I’m a writer. But I was a reader first. I’m actually a voracious reader. I consume 3-5 books a week. I have hundreds of books on my shelves and over 600 on my kindle app. (Many of those were free as I really enjoy finding new authors and what better way to sample them than by getting something free?) That does not include all the ones borrowed from libraries or friends, donated or sold. I could not even begin to guess the number of books I’ve read. Thousands anyway.
I’m not yet published so as a writer I don’t have a stake in this. Yet. I will. But here’s what I think of the Barnes & Noble feud with Amazon as a reader.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s some background:
Recently, Amazon decided to offer writers another option — their Kindle Select Program. Basically, if they agree for at least 3 months to make a book exclusive to Amazon, Amazon would put their book into the Prime Lending Library and the author would get part of a large pot of money they’d earmarked for that month depending on the percentage of downloads per author. The authors could then make their book “free” a certain number of times during that exclusivity period. For those not selling many copies elsewhere this could be a good deal. However, there’s an inherit monopoly there that doesn’t seem exactly kosher. I’m not saying I agree or disagree. I haven’t really decided myself yet. But that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime if you want to see the growing concerns about some of Amazon’s manipulations, check out Kent Holloway’s post: A writer/publisher’s concern over the future of Amazon.
Amazon in the meantime has been making a great deal of headway in publishing books themselves. According to the Huffington Post “…a deal was announced between Amazon and publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to create a new HMH imprint, New Harvest, entirely made up of Amazon-acquired titles that would be distributed to book stores. It is understood that this imprint is included in Barnes & Noble’s ban on Amazon-published books, and might prompt some authors not to sign with one of Amazons six imprints.” Read more at the link above. It’s an interesting article.
B&N then decided it would not stock any Amazon published books in their book stores, but would carry them online. Books-A-Million (BAM) and Indigo made the decision to join B&N in their print boycott of Amazon’s books.
Okay. So that’s the history. But I don’t get it. Sure I understand they’re upset and think Amazon isn’t playing fair. But doesn’t this boycott just hurt B&N and readers more than Amazon? If customers are coming INTO the stores to buy those books, it’s still a sale. Why tick off people that are still actually frequenting the book stores? After all, they say they will sell them online. Big deal. If the people want it online they can get that from Amazon. Looks like to me that’s just backwards thinking. I’d be doing everything possible to keep my in-store buyers happy with the current climate of change.
Haven’t we been reading about the instability of brick and mortar book sellers? Haven’t many like Borders been put out of business already? Don’t you want your customers to come into the stores and find what they’re looking for so they’ll keep coming back? Why send them right back into the arms of Goliath? Personally, I think they need a better slingshot.
Maybe I could understand it if they only sold them in stores and not online or not at all. Although losing sales doesn’t really make much sense to me in the long run. It’s not like Amazon can’t sell the print copies online. But if someone wants it quicker, they’ll go to the bookstore to get it. Right?
And according to the Bottom Line on msnbc.com, Amazon is looking into opening retail stores. Yeah. So who’s going to lose there if customers want to actually walk into a store and find the books they’re looking for?
Now of course, I have to put in my opinion as a writer just briefly. If I have a book to sell, I want it in as many locations as possible. Who am I going to give my support to? Those who make my books available to their customers? Or those that don’t?
I’m by no means an expert on any of this. But, does this make sense to anyone else? What am I missing? What are your thoughts on what’s happening?