"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Thursday, February 2, 2012

If Amazon is steamrolling over you, why do you continue to let it?

Some weeks, I'm just chattier than others...

I should preface this post by saying that I only slightly care where Amazon ends up, as villain or hero. I own a Kindle and a Kindle Fire, so I'm hardly their worst critic. I'm only writing this post to provide some grounds for discussion.

There's been a lot of press about Amazon this week. Barnes & Noble won't stock their books because they don't play fair. Several states are suing them for back taxes, and they're fighting back. They might even win. They're taking over the world.

Waa, waa, waa.

Let's face it. Amazon is doing business from a business perspective. Making money is, at the very least, an amoral activity. It's not evil to want to make money. We need food and shelter and money can buy us that. But it's not altruistic to need to make enough of a profit from your goods and services in order to pay for your own room and board, not even if you keep your profits so low you have to live on five dollars a day.

If you want to keep Amazon from becoming the only game in town, what can you do? A couple of things, Ladies and Gents.

1. If you're a non-Kindle e-reader owner, buy more damn books. Some of you are already doing your part. I'm talking about the rest of you. Want authors to keep offering their books on Nook? Buy their books, help them make money, and make it lucrative to stay with Barnes & Noble. Want books available on iTunes? Buy them on iTunes, instead of getting the Kindle App for your iPad.

2. If you're a paper-book reader, buy your books from brick-and-mortar stores or non-Amazon e-tailers (Barnes & Noble, etc). No, B&N won't stock Amazon books, but they'll order them for you. If they order enough of them, they might change their tune about stocking...

3. If you're a big company, and YES, I'M TALKING TO YOU, BARNES & NOBLE, make friends with all authors and publishers. Give me an Author's page on your site where fans can come and see my latest trailer or hook up with my latest blog. Make it easy to find me. Give me some discussion boards to talk to people, not just for self-promotion, but to find out what everyone's reading and recommend other authors I think they'll enjoy.

4. If you're a big company who wants to institute a self-publishing service and YES, I'M TALKING TO YOU, APPLE, study Amazon's model, see what authors like (and don't like) and grow your model from there. Don't start out all hoity-toity with a bunch of exclusivity clauses. Amazon didn't start there, and its base model still isn't there. You have a choice, as an author, to be exclusive or not.

For consumers, merchants, authors, readers, Amazon will only take over the world if you lie down and let it. If you learn from it, you can give it a run for its money.

1 comment:

Tameri Etherton said...

Well said! People have power, but I think they forget that. Also, B&N really needs to think about their customer a little bit more. Amazon certainly is.

Proud Member of ALA!

I support fair and equitable library access to ebooks and so should you.