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Kicking the Amazon Habit

Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that my book has been delisted from Amazon, thanks to a contractual dispute between the retailer and my distributor, IPG. This is frequently described in the press as "removing the buy buttons," but in my case -- since my book has no print edition -- it is much worse. My book page has vanished entirely. Reviews, summary, everything.

I blame Amazon, even though -- as I mentioned yesterday -- I have not been an Amazon-hater in the past. So what am I going to do about? What can I do? Well, since Amazon is failing to support me, I am going to withdraw support from Amazon and give it to people who have supported me. Here's what I've done so far:

I've removed the Amazon button from whytheycried.com. The book is still available via WORD bookstore in Greenpoint, direct from the publisher, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Google, and Sony. I recommend these options in roughly that order, based on how much they've supported the book -- the last four being more or less equal.

Next I blew my entire Amazon gift card balance on -- and this is the delicious part -- a Kobo Touch eReader. That's right. Amazon doesn't handle these directly, of course, but you can spend gift card balances with Amazon merchants, which is how I was able to buy the Kobo. It should arrive in a week and then, as a reader at least, I'll be Amazon-free.

Why not a Nook? Again, I'm following principles of linkage and support. Even after months of trying, I was unable to convince the Barnes & Noble in my neighborhood to have an ebook event, despite the fact that it might have meant sales of both devices and books. You know who did? WORD, an indie in Greenpoint. I'm hoping to give them much of my freed-up ebook business (when it doesn't make more sense to buy direct from the publisher; I'm still working this out). Kobo works fine with Google eBooks, plus the folks at Kobo and Canadians in general (my publisher is in Toronto) have been very good to me and my book. Loyalty in, loyalty out, you might say.

" Plus Ça Change" is an increasingly infrequent column on (but almost never about) Google+. For archives and email subscriptions visit http://jimhanas.com/pluscachange .
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L.J. Sellers's profile photoGuy Gonzalez's profile photoJim Hanas's profile photoSusan Polos's profile photo
16 comments
 
Big call, but well done for having a strategy. Sadly Amazon have so much power they keep getting away with this, hopefully the scales will tip and even the playing field a bit. Loyalty is becoming a valuable commodity.
 
Well done. While I'm not directly affected by the IPG flap, I think I need to make a similar move with my ebook. Effing Bezos.
 
Now you know why I am so emphatic about free software. As more things go digital, it is the linchpin of our freedom.
 
+Garn LeBaron : as a content producer, I'm waiting to hear how the "give it away" model keeps a roof over my head. ;)
+Jim Hanas : I've been comparing the publishing biz to a ten year train wreck for a while now, and I think we're about three years in. If I had to extend my analogy to dangerously metaphorical levels, Amazon would be the engine at the BACK of the train pushing.
 
+Jeff Howe, Cory Doctorow has written about this extensively. He gives all his stuff away and seems to be doing just fine. Free as in freedom does not mean free as in price. Let's use the music business as an example. How did the great classical composers survive? It wasn't because of their recording contracts. Musicians before Edison had to earn their living from Patronage and Performance. Now that digital is mostly free, we have to return to that model. The difference now is that free copies can be a valuable marketing tool. But the income has to come from patronage and performance.
 
+Garn LeBaron I remain unconvinced. Performance works fine if you're, you know, a performer, rather less so if you're an author, unless you're gifted at public speaking. Yes, I know luminaries in the past supported themselves this way--Mark Twain paupered himself more than once on bad investments and recovered through lecture tours--but if the only authors that can make it are those who can enthrall an audience, we're going to have mighty slim pickings.

I can't even contemplate writing in a patronage model. The novel as an art form is not conducive to sponsorship. There's a reason it arose during the Enlightenment.
 
That stinks. I am sorry to hear that Amazon treated you like this. I eager to see your new Kobo.
 
Very creative! Supporting those who support you. I'm sorry B&N wasn't responsive. I do think they are beginning to become so, though. It may be time to reach out and try again (they have an anti-Amazon motivation to do so now :-)

I'm not anti-Amazon, despite your predicament (I'm sorry, I've been in the business too long, and seen too many writer friends in the same and/or similar dilemmas caused by publishers and/or dim booksellers). I think Amazon is a writer's ally, for the most part, for now. But I'd do what you did in your situation (well, maybe I wouldn't have thought of it, but now that I've read about you doing it, it is option one if Amazon ever takes down my S&S distributed books in dispute with S&S).

I hope this gets cleared up quickly -- and that in the interim you find even more partners to help your work get into reader's hands (that's all we really want, as authors -- to be treated fairly, respectfully, and in the best way to reach our readers, right?).
 
To face the Monoply Amazon is installing, authors will have to get strongly organized and use social networks to maintain a strong link with their readers. If that link exist, it will be possible to use an alternative distribution channel. It's also very important to saveguard reviews and son on on a personal site.
Amazon offer you a nice set of tools to manage your online presence, but if you rely on them, it means they have a tremendous power on you.
 
Thank you for posting. I'm going to go buy your book this weekend in a real live BOOK STORE! OMG, will I know what to do or how to do it? :)
 
+Susan Lewis Thanks for the support, Susan. I don't want to send you on a fool's errand, so note that the book is only available as an e-book -- although you can get these from some indie bookstores via Google. +WORD in Brooklyn has been very supportive of the book.
 
+Jim Hanas Thanks. I will tell them they need to stock it in the bookstore. :D Sorry you went through all of this, I don't know much about how it all works, but it's not right what they did.
 
Why don't you just upload your book to Amazon yourself?
 
+L.J. Sellers Because it is under contract with the publisher that is being bullied by Amazon -- and because I oppose such bullying.
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