Saturday, August 9, 2014

Amazon, and Hachette, and me, and my dream

The news has been full of the Hachette vs. Amazon dispute that is going on.  I could share the links, but hey, just google them.  I will share one though, that I got just today:
A Message from the Amazon Books Team
If you've read this, then you know about the email they're asking people to send.
Here's mine.  And yes, comments for this particular post are turned off.  Considering the controversy going on surrounding this, I thought this was a wise move for my own sanity and peace of mind.


Dear Mr. Pietsch:

I’ve been reading for a while about this controversy going on between you (meaning Hachette), and Amazon.  It interests me greatly.  And I am firmly on Amazon’s side in this.  Let me tell you why, and I do hope you will take the time to read this.

Back in 1979, I graduated high school wanting, more than anything else, to be a writer.  But publishing was a whole different world back then.  Back then, in 1979, if you wanted to get into writing for a career, you had to go to college and get a degree to start off with.  No one in the publishing industry would even give you the time of day unless you had a degree.  And I was from a small town.  A very small town, of around 6,000 people; and you aren’t going to find many writing opportunities there in that small town.  Unless you write for the local weekly paper or something like that.

So I faced reality, heeded the advice of my mom, and relegated my writing to mainly a hobby status; figuring I would never achieve my dream of being a published writer.  That was the writing and publishing world back then, in the late 20th century.  Internet and desktop computers were infants back then.  When I graduated business college back in the mid 1980s, they were only just beginning to teach about desktop computers.  That was the world then.

But then time passed, computers and the internet matured, and came into their own.  The bubble popped, the year 2000 came, and a new century arrived.  And this new century brought with it a great change in the publishing world.  Instead of getting their news from paper newspapers, people started getting their news online, on the internet.  And physical, paper newspapers started struggling.

The paperless revolution was beginning.  But did you folks in the publishing industry take a hint?  Get a clue as to what was coming?  Try to get ahead of the curve in some way?  Try to keep up with the times?  No, you didn’t.  You just stuck your collective publishing heads in the sand, and tried to keep the good old boy publishing ways the same.

Amazon has been innovative, and groundbreaking, and has paved the way for writers to be published.  Yes, writers have to do their own editing, and formatting, and cover work, and marketing; but they’re getting better at it every day.  Amazon took a clue, is working all the time on keeping up with the times, is always trying to get ahead of the curve.  Their kindle paperwhite ereaders are wonderful!

As a small kid, a teenager, and a young adult, I was a voracious reader.  But somewhere along my path through adulthood, I got away from reading.  It wasn’t until I downloaded their free kindle app for pc’s that I got back into reading again.  Now thanks to an event I did last year, and the help from some of my Indie writer friends, I have a paperwhite that is my constant buddy.

Now, once again, I’m always reading something.

Back sometime in 2011-2012, I was checking out all the great opportunities that writers today had available to them, and I was feeling envious; wishing that I would have had all this when I graduated high school back in 1979.  But as I’ve said before, it was a totally different world then.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped feeling cheated and envious, and started taking advantage of the opportunities that are out there.  I set up some blogs and some facebook pages.  Then I got started doing book reviews.  And pretty much every book I’ve reviewed has come from either a small publisher or an Indie author.  You big publishing houses, you’ve never made it into my review blog yet.
It’s not that you’re not welcome.  It’s just that you’ve never asked.  And the Indie authors, they’re writing some great books, and I am covered up in review requests.  I truly have a great choice in reading material.  Feel free to check out my blog:
I’d be more than glad to review your author’s books, if they’re in a genre I read and it sounded interesting to me; but you’d have to get in line, as I do have a list.

So now I’m finally able to pursue my high school dream, and am achieving it, and I’m having a ball doing it.  Yeah, there have been some unpleasant moments, but I’m not stopping because of those.

Don’t worry, when my book is finished, I won’t come knocking on your door; nor the door of any of the big publishing houses.  You all kept me locked out of my dream for too many years.  I didn’t have an agent then, and I still don’t.  Thing is, now, thanks to people like Amazon and Smashwords and self-publishing, I don’t need an agent to write and publish my book.

I don’t need you.

So yeah, in an argument, a war, between you and Amazon, I’ll take Amazon’s side any day of the week.

I’ll certainly never take your side.

Most people think this whole thing is about a contract between 2 companies, a financial agreement.  But it’s more than that.  I finally just figured that out in the last day or so.

I had commented in a couple of places online on articles about this whole mess.  I’ve been reading the articles on this for a good bit now.  One place, I got kicked out of a group over what I shared.  Another place, some guy decided to pick me to rag on, for no good reason whatsoever.

Then it hit me how this whole thing between you and Amazon has polarized the publishing world as a whole.  Even the writers have gotten into it.  Some of them are your pet writers.  But us Indie writers are getting into sharing our opinions on this.  And so are a whole lot of other people.

Then it finally dawned on me what this whole thing is about.
This is about a whole hell of a lot more than a contract between 2 companies.

It’s about power, it’s about control.

Once upon a time, you had all of it.  You and the other big publishers controlled the book world.  You got to decide who succeeded as an author and who failed, who got published and who didn’t.  Self-publishing back then was looked down upon, and was a last ditch effort that the author had to pay for out of their own pocket.

Now days, you can write a book and self-publish it, and not spend a dime.
I love that.  I think it’s absolutely great.

But you hate it don’t you.  You and all the other big publishers.
You want to drag things back to the way they were back in the last century, when you controlled and monopolized everything.  Publishers like you (Hachette) have locked scores of writers out of publishing for years.  What's at the bottom of this is big publishers who want to go back to the way things were when they controlled who got published and who didn't, and you’re all mad at Amazon for spoiling your game.  They’re the big dog, sitting on top of the heap, and that has you seething.  They’re sitting where you used to be, and you hate it.  You want to knock them off the top, and be king of the hill once again.

This whole mess over this contract, it’s just a first step.  If you can win here, then you and the other publishers will go for more.  This all goes to the winds of change that are sweeping throughout all of publishing.  Hachette vs. Amazon.  Traditional publishing vs. the new wave of self-publishing.

Amazon represents everything that is changing about publishing in general. But it's not Amazon that started the change.  It’s the desktop computer and the internet itself.

I believe this is about something a whole lot more important than your contract dispute.  It’s about the changing realm of publishing itself.

Change has happened, whether you like it or not.  Pandora’s box has been opened, and you can never close the lid, or roll back the tide of change that has come.

What you can do is change and adjust with the changing times.  Whether you will or not, that’s up to you.

I want to close with this thought.
One night over the past week, I was browsing the kindle store on my paperwhite, looking up a book.  Turns out there was a box set, and the set was published by you.  You wanted $46 dollars and some change for that box set, which is ridiculous.  For under $10 dollars, I can get a box set from an Indie author, about the same number of pages, just as well edited and all.  You’re losing the fight Hachette.  Every day, you’re losing the fight.  And you don’t even realize it.

Don’t you get it?  You’re the dinosaur in this picture.  You can either become extinct in time, or adapt to the changing climate and survive.
Which will you do?  Survive or die?

As for me, I’m finally pursuing my high school dream.
Best of luck,
Jacqueline Driggers