Decrying the Evil Empire of Publishing While Piloting One of Its Battle Cruisers?

This post, by Bob Mayer, originally appeared on his Write on the River site on 4/2/13.

Amazon, it appears, is the Death Star, the evil empire, that is devouring the publishing universe. At least according to a lot of people who are publicly proclaiming it. That makes Jeff Bezos the Emperor and, hmm, let’s pick Jon Fine, as Darth Vader, because he’s always out there at writers’ events representing Amazon. Behind that long hair and charming smile, lies his true, twisted face. We won’t even get into where he hides his light saber.

The recent Amazon purchase of Goodreads has rattled all these ‘rebels’ out of the encampments and have them polishing up their swords and powering up their own light sabers to . . .

Uh wait. Actually, when you check, you find that most, if not all, of these people, whether they be authors or work for publishers, have books on Amazon for sale. Huh? Are they then not part of Amazon? I mean, Amazon has to sell something. Right? And if these same people are supplying that product and making money off it, aren’t they either Imperial Storm Troopers (the little ones, you know, let’s say a midlist author at a trad publisher who generates probably 60-80% of her eBook royalties and 35% of her print royalties via Amazon) or piloting an Imperial Battle Cruiser (let’s say a Big 6 Publisher that sells a considerable number of books through Amazon, both digital and print, and oh yeah, audio).

How can both be true? How can Scott Turow use his bully pulpit as president of the Authors Guild to decry Amazon over and over again, yet still sell his books on Amazon? I think there’s a word for that.


I understand that its Scott’s publisher who sends the book metadata to be sold on Amazon and not Scott himself, but if Amazon is truly the Death Star, why is everyone feeding it?

I’m all for everyone having an opinion. I remember Barnes & Noble when it was the Evil Empire destroying indie bookstores. I also remember B&N when it was one store on 18th in New York City that I visited on Sundays growing up in da’ Bronx. I remember in 1994 when there wasn’t an Amazon. I remember the early part of the last decade as the music business imploded because of digital and NY blithely stuck to business as usual. Now it’s imploding and people are crying FOUL! Not preparing for the future isn’t your competition being unfair, it’s running your business poorly.


Read the rest of the post on Write on the River.