An Author’s View of the Conflict between Amazon and Hachette

Just as other authors are, I have been both fascinated and puzzled by the conflict between Amazon and Hachette, or should I say Hachette and Amazon. Either way you look at it, from either point-of-view, the only one being hurt is the author. This argument is not about the authors and doing right by them or the readers, but about power and fear.

Amazon sent out a letter to explain their side of the conflict. As both a reader and an author, I appreciate this upfront approach to explaining the situation. I like having the facts and being treated like I’m intelligent enough to understand the underlying problem. I’ve read through the articles, weighed the different points of view, and being an author, came up with my own conclusion… this is about power and fear.

For those not familiar with what I am talking about I will give you a brief summary, but I’ve included a link to the article http://www.readersunited.com/ for those wanting to explore the situation further. Now, I am not claiming to be an expert on the world of publishing or big business, but I am familiar with both. All I can give, as will many others, is my opinion based on the facts (and other opinions) that I have read.

To summarize the situation, Hatchette was caught colluding with its competitors to raise ebook prices. Amazon, currently the #1 ebook distributor in the world, refused to cooperate. They have a reputation of offering discounts and ebooks at reasonable prices for their readers. I know this, because they have discounted my books. Does this affect my royalties? No, I still get the same royalty as I would have gotten before. The big difference is that I offer my ebooks at a reasonable price of anywhere from $.99 to $3.99. This is a huge difference from Hatchette’s asking price of $14.99-$19.99.

You might think, why shouldn’t they? Their authors are BIG names, after all. The reason the authors are big names is for another blog. But, let me assure you there are a lot of GREAT stories out there by authors that would have been turned down by the Big Six Publishing Houses for not fitting into the little boxes they have created.

But, I don’t want to regress. As I mentioned a moment ago, that is a discussion for another blog. This blog is about the issue as I see it between Amazon/Hatchette. This is about power, control and fighting change. In other words, fear of losing control and not being able to keep up with the changes going on around them. All the numbers from the numerous algorithms are spitting out the same thing; cheaper ebook prices equal greater sales; which means more money. More money for the publishing house, more money for the author, more readers happy AND better for the environment.

So, what is the problem then? As I stated before, this is not about what is good or right. It is about power, control and fear. The publishing industry is changing dramatically and at an exponential rate. Publishing companies like Hatchette are not ready, or set up, to handle these changes. They are still set in their old world standards where they pick and choose who will be the next bestselling author or newest book to take the market by storm.

amazon vs hatchetteSo what is the answer? Amazon has offered multiple olive branches in an effort to work with Hatchette. Those branches have been torched and returned without any suggestions for compromise or resolution. Well, I have an idea. It is brilliant in its simplicity. Instead of an olive branch, I think Amazon should send Hatchette a pair of big girl panties and tell them to put them on. Change isn’t coming, it has already happened. The world has tasted the flavors of books that Indie authors have to offer and they are finding they like it. It is time to make lemonade, boys and girls. The Internet, ebooks, and Indie authors are here to stay, not to mention Amazon. It really is a wonderful world. I’d like to invite Hatchette to see just how beautiful it is.

S. E. Smith is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author. She enjoys exploring new worlds and taking her readers with her. Readers can reach her at sesmithfl@gmail.com or at https://sesmithfl.com.

5 Comments

  1. Jonella Moore says:

    I for one would never pay $14.99 for a digital book. Its not that I don’t admire and respect all the hard working authors, its just that I can’t AFFORD to. I’d only be able to buy maybe 1 book a month! Not all of us have wealth just because we love books. I agree that they should get with the times and man up. Love you Susan!

  2. Myyst says:

    Cheers! Wonderful post! While I still have my big name fav’s, thanks to Amazon I have discovered the wonderful world of Indie books. It’s time for the big publishing houses to realize that the readers get to choose, not their marketing department’s. I have found some wonderful authors, beautiful stories that make me laugh, cry and throw things that I wouldn’t have found otherwise oh and by the way, I have purchased 10x’s the number of books that are priced at 6.99 or lower that I would have at 10.00 or higher.

    Big publishing needs to double check their bottom line. If you sell more at reasonable prices you make more. If you keep your prices lower you build loyalty not only with the writers but with readers. If you rip readers off they stop buying.

  3. Dorthe H. Brush says:

    Well written and easy to understand explanation. Thanks Susan. I rarely pay over $ 6.00 for books, only exception is when it is an author I really like. I also seldom order from anyone other than Amazon. I’d certainly never pay $ 14-15 for an e-book so appreciate that Amazon is not cooperating.

    1. S.E. Smith says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Dorthe. You made a wonderful point as a reader.

  4. Linda Lane says:

    Love your view of it. If I had to pay $15 to $20 for an e book or any type of book I just would not buy it at all. I would not be able to afford it with how may books I read in a year.

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