Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Battle Is No Longer Between Amazon and Hatchette

[Edit to add: I wrote this blog post during lunch yesterday. When I checked in after painting Genius Kid's old room last night, I thought the fumes had gotten to me. But no, Amazon issued their second volley in the propaganda war with Hatchette.

The news broke while the TPV crowd talked about Michael Stackpoole's blunt essay on the A-H battle. The last half of the comment thread talks about the Amazon bombshell. Folks there also posted the responses from Hatchette,

Joe Konrath posted the Amazon's press release and his personal thoughts, but I warn you Stevie Z. tries to take over the comments. Both TPV and Joe have links to responses from Hatchette, Douglas Preston, and The Author's Guild.

For those that don't feel like clicking on any links, the gist of Amazon and Hatchette's BS:

Amazon: Since you're accusing us of harming writers, we'll reinstate the pre-order buttons and order larger amounts of Hatchette books if ALL royalties go to the writers affected by our dispute.

Hatchette: How dare you offer our writers money!

Yep, kinda proves who's insane, doesn't it?]

Everyone's worried about who's drinking what Kool-Aid.

The two-month six-month long negotiations (changed based on Amazon's news release from yesterday) between Amazon and Hatchette have taken an interesting twist. In their efforts to get Amazon to back down, Hatchette and the other big publishers launched a massive PR campaign against the 'Zon.

None of this should be a surprise because the Big 5 announced their PR plan in January. What is surprising is that Hatchette and their minions tried to pull the indie writers into the fight by using scare tactics. They all run something along the lines of -- "If Amazon is screwing us over, just imagine what they will do to you once we're dead."

What Hatchette and the other big publishers didn't anticipate was the indies' collective "Fuck you!"

There's a large contingent of indies who have been trad-published, and they were treated horribly. Those who weren't kicked to the curb by Hatchette and their buddies ran as soon as they could. Then there's some of us who heard the horrible stories of how our fellow writers were treated, and we decided dealing with the Big 5 wasn't worth the soul-sucking pain. The rest of the indies, who never bothered with query letters, just shook their heads, published their books, and ignored the brouhaha.

Ignored the Big 5 until other authors (all of them in some kind of business with the Big 5) started insulting us. We pulled our heads out of our writing cubbies (or in my case, out of the closet I was painting), looked around, took in the obvious lies being spouted about Amazon, and said, "Seriously, dudes?"

So Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath put together a letter, posted it on and asked other indies to sign it. I did. Not because I think Amazon is the Second Coming. (Pornocalypse, anyone? Those fuckers banned my books!) I signed it because they're not lying out their assholes like Hatchette is. You see, Hatchette never would have touched me. And for that, I thank Djedhuti every day.

But the lies! Amazon is not boycotting Hatchette authors. Every Hatchette book in print and available from Hatchette is for sale on Amazon. Those books marked "Unavailable" HAVEN"T BEEN FUCKING PUBLISHED YET! Given the tenor of the current negotiations, why would any retailer do pre-orders for merchandise they may not be able to deliver? As for the delays in delivering print books, Amazon isn't warehousing them because they don't want to get stuck with the shipping costs if they and Hatchette do end their business relationship.

Sorry, folks, but I'd be doing the same thing in Amazon's position. Part of owning a business is keeping your overhead low.

By no means do I consider Amazon a saint. They are not perfect. (PORNOCALYPSE!) I get that. It's just one of the retailers I sell books through

In fact, I sell fewer books on Amazon than I do on any other retail site except for Kobo and the now-defunct Diesel. Hell, I did about the same business with them as I did with the departed Sony E-Bookstore. So I don't think you can call me an Amazon shill (the other favorite insult if anyone is even perceived as NOT taking Hatchette's side).

But the really sad thing in all of this are the organizations that are supposed to be FOR writers are publicly throwing their support to Hatchette. (SFWA, anyone?) *sigh* Where were these organizations when the Big 5 dropped e-book pricing from 50% of gross to 25% of net?

Let's assume the leaks are true, Hatchette is trying to reinstate agency pricing with Amazon. Now these writer organizations want their membership to support a pricing scheme where Hatchette gets more money and the writers still get pennies on the dollar? Why would any writer buy into that scenario?

So to trad-published authors, I have nothing against you or your choices. But your business interests are nowhere near mine. I'm not going to help you commit career suicide. And I'm sure as hell not going to agree to a suicide pact with you.

Since I'm allegedly the bad guy, I leave you with this:

Come to the Dark Side, my pretties! We have chocolate.

[2nd edit to add: Normally, I only get 2 hits from France on any given day. Woke up Saturday morning, July 12th, to 51 French hits on the blog. Wonder if Hatchette and their buddies are going to start calling me names.]


  1. What I found most interesting about the latest volley of grenades is the release of the timeline for the A/H negotiations. If you can call them that. Unless Amazon is lying through their teeth -- and if they are, Hatchette would be calling them on it, possibly with lawyers waving slander suits? -- then Hatchette has been acting in bad faith from the beginning. No wonder all their efforts have gone toward their smear campaign; it's the only thing they've actually had to do, negotiation-wise, for the last few months. :P


    1. That's exactly what I thought, Angie. The minute Amazon told a half-truth, they would have been decimated by the mainstream media. The fact that Hatchette hasn't said "Boo!" about Amazon's version of the timeline or screamed "Tortious Interference with our Wriers' Contracts!" also send up a flare about how bad faith Hatchette's dealings have been, not only with Amazon, but the Hatchette writers as well.