Part of what drove me to finally start this blog is the need to coherently articulate thoughts and feelings about the goings-on of my chosen field. Beginning this blog with this particular issue feels a lot like jumping into the deep end. In case you aren’t entirely sure what’s going with Amazon and Hachette, go here. Go ahead, I can wait.
Paul Constant over at The Stranger sums it up pretty well:
Amazon is picking a fight with Hachette Book Group, the third largest publisher in the world. Hachette refuses to buckle under Amazon’s demand to sell their e-books for less than Hachette believes those books are worth. In response to their perfectly valid concerns, Amazon is gleefully shitting in Hachette’s pool.
I only have what information I’ve gotten from the LA Times article, from Mr. Constant’s article, and what I’ve gotten from the few author’s whose blogs I follow who have stated their own opinions. In all of that, I’m sure someone has already said this, but I feel it’s worth underscoring: though Hachette is being supported by authors, publishers and readers regardless of their relation to Hachette, legally Hachette stands against Amazon alone. And the fact that they’re still standing is amazing and brave and makes me proud to be even the smallest part of this community.
Because here’s the thing: it scares me that Amazon has decided that they should determine what an author’s work is worth. I can’t entirely put my finger on why that is. But it does. It scares me a lot.
Without knowing the numbers involved—like how much revenue Hachette might be losing from Amazon’s tactics, or what the terms of each party’s preferred arrangement would be and what that would mean for the other one—I think I’m rooting for Hachette. There’s a lot of talk equating Amazon’s tactics with bullying. I’m not sure about anyone else, but to me that word has connotations about the relative sizes of the opposing parties. To me, it says that Amazon believes that they’re bigger and tougher, that they believe that Hachette is small and weak. There is a real and present danger in letting the bully affirm those beliefs by caving in, and possibly a real and present danger to this industry if Amazon is allowed to get away with this.
I’m still trying to decide what this means for my own relationship with Amazon. And I hope that an agreement that benefits all parties can be reached, because then everyone will be happy. But if that can’t happen, then I hope that Hachette weathers this storm and comes out stronger on the other side. I hope that they have the strength to keep being brave.