of ebooks. So there.

Christina Pilz said...

This might be my favorite bad line of the original article:

When the only forum to discuss the merits of any book is on GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon?

Because that means that, according to Rob Spillman, all those bloggers and reviewers and the Kboards forum, and all those other websites out there that discuss the merits of a whole bunch of books - according to Rob Spillman, they just don't exist! They don't exist!

That's quite a trick, you know, disappearing all those web sites! Thanks, Mr. Spillman! I didn't need all that diversity and multiple points of view anyhow!

(And thank you, Joe, for the good laugh I had this morning. There's nothing I like better than watching you making sense of the idiocy out there.)

Anonymous said...

It sounds more like Spillman publishes "Tin Hat" magazine. The guy is as unprofessional as a writer can be.

Ken Prescott said...

Mr. Konrath,

How in The Seven Unprintable Names of Cthulhu did you avoid rage-stroking just from READING that idiotic drivel? That much stupidity in that small an area probably warps the space-time continuum!

WineFoodGeek said...

Wow, that was a brutal fisk. And Spillman deserved every bit of it. This Salon article is the worst yet, in a long, monotonous list of bad articles repeating the same crap. And, "super-agent"? What the heck is that? Like a secret agent with a cape?

Total spit-take at "tiny elf priapisms".

Alexander Mori said...

Yesterday at the Dallas Area Writer's Group meeting our organizer asked for updates. I announced the steps I'd taken (some of them large steps, like publishing my 2nd novel on amazon) toward becoming a full-time Indie Writer. She was polite and supportive. But the room got quiet for a moment until everyone once again started sharing stories of query letters, agent rejections and being ignored by publishing houses. The overwhelming feeling (as far as I perceived) was that there is still a stigma with publishing without backing from a publisher. Or, the dream for publisher acceptance outweighs the dream for making money off of telling stories. I simply don't get it. I've only made a few hundred bucks (don't worry, I see this as a great thing; one step among many toward my future success), but it's a few hundred more than many of the aspiring writers in that room will ever get a chance to make through traditional channels. I don't mind if other writers choose traditional. Doesn't bother me. But there is still a hesitancy for some people when encountering an indie published writer.

Are these "journalists" or their publications paid by legacy publishing? Or do they really believe in what they write? I can't see how it could possibly be the latter.

My house is filled with art hanging on my walls. I've not bought one piece from a major gallery or approved auction. Most are pieces I bought from street vendors from cities I've visited. Or I bought online direct from artists putting their work out there any way they can. The art is still art. I still like it. I think much of it comes from talented individuals. I'm happy to give them my money for their work. Should ETSY be condemned because I buy dachshund paintings from local artists rather than buying the original Picasso from an established gallery? Maybe we should ask Rob Spillman.

Joe Konrath said...

My house is filled with art hanging on my walls. I've not bought one piece from a major gallery or approved auction.

Great analogy.

Jill James said...

Thank you for my laugh for the day. That was cool!!

daneyul said...

God I hate Salon. And not just for the amateurish, one-sided content.

I mean, how many "related stories" and "featured stories" and "related featured stories" and "here's a completely unrelated slideshow" self-referential click baits can they cram on one freaking page? Along with all the inline ads, scrolling down to the comments was like repelling down a mountain of shit. Then again--seeing how almost all of them trash the article in no uncertain terms, no wonder they hide them so far down.

Anonymous said...

Arphaxad said...
"There is a reason I never read Salon, and this article is just one of many crap filled propaganda pieces you will find there on a regular bases. Do yourself a favor and avoid Salon at all cost."

I think I must be living right. I can avoid Salon at no cost whatsoever.

Joe, I think Spillman has a secret agenda: he's auditioning for a spot as a political speechwriter.

Curtis Manges

Mir said...

I'm the Mir of the "mostly lying" statement that they erroneously attributed to the delightful and faboo nice guy, Hugh Howey.

I felt bad for Hugh that they put my words in his mouth and totally out of the fangirling-fury context. No, seriously, we were the Le Guin-reading TPV-contingent bemoaning that someone we admired said something so hyperbolically dumbass.

I suspect they picked mine because in my state of semi-shock at a speculative literary giant I first read in 1979 making a ridiculous statement. Disappointed. Peeved. I was using that all caps LYING thing out of some pretty strong emotions.

I can't help but wonder why, instead of some of the truly insightful and intelligent comments on the subject, they picked the ones that really had not much to say. Oh, yeah, crap anti-Amazon biased journalism and getting back at a website that criticizes the Streitfeld Equations (aka whale math and trad-pub standard kiss-ass deviations).

I hadn't read this bit of ADS in Salon when it came out, so someone had to alert me to it. Sorry, Hugh. Wish I had said something snappy and witty to be laid at your lips.

My family actually lived under a totalitarian regime. I've heard the tales since childhood. One friend of the family was shot. We had to use particular care with phone calls and letters so as not to get relatives in trouble (which could mean less food, worse jobs, jail). When an esteemed writer uses terms like censorship and "disappearing" in a situation that is NOT censorship and is NOT some totalitarian maniac making folks ....cease to be...which is the connotation, the association of "disappearing," well, it irks. It made me use caps. LIKE THIS.

And finally: this guy is an editor and wrote "could care less?" Wow. I mean...wow.

Well, I had my say. It was mostly satisfying, unlike your post which has been totally better than chocolate mousse with mango coulis after a grilled steak dinner with asparagus and roast taters.

--from that "mostly still pissed off at journalists being progagandists" Mir

varnbyrde said...

Konrath: Your point? If you get near one, make it.

One of your best.

jnfr said...

You guys might be interested in this article too. Pretty sure I found it on TPV so you may have seen it already.

It goes into the legal foundation (or lack thereof) in claims of Amazon as a monopoly or monopsony.

<a href="http://www.litigationandtrial.com/2014/07/articles/attorney/amazon-monopoly/>Please Stop Calling Amazon A Monopoly</a>

Peter Spenser said...

J.K.: “You seem to be suggesting that a typo in a blog carries the same weight as an article in a major online magazine written by a self-proclaimed editor. Really? They're equivalent?”

Well, first, along with having a self-proclaimed editor, the idea that the magazine is “major” would have to be self-proclaimed, too, after all of the crap in that article.

And “equivalent”? No, they are not. Your one little typo is worth far more serious discussion than Spillman’s entire article. (See? I spelled it correctly there.)

And I have to address something that has come up in numerous comments over the past weeks and months of this story. I’m beginning to think that these people—Spillman, Streitfeld, Le Guin… all of them—truly and honestly believe what they are saying. And THAT is scary. Talk about the downfall of American literary culture!

Nirmala said...

I once went through about 100 of the comments on the Change.org petition and about 75% of them were writers. Not exactly a scientific conclusion, but it does suggest that you are right and the petition has more writers on it than Douglas Preston's letter....probably by a very large margin.

Joe Konrath said...

truly and honestly believe what they are saying.

That's the impression that I get as well.

The problem is that when you believe in something that's wrong, you tend not to be able to defend your beliefs. Hence the reason these guys are so easy to rip to shreds.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I was having a completely crappy week, filled with all sorts of "friends" deciding to be unfriendly after I came out publicly as landing firmly on the self publishing side after being a hybrid for the past five years. I thought I did it gently in a "we are never, ever getting back together" sort of way, but apparently, it was quite offensive to my trade pubbed friends.
But this... this just made my whole week. It made suffering through all the "but, WHY??" and "I'm afraid for your career" and " *silence because I'm scared to know you* " responses worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

I the only one who wishes Joe would stop with all these fisking articles and have more guest writers like Leslie Wells posting? You know, inspirational stuff about indie writing? I just don't see the point in continually rehashing the same old stuff over and over again.

They don't "get" it, Joe, and they never will. And you're never going to convince them. They're the Establishment. Their livelihood depends on the Establishment existing.

I honestly don't know what the point of all this is. 99.9999% of America don't know what Salon is. Who cares what they say?

Please, can't we just go back to posting stories about self-publishing or something? God, it's gotten to the point where I dread clicking on this bookmark, because I just KNOW it's going to be another TL;DR article that says the exact same thing that's already been said in 2,000 other fisking articles.

Joe Konrath said...

I just don't see the point in continually rehashing the same old stuff over and over again.

I'd love to stop blogging about this nonsense.

But the media demonizes Amazon, marginalizes self-publishing, ignores indie authors, and still influences people.

That's harm right there.

I choose to expose the nonsense as nonsense, and mitigate the harm being caused.

This is A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Right now, the most important question of newbie writers is "Should I self-publish?"

If they listen to Salon, or NYT, or Colbert, they could buy into the bullshit. But when people expose it as bullshit, and fisk it, and show how wrong the media is, that's about as important a public service for authors as I can think of.

Peter Spenser said...

J.K.: “Right now, the most important question of newbie writers is ‘Should I self-publish?’ ”

It’s “THE most important question” is right, because every day brings more and more new authors into the game, and many (most?) of them still have that question. Earlier this week one appeared at the Writer’s CafĂ© asking about it, and many—too many—responses were the polite but non-committal: “You have to do what you think is right for you.” and “Self publishing is a lot of work.” A few people DID point the newbie to your and Hugh Howey’s blogs and told her to READ THEM BEFORE DOING ANYTHING. I hope that she did.

Peter Spenser said...

@ Virginia Carmichael Munoz

I’ll be your friend, Virginia. Some of my best friends are selfies. (That’s odd; you don’t look hybrid.)

Terrence OBrien said...

The self-important can get very irritated when they see people pointing at them and laughing at their bogus pretensions. It seems the notion that books are like widgets really sets them off.

Alexander Mori said...

- I just don't see the point in continually rehashing the same old stuff over and over again.

The media issue is a big problem. They have too much influence. Not just in the perception of writers/publishers, but in everything. They are NOT taken to task enough for the damage they cause, knowingly or unknowingly. More Konraths need to step up and enlighten the public or anyone who wishes to pay attention, on how media coverage botches the reality of any given situation and pushes perception with an agenda. It's tiresome. But it's right. Rehashing the truth is ALWAYS necessary. Especially because I think the media, publishers, AU etc. do get it. They just want to have the last word, to sway perception enough so that tired people give up and do what they want.

Don't make it easy for them.

David List said...

Holy crap. :D
I needed a laugh, Joe. Thanks. I'm sharing this on.

"... not to mention the tens of thousands of writers who have been squeezed by shrinking margins."

Seriously, what the ass is he referring to? I can't imagine a literate human typing this with a straight face.

Laura Resnick said...

Christina Pilz wrote: "This might be my favorite bad line of the original article:

When the only forum to discuss the merits of any book is on GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon?""


Yes, in the sea of misinformed, reality-free, anti-factual, sloppy, logic-deficient rubbish that the Salon article was, this was probably the single silliest assertion in the whole idiotic piece. Does Spillman seriously believe that Amazon can prevent people on a gazillion blogs, websites, and chatgroups, and elists from discussing the merits of the books they read???

I discuss books online all of the time, for goodness sake, and I've never once visited GoodReads. (Because I just don't need yet another forum in which I discuss books, since there are already so many opportunities for it.)

Jim Self said...

Joe,

I think it was a good step to point out who Spillman is. I did that in the comments on the Salon article yesterday. He's a big publishing insider who has made his career in editing big (forgive me, folks) snooty literary fiction magazines. When he refers to Hugh as a "genre writer" he means us to look down on Hugh, because he isn't doing real, serious fiction that has cultural value.

Oops, he didn't say that out loud. Amazon didn't state any of the horrible motives he ascribed to them, either, so I guess it's fine to call him a condescending prick.

Meb Bryant said...

Rob Spillman said, "If you are an author, how can you possibly defend Amazon?"

As an author, how can I not?

RD Meyer said...

Isn't Spillman contributing to the demise of traditional print(ie, magazines and newspapers) by putting his article on an electronic medium like the web? Or is print demise only bad when other folks do it?

Alan Spade said...

On a totally unrelated note, I've blogged about Kindle Scout/ Kindle Press. http://alanspade.blogspot.fr/2014/10/what-to-think-about-kindle-scout-que.html

Scott Dyson said...

I've had people come into my office (I'm a dentist) and mention that Hachette is getting screwed by Amazon. I usually point them to this blog and The Passive Voice, but it's pretty hard to change their preconceived notions about what's going on because of all the press Amazon's received, not just on this issue, but in the books and news stories about the company before any of this happened. They already see Amazon as the big rotten bad guy who wants to kill everyone (figuratively speaking) and can't fathom that maybe things go both ways.

SJArnott said...

Anonymous said: "They don't "get" it, Joe, and they never will. And you're never going to convince them. They're the Establishment. Their livelihood depends on the Establishment existing."

I think you're right. True believers can't be reasoned out of an argument they didn't reason themselves into in the first place. Too much ego and self-identity is now invested in their anti-Amazon stance to allow them to change their minds (though, of course, they might say the same about the other side).

But these posts do have value. There are plenty of people watching from the sidelines who can still be swayed by the facts.

When a person is deep into a subject, they often overestimate how much others know about the topic. It's temping to assume everyone has the same level of knowledge on the current Amazon/Hachette tussle, but I would guess that a fair number of visitors to blogs such as Joe's are ignorant of the facts and get a great deal from these posts.

Anonymous said...

"Ah. I see. Maybe you could of disclosed that in this anti-Amazon rant, huh?"

could HAVE >>> a small point, perhaps,
and definitely off-topic,
but I think that as a professional writer .....

Nirmala said...

Interesting factoid:

If I search the word "novel" on Amazon, I end up with 719,841 results under books.

If I search the word "novel" on B&N under books, I get 239,296 results.

If I search the word "novel" on Powell's Books I get 81,922 results.

The scandal! Barnes and Noble is punishing the authors of 480,00 books by not carrying their book!

Powell's is "disappearing" 640,000 authors!

We need the government to step in and prevent this horrible injustice.

I am too lazy to do much more digging, but maybe we could start a list of titles available on Amazon that are not available on some other online retailer, and then get Author's United to write to the boards of these other retailers and ream them out for destroying literary culture and ruining author's livelihoods. Someone should at least contact the DOJ for goodness sake!

Anonymous said...

We human beings have this amazing propensity to studiously ignore the facts when our livelihoods depend on maintaining ignorance. "A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." (Leon Festinger)

It's called motivated reasoning, and has been shown in recent neuroscience research to be the result of how emotion infuses our capacity for logic. People have invested heavily in the legacy system of publishing. They are sure that having signed a contract with a legacy publisher means they are "chosen" and their works are "quality". Their product is culturally valuable. This comforts them, even when they have meagre advances, see no royalties and suffer under unconscionable contract terms.

When any Tom, Dick or Harriet can self-publish and pay a bill, make their mortgage payment or make a decent living, all of that is thrown into chaos. Their emotional investment in the system to which they are enslaved keeps them from seeing the facts clearly. In fact, when faced with facts that refute their cherished beliefs, they cling even more desperately to their illusions.

This is because of our evolutionary heredity as a species. Emotions are fast, immediate, responses that helped us avoid the lion hiding in the tall savannah grasses. Reason is much slower, useful when sitting safely around the campfire figuring out the best time to hunt. Emotions are fast and logic is slow. Logic can be influenced by emotion so that it becomes rationalizing.

That is what is happening today with this disintermediation / disruption in the publishing industry. People are emotionally and financially invested and dependent on the legacy system for their livelihoods and self-image. When it is threatened, all they see is the lion in the tall grass. In their minds, there isn't time to think things through and see the facts that the real lion is the antiquated legacy system that was ripe for disruption. Adapt or die in this case means to not run or react in a knee jerk manner but see the facts and act accordingly.

Sadly, too many of those with ADS are still far too emotionally involved to see the facts before them.

Anon Author

Nirmala said...

I realize someone might say my comparison is unfair since Amazon offers all of those exclusive KDP select titles, so I redid my searches for "novel" under the format of paperback:

Amazon: 448,406 results
B&N: 121,282 results
Powell's: 59,852 results

Seriously, someone needs to start a boycott of these other stores! They are censoring hundreds of thousands of authors!

Nirmala said...

And by the way, both Powell's and B&N do carry Createspace titles so that does not explain the discrepancy.

Nirmala said...

If you select "new condition" and "paperback format" and search for "novel":

Amazon: 386,301
Barnes and Noble: does not allow searching for new books only so all paperback novels on their store are still 121,278
Powells: 48,287

So even when searching only for new paperbacks, Barnes and Noble and Powell's are both disappearing hundreds of thousands of authors!

Rob Spillman said...

Very entertaining piece. Joe--I sent you an email reply, as replying here at length will probably not be productive.

Dan DeWitt said...

That's okay. We can just wait until Joe fisks that email, too.

Rob Spillman said...

Dan--I am totally open to Joe sharing our email exchange. I actually state that in the email I sent. I am hoping for an exchange of ideas, then, if he chooses to post it, all the better.

Dan DeWitt said...

Fair enough. I applaud you for looking to open things up.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about this "super-agent." Do you suppose that's the person who can negotiate a publishing deal where the author keeps all his rights and creative control, sets his own publication schedule and prices, gets paid every month, and makes up to 70% royalties?

maria said...

Visit this amazingly helpful website for real estates!!
Real estate

Anonymous said...

Doesn't antitrust law make monopolies illegal?

Dan DeWitt said...

No.

Nirmala said...

Anon said, "Doesn't antitrust law make monopolies illegal?"

To expand a little on Dan DeWitt's succinct answer, as I understand it, it is not illegal in and of itself to be a monopoly. You have to take certain actions that are illegal like collusion, predatory pricing, etc. to be charged with monopolistic behavior. Also, Amazon is not likely to be considered a monopoly, although it could be approaching monopsony status in its relationship with publishers. However, no company has ever been charged in US case law for acting as a monopsony, as most often monopsony power is used to lower prices, not to raise prices to the consumer, and in the US, this is considered a good thing. The rules are different in other countries like Canada and in Europe.

Nirmala said...

I was mostly making a joke with my comments above about how many more books show up in Amazon search results (obviously their search algorithms may be different than B&N and Powell and so would show different results), but it is a bit strange that the difference is so large. Is there a better way to find out if say, Barnes and Noble is carrying every Hachette book? Or maybe some more obscure titles that they do not list on their website? That would take the wind out of Authors United’s sails if it turns out that other online book stores are actually not selling as many titles as Amazon. Their argument seems to be that Amazon is obligated to list every book on their store and sell them all under the same terms. Does B&N do that? Does Powell’s? What about Books-A-Million?

Does Authors United hold every online bookstore to the same standards?

Walter Knight said...

The problem with the Big Five and it's top authors taking their plight to the media is that many in the media have tried to write and publish books themselves and are familiar with the ease of doing business on Amazon, and how difficult it is to publish through the Big Five.

Often the minions of the media can be fooled, or willing to be accomplices in lies, but many know from experience the reality of how difficult it is for new authors to publish.

FALPhil said...

Day-um!! That is without a doubt the best fisking I have ever read. It puts Larry Corriea's fiskings to shame!

I have written on this issue a couple of times earlier this year. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Hachette defenders don't see the light. Traditional publishing is a dinosaur. Self publishers and boutique publishers like Castalia House are the wave of the future. Technology is here.