Me, Myself, and Amazon

Better Keep That to Yourself  They’re those taboo topics we know well enough to keep carefully removed from conversation if we harbor any intent of keeping things polite.  You know what I’m referring to, those subjects that incite the variety of passion likely to turn explosive homicidal dare anyone light the fuse. Yep, that’s right, Religion and Politics.  And, oh yeah, now there’s Amazon.

Word on the Street  Lately it seems they are popping up like dandelions on a lush lawn; magazine articles, blog posts, FB, Twitter, tales and opinions of impending collision.  Amazon against the Publishing Universe.  Depending on the source, Amazon is either under attack, or, ON the attack?

It’s War … Really?  Regardless of where any of us might hang on the chain–writer, agent, editor, publisher– we either have strong feelings regarding all this hoopla, or are currently developing them, because it’s a pretty big pot of stew that’s simmering to a boil.  And there’s every reason to believe that at some point, we’ll need to pick up our pages and take sides.

Amazon vs Traditional Publishers  Amazon has leveled the field and it’s exciting, yet worrisome — thrilling, yet spooky.  It’s Amazon vs the Big Six, and I’m not yet clear as to whether I should be buying ringside tickets or covering my eyes to protect them from the flying shrapnel of  Brick and Mortar bookstores being blown out of the future and into the distant past.

Proceed with Caution  I readily admit to being relatively cautious paranoid when it comes to change, and the native New Yorker inherent in my psyche makes me wary of anything that looks TOO GOOD.  I have been naive a clueless sucker a few times too many, so I’ve learned to proceed with baby steps, regardless of how delightfully wonderful the package might appear. Sure it might look and smell good, but that’s no guarantee it will taste good once you finally take a bite. The point being, that for many of us, Amazon has been the oasis in an otherwise harsh publishing desert–and yet, is it really?

A Courtship of Sorts  From the perspective of the part of me that is an “I LOVE AMAZON” book buyer, I’m sort’ve interested in the drama, but not as much as I love buying books at discounts with the potential of free shipping.  Yet on the flip side, is the author me with a book listed on Amazon, all of which means that I’m hanging on the edge of my seat, watching these two massive locomotives hurtling toward … well, toward something.  And regardless what happens, I’m pretty certain that someone’s getting hurt.

People have asked my opinion, and I do have one. But it’s an opinion that continues to waver  just enough to keep me from cementing it in place.  And not because my reasoning is especially deep or thoughtful.  In fact it might be something you’d hear on any Kindergarten playground, because the truth, quite frankly, is that my loyalties currently reside with the one who’s played nicest and been fairest from the time I first showed up on the playground.  Which is to say that Amazon has been kind to me. Very kind. Far more welcoming and supportive than the Indies, bookstore chains, or Big Six publishers.  And I take that personally.  It’s impossible not to. They not only invited me to the party, they even sent a limo to pick me up.

Deep, heavy-hitting,  thought provoking assessment? Nah, not really. But I can’t help myself.  When it comes to matters of the heart, I respond to care and feeding  just like any other zoo animal. Feed me, pat me on the head, offer me a cold drink on a hot day, and it’s pretty much certain I’m not about to bite in return.

Nevertheless, My Eyes are Open, and I Have an Ear Against the Door  Being appreciative doesn’t mean I don’t keep a watchful eye, read up on the latest, and stay awake to avoid potential injury. Good today, doesn’t guarantee good tomorrow. I’m optimistic, but not necessarily foolish a flaming idiot.

EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT  And for you, on the chance you missed any of these provocative posts, I pass along links, links, wonderful informative links, gathered here for your dining-on-Amazon pleasure. Read, enjoy, keep a heads up, on the chance you find yourself trapped in the crossfire.

Kristen Lamb has two recent posts well worth checking out: Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts and Bracing for Impact — The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm

Sarah Lacy: Confessions of a Publisher: “We’re in Amazon’s Sights and They’re Going to Kill Us”

Julie Bosman, The New York Times: Worried Publishers put Hopes on Barnes & Noble

From Joe Konrath; Amazon Will Destroy You 

And you? Are you worried? Do you care? Much ado about nothing? Or are your thoughts leaning toward “Battle Stations Ready …?”

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23 thoughts on “Me, Myself, and Amazon

  1. I don’t know how I feel about it all, and as an Indie author, I don’t feel I have much choice but to take Amazon’s offers and use them to the best of my abilities, despite what’s happening in the publishing world elsewhere. It’s confusing and scary and exciting all at once! Once thing’s certain – the future will be interesting.

    • You bring up such an important point in that Amazon HAS offers and opens doors previously closed (nailed shut in some instances!) .

      Thanks for coming by, April, and I’d love to give a shout out to congratulate you on your own *Brand New* presence on Amazon–namely the premier of your novel “Coming Home,” available FREE on Kindle for the next three days.

  2. Wow, if only I had invested in what I, and fellow classmates, speculated in years ago. We actually sat around, in a creative writing class at our local community college, and brainstormed ideas about the future of writing. I thought it would go into an electronic book form. My fellow classmates doubted it. This was in the 80’s. Sigh…

    Now, I find myself as a business manager for my husband who has 25+ books with his name on them; all through big name publishers (Wiley, McGraw-Hill, etc.). I can tell you the advantages/disadvantages of being an author for big publishers. I’m not a fan and still fantasize about self-publishing.

    I can also share what our literary agent predicts for the future of publishing and what she’s telling us to focus on which is developing apps to go along with our books but that’s easy for us. All my husband’s books are instructional. What about the novelist or science fiction writer? Of course, you always want to make your books available as an eBook but when those are practically being given away…then what?

    So, here I am; not the author but the wife/business manager/publicist trying to sort it all out, too. If you find your crystal ball, please wrap it carefully and send it to me. I’ll gladly pay C.O.D. In the meantime, I’m going to hang out with the “solar flare will kill everything electronic” crowd, and start collecting old-fashioned paper books, then trade them for ice, beer, and fresh lettuce.

    • Thanks for sharing your insights, BeckHart! (And by the way, I stand by my original assessment that, although you might be a kick-butt manager/publicist, you’re also a fabulous writer. Where oh where is that book you should be authoring?) I’m always interested to hear your thoughts, which always get me wondering, contemplating, and, oh yeah, oftentimes laughing 🙂

  3. I’ve loved & been a loyal customer of amazon.com for years. And I love the opportunities they offer the indie author. While trad publishing has been a lifelong dream, I’m beginning to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of both, and the distance separating them is growing shorter by the day. Still, it’s hard to imagine a world without brick & mortar bookstores with endless shelves of ‘real’ books. The thought of losing that makes me want to cry. Here’s hoping there’s room in the world for both.

  4. As you said, Amazon has been good to my publishers and us authors. I’d love to be supported by the “larger community” of bookstores, libraries, and New York reviewers, and so far, well — not so much.

  5. WOW, don’t know what to think!! How ironic that I was just perusing the Amazon site to purchase another copy of your book to donate to my local library. My only disappointment is that it isn’t available in hard-cover….. I guess we have to take the good with the bad, as the saying goes, it’s just that sometimes it becomes hard to tall which is which!

    • It would be so much easier, if as it was in long ago western movies, the good guys wore white hats, and the baddies wore black!

      I never would’ve expected such words to come from my mouth, but I’m hoping you didn’t order my book. A new edition–freshly edited–is coming out soon (as in the next week or so), and I’m so thrilled to have the typos banished to bad-grammar-ville at long last (AND it will carry a lower cover price, which makes me VERY happy.) And absolutely, thank you for considering The Secret of Lies for your library 😀

      • Awesome, I hadn’t yet hit the send button so I will hold off and order the latest, greatest, new edition!!! Our local library is supported only by donations and volunteers so I was so glad they approved the addition of a copy of your book to their fiction section. I hope it others enjoy it as much as I did!!

      • Cool beans! I’m so excited to think of my novel, sitting with hopeful expectation on a library shelf in NM 🙂 I am so supremely appreciative of your thoughtfulness in sharing my book far and away.

  6. Kudos, Barbara. You bring intelligence, wit and style to an argument that has the potential to get ugly. In some circles, it already has.
    I’ve been walking around with blinders. It’s a deliberate move, not necessarily smart, but there you have it. Times are changing. History shows we change the way we do things faster than we, or the market, learn how to adapt to those changes. Industrial Revolution, anyone? How about discovery of the New World?
    I’m not a publishing house, I am a writer. The changes that come will affect me more than I will affect the changes. My stand, so far, is to stay out of a discussion I confess I don’t fully understand, and keep my head down, perfecting my craft, so when the dust settles, my work will be ready to take its place on the world wide book shelf, be it wooden or virtual.

    • There’s a certain wisdom in keeping your head down when someone is swinging a bat at a hornets nest! I read and watch what’s going on, but not to the point of saturation. I’m with you, Sherry, writing through the storm and perfecting your craft — now that sounds like a plan!

  7. Barbara, great blog post! This topic is so hot right now with writers, readers and publishers. I purchase a good amount of books through Amazon… love the convenience… but I also make it a point to buy from bookstores and support the local library. It’s not good for us as consumers and creators to rely solely on one outlet and ignore all the others that can offer so much opportunity.

    I’ve put off going to e-books so far — I have enough gadgets around the house with cell phone, iPod, laptop, etc. — but as we prepare to move soon and I see the shelves and shelves of books to pack soon… digital books are looking better and better for the future.

    Thanks, Barbara, for a great read!
    Janet

  8. Hey Janet! Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts! You make such an excellent point that “It’s not good for us as consumers and creators to rely solely on one outlet and ignore all the others that can offer so much opportunity.” Yes, yes yes! There are surely enough books, writers, and readers in the world to support all the favored venues — and without leaving anyone out in the cold. How pitiful that there will always be those who insist on having the whole pie when a slice or two is more than filling.

    I’m thinking that once your movers have a look at all your back-breaking boxes of books, they may very well chip-in and buy you an eReader themselves! Bahaha!

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