I am constantly amazed by the level of vitriol aimed at the company we know and (mostly) love: Amazon. At last week’s London Book Fair, Amazon KDP was so bold as to have a stand (imagine!), and rumours of their underhanded tactics were flying.
While I can understand independent bookshops’ struggle against the behemoth, I must admit I’m somewhat stymied when it comes to publishers’ complaints, because they have the power to effect change within their organisations.
Evil Amazon offers authors a great royalty rate? Guess what, publishers? You could, too! The ‘Zon enables quick time to market? Well, publishers, how about shortening your ridiculous 12- t0 16-month production schedules and picking up the pace to do so? No-one ever claimed change was easy, but instead of vilifying the agent, how about trying to compete?
Even more unfathomable for me is when authors whinge about Amazon’s dominance, or complain about KDP Select. No-one forces you to put your books up for sale on Amazon, or to enter Select. It’s a choice you can make for yourself. As powerful as the company is, they haven’t employed brainwashing as a marketing tactic yet . . . or have they? Mwah ha ha!
Amazon has enabled me to make a living as an author, and for that I am grateful. I earned as much last year selling ebooks as I did when I worked in the corporate world — 99 per cent of that through sales on Amazon. Do I hate that I’m so dependent on one platform? Yes, of course. I’d love if there were more channels directly competing with the ‘Zon, and more ways to get to market. But until then, I’m certainly not complaining.
And until publishers look at their own strategies and get in the ring, I don’t think they should, either.
Do you think traditional publishers can ever compete with Amazon’s dominance — both with targeting consumers and luring authors? If so, how? What would make you go with a traditional publishing house?