Big Daddy Bezos
Posted by lbdarling
Yesterday, I woke up the same letter sitting in my e-box as most of my friends did. You may or may not have heard that Big Daddy Bezos actually went ahead and solicited the help of the Lowly Indie Author in his war against Hachette. If you haven’t heard about this letter or read it I stuck up on my site so you can check it out. Amazon’s Letter to Indie Authors. Go on, go read it, I’ll wait.
Great. We’ll get to the insult of being dragged into this pissing contest in a bit. The very first thing I want to address and call “bullshit!” on is paragraph four, sentence two: “With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. ”
No returns? Really? Seriously. Wow man, that must only got for big publishers like Random House and Hachette or something because I can show you groups dedicated to ‘How to Read and Return E-books on Amazon’. No shit. They exist. I think at the end of the year the cheap skate who’s managed to screw over the most people by buying/reading/returning e-books expressly on Amazon gets half a chicken dinner or something like that.
Other sites do not allow ebooks to be returned at all. That’s the way it should be. You can’t buy a DVD/Blu-Ray/CD take it home, unwrap it, watch/play it, then bring it back to the store expecting a full refund just cuz you didn’t wike it. Poor wittle fing. No. If you take it back you get the same exact thing in return just a new copy. If you’re cute and smart enough you might be able to get store credit but you will never get your money back. You can’t take back a paperback or hard cover book wherein the spine is busted or its has stains on the pages. If it shows any sign of use…you keep the book and kindly get the fuck out of the store you cheap bastard.
While it’s almost true that ebooks cannot be resold as used books—see Google for how to crack Amazon’s DRM—they are often ‘lent’ mainly because Kindle/Amazon actually forces the author/publisher like myself into their Lending Library. That’s right…force. I can’t get out of being available in the Kindle Lending Library unless I price my books at $0.99. Yeah, I get some pittance of some grandiose pot if someone ‘borrows’ one of my books but it’s not the sale price.
Nope, they’re right, there are no transportation costs but there are download fees.
I never should have received this letter. No one at my level should have ever received this letter. This is not our fight and, by the way, in case Big Daddy Bezos didn’t know, he treats us like serfs so why the hell would we want to help him anyway? I’ve said it a thousand times; Selling through Kindle/Amazon is like being in bed with WalMart. It’s greasy, it’s nasty, it makes your stomach turn knowing you’ve been turned into somebody’s little bitch and there’s nothing you can do about it because they’re the biggest games in town.
Anybody see the “South Park” Cable Company episode?
That’s the exact way Amazon treats its Indie Authors and, it seems, some of it’s larger publishing houses. Anything and everything both companies do is simply to get themselves off.
See, I thought this was America. Ya know, the place where we celebrate Capitalism and The Free Market System right up until the very second it buckles out from under us and collapses our economy. Yeah! If that’s true then the author/publisher should be able to sell their product for whatever the market will bear.
There’s a small problem with that, see because of Big Daddy Bezos, we will never know what the fair market value of an e-book would have been if the price had been left for determination by the free market. Instead we have a built-in ‘bottom floor’ of $0.99 with no real incentive go higher than that because people know they can get what they want out of us for $0.99 eventually and then return it just after they upload it to a pirate site.
Rather than letting us, the ‘reading public’ determine what we thought was a good/fair/bargain price for an e-book Amazon willfully and knowingly led us down the path that bought us the “boxed set” of e-books. AND there are as many as TWENTY stories (of one size or another most claiming to be ‘novels’) bundled up in e-book “boxed sets” and selling for that same paltry $0.99. Amazon/Kindle pushes and pushes and pushes for authors/publishers to sell their work for less and less and less because that’s good for THEM. Not because it’s good for ‘the reading public’ and certainly not because it’s good for the author/publisher. Not when they’re letting cheapos return said $0.99 e-books on a whim.
Let me help you out here…
Do you know that for most e-books, no matter the price, the author/publisher is getting 35% of that sale and not 70%? That’s right. To get the full 70% across the board you have been enrolled in KDP (Kindle Select Program) with one country or another….preferably all of them of course otherwise…it’s….Sorry Charlie, we really didn’t mean what we said there.
Nearly everything on the ‘back end’ of Kindle/Amazon is all about exclusivity. You the buyer have no idea how the author/publisher/seller is pressured/taunted/teased into going down the Amazon Only Road. If I want to be able to give my book away on Kindle I have to make it ‘exclusive’ for three months and I’ll get five days out of that I can use to give it away. Five days. Three months. Same for ‘countdown discounts’. You must be exclusive for no less than three months.
However, if you’re not exclusive and they find your work somewhere else cheaper they don’t hesitate to lower the price even further without even telling you.
Let’s not forget those download fees attached to each e-book. That money goes directly to Amazon/Kindle. No one else ever sees a penny of that.
So, for every $0.99 e-book or “boxed set” of e-books you buy the person(s) who created receives about $0.30 before taxes. Don’t forget the taxes.
So, as you can see, Amazon gets the bulk of single transaction. Every e-book that you buy from them that is either $0.99-$2.99 or is not listed as a “Select Exclusive” the purchase price is feeding Amazon not the writer.
The people who actually did all of the work to bring you that e-book may as well be working in a sweat shop in some third world country. Their take is roughly $0.30! yep, they have to split $0.30 out of every $0.99 e-book you buy and are kind enough not to return.
ALL that WORK for $0.30.
Really, c’mon, man, there is no meat on that bone in fact even the marrow has been sucked dry. How’s anybody supposed to make a few extra bucks never mind a living off of that? Do you have any idea how many copies of a book an little indie author like me would have to sell at that rate just to buy groceries for the week?
Amazon doesn’t care because, like WalMart, the more money you ‘save’ the more money you actually spend and the more money funnels directly into Amazon’s pocket.
So no, Mr. Bezos I won’t be writing on your behalf or defending you anymore than I would take up a pen to defend WalMart by saying it’s a wonderful place to work and what a boon it’s been to the national economy.