I know people say you should never bite the hand that feeds you, and so I am writing this will the very best of intentions. But, In my opinion Amazon are playing with fire and not just with their product names.
Let me start by saying that Amazon have done a great many things to help authors. I think we can all agree that they support Indie authors like no other. However, are they now not going a few steps too far?
Everything in life is separated by thin line. Comedy and Tragedy, Pleasure and Pain, Success and Failure. This line is important, and one that I believe Amazon may have lost sight of in light of their two most recent press releases.
First of you have the KDP Prime / Select
When this email came around I paid it very little notice. I scanned through it as I do most of my emails, and when I saw that it was only applicable for people living in the US, I just flagged it for later perusal, and that was that. However, it didn’t take long before I stated seeing this new concept spring up in conversations and blog posts the writing world over. So I went back to email and read through it.
At first glance it seemed like another +1 in the Amazon column, but when I looked closer I saw what all of the fuss was about. The fact that you need to pull your work from other shelves in order to Amazon to have the sole distribution rights is, in my opinion – and the majority of those I have read online – nothing more than ludicrous. I mean fine, the concept is solid, but it is not for the benefit of the author, or for the reader. Not really. The only people who could benefit from this is Amazon themselves. I do not want to get into the construction of this agreement, as there are plenty of other articles already written about it and to re-hash it would simply be a waste of time for everybody. (If you are looking for some good articles about this then check out Kait Nolan or – ok it may be slightly bias but it is a good examination of the service – the Smashwords blog written by Mark Coker )
The second press release that I was shown was to do with an Amazon Price Comparison App. For those who haven’t heard about this yet, you can read the article that I saw here, it is from the New York Times
What it boils down to is that Amazon have introduced an app that will allow you to scan the bar-code of any book in any bookshop and instantly find out the price on Amazon. You can then build up rewards and discount vouchers that can be redeemed on Amazon. This is a double approach, you are forced to be shown that there may be a cheaper alternative available to you, while also being led by the promise of an extra reward for discovering said price difference.
Ok, currently the vouchers cannot be redeemed against books, but still, as the article suggests, there are other items sold in bookshops besides books. In my view, the vouchers are the small issue here, it is rather the bold ‘we are cheaper then XX’ marketing campaign.
Everybody knows that Amazon is a leading force in the world of online retail, and undeniably one of the largest online book retailers. Don’t forget we are talking paperback books, here, not just kindle works, or Indie books. This is a development that will affect not the writers so much but rather the bookstores themselves.
I am not a lawyer, and have no real legal knowledge other than that which I picked up during my time in the police force, but I am sure that there is something written somewhere that prohibits the formation of a monopoly. Yet, if you look at the above, it seems to be the only word that could truly fit what Amazon are trying to achieve.
This is of course just my point of view, but what do you make of Amazon’s new business moves? Is it a bold attempt to strengthen their business grip even more, or are they bordering on the sort of insanity that only true power can create?
Whatever you view, please just take a moment and think about a world where no bookshops exist. Just think about it… not a nice image is it.