No surprises, plenty of confirmation:
Publishers say Amazon is aggressively wooing some of their top authors. And the company is gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.
Several large publishers declined to speak on the record about Amazon’s efforts. “Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,” said Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, who is known for speaking his mind.
“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.
As regular readers know I’m no fan of Amazon. But if the choice is between a provider who charges up-front fees for a-la-carte services and an industry that demands editorial control while banking unsubstantiated percentages, I’ll have to go with the former.
It’s also worth noting, again, how intimately related the industry’s gatekeeping practices and economic stability were. Controlling access to publication and stigmatizing self-published writers created an industry that could dictate terms like a price-fixing cartel. At least until the entire question of self-publishing was revealed to be an industry-perpetuated fraud. [ Read more ]