Monday, May 3, 2010

Penguin vs. Amazon

OK, so now we have yet another publisher in a fight with Amazon. This time it’s Penguin. In case you haven’t heard about this ongoing fight, here’s a quick recap: Amazon in their quest to take over the world, told the publishers that they were only going to pay them what they felt was fair for books and especially e-books. Essentially this would be like you going into Red Lobster, eating, and then telling the waiter that you’re only going to pay $10 because you feel that’s all the meal was worth. And not only that, but you make the restaurant feel you’re doing them a favor by even paying them the $10!

Amazon is so wrong on this that it’s embarrassing. It’s like a REALLY bad SNL skit. Course that would be most of them, but you get my point. Now the publishers are saying, “You can’t take our product and tell us what you are going to pay us for it”. Amazon said “yes we can” (uuuuggggh, I hate that phrase). The publishers said “oh no you did-int”! Amazon said, “Watch us bitch”. That got old so Amazon started yanking titles off their website from the publishers that were sticking by their guns. They reached an agreement, of sorts, where Amazon would carry the books & e-books but underneath the price they put ‘price set by publisher’.

What I don’t understand is why the publishers are allowing themselves to be Bernie Madoff’ed by Amazon. If people can’t buy books off Amazon they will have to (insert heavy timpani drums here) buy them from BOOKSTORES! How can publishers lose!? It drives me insane!!! If someone is publically degrading your product and using it as toilet paper to see other junk, why would you still be beholden to them? I know, I know, the simple answer is money but I don’t buy that. If Amazon would stop selling books by the major publishers there would be an IMMEDIATE response with consumers heading into bookstores. Even with the market being flooded with e-reading devices. Our bookstores would get a much needed boost and Amazon would get a black eye the size of Buster Douglass’s!

Anyway, the fight continues with Penguin saying no as well and Amazon gets back at them by reducing the price of their new hardbacks to $9.99!!! You know what Penguin ought to do (but won’t)? They should show Amazon their black and white behind and tell them to pound sand! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?! You are letting another company completely degrade your authors’ hard work and all you can do is sit in board rooms and discuss this and send out useless press releases!?! I wish I had a decent computer (MacBook Pro please) that had a webcam because I wish you could see the emotion on my extremely handsome face. What the hell is the publishing world thinking? Amazon is literally spitting on your product and you are doing what? I did a blog a few days ago about this ridiculous $9.99 Kindle campaign. This is just another example of how Amazon is helping to kill the book industry.

I’m not worried about e-readers. Not when I have this to contend with. If Amazon won’t comply with publishers request then the publishers need to pull their product. Trust me… people will seek out their book and get it. Screw two day shipping when you can drop by your local bookstore and pick it up. Can you imagine what would happen if Amazon didn’t have the ability to sell the new James Patterson? Do you seriously think a *true* reader is going to sit back and wait while Amazon and the publishers do their version of ‘The Wall Street’ shuffle? No! They are going to get in their ugly Honda Prius and drive to their local bookstore! Instant fix for everyone. Bookstores will get the traffic and the revenue. Customers will have their book. And Amazon can go crying on the shoulder of Sam’s Club. I wish a publisher would help me with this. Again, it can’t be the money. That seems too simple and doesn’t make sense. If Amazon is selling your product for $9.99 and a brick and mortar store can sell it for $18…

I thought about big-business contracts but that can’t be it either. Meaning Amazon has to be violating something with selling books for $9.99, right? If not then the publishers can violate theirs by yanking their product. Hell, I don’t know. All I know is that I’m a bookseller working at a very nice indie bookstore in Bakersfield for a family that personifies the word “community”, and we have to clinch it while we read blogs about industry killing virus’s like Amazon laughing at sickness of the industry that we love. This problem is easily fixed and actually… THAT might be why nothing has been done. For some reason we feel that we have to pass everything by a committee instead of just GETTING IT DONE! Publishers, Amazon is showing that it could give a damn about your work, your art, your clients, your industry. Stop giving them the bat in which to beat you.

If you yank your books from their website, I’m throwing a party! Why? I’ll be able to afford it. Why? I’ll have customers in my store. Why? They must come to me to purchase their books. Why? Because the publishers stood up and said to Amazon “you will no longer demean my work and use it as a loss profit item! Why? They read this blog. :-)


  1. For those of us who believe in sparing the eco system and would rather not kill another tree for a book that can be in electronic format, I am all for amazon. Hello, get with the program, most young people do not read in paper format anymore. If there was a universal e-book format that worked on every reader than the publishers could have a say, but there isn't. Why should I pay the same amount as someone buying the hardcover version of a book? No paper is used, = no shipping costs, no printing costs. It should be much cheaper.

  2. Sparing the Eco System? How, by purchasing a device that takes 2,000 years to decompose? How long do you think a book takes? You fake "let's save the earth" people kill me. At least you're good for a laugh now and then. Look, my argument wasn't about the damage to the Eco System, it was about the value of books. I actually AGREE with you on that the hardback should not be the same price as an e-book.

    But protection of the earth isn't why Amazon is doing this. They are doing this to punish the publisher for not letting them (Amazon) tell them what they thought the price of an e-book should be. Google will put a dent in the idiot Amazon Kindle and Apple's iPad real soon.

    Amazon is mad and they are pulling the mantra of an abused wife. "If I can't have it, then neither are you". Buy books from bookstores, it's not that hard.