Despite the letter circulated by some well-known authors that urged Amazon to behave itself in its ongoing dispute with Hachette, a new open letter and petition has surfaced. This time, nearly thirty indie authors signed the letter thanking Amazon for its service to the reading public and to authors in particular. The authors include the usual suspects, such as Joe Konrath, Hugh Howey, and more, people who’ve been quite vocal about the good that Amazon has done in disrupting the status quo in the publishing industry.
In fact, the authors outline so much good that Amazon comes across as a veritable saint for self-published authors, and if all things are taken into consideration, it’s easy to understand why Amazon is so beloved in the eyes of self-published authors.
While the full text of the petition can be found HERE, this quote sums it up quite nicely:
“Much is being said these days about changes in the book world, but not nearly enough is being said about the most important people in our industry.
“You. The readers. Without you there wouldn’t be a book industry.
“We owe you so much, and we are forever in your debt. Thank you for reading late into the night. Thank you for reading to your children. Thank you for missing that subway stop, for your word of mouth, your reviews, and your fan emails.”
It’s quite telling that traditionally published authors sent a “letter” to Amazon, whereas self-published authors initiated a petition on change.org to let readers sign their support for the company. This is simply indicative of the publishing industry as a whole, where the tiny handful of millionaire bestsellers don’t have to connect with their audiences in the way that self-published success stories do. Rather than pen the traditionally published self-centered thoughts and issue them as a command to resolve their differences in order to continue funding the twelve-bathroom mansions that some of them own, the self-published authors opened the door to discussion and inclusion, much like Amazon has done for them.
“New York Publishing once controlled the book industry. They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book.
“Amazon, in contrast, trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book.
“You probably aren’t aware of this, but the majority of your favorite authors can’t make a living off their book sales alone. Very few authors could when New York Publishing was in charge. That is changing now that Amazon and other online retailers are paying authors a fair wage.”
The crux of the authors’ point comes down to the fact that the retail industry for all forms of media has changed, but that the Old Guard somehow want books to be exempt from that, as though they have a different innate worth than music or movie downloads. The real issue is control, though, and as the petition points out, no one has given this much control and income to authors before or since Amazon.