Although Amazon said they would capitulate in their dispute with Macmillan four days ago, they still have not reactivated Macmillan book sales on their site.
They don’t seem to have thought out anything very well in this mess. So although it was widely reported Amazon gave in, it isn’t true. Most people speculate Jeff Bezos is still holding the books hostage to increase his negotiating power. Meanwhile, authors and Amazon’s own customers continue to suffer as authors lose sales and customers have a hard time buying books they want.
Scalzi had a great post asking people to support Macmillan authors, and I’m with him. Like him, I can weather the storm for a while because about half my income comes from my podcast, but I am very worried about Macmillan authors who make their primary living from their books and, most particularly, authors who have books launching right now. In a very real way, this dispute is hurting them.
Amazon is a huge sales outlet and sales there seem to be more publicity-driven than sales at other stores. That means that if an author is out on a book tour right now, or doing a blog tour, or doing anything online to promote his or her book, a lot of people are going to automatically go look for it at Amazon, and they won’t be able to buy it. And the sad truth is that a lot of those people won’t go look for the book elsewhere–they will just forget.
Not only will this mean that authors don’t make as much money as they normally would, it could also hurt their ability to publish more books in the future because if your first book doesn’t sell well, publishers don’t exactly line up to publish a second book. Certainly authors can explain that they launched their book during the Great Amazon Hissy Fit of 2010, but it’s one more barrier in an already tough world for new authors.
I’m trying to find a list of those authors. In the meantime, if you know of any, please add their books and buying information in the comments here or in other highly visible locations.
Finally, my husband imagined an alternative reason that the books still aren’t restored on Amazon. What if Amazon screwed up their database in the haste to nuke all Macmillan authors and they need data? “Um, Macmillan. Mr. Sargent, sir. We, um, need your database to restore inventory, please. Pretty please.”
Probably too good to be true, but it made me smile.
[Coincidentally, I just got my latest book sales report and I’m going through it figuring out some simple economics of print book sales versus e-book sales. I hope to have a podcast out about it in a few days. I’m finding that it’s a lot faster to blog than to put out a podcast.]
[Update: 8:38 a.m.: Two Macmillan authors who were unlucky enough to launch books yesterday were Jenny Woolf and Kristin Hannah. Please take a moment to see if their books are something you would enjoy.]
Winter Garden, by Kristin Hannah (“Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn’t know her mother?”)
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, by Jenny Woolf (“Discovering the whimsical, thoughtful, and sometimes lonely man who created Alice in Wonderland“]