Comments on: Is Amazon bad for publishers? A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: TomWest Sun, 10 Nov 2013 04:57:41 +0000 handleym99, Amazon’s system of discovery works well for mainstream published books, which is a few thousand titles a year for most people (in their field of interest).

What happens when there are no mainstream publishers, and now there are a 100,000 to 1,000,000 titles to choose among, none of which have any reviews (I’m talking about discovering new authors – old authors will do just fine until book reading slowly becomes irrelevant).

Use advertising? Not correlated to quality. Use reviews? Ha. Think about the quality of reviews when a book by an unknown gets 0.01 reviews on average. You can be almost certain that any review you read is a sympathetic/paid for/faked review at those levels.

Imagine looking for SF novels published this month and getting 50,000 hits. Now, Amazon may well show you some top 50, quantified by how much they pay Amazon. But how many of them will be readable when willingness to promote doesn’t correlate with need to make money?

There’s simply nothing we have to filter the tsunami of the not-publishable-quality material that finds its way on to Amazon. Amazon’s current response is to essentially hide the self-published stuff by unknown authors most of the time, so you don’t get swamped (and on occasion when they don’t, Amazon is useless for finding anything useful, as I found to my sorrow).

We have no tools and no discovery mechanism for finding good books among millions instead of thousands that doesn’t involve a gatekeeper who only cares about promoting what customers will buy, and that’s not nearly a profitable enough industry for Amazon. Far more profitable to sell to the would-be writers.

I’m hoping my apocalypse scenario doesn’t come to pass in the next 10-20 years. But neither anything that Amazon is doing now, nor has incentive to do in future, is likely to prevent it.

By: rikfre Fri, 08 Nov 2013 18:01:44 +0000 people still read…?

By: mfw13 Thu, 07 Nov 2013 01:48:40 +0000 As a reader, I don’t really give a damn about publishers…to me, they’re just another middleman that drives up prices, and the world of books will survive just fine once they’re gone.

Probably 80% of the books I read I’m never going to look at again once I finish them. Therefore most books I read I check out from the library, since there is no benefit to me to owning them.

The bigger issue for me with e-books is the fact that I when I “buy” a e-book I don’t get ownership rights and I can’t re-sell or loan the book like I can with a print copy. Therefore, I don’t buy e-books unless it’s something I can’t check out from the library, or the e-book cost is substantially cheaper than buying a used print copy.

By: sigaba Wed, 06 Nov 2013 15:37:01 +0000 “Indeed, there’s an argument that Amazon has saved the publishing industry from going the way of the record labels…”

Not a very good argument. The fundamental turning point in the fortunes of the recording industry was in the early 1980s, when CDs were first marketed. CDs can be reproduced without limit, and a CD owner can convert one, using a very simple process, into MP3s and send it over a network. A book simply can’t be copied in this way, and most ebooks can’t either, as many ebooks have been marketed from day 1 with DRM, and are produced by publishers. Unlike CDs, a mere owner of a hard copy book simply doesn’t have the resources necessary to make an ebook from it, and the owner of an ebook generally won’t bother jumping through the hoops.

The music industry had the misfortune of switching to a digital format, and lacking the foresight to see what would happen if hard drives got large enough, or this “Internet” thing ever took off.

By: thispaceforsale Tue, 05 Nov 2013 21:17:35 +0000 Amazon does pursue a fairly aggressive most favored nation clause in its dealings with publishers, so there certainly is that. Amazon’s self publishing platform is a threat to publishers, but they also have an actual publishing arm, New Harvest, pursuing established talent. And publishers have not vigorously pursed selling d2c because they do not want to upset their largest account.

I would say over-dependence on one ecosystem is almost always bad, all the more so when powerless to control any aspects of that ecosystem whatsoever.

By: handleym99 Tue, 05 Nov 2013 03:22:16 +0000 “My apocalypse is million books being ‘published’ each month and no-one reading them because it’s just too hard to find the good authors. (And Amazon making healthy profits on books for promotion, etc.)”

Well we can all fantasize about our personal apocalypses, but the fact is that TODAY Amazon is successful not because of “convenience” but because it operates a far better discovery engine than anyone else. This starts with helping you find a book (based on whatever criteria you might have, from misspelled author’s name to vague recollection of the title, to a subject of interest), and extends to providing a variety of reviews and comments (often very scathing).
It is AMAZON, not anyone else, that has the wit to provide such basic features as a histogram of the star rankings of a book, so that one can see whether a 3★ review corresponds to a mediocre tract or a highly polarizing screed.
It is AMAZON that allows people to rank and comment on reviews, and so make them even more useful.

Your argument seems to be that on the way to this apocalypse the world is going to turn upside down, that Amazon is going to stop providing the very search/discovery features that today make it so valuable, even as its competitors are going to step up to do properly something they’ve had fifteen years to get right, and have conspicuously avoided. It could happen, I guess, but it doesn’t seem to be the smart way to bet.

By: realist50 Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:45:34 +0000 I echo others that my fear, if I were a publisher, would be that Amazon eventually uses its customer relationships and market power to either dis-intermediate publishers (self-publishing model) or beat up publishers on price.

As a publisher, this phenomenon would scare me:

“Amazon was selling those books at $9.99 apiece, which meant that it took a loss on every purchase, but which also meant that more people were buying them — and, of course, were buying the devices on which to read them. This might have been nefarious if Amazon were making money on selling kindles, but it wasn’t, it was selling those, too, at a loss. It just wanted to bring e-books to as many people as possible — and was willing to make a substantial investment to do so.”

So what’s Amazon’s endgame to make money eventually? It has to be higher prices to customers, lower payments to publishers, or both.

By: KenG_CA Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:15:10 +0000 Moopheus, I don’t know how far you rose up in the ranks, or whether you worked for publicly owned publishers, but the executive offices of most publicly traded companies are usually pretty lavish, as are their perks. Smaller, or privately owned, companies, not as much or as often. There’s no reason why readers or writers need to be subsidizing them now, especially not for e-books.

As for the functions that need to be performed whether the book is distributed on paper or bits, they comprise a small fraction of the overall cost of publishing. They have traditionally been a subset of the publishers, but now they don’t need to be part of a the publisher, as those functions can be distributed to persons or entities with lower overhead and without a profit requirement for the shareholders who employ them. This will make the entire process of getting the author’s words to readers more efficient and less expensive.

And while Amazon may sell e-books for half or even a third of the list price of the paper versions, 70% of that is still more than 10-15% of the obsolete format’s list price.

By: bob5525 Mon, 04 Nov 2013 14:00:35 +0000 To me the question is: Is Amazon encouraging self-publishing to the extent it is significantly harmful to publishers? What are the data?

By: Raghuvanshi1 Mon, 04 Nov 2013 10:53:40 +0000 Amazon is not only bad for publisher but is killing booksellers.In France government imposed some rules how to save booksellers from malpractice of Amazon.In Germany all leading booksellers closed their shops.In India most big bookshop are shut down their shutter.How can small booksellers can compete with Amazon?I think outline business is killing our cultural heritage.Tomorrow this devil may swallow our mental life and maybe make us buffoon to dance on tune of his whim