Something a little bit different today folks. While in the melee of getting ready for my book launch, a topic which I started a discussion on here was also addressed by a fellow blogger here.
Let me say right now that I have no answers. I struggle with the issue myself but it’s worth further thought. I’ve used Amazon for years, since it started, since before it was the Amazon we know today and their only business was books – physical books. So I have to admit that I have an affection for the company.
But recently there has been so much controversy surrounding them that it is difficult not to sit back and think. Should we be loyal to Amazon? They provide us with low cost goods, they offer a service in delivering those goods, and I have to say that in my dealings with Amazon through the years any frustrations were – for the most part – dealt with successfully.
But it’s bigger, stronger, and much more aggressive than the cosy friend it seemed to be in years gone by. Why do they get away with it? They’ve been partly to blame for the closure of smaller bookstores, there was a time I practically lived in Borders. They don’t pay their taxes, the rest of us have to. Last but by no means least is their conduct regarding pricing, publishing, and their increasing control over an ever shrinking competitive arena.
I’m a writer. I publish on Amazon. I’m not fool enough to be ignorant to the platform they offer. I would never have been able to reach the customers I have through my own privately run website, or even through a smaller online retailer. I’ve used Smashwords too and though they distribute to various dealers their sales numbers are nothing on Amazon’s. I have readers in all but one continent. I would never have achieved that on my lonesome. Surely I must be grateful to Amazon for that, and I am.
But I find myself experiencing Amazon in different ways. As a writer I am ecstatic to have the reach they provide. As a reader I am thrilled by the vast choice they offer. But as a citizen and a consumer more generally, I am dismayed at their lessening morality.
All of this I suppose comes down to one unavoidable truth, life isn’t fair. It should be fair. Amazon should use best practice to ensure that the reader, writer, publisher, and distributor are given equal voice. It always vexes me that I have no control over the pricing of my own work on their website – you wouldn’t find that in many other product driven sales contracts. Fine, if they want to set the price then they buy from me wholesale. I give them a number of novels to sell, then they pay up front, after that do what you want Amazon.
Amazon should pay the appropriate tax, they should exist in an equal society with the rest of us. But that’s just it, we’re not equal and in this world size means power. It means making your own rules, and the rest of us have to lump it. Life isn’t fair.
So while Amazon continues to steam ahead the rest of us have little choice but to follow. In my discussion post I likened Amazon to a drug dealer. If your drug is reading books, then in this day and age there is one place you will keep coming back to in order to obtain your drug of choice. It doesn’t matter how much you like or dislike the dealer you still need a fix. Life isn’t fair.
Good luck on your adventures,