Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Amazon vs. Macmillan

Have you heard about the fight going on between Amazon and Macmillan publishers?  It's all over the net.  Here's an article from Publishers Weekly on the, um, spat.

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly.

Authors Guild Calls Macmillan Fight "Necessary"

By Jim Milliot
The Authors Guild is the latest industry organization to come to the support of Macmillan in its battle with Amazon over e-book terms. In a note posted on its site this morning, the Guild called the fight with Amazon “a necessary one,” with the stakes high for Macmillan authors. The Guild commended Macmillan for its “bold move” and said that if the publisher does prevail “the economics of authorship in the digital age are likely to improve considerably.” The Guild, while firmly supporting Macmillan, made clear it wasn’t giving the publisher a blank check in terms of the digital future, saying there may be some rough patches ahead before authors get what they deserve in the digital publishing age. While the Guild didn’t spell out what tough patches might lie ahead, it was most likely referring to higher royalty rates, something that agents mentioned yesterday as an issue that needs to be addressed soon.

The Guild’s post was also notable for its criticism of Amazon, which it said “has a well-earned reputation for playing hardball.” The Guild called the removal of buy buttons “a harsh tactic,” by which Amazon uses its dominance of online bookselling to punish publishers who fail to fall in line with Amazon's business plans. “Collateral damage in these scuffles,” the Guild added “are authors and readers. Authors lose their access to millions of readers who shop at Amazon; readers find some of their favorite authors' works unavailable. Generally, the ending is not a good one for the publisher or its authors.” as more industry revenue is diverted to Amazon. “This isn't good for those who care about books. Without a healthy ecosystem in publishing, one in which authors and publishers are fairly compensated for their work, the quality and variety of books available to readers will inevitably suffer,” the Guild said.

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