MonopolyDuring the past year, I have become convinced that Amazon are furiously intent on reducing the value of ebooks by whatever means at their disposal in an attempt to totally monopolise the ebook industry. At the same time they are taking on the traditional publishers by opening their own New York publishing houses.

The recent uproar about Kindle Library Lending, is a clear sign that Amazon will use both fair means and foul to achieve their goals. Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan – did not signed up for this program, however Amazon ignored this fact and proceeded to include books from these publishers in their lending program.

It is also common knowledge that Amazon are selling some models of their Kindle at less than their cost value to increase market share. This is fine, but to do the same to content that is owned by authors and publishers would seem to border on outright robbery and breach of contract. However, the agreement that almost all publishers accept when listing their content on Amazon is so tilted in Amazon’s favour, it appears Amazon are taking the approach that if you don’t like it, take us to court. This of course is such an expensive avenue to take that very few could possibly afford such action.

There is no doubt in my mind that these recent events clearly indicate Amazon’s intention to completely monopolise the book publishing industry by whatever means it has at their disposal. While this could mean that Amazon suffer a financial loss during this process, it would also seem that they are also prepared to inflict this loss on the entire industry.

While there is no viable competitor to Amazon, their take-over of the industry could well succeed. Any potential competitors come from bricks and mortar business models and history tells us that very few of these businesses have been able to succeed in restructuring themselves to successful online businesses. This bodes badly for potential rivals to Amazon.

Online business that have been successful have all been built on massive client or user bases, acceptance of long term losses as the price for a dominant market share, and extremely low prices that require very high volumes to return a profit. This is something Amazon do well and is exactly why they will do anything possible to reduce ebook prices. They have already been successful in making 99c a standard and have reduced the major publisher’s original expectations for their ebook prices by at least half in a very short time.

Now, by introducing Kindle Library Lending, they are intent on further reducing the value of a book, to almost free.

But what choice do authors and publishers have? If you want to sell ebooks, Kindle is the market right now. Yes, your books will be read, but where will the money come from to put food on your table?

Amazon’s Cheap Tricks
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6 thoughts on “Amazon’s Cheap Tricks

  • 01/12/2011 at 4:45 pm

    As a writer, Amazon is a real dilemma for me. So far, with two novels and a free short story, I’ve stuck with Smashwords and (rather uselessly) Pubit. I’ve considered my initial refusal to publish for the Kindle as an experiment. But it’s fast becoming a final decision. I buy Kindle books to read on my desktop (I won’t ever buy a Kindle), but only when that’s the only place the book is available.

    Not publishing on Amazon probably means remaining in the shadows forever, and refusing is like spitting in the ocean. But one of my primary reasons for self-publishing is to retain control of my work. Amazon makes that all but impossible, and their predatory practices are becoming more disturbing as time goes by. I’m not trying to make a living from my writing, but it would certainly help the budget if I could develop a small, steady income. It will be much harder to do that without Amazon, but I’m always up for a challenge.

  • 01/12/2011 at 5:15 pm

    Catana, re: never making it without Amazon… In my experience, that’s not entirely true. It’s only been in the past few months that Amazon sales have picked up for me. My “breakout” was with Pubit. I’ll give you the same advice I give all the authors who’ve asked for it lately: backlist, backlist, backlist. And don’t be afraid to rewrite your blurbs, retitle your books, and redo your covers. That can really help.

    • 01/12/2011 at 5:31 pm

      Selena, that’s great advice and I’d surely take it if I had a backlist. I only started writing fiction a couple of years ago, so I’m a complete unknown. I also avoid Facebook and Google+, so my platform, such as it is, consists mostly of my two blogs, where I post chapters and sometimes entire second drafts of my work. That technique works for me, but I published my first book only four months ago, so it’s going to take a great deal of work to build and sustain a readership.

      I work very hard on my blurbs, but my covers do need work, and that’s a project for the upcoming months.

    • 01/12/2011 at 5:50 pm

      Great advice Selena.

      Your point about updating covers and blurbs and even re-title is one of my favourite pieces of advice to authors. I would also add that a complete re-edit is a good idea too and one that I have done on many occasions to my already published titles.

      With self publishing you have the unique opportunity to improve your books after they are published and greatly improve the quality of your backlist. This goes for ebooks as well as POD paperbacks.

      If you want to succeed as a writer and as a self published author, keep trying to get better and improve your product.

  • 01/12/2011 at 8:23 pm

    And now Google are getting in on the act with their Google eBookstore, poaching books and turning them into ebook format. Check out my blog post

    Google eBookstore – Good or Bad for Authors?Show more posts

  • 31/12/2011 at 8:38 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realize this about Amazon. I have an ebook that I have published on smashwords and I have been thinking about putting it up on Amazon, but maybe that’s not such a good idea.

    Good blog; definitely coming back for more ideas for my future books.

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