I have attended many different publishing and technology events this year, such as IDPF and Book Expo America, and covered O’Reily Tools for Change, Digital Book World, FutureBook and the London Book Fair. I have sat in on close to 70 different speaking engagements and there is one consistent theme. It is trendy to hate on Amazon.
Many speakers are capitalizing on anti-Amazon sentiments to attenuate a point or to give them instant credibility in the audience’s eyes. It’s quite easy to get a cheap pop by insulting them or to make a lighthearted joke. Almost every single speaker this year referenced Amazon or painted them in a negative light.
It is quite easy to go after a target that has seen monumental success and pioneered both e-Readers, eBooks and digital publishing. Amazon gets unjustified hatred just to get a headline.
I always laugh to myself when even well-known authors or owners of other publishing websites hate on Amazon. They often do it at the very beginning of their speaking engagements or when answering audience questions. I can expect about half of the speakers will do this and I laugh about their consistency to hate. You don’t have to insult a company or put them down just to illicit an audience response. Sure, it’s a company that everyone knows, but there is zero point in making yourself look like an idiot by jumping on the bandwagon.
Amazon is the most profitable eBook company in the world and has the most dominant line of e-readers. They have the most successful self-publishing platform and give free digital copies away when consumers buy the print book. They make the most money out of all the other resellers online. People try and emulate them in this sector, just like so many tablet and phone companies tend to emulate Apple.
I implore the greater internet at large and public speakers at publishing events to think twice before mindlessly placing blame on Amazon to get a cheap pop. If you have to seem relevant through insults and finger pointing, you don’t deserve to have people take what you say seriously.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
You’d be hard pressed to attend a publishing event and hear someone sing the praises of the largest online retailer in the world. Amazon, who started life as a book and ebook selling website, was at one time the darling stepchild of the publishing industry, a way for the once-Big Six to reach a potentially larger audience than they were at the time. They were happy to pat Amazon on the head for a job well done if the retailer could help them sell a few more books.
But from its humble beginnings, Amazon grew to be a force to be reckoned with. With a global reach and its dominance in both the book selling and book publishing industries, more than a few frowns appear when you talk about Amazon with publishing industry professionals. It has even been dubbed “The Evil Empire” in some circles.
So when did the transition happen? Was it when Amazon decided it wasn’t enough to make a few cents per copy of books that the industry still had complete control over? Was it when ebooks came along and the technology giant proved that low-cost, instant access, digital reading was not the flash in the pan that critics predicted?
Or was it when Amazon threw open the gates with KDP and let anyone become an author?
While the fear and loathing were already well underway, the final straw in the coffin for Amazon’s reputation in publishing came with the creation of its own traditional publishing house, Amazon Publishing. The company brought industry icon Larry Kirshbaum to lead the way, and quickly turned a lot of long-held customs in publishing on their heads. Amazon Publishing offered higher royalties than traditionally published authors were used to receiving, as well as discarded the quarterly-payouts system of royalties in favor of the monthly payments that even no-name self-published authors enjoy.
But whatever the cause of the animosity between Amazon and the rest of the industry, there still begs one question: if everyone hates Amazon, how did they get to be so big?
Someone must have made them who they are. If consumers, authors, and industry professionals alike want to dismiss the retailer as the Evil Empire, why do they spend their money with the company? Are we guilty of proclaiming that Amazon is the death of books and bookstores, even while secretly hiding under the covers with our laptops and ordering low cost books and household items with free shipping?
Through its own business practices of offering fast product delivery, above par customer service, and prices that no one else seems to be able to even reach, let alone beat, Amazon grew into the entity that it is now. But we’re the customers who put them up on that pedestal.
In a seventeen page document from US Judge Denise Cote filed on September 5th, Apple learned the full extent of how it is expected to conduct business with publishers from now on. This expectation arose as a result of the price fixing allegations that rested on Apple and five of the then-Big Six publishers; Random House was not named in any of the investigations or resulting lawsuits, and has since merged with Penguin, who was named.
In the ruling, Cote outlines not only what expectations there are for price adjustments, discounting, selling, and conduct, but also gives a strict deadline for Apple to report any future misconduct. Apple is also required to hire an outside non-Apple employee who will oversee all of its future deals with publishers in order to avoid anti-trust violations. The document even specified how many months Apple is to maintain this status with each publisher who was named in the lawsuit.
A link to the full seventeen pages can be found on Scrib’d by clicking here. The full amount of damages that Apple will actually pay out will be determined by May 2014.
As the summer holidays come to an end, research conducted by Heathrow Airport has shown that 71% of travelers would rather pack their suitcases full of books than opt for a lightweight eReader. Books fare far better around sunscreen, swimming pools and sand, but our love of a good paperback goes deeper – 67% said they prefer to stick with print because they enjoy the feel of a real book in their hands. Over 1 in 10 (12%) want to leave technology behind altogether whilst abroad.
Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 67% said they turn to friends and family for their reading recommendations, closely followed by librarians and book-sellers (22%). Auto-generated online suggestions were found to be least helpful – 33% felt that the recommendations were too stereotyped, and 15% argued that they were just plain dull.
Heathrow Airport Retail Director Muriel Zingraff-Shariff said: “There's no doubt that the popularity of eBooks has boomed in recent years, but when it comes to relaxing on holiday it seems you just can't beat a good book. People want a break from technology whilst they're abroad, so it's understandable that people would rather swap their Blackberry for Malorie Blackman.”
Simon Smith, Managing Director at WH Smith Travel said: "Books remain a valuable part of people's holiday experience. Our stores at Heathrow are always popular with customers and we're delighted to continue to offer a great range of bestselling titles, airport exclusives and fantastic promotions to the 70 million passengers who fly through the airport each year."
Welcome to another edition of the Good e-Reader Magazine! In this months issue we cover the Kobo Launch and all of the new devices they have officially announced. We also look at the top news from the month and essential stories you need to know about.