Amazon vs. Macmillan–hey, wait, you pulled my book!

I loved Amazon since the first day we met. But Amazon just sucker punched me, pulling my book from its shelves last Friday. As well as those of thousands of other authors. Why, Santa, why?

Cash, Johnny. Power. Is it ever about anything else?

Well, sometimes it’s about cookies, Santa. But money and capitalism are good things.

Yes, they are, Johnny. And fights are exciting, especially the ones where the one guy cleans the other’s clock, folding his nose over, and the blood spatters everywhere, and his eye swells up like some pig’s eye, and the teeth, the TEETH! It makes you want to pop an elf’s yammering happy singing head off with your thumb and forefinger, stomp his body into oblivion. Ah! Little shooting parties, elves lined up in a row, elf guts (pant) elf blood (pant) power (pant) BBQ roasted elf heads (pant) and Rocky theme music.

Mommy, Santa looks weird.


So, here’s the deal. Listed below are the “big six” publishers in North America, accounting for the lion’s share of sales and titles.

  • Hachette Book Group (owned by French company Hachette Livre)
  • HarperCollins
  • Macmillan
  • Penguin Group
  • Random House (subsidiary of media conglomerate, Bertelsmann)
  • Simon & Schuster

Tor Books is an imprint of Macmillan. This means Macmillan is my daddy right now. We luvs Macmillan. Amazon, on the other hand, is a distributor. And we luvs them as well.

But Amazon’s not just any distributor. Amazon wants to take over a bit more of the publishing supply chain in order to make more money. Macmillan said, “um, I don’t think so,” and the fight was on. Actually, I don’t think it was really so much of a fight as Amazon immediately going all North Korean Kim Jong-il on us. Despite what I think was poor strategy, it illustrates the real battle going on in the publishing world at the moment as the ebook and edistribution start to become a reality.

Changing your business model to make more money is a very logical thing to do, and I have no problem with Amazon trying to do it. I’m not one of those Wal-Mart haters. I like cheap goods. And I like to see children in sweat shops. However, I do have some self-interest. And ultimately there are few situations where a monopoly is a good thing for the consumer.

No, Amazon isn’t a monopoly now, but Hitler wasn’t always “Hitler” either. For his first 39 years he was Schicklgruber. But “Heil Schicklbruber” doesn’t induce people to rise up and slaughter nations. And so his Nazi PR sensibilities demanded he change it. No really, this is true. Anyway, this just proves that Amazon could start killing bunnies at any moment–don’t ever trust someone who names their company after a river. Or after Adolf Hitler, like if someone called themselves Hitler Lipstick or Hitler Toys.

I’m not going to rehash the story on my blog because others have already done it so well. So read these.

  1. Scott Westerfield gives the full story and explains what happened.
  2. Charles Stross looks at why Amazon did this.
  3. Tobias Buckell delves into factors involved in pricing a book.
  4. John Scalzi explains why he thinks Amazon lost this round.

What does this mean for you, dear reader? Well, for the interim, it means you’ll find new copies of SERVANT the cheapest at the select Smiths’ grocery stores out West that carry it. Furthermore, Barnes & Noble has always been an excellent book seller Let me recommend any internet purchasers use their site until Amazon decides to stop bullying publishers and authors.

Beyond that, I don’t know, we’re only in round one. As for me, I tend to think the publishers have a more viable option with this agency model. But I’ll need to think on it more. In the meantime, enjoy the blood and bashing and the little authors screaming as they flee the building with their clothes on fire.

Hey, wait, MY back IS ON FIRE!!! AAaaaaaahhhh!

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One Response to Amazon vs. Macmillan–hey, wait, you pulled my book!

  1. Hezekiah says: