23 May

Why the Amazon buy buttons disappeared on my website today

This week, Amazon has been playing hardball with authors:

“I haven’t been online all that much (and shouldn’t be right now, either–I have books to finish) but apparently Amazon has stepped up its pressure on Hachette by yanking buy links for all their books. Beyond that, they’re also screwing with search results, messing with book categorizations, and pushing readers who want to buy Hachette books toward Hachette’s competitors. And the reason they can do this is you.

Now, if your response to all this is to say ‘Amazon is an independent company and they can legally do whatever best serves their interests,’ let me assure you that I agree. They can legally do all these things, just as Wal-Mart can legally include information on sighing up for food stamps during their new employee orientations. There are a lot of things powerful people and corporations can do that are both legal and deeply, deeply shitty.

And why is Amazon doing this? Because Hachette won’t accept a new, lower rate on their ebooks.”

(Via A note to my readers re: Amazon « Twenty Palaces.)

I’d love to write a massive post about my feelings, but I’m behind already on this week’s writing that needs done due to completely redesigning this website, and I have a lot of work that needs done yet today.

Amazon is a large enough portion of online sales that they represent a marketplace as well as a distributor as well as a publisher.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Hollywood movie system (the studio system) used this same style of ‘vertical integration’ in order to achieve massive profits. In fact, if you read about the early 20th century you get a lot of deja vu going on.

Frankly I think more players will be a safer system. I don’t think punishing the authors and readers by delaying books, hiding search results, and playing around, is a good thing. As a result, I’ve pulled the buttons for Amazon links on my site until this is resolved to stand in solidarity with the authors at Hachette.

Business is cutthroat and hallowed. But tactics like this, if left unchallenged, will effect everyone (and yes, Indy Publishers too, if you don’t think your independent efforts are vulnerable to this behavior you are naive at best).

I apologize to any readers who are effected. I make no judgement on how anyone else buys books (and as someone who lives in rural country, who doesn’t have a bookstore, I understand the appeal of Prime deeply), but I feel this is predatory behavior, personally, and want to speak out against it.