Is Amazon Good For Books?

Exactly one year ago today I wrote this post asking the exact same question. But if you happen to click the link you’ll find that there was no discussion at the time. One Like and no comments. Which is funny because the post I published just two days later currently has 109 Likes and 189 comments. Just how these things go sometimes. And honestly, I’ve wanted to revisit this particular topic for a long time now. Partly because last year’s post went unnoticed and because a lot has changed in the last 365 days.

Let me also say something very important. I know some of you will read this question as “Is Amazon good for publishing?” Don’t. I’m looking big picture here. Writers. Readers. Publishers. All of it.

First, I’d like for you to simply answer the question. A simple yes or no will suffice for now.

Got your answer? Great. Let me begin.

Now I’m going to list out all of the programs and things that Amazon has done related to books. If I feel a particular topic requires more information, then I’ll say what I want to say.

I’ll reveal my overall take at the end.

Amazon Kindle

The premier eReader. Period. I have the super old Kindle Keyboard and it works like new. The Kindle Paperwhite was a major step in the right direction and then it was followed by the Kindle Voyage. It’s hard to keep making these better, but they do.

And let’s not forget that the Kindle changed publishing and how books are accessed.

CreateSpace

Yes I used CreateSpace for my first book, but ask anyone and you’ll find that it is the most used and the easiest to use self publishing platform.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Want to publish your book on Kindle and see what happens? This is what you’ll likely use.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon’s eBook subscription service. You’ve likely read somewhere about how it’s taking money out of authors’ pockets and how all these authors are having to go back to their day job. Come on. The titles in Kindle Unlimited are self published or Amazon Publishing titles. These aren’t your super authors. The authors in the program are probably not making seven figures from their book sales. So let’s give it a rest.

Kindle First

Gives you access to four titles a month before their release date for a discounted price on Kindle. Or free if you’re a Prime member.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA)

The annual contest is no longer run, but it was the single most lucrative publishing contest in America during its time. The grand prize winner would receive a $50,000 publishing contract. And oh by the way, I’ve looked into some of the past winners and they’re very high in the Kindle store and have thousands of reviews.

Kindle Scout

This is why the ABNA is no longer conducted. It was replaced. Now Amazon has given the power to the readers. All an author has to do is enroll their unreleased book into the program and readers will be able to read a sample for a 30 day period and vote which books they believe should be published. If a book is chosen for publishing the author receives a $1,500 advance and a shortened timeline to publication.

Amazon Publishing

These are traditional publishers under the Amazon umbrella. Thomas & Mercer. AmazonCrossing. AmazonEncore. 47North. Montlake Romance. AmazonPublishing. Grand Harbor Press. Little A. Jet City Comics. Two Lions. Skyscape. Lake Union Publishing. StoryFront. Waterfall Press. Each imprint publishes different genres from the others.

Kindle Convert

You can convert your print books into Kindle books.

Audible

Audiobooks.

AbeBooks

The site on which you can find those rare books you can’t find elsewhere.

Goodreads

Bet you didn’t know Amazon owned this, did ya? Yep.

I think that’s it. I came up with this list off the top of my head, so feel free to tell me if I forgot anything. Now I think you’ve figured out which side of the fence I’m on. I’m Team Amazon. All the way. Let’s just go down the list real quick.

There’s nothing to be said about the Kindle. It’s great and continues to be great.

CreateSpace gives so many writers the opportunity to see their book in print. And who knows, there’s gotta be another Hugh Howey coming along. If you look at the other self-publishing platforms, there really is no match. Even if you think self-publishing as a whole is no good, it’s here to stay…might as well use the best platform.

KDP gives the writers who don’t care to see their book in print the opportunity to sell their book in the Kindle store, and they don’t even have to pay for anything if they’re comfortable with their cover and formatting.

Kindle Unlimited has the potential to be great, but not one of the Big Five has their titles included in the program. I’d say it’s just an eh for now.

Kindle First. I actually really like this. I’ve downloaded four new books for free in the last couple of weeks because I’m a Prime member. I’ll have more info once I read one of the books. But the idea is great and the books chosen for the program shoot to the top of the Kindle store immediately. People seem to like free and discounted books. Surprise, right?

ABNA was the most lucrative publishing contest during its run. Don’t tell me you have something negative to say, especially if you entered every year. And Kindle Scout is one of those programs that many writers dream of. Because let’s face it, there are A LOT of writers out there writing books who will never be published by a traditional publisher. I’m probably one of them. But you could have a blog or nice social media presence or some really cool friends and family members go and nominate your book for publishing. And guess what, there’s a chance that it actually gets published. The Amazon editors have the final say, but anyone who enters their book into this program has absolutely nothing to lose and the chance of a lifetime.

Amazon Publishing has a lot of imprints. For every kind of author. The downside of publishing with one of their imprints is that your books won’t be sold by Barnes and Noble or most other retailers. The plus side is your book will get a significant amount of Amazon marketing. I know because an author I really enjoy went from a Big Five publisher to an Amazon publisher and instead of having 50 reviews as he did on his previous books, he’s in the thousands. So he’s selling a lot of books.

Kindle Convert sucks and it’s stupid.

Audible. There are a few audiobook makers out there, and I haven’t listened to one in more than a decade. So eh.

AbeBooks is great. I once had a handful of books written by a favorite author of mine that I could not find anywhere. I even asked the author! He didn’t know. But then I was referred to AbeBooks and BAM I got my books.

Goodreads is actually Amazon’s second foray into the book social networking realm. Shelfari was their first, and if you’re still using that site….you’re behind the times. Way behind. And yes, I know Amazon didn’t create Goodreads. But they still own it so it belongs on the list.

All in all, if you look at what Amazon has done for readers, at the opportunities they provide authors, and at the newfound competition between traditional publishers that have had a stranglehold on the publishing industry for more than a century….I don’t see how one can conclude they’re bad for books. But I’m certain that this will be a mixed bag of responses.

Unleash your thoughts on the matter!

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25 thoughts on “Is Amazon Good For Books?

  1. I’m also with team Amazon. I’ve dealt with them for years first as a reader of paperbacks, then e-books, and now as an author. They’re friendly, easy to use platforms are not matched by anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At this time, I think Amazon is a good resource to self publish books and looking forward, I would use Amazon as a resource. A couple years ago, I self published 2 books through CreateSpace, but they didn’t sell–probably because I never marketed them and didn’t have an online presence at the time. I have since removed them πŸ™‚

    Like

  3. I think it is still too early to really know the full impact of Amazon on publishing. I do believe the Amazon model is here to stay so we can like it or lump it. I do like the amount of choice Amazon gives me and an authors ability to set the price on his or her product. I know authors who’ve had fights with traditional publishers over the way too high a price being charged for the book.

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  4. I’ve been on Team Amazon for years. Ever since I became a prime member. They always have the books I’m looking for, and I’ve tried a ton of new ones based on recommendations from other readers and by reviews. I’m not as familiar with all their other programs, but they sound awesome! No matter what has happened this year, I’ll always be a huge fan of Amazon.

    Like

  5. Essay incoming πŸ˜‰

    I have a Kindle Paperwhite, which I love. I’m so jealous that you have the old Keyboard one! My brother accidentally dropped something on my old one and the screen broke, it was my favourite =( I use Kindle coz it’s easiest, I’m no good at converting files and such. I use Goodreads religiously, and purchase print books from The Book Depository, which is UK based but Amazon owned. Much, much cheaper than buying print books in Australia, because everything is so expensive here.

    My parents use Audible, so I use it sometimes as well, mainly for reading in the car. Both my parents are totally blind, so they can only use audiobooks or Braille books (obviously). Before they started using Audible last year, they were relying on the Vision Australia audiobook library or Braille library, which has increasingly dubious quality and is becoming expensive to use (they recently started charging $120 a year for their service, despite donations and govt. funding… they’re really dodgy for many reasons). They also suck at getting current titles in quickly. Other than that, their only option was to buy the books on CD, but it was totally unaffordable… one book could cost up to $60, so we could only buy them on sale.

    With Audible, they can get good quality audiobooks, of current titles. They can read them on their iPhones, can share them and discuss them, there’s no fiddly CD’s to remember, lose and mix up, they can choose their books easily and their customer service is fab. They can get great books for REALLY cheap! I recently got them 5 books, bought outright, for under $20! That’s freaking unheard of here!

    Mum still reads Braille books, for much the same reasons why lots of people continue to read print books. Dad is a total convert, but he’s not as fast at reading Braille anyway so he found the process annoying, plus he hates CDs. He’s loving that his range has been opened and he loves being able to read newly released books. Sure, there’s not all the books he’d like, but there’s enough to keep him well pleased. There’s less clutter around the house now, since Braille books take up a lot of room- one 300 page novel comes in 5 or 6 large volumes. Winning for everybody!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazon is perfect for your whole family!

      I’ve definitely heard about how hard it is to get books in other countries because of shipping. A friend of mine had to wait like a month for a book before. I’ve looked at Book Depository (yes I knew it’s Amazon owned) before, but never used it cause there’s no point when I have free two day shipping from Amazon.

      And yes! I know books on CDs are pricey. I’ve never boughy one, but I’ve seen their prices every once in awhile.

      Al in all, props to Amazon! Haha

      Like

      • Indeed! Well, all of us except my brother =P

        Yeah, shipping from the US is always bad, the UK is usually slightly better- averages about two and a half weeks. Yeah, I’d use it if I could get Amazon to ship stuff free! It’s the best for us, I’d rather wait for free shipping than pay more than the item is worth from Amazon.

        They’re even worse here, believe me… All books are expensive here, but audio books are staggering. I don’t know of anyone who could afford to buy them all the time! You have to really hope you like the book! =P

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Agreed on all counts! Love Amazon. I also really liked their textbook buyback program, which I suppose is another way they’re “good for books.”

    Like

  7. Amazon has always been close to my heart in terms of buying and selling from them. The only problem is that they have been known to do rather unorthodox censoring of certain books, only to later apologize OR NOT about the so-said censoring.

    Can’t really say I have any other complaints besides that. Their products (the Kindle line) and their selection is phenomenal. Purchasing is simple, straightforward, and usually quite affordable. Their programs are great and they’re always coming up with new ones. Some don’t work out so well, but the majority of them are spot-on. Their return-service is quick, easy, and pretty much hassle-free.

    If you have Prime Membership, then you’re pretty much set. But even if you don’t, you still have access to so many incredible features and opportunities.

    So yes, they’re “good for books.” πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. I haven’t read too many “Team Amazon” blog posts and yours was fantastic and put into words many of my own thoughts. I love Amazon, I love my Kindle and I have many friends that have published through Amazon and been very happy with their decision. Thanks for once again for marching to your own drummer and providing a well-thought out argument. Your posts are amazing.

    To add my thoughts to this, as much as I love writers and wish I could be the cool hipster that frequents local book stores, at the end of the day I’m still a struggling writer with a family to support myself and Amazon gives me a means to purchase books within my budget. Many of the books I buy are not available at local bookstores. Another bonus is that with my Kindle, I have instant access to new books 24 hours a day. When you read as much as I do that’s pretty awesome. I also love being able to sample the first few chapters of a book before I buy it.

    I guess what I’m saying is that at the end of the day it’s not a matter of whether or not I support a company that sells and provides books for less than the author would make elsewhere. At the end of the day, where it not for Amazon I probably wouldn’t have read the author’s book at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I always see everyone else against Amazon and I just don’t agree.

      Amazon has become so much more than just a bookseller. And I think that if people really sat down and put their biases away…them they’d realize how great the company is for books.

      I really liked your comment. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Reblogged this on KnightHearth and commented:
    Personally, I have mixed feelings about Amazon, but they are frequently my first go-to to find what I need (or at least price compare) and they certainly get plenty of my money (even though as a general rule, I don’t care for monopolies).

    As a reader, I sometimes feel bad that I don’t spend more money on ebooks, but I prefer print if I plan to re-read it and especially for reference books. I have been considering adding a Goodreads link to my site since I’ve been posting my thoughts on others’ works lately. Goodreads a good idea? I guess we’ll see.

    I fell in love with audio books years ago when I discovered I could “read” while doing chores and other mindless tasks instead of the usual can’t-do-anything-else when reading print books. Of course I’m not always happy with the narrators as they can make or break the impact a book can have, but you just can’t please everyone anyway.

    As a writer? Don’t know yet, so that will have to wait for another day…

    Meantime, read what John had to say on the subject.

    Like

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