The issue in simplistic terms without mentioning either elephant in the room: Writers produce content and now writers have more ways of getting that content out to readers.
Regarding the Amazon/Hachette controversy (the “elephants”): Both are large companies that look to their own bottom line. However, I’ve seen Amazon do more for writers than a large publishing company like Hachette. Large publishing houses do little to help their midlist authors market their books, leaving it all up (time-wise and financially) to the author. I’ve seen large publishers drop great authors because their books didn’t sell-through. “I’m not going to help you but I sure as hell gonna blame you when you fail.”
Although one may think I’m with Amazon in this horse race, I try to understand both sides. However, Hachette’s recent letter as to why it prices eBooks the way it does, just doesn’t seem to ring true, not when successful small presses have a different price point. For years we’ve been told that print books are pricey because of the cost of print, distribution, third-party sellers. Those are not necessary with eBooks. But I will take a wait and see attitude. As for all the “major” writers (many are names I did not recognize and I’m a bibliophile) who signed the letter/ad: their fans will continue to buy their books. BTW: I have almost every book written by Douglas Preston.
Trust is an underlying issue in this debate.
Trust a company?
There was a time I worked for the largest privately-owned nursing home management company in the state. There were about 35 people working at the home office in 2012. That was the year the company was sold. The owner, someone I’d trusted for more than 25 years, had told those 35 people that their jobs were safe even with the sale. That was a lie. I didn’t have a horse in that race either since I was retiring. However, those people had been my “family” for most of my working life and I felt their hurt at the betrayal.
Trust a company? I may but I want to see it in past practices and in writing, whether you’re Hachette, Harper Collins, Amazon, or PennMed.
Some very interesting commentary, from people who know more than I, can be found on the following blogs:
Bob Mayer: http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/being-real-in-publishing/
Hugh Howey: http://www.hughhowey.com/why-should-we-care/
Chuck Wendig: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/12/what-is-an-e-book-worth/
Writers produce content and writers no longer need publishing houses that ignore them to get to their readers.