Industry Asshattery

So by now y’all have probably all heard about how the Agency 5

  • Hachette (Grand Central, Orbit, Forever),
  • Penguin (Berkley, Ace, Roc, Jove, Signet, NAL, Putnam),
  • Macmillan (St. Martin, Tor),
  • Harper (Avon, Avon A), and
  • Simon& Schuster (Pocket)

will no longer allow retailers to continue their buyer loyalty programs.   As a consumer, I had to hear about Fictionwise discontinuing their Buywise Club memberships from Dear Author rather than from the actual retailer.  And when I went to the Fictionwise site, I had to DIG to find that information (as in, you can only find it if you were planning on going to try to buy a membership–which for someone like me who has a membership through next February, isn’t going to happen).  Definite customer service fail.  Of course legally, they have to honor the terms of the membership contract.  We still get our 15% discount on books at the site.  But as of yesterday afternoon, all the books from the Big 5 publishers have DISAPPEARED from the site.  And when I went to look at my wishlist, most of it was just flat GONE.  There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to start.

A Taste for E-Books, a new e-book review site has a couple of posts interpreting events.  Post 1Post 2.  And there is another post at DA about how the Kindle versions of Penguin books have disappeared from Amazon.  This makes it such that until new deals can be struck with assorted retailers and the Big 5, a bunch of books will only be available at the newly launched iBookstore.  No, I’m not going to link to the bastards because they don’t deserve the traffic.  Apple is driving this train, and they don’t give a rat’s ass whether they run the industry into the ground because they already have a booming business in iTunes.


Here’s the deal.  I have a limited discretionary budget that can go toward books.  I’m one of those ebook readers who still likes paper and embraces e simply for another alternative and the ability to carry books with me to more places than I could before.  I will not pay $12.99 for an ebook.  I won’t pay $9.99.  My personal cap for an ebook, unless it’s something REALLY AWESOME, is $7.  Right what I’d pay for a brand new paperback.  And for those books from the Big 5 that I still want to read, I’ll either get them from the library, the UBS, or I’ll wait ’til they come out in paperback.  I’d love to boycott them entirely, but there are too many Big 5 published authors whose work I love, and really, boycotting only hurts the author, not the publisher.

I won’t resort to piracy (though I think these ludicrous price points will make it rampant).  But I’ll be branching out in my ereading.  I’ll check out more indie reads and reads by small publishing houses.  I’ll probably wind up trying lots of new authors I haven’t ever heard of.  Fine.  It’s good to try new things.

And I have to say, I think that it’s a GOOD time to be an indie author.  Despite my admitted aspirations to be traditionally published someday, right now I AM an indie author, and I have to think that a lot of ebook fans are going to be more likely to take a chance on my work, which has high ratings and good reviews (thank you fans), and is reasonably priced at $1, than they are to shell out more money for an ebook than a full album costs.  So I’m hoping that this asshattery will lead to more sales and increased rankings for me and other writers like me.  The Big 5 stupidity is going to level the playing field some for independents and small presses.

If you’re pissed at the industry like the rest of us, go out and buy a book by an author NOT published by one of the Big 5.  Show your support.

7 thoughts on “Industry Asshattery

  1. The widespread focus on Apple hate baffles me. They may have come up with the pricing scheme, but FIVE publishers said, “Oh, yes, that sounds like a fantastic idea. Sign us up, distributor with whom we have NO SALES HISTORY, at the expense of all of our previously established ebook distribution channels and readers.” All they had to say was “no,” and there’d be nothing in Apple’s store on launch day unless Apple changed its policy, which they would have been forced to do to live up to their own hype. I can’t see this as anything but a convenient excuse for publishers to jack up ebook prices, which they’ve always wanted to do but been prevented by retailers like Amazon, who have the gall to claim they know something about what ebook buyers are willing to pay.

    It’s interesting, though, how readers are venting their anger Apple and their retailer of preference that has either adopted these changes or delisted half their books and the authors of the affected books, and meanwhile, the responsible publishers are INVISIBLE, hidden behind the name on the cover and the retailer who handles the sale. They have a really sweet gig there…

  2. Oh, and this kind of blatantly incompetent business management is what drove me firmly into the indie camp in the first place. I don’t want anyone with such deficient decision-making skills having any part in my career.

    1. Oh I absolutely agree with you on all fronts. It IS the publisher’s fault/responsibility ultimately because they want these inflated prices (which don’t translate into additional royalties for authors) on a product that has SHITTY FORMATTING (and I now know for sure that it does NOT take a rocket scientist to format and ebook well). The frustration for me is that there is really NO WAY for the consumer to hurt the publishers. Yes, they can boycott those publishers, but that really, ultimately will only hurt the authors they represent. Which, yeah, is just another reason to stay on the indie train. It’s more work for me in the long run, BUT I have more control over the product, bigger percentage of royalties, and since the trend is for authors to be doing all the work and barely get paid a pittance anyway…

      1. No, it won’t ONLY hurt the authors they represent. It will hurt the whole machine, though maybe only slightly. And since the machine is being run by the corporate asshats, I don’t mind seeing it take some dings. What we’re seeing here is just another episode of the boardroom savvy/life clueless idiots whose last haircut cost more than my food budget’s attempts at destroying all of our livelihoods, industry by industry. And by supporting them because we can’t do without their products, we help them do it. I’m sorry for the authors who are caught in the middle of this. But at the end of the day, it’s the authors who are creating the product and without them the publishing conglomerates have nothing. If a squeeze created by ebook enthusiasts helps authors make the decision to leave for small press or self-publishing at the end of their contracts, good. If it inspires them to pick up a new pen name and start another line on the side where the work has to speak for itself, fine. (I don’t know the legalities that would be involved with that and don’t really need that headache.) If it makes them start talking to the industry people they know and become an advocate for ebooks, that would be cool.

        It seems that I have bought about 100 ebooks in the year (or just over) I’ve had my reading device. All new, all supporting the authors. I never did that in paper and bought most used or read through the library, giving nothing to the authors. I think they’ll live without me for a while and I’ve got a sizable TBR folder to get through while the suits find their own asses.

  3. Not having an ereader at this point, I really haven’t followed this stuff. The few ebooks I have I read on my laptop and have mostly been free or practically so. But I’m like you Kait in that I won’t pay more for an ebook than I would for a paperback.

    I understand the big publishers and booksellers are running a business…needing to turn a profit…and sometimes they do things in that vein that I, as a consumer, don’t like. The more I learn about this industry the more I get frustrated and less likely I’ll ever try to enter it. However, I will continue to do what I can to support the authors I love and look forward to finding new ones, whether indie or not.

  4. BTW, a short review and linkage for Forsaken by Shadow will be going up on my blog in the morning.

    Bloody awesome Kait…can’t wait for the next one!!

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