What Does Amazon/Hachette Have to Do With Me?

This post by Barry Eisler originally appeared on his blog on 8/9/14.

In connection with the $100,000 ad some reactionary authors bought to run in tomorrow’s New York Times, Amazon has sent a letter to its self-published authors. It’s a good read, with some interesting historical context, for anyone who values low-priced ebooks and fair royalties for writers. And if you want to share your opinion on those topics with the CEO of “Big Five” publisher Hachette, you can email him — just scroll down the Amazon letter. Here’s what I said:

Hi Michael, even if the Big Five (why would anyone imagine something called the Big Five could be a cartel?) still had the power to control the market — and you don’t — the best you could do through agency and windowing and the like is delay the inevitable mass market transition to digital. Is that really who you want to be? A reactionary, focused on shoring up the next quarter rather than expanding your opportunities for the long term?

I don’t want big publishing to die — I want it to get well. But to get well, you’re going to have to change the lifestyle that’s led to your ongoing decrepitude.

Please, think about the future. Think about your place not just in the Big Five, but in the world. Stop impeding what’s best for readers, writers, and reading. Don’t fight progress. Be progress.

Sincerely yours,
Barry Eisler

I’ve seen some interesting reactions to the Amazon missive. I responded to some of them over at The Passive Voice, which consistently has some of the best industry coverage I’ve seen (both for Passive Guy’s presence and the insights of the people who comment there). I’ll address those reactions here, as well:

1. Amazon and/or Hachette are trying to get me to do their bidding, drag me into their war, dragoon me, etc.


Click here to read the full post on Barry Eisler’s blog.