The High Ground



I’ve been following the spat between Amazon and Hatchette Book Group with interest and  growing concern. Actually at this point it’s not a spat anymore, but a full blown battle. What started as a disagreement, has now become a nasty business of one company undermining another company. 

At first Amazon took the big 5 publishers and Apple’s iBooks to court over E-book price fixing. Stating that the prices these big publishers set for E-books were too high and detrimental to sales and authors.  The judge sided with Amazon. Which made sense as the overhead on E-book production is very low, and therefore it follows that the profit margin is higher already. The author as well as the publisher should be seeing a larger royalty too. But that wasn’t quite how it went. I secretly suspect that publishers hoped this whole E-book thing would fizzle, which is probably one reason a number were late adopters. 

But things have turned ugly. Information is coming out of Amazon’s bullying tactics toward publishers on setting prices not only for E-books but also for paper books. Now Amazon are delaying shipments to customers of books published by Hachette or simply refusing to stock them. 

I won’t go into the details as they’re easy to find online, but what concerns me is: what will the ultimate fall out be? How will this have an impact on people who choose to self-publish through Amazon? Will it lower their chances of being picked up by a traditional publisher even further? Will they get blacklisted for - supposedly - siding with either Amazon or Hachette? 

What will happen to those of us who have good books written, but can’t get through the door with publishers, for whatever reason, or just don’t want to wait the years it can take to crack open that door, and who opt to self publish? 

Because of this growing battle are we authors suddenly at risk of having career opportunities cut short? Do we as authors continue to send out submission after submission, that may or may not, reach the person we hope to reach? And then wait sometimes 6 months to a year for a form letter informing us that we don’t fit the current needs of the publisher? 

I’m not trying to put down any side in this deliberation, as I’m a very tiny cog in an overwhelmingly large machine, but I do wonder. And I would very much like to see some discussion around this particular issue, because many of the writers I know are very serious about growing their careers, and if one - perceived - wrong choice cuts them off at the knees, it means we all lose. 

What high ground can I take here and still grow my career? 

Maybe I’ll join my cat, Seymour, on the roof for a bit to contemplate this issue.