You gotta love capitalism . . .

by Christine Kling

While I have been enjoying the wonderful promotion my books have received by being a part of the Kindle First program, this is a very different book release than I used to know ten years ago. The major difference is that I sell ebooks by the thousands and paper books only by the tens. Why do I sell so few paper books? Because almost no brick and mortar bookstores in the nation will carry paper books by Amazon publishers.

I’ve been watching the whole Amazon/Hachette fight that has been playing out in the press and via the Facebook and Twitter feeds of outraged traditionally published authors who are saying that Amazon is trying to control what books readers are allowed to read. They say this behavior is horrible, unconstitutional and basically evidence of their desire to rule the world. At BEA, James Patterson called for government intervention saying, “Amazon also, as you know, wants to control book selling, book buying, and even book publishing, and that is a national tragedy. If this is to be the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed, by law if necessary, immediately, if not sooner.”

I do feel sorry for friends of mine who are published by Hachette and are suffering poor sales due to this temporary period of contract negotiations while these two enormous multinational corporations are playing hardball. However, I have never once seen any of them Tweet or Facebook about the organized boycott against Amazon published authors that exists among brick and mortar bookstores. Who is really controlling what books you get to read? Amazon, who has slowed delivery of Hachette books or Barnes & Noble who will not stock any Thomas & Mercer books in their 1300+ stores making them available only by special order?

The press has been very lazy in their reporting of this story. It has taken David Gaughran to report how Hachette is not a small company going up against a big one:

“Hachette might be the smallest of the “Big 5″ on paper, but that’s only when you look at the American market. Hachette Book Group is owned by Lagardère Publishing – the biggest publisher in France and the second biggest in the UK. . . . Lagardère Publishing is itself part of Lagardère Group, a giant worldwide media company – magazines, radio, television, online, digital, and books – with annual revenue of approximately $10bn dollars.”

Do you think that allows them to spin the story their way?

And from what I have read, the only one to bring up boycott of  Amazon Publishing books is the self-published phenomenon, Hugh Howey:

So the question is this: Is Amazon a disruptor because of its size? Or is its size a result of previously stifled innovation? The culture of the Big 5, which was built by gobbling up successful small presses and rolling them into imprints, left the door wide open for Amazon, a company that dared to sell direct to consumers, innovate the way we read, and pay authors a living wage. You know, the first company to actually compete.

The response to this new competitor has been to blacklist Amazon-published books from brick and mortar stores and to collusion within the publishing monoculture. Where is the outcry for Amazon-published authors who are blocked from sale by practically every brick and mortar store? It doesn’t exist. The response is simply: That’s what those authors get for signing with Amazon. Imagine an observer today saying “That’s what those authors get for signing with Hachette.” The hypocrisy astounds.

It bugs me when the press doesn’t report the whole story, when they are so lazy and fall so completely for the hype and spin. So this morning, I just wanted to step up on my soap box

I think it just gets down to two big corporations using heavy-handed tactics to negotiate the best deal for them. It’s capitalism and so far, as a person in this book business, I’ve found it very entertaining to read all the hyperbole and vilification of Amazon. Companies aren’t evil – they just want to make lots of money. Heck, so do I!

In fact, in spite of selling very few paper books, I’ve never sold more books in my life than I did this past month. Readers are happy, this writer is happy, and there will be some new wolf to cry about next week. So I’ll head back to my writer’s desk and work on my next book and let Patterson huff and puff. Maybe, it will slow his house down.

Fair winds!


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About Christine Kling

I have spent more than thirty years living on and around boats and cruising the waters of the North and South Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Caribbean. I’ve written articles and stories for many boating publications including Sailing, Cruising World, Motor Boating & Sailing, and The Tiller and the Pen. When I was married, I helped my husband build a 55-foot custom sailing yacht. After launching her, we sailed through the Panama Canal to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered for over two years. While in the islands, I received my 100-ton Auxiliary Sail Captains license. It was that sailing experience that led me to set my first nautical suspense novel, SURFACE TENSION (2002), on the waterfront in Fort Lauderdale. Featuring Florida female tug and salvage captain, Seychelle Sullivan, the first book was followed by CROSS CURRENT (2004) and BITTER END (2005). The fourth book in the series, WRECKERS’ KEY was released in February 2007. At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, I took the motto of this blog to heart. I quit my day job as an English professor at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale (just when they offered me tenure, I said no thanks and took early retirement). I was living the dream of full-time cruising on board my 33-foot Caliber Talespinner on my very tiny pension and whatever I made from my books having parted ways with the big publishing establishment. I self-published two books on my own: a small collection of four short stories entitled SEA BITCH: Four Tales of Nautical Noir and my first stand-alone sailing thriller set in the Caribbean, CIRCLE OF BONES. In 2012 I was offered a publishing deal with Amazon's mystery/thriller imprint Thomas&Mercer and they reissued CIRCLE OF BONES. The sequel to that book, DRAGON'S TRIANGLE came out in June 2014. And as for me, I'm no longer a singlehander on my little boat. I met Wayne Hodgins in 2013 and after a whirlwind Skype courtship, I flew to meet him in Fiji and we sailed a nearly 2000 mile passage to the Marshall Islands for our "first date." We now sail together aboard LEARNATIVITY, a 52-foot motor sailor with our family including Barney, the Yorkshire Terror and Ruby, the Wonder Dog.
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