Sean Beaudoin

Enough excellent writing to fill a large tube sock

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Amazon vs Hachette

If you're not in publishing in some fashion you're probably not paying attention to this at all, but here's the bottom line: Hachette (a massive corporation which has published five of my books) is fighting with Amazon (a massive corporation which controls 50% of American book sales) over the price guidelines for eBooks. Negotiations have turned acrimonious, so as leverage Amazon recently raised a huge number of Hachette books to full price, as well as changed them from being available in 48 hours to "3-5 weeks," even though they are definitely in stock. They've also removed the pre-order button from books soon to release, which is the kiss of death for many titles. They've done this to Wise Young Fool and the coming paperback, which has obviously cost me sales and forced me to halve my daughter's breakfast allotment. Of course, it's a lot more nuanced than a good deal of Internet outrage purports (the inevitability of technology, the anachronistic publishing business model, the market Amazon single-handedly created for eBooks to begin with), and it's not as David and Goliath as portrayed at the corporate level, but as usual, on the ground, it's authors who end up getting screwed. As they will be no matter what eBook prices are ultimately set at (ludicrously paltry royalty percentages for something with zero production or inventory costs won't change). But in the meantime, Amazon is stepping on Hachette author necks in the hopes that we'll pressure them to settle. What they don't realize is that my editor doesn't return my calls in any case, so mostly I'll be pressuring myself into not writing a series of devastatingly sarcastic tweets. But Amazon is definitely losing the P.R. battle, as you can see in the Colbert clip below, and in many other articles published in the last week. So why write all this? To tell you that if the corporation that controls 50% of book sales thinks it's cool to so arrogantly toy with both authors and customers, maybe it's time to sacrifice convenience in exchange for a very minor set of expectations and ethics. I guess what I'm saying here, by conveyance of the highly effective Earnest But Aggrieved Facebook Post, is that now more than ever, you should support indie bookstores.

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"The curves are a smoke screen, I tell myself. Inside she’s a bag of hard edges. And I, Ritchie Sudden, am prepared to eat sheet metal."

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