29 May

Smashwords says “Amazon’s Hachette Dispute Foreshadows What’s Next for Indie Authors”

When I write this, certain people say it’s because I’m a for-hire servant of Big Publishing and that I have Stockholm syndrome.

I wonder how they’ll explain how Mark Coker of Smashwords is brainwashed by New York publishing?

“The dispute with Hachette foreshadows what comes next for indie ebook authors at Amazon who have grown comfortable to KDP’s 70% royalty rates.

Think about my divide and conquer reference above.  Indies are already divided and conquered at Amazon, but most don’t realize this.  These indies all have direct-upload relationships with Amazon.  They don’t have the collective bargaining power of a large publisher to advocate on their behalf.  As the unfolding events indicate, it’s questionable if even a large publisher has leverage over Amazon.

If Hachette doesn’t have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them?   And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon?

How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze? The squeeze may already have started. In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks. Previously, authors earned up to 90% list. Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.”

(Via Smashwords: Amazon’s Hachette Dispute Foreshadows What’s Next for Indie Authors.)

By the way, Mark nails it here.

Even if Smashwords is a UI nightmare, they’ve been working hard to increase library outreach and work hard for their authors. And Mark has always been good about offering up real data and insight.

I’m sure the usual boosters will keep explaining why the audio royalty cut was good for authors (yes, this actually happens) and why anyone who points out the above common sense is a ‘detractor’ because for them, it’s not a business discussion: it’s an ideological war with only one ‘side’ winning (watch how many times the word ‘side’ is used).

There are no sides, there are just ways to connect with readers and marketplaces. You can use more than one at once, even.

And you can criticize as well.