Monday, February 1, 2010

Orange Alert: Amazon pulls Macmillian's "Buy" Buttons

Okay, I usually don't blog about stuff in the publishing world, but I'm seeing too much going on with the power of Amazon and Kindle and, let's face it, Banned Books. As an author, I was nervous before, now I'm moving toward frustrated. The power that Amazon is wielding lately with pulling books off Kindle lists and deleting pages of previously downloaded material because it was seen as "inappropriate" material is a form of censoring that I've seen once-too-often in history. I am seriously disturbed to see it happening so flagrantly now. I mean, it used to be the quiet censorship of having librarians pulling disturbing books off shelves and me wondering why I couldn't find them in the catalogs anymore. Now, Amazon is publicly pulling material like a big bully because it can. Hmmmm. We usually assign this sort of behavior to totalitarian governmental models.

What got me all worked up? This weekend fiasco between Macmillian publishing and Amazon. If you haven't heard the headline I've quoted from the Publishers MarketPlace Ezine and it reads something like this: The Battle for the Agency Model Begins as Amazon pulls Macmillian Buy is some of the text ...

"As originally reported last night and many readers know by now, sometime yesterday (this was published on Saturday) evening the buy buttons for apparently all of Macmillan's books--including bestsellers and top releases, and Kindle editions--were removed from Amazon's site. Macmillan books remain listed but can be bought only through third party Marketplace sellers, while Macmillan Kindle titles all lead to pages that read,'We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.' It is the first shot across the purchasing bow in big publishers' efforts to reset ebook pricing about the loss-leader $9.99 price point and retake control over that pricing by moving from wholesale selling model to an agency selling model (first reported exclusively in Lunch Deluxe on January 19), at least for ebooks published simultaneously with new hardcover releases. Kindle customers further reported on Amazon forums that any Macmillan books that were on their "wish lists" disappeared from those lists with no explanation, as apparently did Macmillan sample chapters that had been downloaded previously."

As I finished reading the entire ezine, I was left feeling like the Censor-Monster had once again ripped perfectly good books out of my hand. This goes back to a time when I was reading, "Catcher in the Rye" and I had a school teacher yank it out of my hands and tell me that "such books are not for good girls like you!" Hmmm.

This is the thing folks, I'm a self-published author. I make anywhere from 50 cents to $2 on each book I sell. If you go to Amazon to buy my books, they charge an awful $22 rather than the $15 I want to charge. I've tried to lower the price listed by cutting my royalties down to 10cents and 25cents a book and the self publisher who works with me ( says that it won't matter, Amazon will keep the price high. That is frustration in itself because my books are about saving money and I can't even help my customers because of the titan Amazon! So, I sell them off my website too, at a lower price, but it still irritates me that there are good people having to pay too much for an item. That's my own personal, little experience with the power of Amazon.

I'm reminded of a bully at a play ground here. The publishers are not wanting an Agency Model strictly for themselves and their profits, believe it or not the, model will assist many, many different businesses in the publishing pipeline. As an author that is not in the middle of this fray, I just bring points to you that I find troubling. I don't have a solution for this but I ask you to think about the fact that you buy a machine with certain features (say a Kindle) you download pages you want to read and then "someone" pulls those pages from you because they can. Hmmmm. I'm back to that memory of high school again. Not good.


Texasblu said...

Interesting - I had not heard of this.

Amazon is the one that complains about having to spend so much in advertising too because it can't get return customers. Bah!

I won't do Kindle. I like the rustle of the pages too much and I would miss the ability to write in the margins my thoughts and epiphanies as I read. The thought over giving someone the ability to take away that which I want to digest leaves me feeling starved after having paid for a four course meal. :P

Thanks for the heads up.

The Money Muse said...

I'm with you LoneStar! I love the smell of books and I constantly am scribbling in the margins. I like to "talk" to the author while I read, so to speak. However, for my buddies who live with Kindle...let's just say they are not amused. Nor would I be!