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Author Topic: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran  (Read 9886 times)  

Offline Athena Grayson

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #75 on: August 15, 2017, 02:09:56 PM »
The only thing that will make Amazon change its KU policies significantly is a mass exodus of *readers* from KU. It would then be filled with bots using the free month who are, ironically, downloading and "reading" other bot-generated "books" until cancellation, along with the occasional naive new author following past-its-sell-by-date advice about growing audiences in KU, or the occasional author paying for bots to generate page-reads.

On the upside, it'll be a good way to see an entire ecosystem of artificial intelligence generating and consuming reading material. It'd be like playing Sims without having to find mods that dress them like characters out of Harry Potter.

At any rate, as long as KU is *generating income* from *subscribers,* they pretty much don't care.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #76 on: August 15, 2017, 02:21:11 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

Offline Alix Nichols

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #77 on: August 15, 2017, 05:47:38 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 05:52:23 PM by Alix Nichols »
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Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #78 on: August 15, 2017, 06:12:19 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?

Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?
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Offline Word Fan

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #79 on: August 15, 2017, 06:26:38 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

Exactly. Whatever the details are that have to be worked out, focus on "Yes, we can, somehow" rather than "No, we can't, so let's not even look into it."

Offline Richardcrasta

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #80 on: August 15, 2017, 06:31:46 PM »
Nup. It's often the Kobo affiliates. Not the little stores.

If you go wide, one thing you don't do: you don't flip-flop in and out. Apart from the fact that it's risky, you just annoy the [crap] out of everyone.

Which are the stores that do not delist in time, or at all, or are otherwise unreliable? I would really appreciate someone making a list.
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Offline Richardcrasta

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #81 on: August 15, 2017, 06:35:15 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

I don't think of myself as a vendor (yech!). And I hardly think that I and 100 other authors earning a combined total of $50k a year in royalties would be a cartel to compare with OPEC, which owns tens of trillions of dollars in cash, gold, investments, and oil deposits.
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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #82 on: August 15, 2017, 06:39:40 PM »
Why focus on what we are (vendors) in relation to a single company (Amazon)? Can't a group of independent authors start an international professional association?
Because things like restricting supply (or agreeing to sell at a certain price) are illegal. That's why I mentioned it. Lots of people don't understand the differences between a union or association of employees and an agreement between independent suppliers in an industry, and don't understand the legal ramifications. I used OPEC as an example because that is a cartel most people have heard of. The individual vendors' earnings aren't the point; the business structure is, and the law around it (antitrust law). Here's a Wikipedia article that explains.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartel

"A cartel is a group of formally independent producers whose goal is to increase their collective profits by means of price fixing, limiting supply, or other restrictive practices. Cartels typically control selling prices, but some are organized to control the prices of purchased inputs. Antitrust laws forbid cartels."

Of course people can form a professional association. That's what things like SFWA (science fiction) or RWA (romance) are. Some organizations have a stronger track record than others with going to bat for authors with publishers, in cases of plagiarism, etc. The genre organizations are probably stronger than a new organization would be, because they have that history and they're more tightly organized around a genre--for example, romance publishers know what RWA is, and they carry some weight (not sure how much). But if somebody wants to start up an indie authors' association, of course they can feel free.

If somebody's feeling powerless and frustrated, joining one of those organizations and getting involved with the indie side of it might be one avenue to explore.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:47:21 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #83 on: August 15, 2017, 06:40:14 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

It's about a lack of reading comprehension on your part, obviously. Demonstrating that there are legal limits to authors' power ≠ convincing people they are powerless. Pretending to not grasp the idea that individual businessmen cannot organize with the same power as labor unions isn't going to help you. A fantasy land wherein author guilds for employees is the same thing as competing, independent publishers isn't going to help, either. Antitrust laws are real. Unions and organizations exist for any self-publisher to join. They have some power. It isn't much. It could be more, maybe, depending on how people engaged. They won't have the same power as labor unions, as far as a court of law is concerned. If you're feeling demoralized, it's your own fault.  :)

Offline ParkerAvrile

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #84 on: August 15, 2017, 07:06:35 PM »
What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

Is there any American state in which you are licensed to practice law? You don't have to say which one, but I'm curious to know where you're getting these very unusual ideas. Independent contractors band together to work for the common good of business owners all the time.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #85 on: August 15, 2017, 07:20:16 PM »
But you see, a screenwriter is *hired* by a studio (as an independent contractor, or perhaps as an employee in the case of a TV series; I don't know exactly how they operate) to do a job of work. Thus they are an independent contractor or an employee, whichever.

Writers who publish on Amazon are not *hired* by Amazon. Their relationship with Amazon is a completely different thing: they are suppliers or vendors, and antitrust law would apply. ETA: Well, really, they're not even suppliers--they're more like people offering goods at a consignment store. If you take your Chanel suit that doesn't fit after last Christmas into a consignment store--that's you as an indie author. They're going to sell it and give you 70% (or whatever consignment stores give you). They aren't hiring you. You're not the sales clerk, you're just somebody with a suit hanging on their rack.

You don't need a law degree for that; it's pretty basic business law, just understanding business structures and the difference between somebody hired by a company and somebody selling something through a company.

Think of it as a bunch of individual people (or small businesses) that make scented candles. They decide that their profits are too low on Etsy. Somehow they convince all the scented candlemakers on Etsy to band together and raise prices. Two problems. First, that's a cartel, and it's illegal--you can't collude to set prices or limit supply (if OPEC were an association of US companies, it would be illegal. It isn't US companies, so the US can't do anything about it.) Second, it's fundamentally flawed. There's going to be ONE candlemaker at least who thinks, "Everybody else has agreed to sell at $12/candle? Ha HA, here's my shot. I sneak in there at $9.99, and bang! Market share!" Or as Jeff Bezos might say, "You (all's) margin is my opportunity." (Meaning while his competitors are seeking the highest profit margin for their shareholders, he's going in there, shaving that margin, and dominating the market.)

Hope that helps. As I said, there ARE writers' organizations, mostly genre-related, well established, and full of indie, hybrid, and trad authors. Might be a place to join up. I don't think you'll "beat" Amazon, but maybe you can share info on how to go wide or how to improve your sales in KU, depending.

And no, I'm not a lawyer. I'm an MBA who helped run a small business (20 employees), owned the Nolo Press Business Law books :), worked as a research assistant in business law during my biz school days, and took a few graduate-level business law classes. Also, I used to be an editorial supervisor for a large legal publishing firm. So I can read case law and so forth and know what they're saying. Not an expert in employment law, business law, or any other kind of law, just know the basic stuff.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 08:58:46 PM by Usedtoposthere »

Offline WHDean

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #86 on: August 15, 2017, 08:17:52 PM »
Of course you can. It puzzles me that some people are so invested in trying to convince other authors they are powerless. There are claims being made on this forum that are demonstrably untrue, and they seem to be made with the intent to demoralize other authors. What's that about?

Best not to get into imputing motivations. You can't prove them and no one can refute them, no matter what they say: "No really, I swear, I love all humans!" So it just can't end well.

Not sure why this isn't a forum rule.

What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

The writers were unionized employees or contractors in a guild. Amazon is a retailer through which self-pubbers sell products. If you want to offer a counterexample, point us to the automotive-makers guild, the refrigerator-makers guild, the lamppost-makers guild, the lemonade-makers guild. You can't because they're all suppliers of goods to retailers, just like book-sellers on Amazon.




Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #87 on: August 16, 2017, 03:36:28 AM »
Whenever I see one of Amazon's posts he always seems to be complaining about Amazon. :)

You obviously didn't look that deeply. But, hey, don't let that stop you commenting.

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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #88 on: August 16, 2017, 04:14:26 AM »
What legal limits? You have made unsubstantiated claims, while others have provided actual proof. You said American authors couldn't organize and strike. I gave a well-known example of such a well-known writer's union (the most powerful one, the screenwriter's guild) organizing a strike. And not in some remote period of history but roughly a decade ago.

Right, you provided that example, and myself and others showed you that the example isn't relevant. I have a feeling you've either missed some of my posts entirely or just didn't read them right, because I've already addressed your example and your question about being a lawyer. ;)

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #89 on: August 16, 2017, 06:16:08 AM »
I bow to those with legal backgrounds but a recurring theme here is 'restricting supply'. Unless I'm misinterpreting, a million authors agreeing to come out of KU or to unpublish on Amazon is not restricting supply. All titles would be available to anyone who shops online and was happy to buy through Apple, Kobo, etc...perhaps even on the "Global Authors' Guild" website.

Offline boba1823

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #90 on: August 16, 2017, 06:41:03 AM »
We could all get together to form a self-published writers cartel, do some price fixing, restrict supply, etc.

Ebooks are now $7.99 minimum, sound good? Excellent, motion carried.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly legal. But hey, we don't need to do anything silly like collecting dues or keeping official membership records. So just don't respond to this message - there will be no way to prove that you didn't just spontaneously decide, as is your right, to raise your book prices.


Of course, realistically the biggest problem is not legality. It's simply that you won't get enough self-published authors to cooperate.

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #91 on: August 16, 2017, 10:56:35 AM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is now claiming I never scheduled a second countdown deal and any messages I saw pertaining to same were just an "error" - which is total and utter BS.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

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Offline JB Rowley

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #92 on: August 16, 2017, 01:53:39 PM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is now claiming I never scheduled a second countdown deal and any messages I saw pertaining to same were just an "error" - which is total and utter BS.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

How frustrating for you.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #93 on: August 16, 2017, 10:26:21 PM »
I promised to update if I heard back from Amazon.

Well, Amazon is now claiming I never scheduled a second countdown deal and any messages I saw pertaining to same were just an "error" - which is total and utter BS.

There's a lot more I could say right now but I should probably go for a walk...

Sort of like being trapped in an episode of the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. You know you're sane, but you may be the only one.


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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #94 on: August 16, 2017, 11:57:45 PM »
Writers are not employees, and they are not independent contractors. They are vendors selling a product on Amazon. An agreement amongst them would be a cartel, and it would be illegal in the US. (OPEC is the most famous cartel. Price fixing. Illegal in a US organization.)

This is false. Writers can and do form unions and other work groups. It would not be a cartel.
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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #95 on: August 17, 2017, 05:07:02 AM »
This is false. Writers can and do form unions and other work groups. It would not be a cartel.

No one is saying writers can't form unions. What those unions can do is a completely different topic! A union formed by authors who either write for a company as independent contractors, or in effect act as publishers by providing their work to be sold by that company, cannot unionize like labor unions do. Such a union would have no right to collective bargaining, they would have no right to strike, and they could not attempt to force said company to agree to certain terms without being at serious risk of being taken to court for violating anti-trust laws.

This should be made perfectly clear: we authors who publish on Amazon are acting as independent businessmen. You and I are competitors. We are not employees. The laws governing how we can and cannot act in concert with each other are totally different than they are for employees who provide labor, because we are competitors.

Check the definition of a cartel again. ;)

Offline Al Stevens

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #96 on: August 17, 2017, 07:24:30 AM »
I am a labor union member and a self-employed worker. My union negotiates contracts with organizations who hire both employees and independent workers who provide services and sometimes products that can be sold or otherwise distributed by the company doing the hiring. The terms of those contracts apply equally to the companies' employees and to the contract workers and service providers. And to add to the confusion a worker doesn't have to be a union member to enjoy those same benefits. Those are indisputable facts. Make of them what you will. I offer them here to help complete the picture. But, I already surrendered, so I'll try to avoid arguing these points. :)

Online EB

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #97 on: August 17, 2017, 07:59:08 AM »
My union negotiates contracts with organizations who hire both employees and independent workers who provide services and sometimes products that can be sold or otherwise distributed by the company doing the hiring.

That's a key point here. Amazon doesn't hire authors as employees or independent workers.

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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #98 on: August 17, 2017, 08:38:16 AM »
I am a labor union member and a self-employed worker. My union negotiates contracts with organizations who hire both employees and independent workers who provide services and sometimes products that can be sold or otherwise distributed by the company doing the hiring. The terms of those contracts apply equally to the companies' employees and to the contract workers and service providers. And to add to the confusion a worker doesn't have to be a union member to enjoy those same benefits. Those are indisputable facts.

Yes, they are indisputable, and those companies willingly decide to negotiate contracts with those organizations even for independent contractors, even though they have no legal obligation to do so under labor laws. As it's necessary for those companies to negotiate with the labor union that represents its employees, said labor union can indeed try to gain concessions that apply to non-union members or independent contractors as well, and what happens is largely between the company and the union.

But the same scenario is impossible for authors who publish through Amazon, because there are no employees to begin with, and a union of competing, independent businessmen (read: us!) would far more than likely be viewed in a court of law as breaching anti-trust laws if it ever attempted the same thing. :D

Quote
Make of them what you will. I offer them here to help complete the picture. But, I already surrendered, so I'll try to avoid arguing these points. :)

There's no reason to avoid arguing these points. It's just that these points are completely irrelevant to authors who publish on Amazon. ;)

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Re: Amazon's fiasco for Gaughran
« Reply #99 on: August 17, 2017, 08:53:04 AM »
crow.bar.beer,

Much of your argument seems to hinge on authors being competitors. Many would argue that this is not the case. Take alsobots: if a reader buys your book and spots an alsobot recommendation on the same page and buys that too, does that suggest you are competing or cooperating in developing the market?

I return too to my earlier point; I am not suggesting restriction of supply, only a boycott, if necessary, of one supplier.