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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Responding to the Stackpole: Amazon/Macmillan vs. Not-So-Stupid Authors

Michael A. Stackpole made an interesting point the other day. He seems to think that the call for support by Macmillan authors whose books had been removed from Amazon is a stupid thing to do (not because support for authors is bad, but it presumes that authors will suffer). He disagrees because of the following:
This is how the economics of the industry works. If you buy a book today, right this very second, from any retail outlet, the author will get, on average, 10% of that cover price.

In October.

Yep, eight months from now.
To which I respond: so? How exactly does this make an author stupid for asking for support during the Amazon/Macmillan fiasco? Whether or not the damage is tomorrow or eight months from now, it's still damage to an author's career. That's money a debut author won't be getting in October. They may not starve, but that's not the point. The point is that Amazon's move is significantly reducing the availability of the author's books, and, thus, reducing their sales. Whether they "starve" now or "starve" in eight months, the sales are still lost.

Thankfully, it's all over and only lasted a week. Imagine if this had gone one for a month!

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  1. Amazon behaved like petulant children and as you say, it's the debut authors who might suffer.

  2. nice one, that. though i think stackpole's position comes from him once having to call on online/fan community support because his publishers had dropped him. (if i remember it correctly.) it's sad that he's now advocating this position.

  3. banzai: Well, I can agree with him that for all practical purposes, it's probably useless. Fans either already have the book or are planning to get it, so calling on them to help likely won't produce much in terms of new results. But I think it's more fair to say that the authors who were being screwed didn't have anything else to do but beg people for help (spreading the word does work somewhat, or a lot, depending on the book). They're responding from a legitimate place: fear. It's not an imagined fear, which is what Stackpole seems to be implying.