Welcome To The Gulag
My friend Wayne Hurlbert recently posted a link to this article, which speculates that readers may temporarily see lower eBook prices after a judge ruled against Apple and a consortium of big publishers in a suit alleging unfair price fixing by eBook behemoth Amazon.com. I have a long and complicated love/hate relationship with Amazon. When they first started their customer service people were right here in my (then) home town of Seattle. They were extremely responsive if you e-mailed them with a question or concern, and the shipping was lightening fast, at least for me in Seattle. But then they got a lot bigger and laid off all of their Seattle customer service people and moved those jobs to a “right to work” (for a lot less) state back east and I stopped ordering from them for a long, long time. (I was pleased to support a local company. When they outsourced their jobs in my field I no longer wanted to support them.)
I was fairly late to the eBook revolution. I finally bought an Android tablet for about one hundred dollars to use as my eReader. And at first I was pleased that I had both Kobo and Amazon eReaders installed. And I am thrilled to support Smashwords (which supplies Kobo as well as a number of other popular eReader platforms). But the fact is, the Kindle reader on my Amazon works a LOT better than the Kobo reader– the fact that I can lock the screen in portrait mode to save myself from constant automatic changes from portrait to landscape and back as I hold my tablet how ever which way and read as is comfortable for me is, to be perfectly honest more than significant enough to cause me to do most of my buying, borrowing (from my local library) and reading in Amazon’s Kindle app. I made a huge point about buying a device that did not lock me in to Amazon’s ecosystem. Yet the experience is so superior that I mostly read in Kindle all of the time.
I try real hard to maintain hope that good independent authors can use Smashwords and the other tools of self-publishing to succeed on their own, rather than Amazon’s terms. And yet Amazon is so clearly winning the eBook ease of use and distribution contest that I fear we may each and every one of us soon be writing mostly, always and only for Amazon. The one thing I can think of that readers can do is to search out and find #indie authors and make a point of purchasing their books. Every writer loves to write, but they also have to eat. And by spending your three or four dollars to buy competitively priced #indie books, you’ll be doing your part to support quality independent voices, which may never be heard if any monopolist takes us back to the days of being “gatekept” out of publishing and self-publishing being immediately and irrevocably a sign of poor quality.