The current fight between Amazon and Hachette Publishing over royalties has every blogging Indie writer throwing in his two cents. Or her two cents. I don’t need anymore heat from the feminists. Pat one of them on head while saying, “That’s so cute. Now, get me another Scotch, Sugar Tits,” and they lose their ever-loving minds. In my defense, I had already been drinking. But I digress. I’m not here to talk about my love for single malt Scotch or underpaid, overworked single mothers working their way through nursing school waiting tables at a strip club.
As near as I can tell, Amazon has its panties in a bunch over Hachette Publishing refusing to agree to lower its prices for e-books offered on Amazon. Hachette says Amzaon is trying to kill them by the death of a thousand cuts. Amazon says Hachette are a bunch of doo-doo heads. Not in so many words, but that’s the sense I get. Over the past four months, the accusations go, Amazon hasn’t been distributing books from Hachette authors in retaliation for Hachette not accepting Amazon’s offers. Clearly, they were more than generous and fair since Amazon offered them, says Amazon. Hachette Publishing is shrieking like a Portuguese housewife that they can’t possibly make money selling books for what Amazon wants to sell them for.
With all the talk of monopolies, collusion, and price-fixing by enemies of the free market, this is shaping up to be a Hell of good show. I’d like to see it dramatized on TV. Does anybody like putting parodies on Youtube? I know the whole “enemies of the free market” might sound harsh, but any time terms such as monopoly are thrown around, you know a Justice Department probe is coming. Remember, those words are lawsuit talk for “I’d like the government to step in and put you out of business since I’m unable to do it myself or suspect it will cost less to have The Man do my dirty work.”
For the whirlwind of articles and blog posts, what this all boils down to is two fantastically huge enormous colossal gigantic (OK. I’ll stop) companies in a retailer-supplier dispute. That’s all it is. None of us gets upset when WalMart does this to its suppliers. Well, some folks do, but more on a matter of principle, as opposed to an individual supplier. And I have to credit WalMart for having more class than both of the participants in this melodrama than to turn around to their suppliers (writers) and customers (writers and readers) to ask them to take sides, pressure the opposition, and generally turn us into their personal chorus.
There are my takeaways from the whole situation:
1. I don’t have have cock in this fight.
Picking a side and trying to influence the other doesn’t benefit me in the slightest. It only makes me somebody’s bitch.
2. Royalties will be what they will be.
If Hachette comes out on top, their authors might be priced out of the market. If Amazon comes out on top, authors might be making less. The pieces will land where they land, and it is up to each of us to decide if we can live with whatever deals were are offered. Ultimately, both companies need us more than we need them because as creators, we could bring either organization to its knees simply by refusing to create, a la Atlas Shrugged.
3. We don’t know the future.
All the arguments being made on both sides are educated guesses, at best. There will be some jackass who gets lucky and calls it. Then we’ll have to listen to him crow…make that, bray for a while. The “crowing” reference probably belongs in point one.
4. Mice shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of elephants.
Even the best selling Indie, Amazon, or Hachette author would not cause either side a lost moment of sleep by walking away from either house or leaving writing entirely. If a significant number of writers (or more accurately, an aggregated sales significant number of writers) joined together, they might be able to influence the outcome, but considering that any randomly selected five writers cannot reach a decision on where to have lunch, I don’t hold out much hope.
5. Relax, have a drink, and watch the fireworks.
Whichever direction this fight breaks, I’m going to sit back and watch the show. It should be almost as much fun as when I used to sit in the parking lot on a warm summer evening with friends, drinking beer, and listening to the next-door neighbors have their weekly domestic disturbance. We used to take bets on when the cops would show up. Anybody want some of this action?