Thursday, June 05, 2014

Konrath Vs. Colbert

Beloved television star Stephen Colbert, whose outrageous right-wing personality regularly pokes fun at the right-wing, made several grievous errors on his show, The Colbert Report, last night, when he flipped off Amazon.

His first error was being wrong. His video showed clips from other news reports claiming Amazon is the bad guy in the current Amazon/Hachette dispute.

Everyone who follows this blog knows that Amazon is not the bad guy. Amazon is in a contract negotiation with Hachette, and they are entitled to do whatever they'd like--including removing pre-order buttons--while bargaining.

This, Mr. Colbert, is called capitalism. It's what free people are allowed to do in a market economy.

Colbert, who should know better than to trust news reports since he's constantly skewering them on his brilliant show, proved that he's just another knee-jerk who jumps on the Amazon hate train without bothering to learn about the actual issue.

That's unforgivable for a show that satirically, yet accurately, makes fun of people and businesses that do the exact same thing the Colbert Report just did.

Don't condemn until you know the facts. And in this case, the fact is Hachette wants your book prices to be higher. They believe they can tell Amazon what prices to sell their books for.

If the Colbert Report had done even a tiny bit of research, it would know Hachette was ordered by the DoJ to pay millions in damages for colluding with other publishers to force the agency model of pricing on Amazon.

Here's the actual truth behind some of the nonsense the Colbert Report parroted:

Amazon isn't raising prices. Amazon is pricing books at the price YOUR PUBLISHER recommends, Mr. Colbert. Welcome to the world of midlist authors, where books are never discounted.

Amazon isn't delaying shipments. Amazon simply isn't stocking Hachette books in large numbers, and then passing the orders along to Hachette to fill. But Hachette can't fill them, because they are an archaic, antiquated company who is ill equipped to keep up with the massive orders Amazon generates. Didn't you read their press release?

Amazon isn't refusing orders. It removed PRE-ORDER buttons. Saying Amazon is refusing orders is like getting mad at a Chinese restaurant for not selling you a taco. They can't sell what they don't have.

So, big disappointment with the usually astute Colbert and his staff. If they'd done a little digging, the segment would have rightfully ended with Colbert giving Hachette the finger rather than Amazon.

But the second mistake Mr. Colbert made is just as icky as the first. This bullshit he's spreading isn't based on poking fun at establishment idiocy, like he usually does so well. This story exists because Colbert is a Hachette author, and his sales are suffering.

Holy enlightened self-interest! Let's get my millions of fans to trash Amazon because I'm not getting richer fast enough!

It's one thing to plug your book. That's expected. I'm sure it's a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading it in 4-6 weeks when your publisher enters the 21st century and learns how to ship promptly. But you're trying to goose sales by going after a company that not only has sold millions of your books, but is also fighting to keep the costs of those books down for your fans.

When you visit home for Thanksgiving, Mr. Colbert, do you greet your family by flipping them the bird? Nana and Papa who always tried to do what's best for you? Auntie Shirley, who has been making green bean casserole for you for forty years because she knows you have an unhealthy fascination with onion straws? Cousin Dave, who gave you that insider information so you could dump your Enron stock before it imploded?

I joke, of course. You'd never do something terrible like that, unless your family somehow hampered your book sales.

But the biggest mistake you made, Mr. Colbert, was a doozy.

You pissed me off.

You obviously have no idea how big and important my blog is. How I am the go-to source for all things publishing-related. How this blog can create bestsellers, or destroy careers.

You are now on my shit list, Stephen Colbert. And now I shall use everything within my power to destroy your book sales and ruin your life. Just as you are tying to destroy the book sales and lives of tens of thousands of authors Amazon has helped.

That's right. Your misguided screed masked as silliness has real-world implications. People listen to you, because you're usually right. But by telling your fans to boycott Amazon, you're hurting thousands and thousands of authors. Just like your publisher, Hachette, is hurting authors by trying to force its pricing structure on Amazon.

And you think Amazon is the bully? Not in this case. In this case, the bullies are your villainous publisher Hachette, and you, Mr. Stephen Colbert Bullypants.

So I am forced to use my considerable prestige, celebrity, and indie power to take you down. By the time I'm done with you, you'll be a broken, regretful, self-loathing shell of your former self, and you'll also have gained a few pounds, in the hips. Once I get my thousands (yes, THOUSANDS) of loyal followers to boycott your show, your ratings will plummet and you'll wind up as a second-string character on a Fox sitcom. Probably the lead's goofy best friend, the one with the buck teeth and a stutter and a catch phrase like, "Golly blamo butt squeeze!" I predict much wacky slapstick will ensue.

But before that happens, you're going to put ME on your show so I can sell MY books. I also demand you sell my books on your website. Because if you get to dictate which books a retailer should carry, so do I.

Until then:


And try doing some research next time you broadcast. You can start by reading this blog. That's what everyone else in the publishing industry does.