Author Topic: I'm confused about something  (Read 1781 times)  

Offline GeneDoucette

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I'm confused about something
« on: October 20, 2014, 10:15:45 am »
Every day is a new series of Amazon Is the Devil articles and a few (much fewer) Amazon Is Not the Devil ones.

It seems self-evident to me that Hachette has a much weaker negotiating position than Amazon.  Amazon can literally do nothing, and be fine, whereas Hachette clearly needs Amazon to not do nothing in order to remain healthy.

What kind of endgame is Hachette imagining here?

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    Offline David Penny

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #1 on: October 20, 2014, 10:17:42 am »
    Hachette? Imagination? You're not the only one who's confused, Gene.

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    Offline I'm a Little Teapot

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #2 on: October 20, 2014, 10:20:59 am »
    It's a no-brainer. What does anyone want? To get their own way.

    I don't think it's anything more mysterious or perplexing than that. It rarely is.

    Offline Dom

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #3 on: October 20, 2014, 10:35:13 am »
    I believe I read that Hachette was stalling until the DoJ ruling expired or something like that.

    Offline zoe tate

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #4 on: October 20, 2014, 10:39:31 am »
    I'm confused about something

    I am also.

    I can't quite come to terms with the fact that so many self-publishers don't seem to appreciate that their own long-term interests lie on Hachette's side of these arguments.

    I keep telling myself that people must surely see, although many of Amazon's policies to date have worked out quite nicely for them, that Amazon's long-term interests are concerned only with Amazon's own profit and power. Yet apparently they genuinely don't.  ???

    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #5 on: October 20, 2014, 10:43:33 am »
    I am also.

    I can't quite come to terms with the fact that so many self-publishers don't seem to appreciate that their own long-term interests lie on Hachette's side of these arguments.

    I keep telling myself that people must surely see, although many of Amazon's policies to date have worked out quite nicely for them, that Amazon's long-term interests are concerned only with Amazon's own profit and power. Yet apparently they genuinely don't.  ???

    I'm pretty sure that's true of every company.  Most definitely including Hachette.  Which is my point.  What they're doing doesn't appear to be in their interests.  Amazon can hold their breath for a whole lot longer.

    Offline zoe tate

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #6 on: October 20, 2014, 02:19:11 pm »
    I'm pretty sure that's true of every company.

    Yes - in most countries companies even have a statutory obligation to do that, to protect the interests of their stockholders, as they perceive them (the interests, not the stockholders!).

    What they're doing doesn't appear to be in their interests.

    Good point. The big word there might be "appears", though? It's in the long-term interests of their industry, I think.

    Offline ThePete

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #7 on: October 20, 2014, 03:14:54 pm »
    Quote
    I can't quite come to terms with the fact that so many self-publishers don't seem to appreciate that their own long-term interests lie on Hachette's side of these arguments.

    Couldn't agree more. If Hachette wins and keeps ebook prices outrageously high, well, that's the best news ever for self-publishers! I'm rooting for the that multi-billion dollar conglomerate. I hope the publishers can control pricing forever and pray they continue to use their outdated, supply-side pricing dynamics.
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    Offline RipleyKing

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #8 on: October 20, 2014, 04:06:26 pm »
    Go. Read. Laugh at Hachette and the top few . . . who are not us.

    http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ :P

    Offline Vaalingrade

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #9 on: October 20, 2014, 04:19:01 pm »
    I'm pretty sure they want to be able to set their own prices and if some pumped up retailer wants to discount them, they do it on their dime like every other retailer.

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    Offline GeneDoucette

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #10 on: October 20, 2014, 04:27:58 pm »
    I'm pretty sure they want to be able to set their own prices and if some pumped up retailer wants to discount them, they do it on their dime like every other retailer.

    I completely understand this point, but it ignores where the power in the negotiation is.  Like I said, Amazon can do fine without Hachette, but the converse probably isn't true.  Amazon isn't going to play a strong hand like a weak one just because historically the retailer had to take what the publisher was offering.

    Offline Dolphin

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #11 on: October 20, 2014, 04:38:56 pm »
    You know, I don't think I care about Amazon vs. Hachette in terms of the best outcomes for indies. Suppose tradpub prices stay artificially high. Is that good for us, or bad? We look affordable, but we also look cheap. That sounds kind of like a wash. It's not as though Amazon's trying to pressure us into lowering our priceson the contrary, they've mostly been trying to raise them.

    You think Amazon is going to slash our royalties once they've got more of a stranglehold on the market? Why? What difference would it make to us if Hachette fell off the face of the Earth tomorrow? They're not doing anything for us. Amazon isn't competing against them for our business by offering better royalties than they do, because the truth is that Hachette only offers contracts to a tiny, tiny minority of writers. You could probably count on one or two hands the number of us they'd sign within the next year if indy publishing vanished overnight. I barely even feel like they're in the same business as us (or the same reality, really).

    So as an indy, I'm not sure it makes a difference to me whether Amazon or Hachette wins. I just think Hachette is living in an archaic, delusional fantasy world. I think they're on the wrong side of history. I think it's laughable, yet insulting when they presume to speak for the rest of us and say that Amazon is attacking authors, or books, or literature. I think that they're actually worse corporate citizens than Amazon, having been caught illegally colluding with competitors to fix prices. I think they're fighting a losing battle for things that are bad for their readers and bad for their authors.

    I don't want Hachette to lose because I've got a dog in their fightI just want and expect them to lose because they're wrong.

    As you can probably gather, I've no clue what the answer to the OP's question is. I guess I could never be a publishing executive, because if there's an upside for them, I can't see it for the life of me.

    Offline Vaalingrade

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #12 on: October 20, 2014, 07:18:01 pm »
    I completely understand this point, but it ignores where the power in the negotiation is.  Like I said, Amazon can do fine without Hachette, but the converse probably isn't true.  Amazon isn't going to play a strong hand like a weak one just because historically the retailer had to take what the publisher was offering.

    If this were true, if Amazon really was the unassailable, golden Juggernaut some indies love to pretend it is... Why don't they just walk away from Hechette?

    Why not say 'Okay, well have a good time dying, Hoss' and just drop all their books and be done with it. Why have they spent months with their zippers down passing the measuring tape back and forth between each other when Amazon supposedly could have just done a pelvic thrust and knocked Hechette out?

    Why did they feel the need for stunts like ordering indies to leap into the breech and write spam mail to Hechette's CEO and carbon copy them proof?

    Could it be that while they're certainly big enough to do whatever they want to us (and get a 'thank you sir, may I have another?' in the process), they don't have the muscle we think they do when it comes to other actual companies with things like lawyers and rights?

    Heck, maybe if we had the spine to take a united stand once in a while instead of rolling over more than a newly trained puppy, we could stalemate them too.

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    Offline Dolphin

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #13 on: October 20, 2014, 07:52:17 pm »
    If this were true, if Amazon really was the unassailable, golden Juggernaut some indies love to pretend it is... Why don't they just walk away from Hechette?

    Why not say 'Okay, well have a good time dying, Hoss' and just drop all their books and be done with it. Why have they spent months with their zippers down passing the measuring tape back and forth between each other when Amazon supposedly could have just done a pelvic thrust and knocked Hechette out?

    They'll win anyway, so why not be equanimous?

    It's better for Amazon and their customers if they keep selling Hachette's books. Part of their argument is that they're being reasonable and Hachette isn't. Their plan is to take a moderate position, continue to earn on Hachette's sales, and wait them out. If they instead strong-armed Hachette as viciously as possible, all it would do is add fuel to the fire.

    Hachette's rights haven't been infringed upon here. They had a contract, now they don't. Amazon's still willing to sell their books, albeit with some sanctions applied. That's more than reasonable under the circumstances.

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #14 on: October 21, 2014, 05:13:18 am »
    Why not say 'Okay, well have a good time dying, Hoss' and just drop all their books and be done with it.


    I would say it's because they know their customers want those books so they want to carry them. Because happy customers means good profit. And there's not a thing wrong with that.
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    Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #15 on: October 21, 2014, 05:29:31 am »
    Folks, the genie doesn't go back into the bottle.

    If Amazon should actually do anything sinister like it's been accused of possibly doing one day, the Internet is still here. There are still millions and millions of devices out there and over 1 Billion smart phones. Someone would just build a better book distribution system. Amazon is not competing with Hatchette or other content providers, Amazon is competing against that kid in the garage (or basement) that can code a cooler, streamlined app experience to deliver books to the readers.

    It's not difficult to sell books on line. Most of us don't do it because it's a hassle at the individual author level, but many small publishers have been very successful in selling ebooks directly to readers. Online commerce just takes an email.

    So no, I'm not rooting for Hatchette in this fight, I'm rooting for Amazon because that's currently my bread and butter provider. And if I need to change that at a later date, then I will. To me, Hatchette didn't learn from the music industry's blunders.


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    Offline joncrocker

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #16 on: October 21, 2014, 07:00:23 am »
    I think this is just a case of two big companies playing chicken with each other, hoping the other will blink first. In the end, it's to the economic benefit of both companies to come to some sort of a deal. And they will. At some point.

    I also think it's worth pointing out that Amazon needs Hachette, to a certain degree, and that all of the power doesn't lie in Amazon's court here. Amazon built their empire by being a one-stop online shop for books (and have since broadened that far beyond just books). If their customers suddenly can't buy a huge selection of popular books, that hurts Amazon's brand considerably. So Hachette does have some power here. Amazon has more, but not all.

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    Offline A. Rosaria

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #17 on: October 21, 2014, 07:57:49 am »
    I think this is just a case of two big companies playing chicken with each other, hoping the other will blink first. In the end, it's to the economic benefit of both companies to come to some sort of a deal. And they will. At some point.

    And I think it is best for us writers not to go stand in the middle of the road while they are speeding toward each other wide eyed and frothing from their mouths. Let them fight it out and see where it goes. ;)

    Offline Vaalingrade

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #18 on: October 21, 2014, 10:47:42 am »

    I would say it's because they know their customers want those books so they want to carry them. Because happy customers means good profit. And there's not a thing wrong with that.

    Exactly. So they don't hold all the cards here and we need to stop pretending they do just because we pay them to do a thing but are convinced they're paying us.

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    Offline zoe tate

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #19 on: October 21, 2014, 10:58:16 am »
    Amazon is not competing with Hatchette or other content providers

    It is to some extent.

    And is looking like it intends to, to a greater extent, in future.

    Amazon is a publisher, as well as a retailer.

    I'm rooting for Amazon because that's currently my bread and butter provider.

    That's what they're relying on. Please forgive the observation that many very successful authors (including plenty of self-published ones) seem to think that that may well turn out to be rather a short-sighted perspective.  :-[

    Offline Dolphin

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #20 on: October 21, 2014, 11:11:21 am »
    It is to some extent.

    And is looking like it intends to, to a greater extent, in future.

    Amazon is a publisher, as well as a retailer.

    That's what they're relying on. Please forgive the observation that many very successful authors (including plenty of self-published ones) seem to think that that may well turn out to be rather a short-sighted perspective.  :-[

    But how does Hachette impact us? They wouldn't give us publishing deals if we askedthey know it, we know it, Amazon knows it. Even if they were to disappear from the marketplace, how would that harm indies?

    Offline C W Smith

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #21 on: October 21, 2014, 12:19:52 pm »
    But how does Hachette impact us? They wouldn't give us publishing deals if we asked--they know it, we know it, Amazon knows it. Even if they were to disappear from the marketplace, how would that harm indies?
    Amazon isn't asking Hachette for permission to discount the publisher's books, but TELLING them to LOWER the prices of the books they publish or face the consequences.

    Simon and Schuster and Amazon just agreed to a deal that will prominently feature S&S's books on Amazon. We don't have all the details, but For all we know, this could be the exact same deal it offered Hachette, and is strong arming the publisher to make the deal or face the crisis that Hachette is going through right now.

    Let's hypothesize for a moment. If Amazon strong arms Hachette in compliance (and assuming they're doing the same thing to S&S because why wouldn't they?), they'll cut further into the publishers' profits. If that happens, the publishers won't have the money to risk on new authors. If authors can't get publishing deals through traditional publishers, they'll turn to self-publishing and Amazon. Remember what Zoe Tate said above: Amazon is also a publisher. If Amazon Publishing and CreateSpace get enough power, it can dictate terms with all the indies like it's trying to do with Hachette. They may force new authors to publish through them for a certain amount of time before reverting the rights, or they can scale royalties back even further because why not? Yes, authors can choose to not publish with Amazon, but we all know that unpublished indie author's have to use Amzon as their primary retail platform to get any traction at all.

    To sum up, I'm going to mix metaphors badly: look at the Hachette situation as the first in a line of dominoes to fall, setting off a chain reaction that will ultimately lead to Amazon holding all the cards when dealing with Indie authors.

    Offline Dolphin

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #22 on: October 21, 2014, 12:41:56 pm »
    If Amazon Publishing and CreateSpace get enough power, it can dictate terms with all the indies like it's trying to do with Hachette.

    Here's the problem with your argument: we're already over a barrel just as badly as Hachette is. It would be every bit as bad for an indy author to lose Amazon as a partner as it would be for Hachette to lose Amazon as a partner, so we're in the same position. They can leverage us just as viciously as they can leverage Hachette. Whether Hachette lives or dies makes no difference whatsoever in terms of their power over us.

    The only thing I can make sense of from this whole line of argument is something along the lines of "First, they came for the socialists." Okay, fine, I'll ask you what I'd ask Paul Krugman: what should be done about it? Amazon is well within their rights and the law (which sets them apart from some of Hachette's previous activities). What laws do you mean to change, what regulatory action do you mean to take in order to stop Amazon?

    Offline Cherise

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #23 on: October 21, 2014, 01:26:55 pm »
    If Hachette wins and keeps ebook prices outrageously high, well, that's the best news ever for self-publishers! I ...pray they continue to use their outdated, supply-side pricing dynamics.


    This is how I see it, too. Go Hachette! Continue to make my books a bargain!

    Offline Cherise

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    Re: I'm confused about something
    « Reply #24 on: October 21, 2014, 01:35:42 pm »
    Folks, the genie doesn't go back into the bottle.

    If Amazon should actually do anything sinister like it's been accused of possibly doing one day, the Internet is still here. There are still millions and millions of devices out there and over 1 Billion smart phones. Someone would just build a better book distribution system...

    It's not difficult to sell books online. Most of us don't do it because it's a hassle at the individual author level, but many small publishers have been very successful in selling ebooks directly to readers.

    Online commerce just takes an email.


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