I received an email from Amazon not too long ago, asking me to write a letter to Hatchette, urging them to lower their e-book prices. Normally I’d populate the next line with links, but I’ve had a hard (but not impossible) time finding neutral viewpoints–so here’s the Colbert Report’s.
The email I received from Amazon was on the order of 2,000 words (!). Here’s the most relevant snippet.
We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.
We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.
Please consider including these points:
– We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
– Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
– Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
– Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.
I should have an opinion on this. At least, that seems like a reasonable expectation. But, I don’t. Perhaps I don’t feel like I really have a stake in this. After all, whatever happens, I’ll keep doing what I do.
The changing face of publishing has been a recurring topic on this blog, but it seems like we’re watching two giants fight over the last piece of apple pie, rather than someone figuring out how to cook something new.*
The more interesting question, to me, is who’s going to enter the arena while these two giants are focused on each other. The Kindle has been around for several years now… more or less “forever” in “tech years”. Will someone new sneak in?
* I’m hungry. That’s the best analogy you’re getting.