Posts Tagged With: Hachette

Oh, Amazon…

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So it turns out that not only is Amazon blocking Hachette (http://online.wsj.com/articles/amazon-hachette-e-book-pricing-battle-continues-1407708761), but they’re trying the same shit with Warner Brothers (http://mashable.com/2014/06/10/hachette-warner-bros-amazon-lego/) and Disney (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/amazon-takes-the-muppets-off-the-shelf/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=tw-nytimesbits&_r=2&). Umm, I don’t know how you expect this to end guys, but I predict that it won’t go well. In addition, Amazon has sent out a letter to all their self-published KDP writers asking them to write to the CEO of Hachette and complain (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/orwell-is-amazons-latest-target-in-battle-against-hachette/). Another really bad idea, I would imagine; even if they had gotten their literary references correct. Amazon is now putting people like me (who just want to read a damn book, or sell a damn book) in the middle of this thing. It’s like running to mommy when the big kid tries to take your lunch money, except that Amazon is supposed to be the mommy in this situation. 

I am shaking my head over here. Also, I’m angry.

Frankly, I don’t care how I get my stuff as long as I get it. I liked the fact that Amazon is easy to use and all in one place; I can click a single button and the thing I’ve ordered arrives. However, all my stuff is no longer in the same place or will arrive reliably. Shannon Hale is with Hachette. Amanda Palmer is with Hachette. JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert are with Hachette. I LOVE the Muppets.  I really don’t like getting dicked around because two giant corporations can’t get it together and make an agreement. I don’t think that Hachette is blameless, but I do think they’ve played the PR game better. And really, for me, the whole thing is about access. I don’t care how Amazon and Hachette resolve this thing, I just want to be able to read what I want to read. I also don’t mind paying a little more for that privilege.

So basically, this post is to say that I’m done. Amazon obviously can’t give me the customer experience I need. I love that Kindle app on my phone, but did you know that Kobo also has a reading app? I downloaded it last night and I already love it. Their prices are not that different from Amazon, and I was able to preorder both Shannon Hale’s “A Wonderlandiful World” and Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” with the click of a single button. It loads faster than the Kindle app, too, and they give me fancy badges for reading stuff! There is also a little green bookmark that goes into your page when you sign out. Next, I’m going to try Powell’s (http://www.powells.com/) or Vroman’s (http://www.vromansbookstore.com/) for all my physical book ordering needs. There is also the fabulous Barnes and Noble, for the large and established factor.  I’m not going without stuff to prove a point I don’t care about, Amazon.  Maybe if you had gotten that George Orwell quote right… (Okay, not even then).

In the mean time, I wish both Amazon and Hachette luck in figuring this whole thing out. Now excuse me while I go enrich Wil Wheaton’s stock in popcorn by buying a huge bowl for myself. I’ve figured out a way to get my books like I want them and I no longer have a stake in the game. Now the travesty can unfold for my amusement.

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Some Thoughts about Amazon

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There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about the Hachette/Amazon/Warner Brothers controversy.  If you’re not up on all of it, this article explains it pretty well: http://recode.net/2014/06/11/codered-amazon-gives-warner-bros-the-hachette-treatment/.  I’ve heard all sorts of different opinions, some claiming that Amazon is a huge conglomerate with a monopoly, some claiming that Hachette, as one of the big five publishers, is a huge conglomerate who gyps writers.  I’d like to add a middle opinion.

The Amazon controversy reminds me of the grocery strike we had in California several years ago.  I don’t think that people need to worry too much about monopolies and access.  I mean, information is always good, I’m glad I know that Amazon is going to be a jerk about carrying those brands so I can start planning now where else I’ll buy them.  But I think Amazon might be doing itself a disservice.  I use Amazon all the time (especially fond of those Kindle daily deals), and it’s really easy to do so.  As of right now, they’re my first choice for buying things.  I sort of expect that to change in the near future, though, if Amazon isn’t carrying the things I want.

The grocery strike was probably ten years ago now.  During the strike, everything that wasn’t a Stater Brothers or a Trader Joe’s was rimmed by an annoying picket line.  The counters were staffed with scabs and the stores were poorly run by people who didn’t care.  I felt massive guilt every time I needed an emergency something and had to cross that picket line.  No matter how nonchalant the people with the signs were, I still felt like I was betraying something fundamental.  My experience inside the stores was also substandard.  Inside was an entire crew of new employees who didn’t understand, were overwhelmed, and couldn’t help me get what I need. So I took my business to Trader Joe’s and I learned that they carry everything from toothbrushes to milk.  It’s years later and I don’t shop much at the regular store anymore – and if I do it’s only because of my addiction to Dove shampoo.  Most of the stores that participated in the strike are out of business.

This is where the Amazon situation applies.  Hachette has some big names under its umbrella.  Warner Brothers has this year’s spring blockbuster with the Lego movie.  It’s not like people are going to just not buy J.K. Rowling’s newest book, not read Steven Colbert, or forgo owning their favorite movie.  It’s not going to happen.  What is going to happen is that people will go elsewhere to buy those things.  Like Indiebound.  Or Barnes and Noble.  Both are great options, and provide excellent service.

I know what you’re going to say. Hachette and Warner Brothers have a big pulpit from which to scream “unfair!” Smaller publishers who don’t have the fame and mouthpiece that the bigger companies do are undoubtedly being forced under Amazon’s thumb.  This is only the beginning of a bigger problem.  I would tell you that this is only true if people just decide that since Amazon doesn’t offer it, they won’t read it.  New avenues of buying books also come with new avenues of discovering books, from small publishers and big.

It feels good to buy books at Indiebound.  Like avoiding the stares from a picket line, like allowing a whole group of booklovers (not corporations) to benefit from my business.  The bonus of that is that these people care about good books and will recommend based on quality not based on who is conforming to the rules they set out arbitrarily.  If people find they’re loving it, Amazon may find that those customers don’t come back.

So what should you do?  Get the books you want wherever you can get them.  Try out booksellers that you haven’t tried before.  Don’t feel too guilty for purchasing that Kindle Daily Deal.  Most importantly: continue to read lots.

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