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Amazon Bypassing Publishers By Signing Authors Directly 461

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-was-the-spring-of-hope,-it-was-the-winter-of-despair dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "David Streitfeld reports that Amazon is aggressively wooing top authors, gnawing away at the services publishers, critics and agents used to provide. 'Everyone's afraid of Amazon,' says Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. 'The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,' adds Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon's top executives. 'Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.' But publishers are fighting back at writers who publish with Amazon. In 2010 Kiana Davenport signed with a division of Penguin for The Chinese Soldier's Daughter, a Civil War love story, and received a $20,000 advance. In the meantime Davenport packaged several award-winning short stories she had written 20 years ago and packaged them in an e-book, Cannibal Nights, available on Amazon. When Penguin found out, it went 'ballistic,' accusing her of breaking her contractual promise to avoid competition, canceling her novel, and suing Davenport to recover her advance. Davenport knows her crime: 'Sleeping with the enemy? Perhaps. But now I know who the enemy is.'"
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Amazon Bypassing Publishers By Signing Authors Directly

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  • One company (Score:5, Funny)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:05PM (#37742630) Homepage

    One Company to rule them all, One Click to find them,
    One Company to contract with them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Profit where the Bezos lies.

    • by jazman_777 (44742)
      Brilliant. But there is a certain poetic justice that Amazon inflicted on Borders and B&N, seeing how they killed so many local bookshops. Who will inflict justice on Amazon?
      • by magarity (164372)

        Who will inflict justice on Amazon?

        For what injustice does Amazon need justice inflicted in this case? They pay more to authors than the agent/publisher route and readers pay less. Sounds like win-win except the middle men who by definition don't do anything except facilitate and there's less and less to facilitate in that industry these days. I guess you like keeping on no longer needed roles out of a sense of pity and welfare?

        • Re:One company (Score:4, Insightful)

          by PCM2 (4486) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:21PM (#37743554) Homepage

          But there's an implied hidden "cost" in Amazon's business practices. It's easy to say you offer the lowest prices when you've put everyone else out of business, including the shoddy big-chain bookstores that put the quality local bookstores out of business. Lack of competition in markets is bad, even when it seems to mean the customer saves a buck.

          • ROFL. Yes, there's an "implied hidden cost" for deadweight middlemen like Penguin.

          • Re:One company (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gmail.ELIOTcom minus poet> on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:04PM (#37744010)

            the shoddy big-chain bookstores that put the quality local bookstores out of business.

            You mean the "shoddy" Barnes and Noble that had 100,000 books as compared to the "quality" local bookstore that had 10,000? Or was it that the "shoddy" Barnes & Noble could get me the book they didn't have in two days, but it took the "quality" local bookstore two weeks? Or was it that the "shoddy" Barnes and Noble sold Christian bestsellers at 10-20% below cover price, while the "quality" local Christian bookstore marked them up above cover price? Or the "shoddy" B&N database that let them find just about any book, however obscure, foreign or domestic, and how long it would take them to get it, but the "quality" local bookstore that often just couldn't or wouldn't get the book I wanted?

            Thanks for clarifying.

            There were and are many good reasons for supporting your local booksellers. But, generally, superior quality isn't one of them.

            • by Eskarel (565631)

              The problem with Barnes and Noble is not that they were fundamentally bad, it was that they were amazon but with higher fixed costs. You couldn't go to B&N or Borders and find someone who loved books and knew enough about them to recommend something to you, because those people would have been more expensive than teenagers. You couldn't go to B&N and find the obscure book on the shelf because B&N didn't specialize in anything. In the end, you went to B&N or Borders, and paid them more than A

            • by tehcyder (746570)
              No one would deny that large chains of bookshops can charge less and have a bigger stock selection, that's fucking self evident. But they're just selling product, whereas the bookshop owner/manager is actually interested in books.
            • Re:One company (Score:4, Insightful)

              by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @07:09AM (#37748256)

              Exactly. I can think of quite a few businesses that a similar analogy can be applied to:

              Here in the UK a lot of neighbourhood pubs have gone. And there's this fantasy going around that the pubs that have gone were all selling a wide range of high-quality beer and good food at a reasonable price; when they closed down it came as a great surprise.

              But that's all it is. A fantasy. Without even thinking I can name several pubs that haven't been decorated in years, have walls that are still heavily nicotine stained despite the fact that smoking was banned in public places in 2007; carpet that's threadbare in places and sticky in others. The toilets are a health hazard, they don't do food (or if they do it tastes like they cooked it in the toilet), they've got a lousy range of beer, an equally lousy choice of cider (considering this is Somerset this is practically a criminal offence!), they don't feel particularly welcoming when you go in and they charge prices more commensurate with a fancy city-centre bar.

              Specifically, a fancy city-centre bar that serves good food, has clean toilets, a floor you don't stick to and walls that if they're a yellow-brown colour, are obviously intended to be.

              These are the pubs that are going out of business. The world has changed and they haven't.

        • Re:One company (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ChrisMaple (607946) on Monday October 17, 2011 @08:31PM (#37745686)
          Many authors need editors in order to produce a worthwhile product. A few don't. Expect the average quality of writing to decline.
      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Who will inflict justice on Amazon?

        Duh.

        A bunch of shoe less midgets walking through the forest on their epic quest.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:05PM (#37742638)
    If the contract gave exclusive distribution rights to Penguin then the author is in breach of contract. Seems simple to me.
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:09PM (#37742672)

      Amazon is a retailer; it's only recently become a publisher as well. From what they've said, one of the reasons why established authors have been signing up with Amazon as a publisher is that their contracts are far more author-friendly than trade publishers.

      • by Kenja (541830)
        Which is fine, but of they had an existing contract they would be in breach of it. If the penalties do not out weight the benefits, more power to them. But they dont get to complain about breaking the contract when they are willingly doing so.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          According to the author they were two entirely different works, and even different subject matter, and she doesn't believe she was in breach of contract...

          Now if she signed some sort of "I'll publish everything through you" exclusive contract, or right to first sale of all her works, or some similar contract, she may well have been in breach, but that's not what it sounds like here.

          • by anyGould (1295481)

            And considering she has a lawyer involved, it's a safe bet that the contract doesn't say anything of the sort - it's one of the basic gotchas of publishing.

        • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:30PM (#37742936) Homepage

          Depends how the contract is worded. The author seems to think she gave Penguin exclusivity on her new book, not her old stuff. I've never heard of a publishing company having a fit when you publish old stuff (previously published no less, just bound up in a new collection), while working on a book for them. It's possible that Penguin writes their contacts that way and the author simply misunderstood or didn't read carefully enough, but it seems really odd to me. It sounds like Penguin is interpreting a non-compete clause rather more liberally than is traditional in order to punish the author for going through Amazon. I don't have all the facts of course, she may have legitimately broken faith with them, but from what we have that doesn't appear to be that case.

          • by PCM2 (4486)

            I can totally see Penguin's position.

            Penguin puts up $20,000 to publish a book by an author. The contract specifies that the author must do a certain amount of publicity to help sell the book. That might be something as easy as calling up a radio show and saying, "I have a new novel coming out from Penguin." Now, from what I'm reading this book hasn't even been published yet. In the meantime, the same author pulls out a stack of old short stories and publishes them on her own. From now on, whenever she call

            • Most of that makes very little sense. First, these are already published works. They're already associated with her, and are already out there. She's just put them into a new collection. They're also apparently award winning pieces. That tends to argue against them being not up to Pengiun's standards. They're probably at least part of the basis on which they offered her a contract in the first place. As to the advertising thing, again, this is old work. She might mention it while on the radio... but

            • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday October 17, 2011 @06:18PM (#37744696) Homepage

              For you not to directly compete with your own products seems like a reasonable expectation, provided the terms are laid out clearly.

              If you think any of the terms of a typical publisher contract are laid out clearly, you have completely missed the point. My book went into print a year ago, and it seems every month I find a new way I'm being screwed I didn't see coming. The latest wrinkle involves how I don't get any per-copy royalties for the foreign translations (of which there currently are one). This means I'm now competing against the foreign copies of my own book! It's in there, now that I go back and re-read the dense fine print in that one section, but "laid out clearly" is certainly is not. Like a lot of contract exchanges, the publishing company has enormously more legal resources to craft a contract that benefits them, compared to any one author. This is why the contracts all favor the publisher, and authors normally feel abused--unless you're a famous enough author to have your own agent and legal team.

              The idea that the advance on a book represents some giant sum the publisher should get all sorts of benefits from is exactly the line of thinking that needs to be stopped here. Publishers used to lay out that money and a large second sum for printing of books, which may or may not get sold. They were assuming a lot of risk, and traditional publication contracts reflect that. But it's not true any more, as printing moves to on-demand or not at all, in the e-book case. Much like the big music industry, publishers haven't quite figured out yet they can easily end up being only minimally useful middle-men to experienced content creators. And like a lot of negotiation the easiest way to get better terms is to just walk away altogether. The big decision on my next book isn't "which publisher", it's "do I need a regular publisher at all?". Right now, one of the biggest problems I have is that my publisher screwed up the Kindle version of my book; they just didn't do the QA to make it readable. I'm pretty sure Amazon has that down had they done it themselves.

          • by Savantissimo (893682) on Monday October 17, 2011 @05:00PM (#37743968) Journal

            Not only were the short story collections she published with Amazon already published by other publishers, they had been submitted to the Big 6 publisher who is currently breaching its contract. The Big 6 publisher had specifically said that they did not want to publish the short story collections, and the author has the rejection notices to prove it.

            So the publisher basically hasn't got a leg to stand on. Their interpretation of the contract is void, in restraint of trade, tortured to justify their fear and hatred of the possibility of any competition from Amazon, even when no such threat exists in this case. Further, they are trying to effectively exert ownership over works that are not only NOT under contract, but had specifically been rejected by them, and to claim rights to put out of print without further compensation all the author's past works and works up to two years in the future (when they are contractually obligated to publish her novel).

            She has an excellent chance of prevailing in court, for far more than the advance - this firm is trying to destroy her career, to make sure she is never published by anyone but Amazon if she publishes anything with Amazon. This is really a case that the NY AG and the Justice Department could slam-dunk on multiple counts, too.

      • by lennier1 (264730) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:18PM (#37742776)

        Of course. If the whole chain is in-house they'll be able to eliminate a lot of unnecessary overhead, making it more efficient and profitable than having to deal with external business partners stuck in the 19th century.

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:25PM (#37742868)
        The question is, do you really want Amazon to be the only place you can get books?
        • by Joehonkie (665142)
          You can self-publish to other e-bookstores as well, and most people seem to do at least B&N.
        • Spot on: the question whether we want Amazon to be the only place to get book is THE question, which is neatly illustrated by this fine piece of Newspeak uttered by the Amazon's top executives mentioned in the summary:

          The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader

          Meaning: The only necessary part of the book publishing process (as demonstrated in the music and the film industries) is distribution and we are now going to take care of that.

        • Amazon is the only place I do get books, so ...

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:10PM (#37742684) Homepage Journal
      The contract gave Penguin exclusive rights to The Chinese Soldier's Daughter, not every single piece ever written by the author.

      Assuming so is treading in dangerous waters.
    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:16PM (#37742758) Homepage Journal

      That depends. They got a deal for the novel "The Chinese Soldier's Daughter". She repackaged a collection short stories and sold them on Amazon.
      Did the publisher have any rights to those short stories? She did sign a non-compete but does a collection of short stories compete with a novel?
      At this point we are into lawyer land where logic and reason do not apply.
      Kind of like the Twilight Zone except without the almost universal just outcome.

      • by haystor (102186) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:22PM (#37742840)

        There is significant case law on the matter. Further, an advance of $20k to not work in the entire field of writing for 2 years won't get any traction in court.

        Non compete in this sense means those characters/story/universe don't get presented somewhere else. That the publisher gets first release of not just the book, but anything to do with the book.

        This is bullying an author, plain and simple. (if the story is as the author has written)

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Since the universe is the civil war isn't the idea of exclusiveness a bit silly I mean since the author is working in historical time and not a fictional creation of her own?

          • It's still a fictional creation of her own. It's just that parts of the background were researched instead of created. She could write another Civil War book to be published somewhere else, but she couldn't write another Civil War book featuring these characters or the fictional elements of the background and publish it somewhere else.

        • by arkhan_jg (618674)

          It's not even the same characters; the short stories were written years ago, and none of them are even in the same genre as the book she's writing for penguin. They're reading the non-compete clause to mean any work written by the author cannot be published by amazon, regardless of association to the current book, or when it was written or previously; they even tried to complain about her first short story compilation that was published by amazon before she even signed the contract for the new book with pen

    • by msauve (701917) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:20PM (#37742808)
      One can easily make up "if this, then that" scenarios. But, they're all worthless.

      The author says she didn't violate the contract. The publisher's actions imply that they think she did. From the author's description, it sounds like a "no compete" clause, not an "exclusivity" one. The author says one of the e-published works was actually published prior to their contract. The e-published works were short story collections, which according to the author, contained subject matter different than the contracted novel.

      She says that the works were previously rejected by the "big six" publishers, which includes Penguin. From that, it seems to me that Penguin, by their prior rejection of the work, had already determined that it wasn't competitive.
      • by jandrese (485)
        Eh, big publishers almost always have abusive clauses like this in their contracts. Authors have been griping for years about it, but what can they do, the publishers hold all of the cards.

        Except now there's an alternative, and the publishers must be shitting bricks if they realize that they're going to have real competition for the first time ever. At least they can be pretty sure that this author won't fight them in court, $20k isn't enough to pay for a lawyer of any merit for a case that is likely to
      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        If the publisher thought she had they'd be sueing, surely? Espeically considering they seem to want to punish the author.

        Seems more likely (without ever having seen the contract or even the "normal" version of one) that they are pissed and using some "right to cancel" clause to say she has to return the advance and they give her back the rights. Or even just deciding to eat the sunk cost and sit on the work for the length of their contract without publishing it - and offering to cancel the deal if she retur

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      But was the publisher gaining exclusive rights to the civil war love story, or exclusive rights to "the author herself"?

      Was the publisher asserting that it had contracted *all* intellectualy proprty from the author for a paltry 20k? Surely only in our radical world of absurd intellectual property law could such a moronic position gain any traction.

      As pointed out, the author published a totally different body of work, totally unrelated to the civil war love story she signed the advance contract for.

      This woul

    • If the contract gave exclusive distribution rights to Penguin then the author is in breach of contract. Seems simple to me.

      It is extremely common for publishing contracts to feature a reversion clause where, once the book goes out of print(for a generally agreed-upon definition of 'out of print', which, incidentally, is a concept being shaken up a bit by the fact that many of these contracts were written before it was economic to keep a book 'in print' by listing it basically for free in some electronic database at a relatively stiff sticker price and print-on-demand-ing it if anybody actually bites) the rights revert to the au

    • If the contract gave exclusive distribution rights to Penguin then the author is in breach of contract. Seems simple to me.

      You must not have read the article at all. She sold a new book through Penguin. She then took a bunch of her other, older stories -- stories that Penguin likely turned down publishing -- and offered them for sale through Amazon. This was an entirely separate book, and Penguin dumped her for that. Penguin never had exclusive distribution rights for everything that she'd ever produced in her life, but they threw all of their toys out of the param anyway. How can they claim that a no-compete agreement covers t

    • by jazman_777 (44742)
      Seems simple to me.

      When it comes to law, nothing is as simple as it seems.

      Step 1: Check your common sense at the door.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        Step 2: Accept that legalese exists for the same reason software developers don't program in English. It is hard to precisely define or decipher the contents of a contract, you will need to learn a special vocabulary.

  • Publisher Pricing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:07PM (#37742660)

    Maybe they got tired of having to qualify every eBook price with "This price was set by the publisher".

    Want to know what's wrong with the eBook market? Just check out this [amazon.com] page; $15 for a poorly scanned version of a book that was written more than 40 years ago, that's available new in paperback and even hardcover for less. Seriously? Who the hell comes up with these pricing models? Even as a huge eBook fan there's been plenty of books that I've passed on because I just can't justify the cost for a digital copy, even ignoring the fact that the digital copy is DRM'd to Amazon's tool set.

    • Re:Publisher Pricing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by 0123456 (636235) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:10PM (#37742682)

      Who the hell comes up with these pricing models?

      Publishers who don't want people buying ebooks and destroying their dead tree book market.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Customers who buy them not knowing or caring they're being fleeced, because Kindle 2/3/4 is so in.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Buy a new paperbvack copy and download a epub from piratebay.

      Honestly, if the ebook version is a joke, then sidestep them.

      • Hey, I have a patent on that method of moral piracy!

        Tho I'm purchasing more epub titles directly now that it's so easy to strip the DRM from them. But only if the price is reasonable.

    • Yes, eBook readers are great... for reading stuff from Project Gutenberg.

      I recommend The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers and Moon-Face and Other Stories by Jack London.

    • by mewsenews (251487)

      Want to know what's wrong with the eBook market? Just check out this page; $15 for a poorly scanned version of a book that was written more than 40 years ago

      I tried....:

      This title is not available for customers from:
      Canada

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:08PM (#37742666) Homepage

    They'd offer her $40k + legal expenses. This is a pissing match, plain and simple.

  • So, not sure where the fear is. Good publishers refine author's works into something readable in many cases and they distribute and market. Amazon is a solution for distribution, but it doesn't quite cut the mustard for the other two. Sure, for authors that are professionals, they need less help. Those that are starting out most likely need some help. It would be interesting to see the opportunity cost of an author using a publisher versus DIY either way.

  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:12PM (#37742712)
    I think some people are too quick to write off the publishing industry. They still provide things you won't find on Amazon, such as EDITORS. An early author may be able to put a book together, but sometimes they need a very experienced set of eyes to help them fix problems and eliminate some cruft. An experienced writer may not need one as much (although they generally still do), but starting authors almost certainly will. You also cannot get your ebook into nearly as many hands as a hardcopy. Any literate person with functional eyes can read a hardcopy, but you need a Kindle or similar device to read an ebook.

    What I hope to see from this is two competing markets. Hopefully this will coax the publishing industry to give authors a better cut. Maybe that's a bit too pie-in-the-sky, but it's possible. Let's hope the publishing industry can adapt better than the goddamned RIAA.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:18PM (#37742778) Journal

      I think some people are too quick to write off the publishing industry. They still provide things you won't find on Amazon, such as EDITORS.

      Editors are important, but you don't need to sign with a publishing house to get your book edited. There's nothing stopping you from hiring a freelance editor and publishing on Amazon if you think it's necessary.

      In the end, I think the market will make the decision here. If publishers add value, then readers will stick with traditional publishers. If they don't, then Amazon will win.

      • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:31PM (#37742960) Journal
        Editors are important, but you don't need to sign with a publishing house to get your book edited. There's nothing stopping you from hiring a freelance editor and publishing on Amazon if you think it's necessary.

        Lack of money is. Ultimately a publisher these days is simply a one stop shop offering a loan, editing, typesetting, cover art, promotion, distribution and a selection of other tasks that are needed to make a book successful.

        You could get all that yourself from other sources but I suspect few lenders would lend you money on the same terms - no requirement to pay it all back until your writing careers is a success.
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Amazon has editors that they can and do provide. They can in fact offer all that stuff. The article told me so.

        • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday October 17, 2011 @04:09PM (#37743406)

          Ultimately a publisher these days is simply a one stop shop offering a loan, editing, typesetting, cover art, promotion, distribution and a selection of other tasks that are needed to make a book successful.

          No, 30 years ago that's what a publisher was. These days only a very, very small minority of those authors who get picked up by publishers get that (i.e. the ones who are already best sellers). Everyone else gets a negligible advance, negligible editing, typesetting they could have done themselves, cover art, no promotion, minimal distribution (their book goes into the distribution catalogues, but hardly onto shelves, which the author could have done on their own) and no other services.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Ultimately a publisher these days is simply a one stop shop offering a loan, editing, typesetting, cover art, promotion, distribution and a selection of other tasks that are needed to make a book successful.

            No, 30 years ago that's what a publisher was. These days only a very, very small minority of those authors who get picked up by publishers get that (i.e. the ones who are already best sellers). Everyone else gets a negligible advance, negligible editing, typesetting they could have done themselves, cover art, no promotion, minimal distribution (their book goes into the distribution catalogues, but hardly onto shelves, which the author could have done on their own) and no other services.

            That's how publishers worked 30 years ago too. If you're a small, unknown author, you don't get much. This is just another version of "in my days, we had to walk to school barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways".

            Quite simply, this is about budgeting. If a publisher provided every writer wannabe with top level service, it would be broke within a year.

    • I'm pretty sure hiring an editor for $10k and then self publishing is a far better deal than handing a lion's share of your profit to a publisher over 20,40,80 years.
    • If you were to actually read TFA by the NYT, you would find that Amazon employs editors of their own, which edit books published by Amazon's publishing wing (and which has so far published 122 books.) I would assume they pay advances and edit, in return for exclusive rights to the work, just like any other publisher.

      This is distinct from the platform on the website that allows anyone to sell any eBook on the website.

      • by Raenex (947668)

        If you were to actually read TFA by the NYT

        It was behind a login wall for me. Fuck that. Slashdotters barely bother reading articles, nevermind putting up with stupid barriers.

  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:13PM (#37742720) Homepage

    The more of these middle man made-up positions we can remove, the better.

    Next up: record executives, realtors, and oil prospectors.

    • As somebody who works in real estate, I can say, that while the average slashdotter may not need one, the average joe has absolutely no idea how to buy or sell a house. At least half of a realtors job is hand holding clients to keep them from doing something incredibly stupid. They don't always listen, and at the end of the day the realtor is your agent and if you insist on being dumb the realtor will execute that dumb decision for you. I'm not saying there aren't bad realtors. If you pick any profession yo

  • Good... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:14PM (#37742728) Homepage

    Publishers typically have been leeches. Sucking 98% of the profit out of a book.

    It's high time that writers were able to sell to a reader and keep most of the sale, they did 90% of the work, they deserve 90% of the sale price.

    • Traditionally, media companies charge more because they do the marketing. They're the distribution arm, after all.

      Amazon can market authors much better than traditional publishers can. Good idea for everyone involved.

      The problem in music is that people who try to do it alone don't have the marketing muscle. iTunes could be that marketeer, but it isn't. But if amazon succeeds, maybe iTunes will follow.

      That would be a horrifying endgame for the labels.

      I suspect that iTunes isn't doing that because, well, it d

    • by sirwired (27582) on Monday October 17, 2011 @03:42PM (#37743066)

      Publishers take a lot of the profit from successful books. They also end up paying a lot of advances on complete duds on which they lost money. (Same thing with music labels.) Vanity publishing has always been available to authors that think they can make more money by cutting out the middleman. (If you could convince a bookstore to carry the things... most booksellers have better things to do than wade through self-published crap.)

      I agree that the traditional publishing model is now becoming outdated with the advent of e-books, but it had it's purpose at the time.

    • by west (39918)

      Publishers typically have been leeches. Sucking 98% of the profit out of a book.

      Wow. Know *anything* about the industry?

      Let me give you the fundamentals: Now that we have viable self-publishing, there are perhaps 100,000 books published a month, and if we look at sf/fantasy genre fiction, a few thousand books published a month (all but maybe 50-100 self-published) in your particular genre. Most readers aren't even going to *look* at more than 30-40 titles a month, so there needs to be some filtering mecha

  • Editors (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's not just writers and readers...any successful writer will tell you that editors are also an essential part of the process. Amazon will either have to provide authors with editors or come up with a situation where editors can work on projects as independent contractors.

  • 'The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader,' adds Russell Grandinetti, one of Amazon's top executives

    A good editor is the critical difference between a hack and a best seller. Very, very few writers produce a polished work right out of the gate.

    But if Amazon wants to go this way, why not take it a step further and eliminate the distributor entirely?

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      A good editor is the critical difference between a hack and a best seller.

      Putting two dozen copies of the book in a prominent place in every airport bookstore and Walmart in the country is the critical difference between a hack and a best seller.

  • Note to Authors: The old-line Big 6 publishing houses (you know who they are) still intend to own you. You are not an independent contractor working on an individual book basis in their eyes. They will lose this battle, but inflict a lot of pain on a lot of people in the process of this losing. Welcome to the 21st century -- all you books belong to us.
  • ...by a traditional publisher? Not going to happen. Unless you happen to personally know a best selling author already in their stable, or one they are looking to help jump ship to them; they wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. They are -so- risk adverse they will not publish new authors, and if you self-publish, your on a blacklist - no one will touch you. Is it any surprise that there is a market Amazon has seen, and has decided to exploit? Basically, the publishing industry is in the middle of

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Trade publishers publish tons of new authors every year. Most don't last beyond two or three books, but that's a different matter.

      Nor is there a 'self-publishing blacklist', though before the rise of e-books most people who self-published fiction did so because they couldn't write well enough to interest a publisher.

    • There is no self-publishing "blacklist." What IS blacklisted is individual works that have already been "published" by a vanity house like PublishAmerica.

      And they "will not publish new authors?" What kind of crock is this? There are plenty of new authors that get published every year. Yes, most of the publicity, and sales, goes to proven authors, but that is to be expected.

  • This makes a nice business opportunity as long as ebook readers can read plain PDFs.

    1. Make an open, DRM-free ebook store that can undercut Amazon significantly (easy to do). Remember it's mostly the publishers that want DRM, not the authors.
    2. Amazon fails
    3. Profit! And you made the world a better place by doing it, a twofer!

    Yep no ??? step here!

    • by jandrese (485)
      Isn't Step 2: Find some content to put on your network? I mean if you have no authors from any major publisher on your store, how do you expect to attract people to it? It's sort of like those MP3 stores that existed before iTunes where your choice was "horrible overpriced mess with obnoxious DRM and scant handful songs from one label" or "Indie crap that appeals to maybe a few dozen people worldwide, and then mostly so they can be more indie than you." Both models were terrible failures for obvious rea
      • Good point, once Amazon has enough market power they'll probably start requiring exclusivity in their contracts :-(

  • If Amazon is both the largest seller of books and then uses that position to shove it's way into controlling the publishing space, that is a very bad thing. I hope they are found to be in violation of anti-trust laws. It is just as bad as MS using Windows to push IE.

    I was looking forward to the Internet leading to self-publishing replacing publishing companies. But it now seems like Amazon is going to subvert that. Instead of self-publishing, authors will be forced to enter into exclusive contracts wi

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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