Comments: 15
Linda Hilton 5 years ago
I guess I just lost all respect for Stephen King. :-(
Sandi 5 years ago
I don't understand, because he is calling Amazon bullies & hoodlums? I do agree with him.
Linda Hilton 5 years ago

Like Barry Eisler, the author of the above linked essay, I am both traditionally and self-published. I have some gripes with Amazon, but for both readers and writers, Amazon offers a helluva lot better deal than ANY traditional publishers. Yes, for READERS, Amazon offers a better deal.

Traditional publishers are the bullies and hoodlums as far as I'm concerned. But Stephen King has made his millions and he doesn't need to worry. He can spout off to protect the company that owns his soul and not worry about the struggling writers, the niche writers, the midlist writers, all the writers, even the crap writers, who would never get a chance with Hachette or Simon & Schuster.

All those freebie digital books, all those 99-cent specials, they're not courtesy of the Big 5. Hachette and Penguin and the others are the ones keeping digital books at $6.99 and $9.99 even though they cost virtually nothing to produce.

And don't think that money is going to the writers, either. Digital royalties through the big publishers are paltry compared to what Amazon lets the author keep. Publishers pay twice a year, if you're lucky; Amazon pays monthly, and not two years after publication either.

No, sorry, I'm gonna stick with calling the traditional publishers the bullies and hoodlums. And I've been calling them that for more than 20 years.
Sandi 5 years ago
I'm not saying they aren't, you have a perspective that I'm not personally familiar with. I object to anyone that tries to limit my choices or tries to corner a market. I just don't believe that's good for anyone. My recent experience with Penguin is that their product has become expensive & shoddy. I try whenever possible to buy my ebooks from the author's publisher. I'm against the bullies, no matter what side they are on. I am impressed that King isn't afraid to speak out about Amazon, I think a lot of authors are, with good reason. This is a hot button with me as Bezos is using his own personal morality regarding books. He's free to do this as it's his company, I understand that. But that combined with trying to control all books & authors? No thanks!
Linda Hilton 5 years ago
King can afford to "speak out." He has nothing at stake. He is a gold mine to his publisher and they aren't going to try to muzzle him, especially when he's defending them. That doesn't take any courage at all.

Linda, thank you so much of posting a link to that article. It was very interesting. Here is another one that you both might find interesting:
Sandi 5 years ago
I definitely respect SK's opinion and it wouldn't prevent me from purchasing any of his books. But, I do personally find his remarks a bit hypocritical. Back in 2009 and 2010, when Hachette and 4 other publishers were trying to prevent Amazon from discounting their books, or what one of the CEO's called "the wretched $9.99 price point", they "windowed" some of their e-books. Basically, they withheld the e-book formats of some releases in order to try to force Amazon to stop discounting their books, and to protect the higher prices of the hardcovers (they were afraid that the price point of $9.99 would become cemented in consumers minds as the new market value and therefore they would be forced to lower the prices of all their books). Anyway, one of the titles they "windowed" belonged to Stephen King, and according to court documents, Hachette's CEO David Young said they had Stephen King's full support in withholding his new release. Here is a link to the source, it's pg 14 of the court docs:

Here is another older article that is specifically about the "windowing" issue:

Now, I don't know whether SK was aware of the reasons behind the e-book format of his book being withheld, but I assume they would have given him some sort of explanation. Still, whatever reasons they gave him, at the very least he had no qualms about some versions of his book being withheld from Amazon, which is a little ironic in light of what's happening now.

Anyway, I have no horse in this race. I just think Hachette and their peeps are doing a lot of "spinning" and it's driving me a little crazy. I wrote a paper about the antitrust lawsuit the US Department of Justice filed against Hachette and et al, and I found the publishers' (and Apple's)actions repulsive.

On a complete OT note, there was a very interesting comment on Dear Author today from a commenter about what the publishers are doing to libraries here in the US. It's comment 11 by commenter Lynn Pauley:
Linda Hilton 5 years ago
Damn, I really need to quit my day job so I can keep up with this stuff!

Thank you, Sandi, for your post. Thank you, Rachel, for additional information. Now, where's my bedroom again????
bookaneer 5 years ago
I have no dog in this fight, other than a shameful addiction to Kindle books, but I did correspond briefly a while back with a traditionally-published author who said that whilst Amazon books cost about the same for the consumer as other markets, they demand steep discounts from the publisher; in the example she gave (which may or may not be accurate and may or may not be her books; I've no idea) Amazon demanded a price 50% lower than the publisher's price to B&N. The consumer pays approximately the same; the author gets half.
And since I'm sure a bulk of her *profits* come from the Amazon market, Amazon definitely has the bargaining power.

I'm not impressed by "big+successful=evil-evil-evil" type arguments, but if those numbers are accurate, it does seem problematic.

@Rachel--wow, that is fascinating. Amazing how quickly things become a "moral issue" when the money is in the same direction.
nospin 5 years ago
I disagree that Amazon is the bad guy in this dispute. Nothing stopped the publisher's from creating their own digital distribution system except lack of imagination. Heck the digital wallpaper made in Europe that was on BL last week would be a great way to sell an imprint.

Hachette broke the law and colluded with the other publishers and Apple to keep prices high. The authors were not the beneficiaries of their illegal acts. Authors have been given the opportunity by Amazon to control their own works.

For a good article on the subject -
Linda Hilton 5 years ago
Except that that's not an author perspective at all. It's Mark Coker's perspective, and Mark is the owner of Smashwords. He is in direct, head-to-head competition with Amazon's KDP, with B&N's Nook, and so on, even while he's selling to them.

But Coker is at an extreme disadvantage in this fight. Hachette and the other trad publishers don't need him, don't sell to him, have no use for him. He can cozy up to them verbally by appearing to support them against Amazon, but they aren't going to protect him. They have no reason to.

And because they don't need him or use him, he's doing this all for show to pit authors against Amazon, even though he negotiated for months and months to get Smashwords' books included on Amazon.

He needs Amazon, and there he is badmouthing them. That's not gonna go over well.
Sandi 5 years ago
Linda, the only 'side' I'm on is the reader's. I am not for any one entity having control, or trying to have control. The more freedom & choices authors have the better for us, the readers. It is totally self interest, I love to read.
Linda Hilton 5 years ago
LOL , Sandi, I am too! ;-)

The traditional publishers have screwed over authors and readers for 30 years. Right now, there are books that can't be published as digital editions because the publishers want to digitize them and not pay the authors anything. The authors won't do it for free, so the readers lose out as well. Digital publishing has given readers way more choices, and the potential for huge savings on books, but again, it's the traditional publishers who have stood in the way. The traditional publishers are not readers' friends! ;-)

If anything, the traditional publishers are trying to get control, in a way that Amazon isn't. They've already been convicted of price fixing once -- that's exerting control in a huge way that does nothing whatsoever to help readers (since it keeps prices artificially high) and if it doesn't help readers access books, then it doesn't help authors either.

Traditional publishers are not in favor of freedom for readers. They want to limit our choices to just the books that will make a fat profit for them. They want to keep authors in virtual slavery, except for those really popular authors like Stephen King.

It's in the publishers' best interests to bad mouth Amazon to the hilt. And yet Amazon has done more for readers, more for authors than the traditional publishers ever will.