Amazon wanted to charge less for ebooks. Hachette Book Group said no. When the megalith and the publisher couldn’t agree, Amazon stopped advance orders on J.K. Rowling’s forthcoming novel, among other outrages. It delayed shipping for three to four weeks on books by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, James Patterson and his stable, Richard Kiyosaki (Rich Dad franchise), and Robin Roberts, among the multitudes, many of whom made their money way before Amazon began its assault on the world.
Amazon’s suggestion that shoppers buy used versions of Hachette books means that not only will the publisher lose a sale, so will the author who is already being undercut by Amazon’s prices. We are where musicians were when Napster was flying high, except that we can’t put our words on the Internet for free and tour to make money.
There may be hope.
Stephen Colbert, who publishes with Hachette, had the best take and in fact was the person who brought the issue to mass attention. His “delivery” to Amazon should be the shot that resurrects independent bookstores. Colbert has enlisted Sherman Alexie into his campaign, and I bless them for urging everyone to root for the author. And yes, I just ordered California, the book they were touting off Colbert’s website, from Powell’s.
The supreme irony is that Huffington Post, which pays most of its writers little or nothing is urging a boycott of the company where many of us earn the bulk of our meager income, and at the same time saying that it won’t be possible.
Can everyone say “monopoly,” “price fixing,” and “restraint of trade”? Oh, wait, I guess they don’t exist in the brave new world of e-commerce.