“You have to draw the box big. Books don’t just compete against books. Books compete against Candy Crush, Twitter, Facebook, streaming movies, newspapers you can read for free. It’s a new world. It’s so important not to simply build a moat around the industry the way it is now.”

– Amazon Kindle boss Russ Grandinetti, explaining why his company wants Hachette — and book publishers in general — to accept lower prices, in the New York Times.

Phil Simon
Phil Simon

This gets to the heart of the matter. From an Authors Guild' letter sent to me and countless others:

<i>Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change. If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. We’d love to be your partners.</i>

I'm with Amazon here, though. Books are entertainment. To claim that books are more "special" than movies, music, or other forms of art is more than a little pretentious and self-serving.


@Phil Simon  The only real reasons that authors think that books are "more special" than films or other forms of digital content are quite simple.  1) They don't write screenplays and 2) they are engaged in legacy thinking.  They want us to not only read books (and pay for books) but to worship in their Church of Book.

If authors think that just appealing to the folks who traditionally buy books (my most recent book purchase was $35 for what amounted to a non-book) is "the way forward" they are deluding themselves.

That said, I'm not sure how many Twits, FB'ers or Candy Crushers will buy books in the near future, but they are less likely than their elders to buy physical books.

Books, along with baseball, recreational sex, watching sports, watching cock-fights and so-o-o many other activities, are entertainment and a core audience is folks in cold climes.  Those of us in temperate climes have so many other year-round simply read fewer books because we have more recreational options.


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