If you’ve been paying attention to very-important-authors this last week, you’ll undoubtedly be joining them with a torch and a pitchfork as they go after the inhuman evil that is Amazon. “Bring down the beast!” they cry. “They are destroying the book business!”
There is no doubt that Amazon has shaken the industry. Don’t let that fool you. The Big Five are called “the Big Five” for a reason. They are huge mega-corporations raking in billions in profits every year. With their low royalties and non-compete clauses and lowering advances, who’s the real danger to authors?
You know, it wasn’t too long ago when Barnes & Noble was the big bad guy. Remember how they started getting too big and small independent shops started closing? Now all of a sudden people want to treat them like a victim.
Understand this: Retail all around the world is changing. It used to be about manufacturing, ordering stock, physical shelf space, and back-door deals. With all the overhead involved (payroll, storefronts, equipment, stock, shipping, returns, benefits) it was no wonder that retailers got such a big chunk of profits. Under those conditions, where publishers were the only ones with the power to negotiate their books into the stores, it made sense for the Big Five to get big paydays as well. Today, margins are being streamlined all across the board. It’s not just the book business. And the old-school publishers are scrambling to figure out how to keep the golden goose alive (whilst making record profits).
Amazon is standing up to price-fixing bullies, but it’s not likely that you’ll read it that way in the papers. The huge mega-corporations are negotiating to keep as much power as they can, and in the meantime, they will smear Amazon as much as they can. They are trying to win the war of public opinion and hope the people turn against Amazon. Well, I’ve got news for them. The only reason I have the opportunity to be an author is because of Amazon, and I’ve firmly got their back in this fight.