Why I don’t want you to buy my books from Amazon
May 23rd 2014
What, wait? Settle down with your beverage of choice and I’ll explain.
Amazon are currently involved in negotiations with Hachette (the parent company of both Orbit and Gollancz) regarding the wholesale cost of books. Amazon want them cheaper, Hachette think they’re cheap enough already. So far, so clear.
Now, cheaper books would be good, right? Yes, and no. Yes, because books that are cheaper sell more copies to more people. No, because it’s unlikely that readers would see the savings, nor authors increased sales. As I understand it, Amazon are asking Hachette for a deeper discount so they can make a bigger profit – not so they can pass that discount on. Consequently it has all the hallmarks of big retailer putting the squeeze on a producer for a bigger margin.
Okay. Now, negotiations like this are normally carried on behind closed doors, in boardrooms and conference calls. Except they’re not. Currently, if you go to my author page on Amazon.com, you’ll see that the four Petrovitch books have delivery dates in weeks, rather than days. Click through on Arcanum, and it’s full price for the paperback, and you may see a bar at the top with “similar items at a lower price”.
I’m not alone. As far as I know, all Hachette authors are affected thus, and it’s now escalated (because Hachette won’t back down) to the point where new books are being marked as unavailable, or have no page. This is what Amazon’s negotiation looks like.
To make it perfectly clear, all my books are still available in all English-speaking territories. There are no distribution problems, they’re not out of print, Hachette are still sending boxes to Amazon warehouses. It’s just that Amazon are refusing to sell them. This is not the case (yet) on Amazon.co.uk.
While biting the hand that feeds me is a risky strategy, I’m going to ask you, the reader or potential reader, not to use Amazon US to buy books. There are other online retailers out there, and there are still bricks-and-mortar bookstores who’d love your business. If they don’t have the book you want in stock, they’ll order it for you, it’ll arrive in a couple of days, and you can collect it from an actual smiling person who wants you to come back. I’m also going to ask that if you’re an author, whether or not you’re with a Hachette imprint, to get your readers to do the same, because they will come for you one day. You can link to this post or just copy and paste it into your own blog if you like.
If you’re struggling to find another retailer, go to Hachette’s website and click on the cover of the book you want – please note you can buy the ebook directly from them – and click through the “Buy this book” square: I recommend both Mysterious Galaxy (as bricks and mortar, and etailer – they sell kobo, too) and IndieBound (for your nearest independent bookstore). I appreciate that it’s slightly more effort that buying one-click, but I’d like you to consider making it.