Amazon is Still Causing Heartache for Publishers

We’ve all used Amazon. Some of us more than others. I imagine most of us are aware of the site’s option to buy with 1 click, right? I never use it, but I know it’s there. Now Amazon is allowing third party sellers to bid for the buy with 1 click option. Which isn’t new at all. Amazon has allowed this for other products but had excluded books. No longer.

What this means is that a third party could potentially be the first option to buy on the product page rather than the copy of the book Amazon purchased from the publisher.

My problem with this whole thing isn’t with Amazon. It’s with book publishers thinking they’re so much better than every other business. I’ve bought so many different products on Amazon when the first option is a third party seller and there was an option to buy from Amazon too. Publishers publish books to make money. THE END. Let’s not be fooled by their crying over not being the first option on Amazon.

How come publishers aren’t attacking Half Price Books? Their books are being sold by the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, and they aren’t seeing a dime from those sales. But Amazon is the bad guy. Like always.

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Guest Post: I’m going to slit my wrists if you don’t publish me…

… Well not really. Hmm, scratch that, I’m only kinda telling the truth.

The fact is I have had my moments, you know the type, the devastating (albeit occasionally histrionic) outbursts of “it’s not fair! Why me? What have I ever done to anyone? Who was I in a past life? Hitler!” Okay, so maybe that last one is just me. However, I have spoken to enough writers to know that emotions of desolate desperation at never being read (at least by enough people) or known are ones that attack many of us at some point in our turbulent creative journeys.

I have been writing from a very young age, seriously trying to get some sort of recognition for the past seven years or so (on an off and on basis in all honesty) and have given up on my attempts at many intervals during my writing “career”.

The countless knockbacks classily framed in those “sincere” rejection letters that have so obviously been meticulously crafted for me personally [come on publishing/literary agents, at least change the font and colour when you cut (and may I add creatively misspell) and paste my name assuring me there is someone out there with whom my story is going to click eventually, I just need to find that needle in the haystack] were enough for me on an individual basis to throw in the towel once and for all.

I would just stop, there would be no calm before the storm or voodoo inspired smoke signs before the eventual demise of my pen (or keyboard), I would seriously just get up one morning and that would be it. No more writing, no more creation, nothing. Nada. Blank space full stop.

When I look back on those times when my imagination would be firmly tucked away in the abyss that occupied the supposed artistic section of my cranium, I wonder if I was truly fine not writing. I have been innovating places, people, stories, worlds, everything and anything really that my brain can possibly conjure up for so long now, I don’t really know how not to do it.

It was only when my extremely insightful father asked me one day, “Why do you write?” that I truly reflected on the reason.

“Why do I write?” I asked myself aloud one day. I mean before all the drama and the hypocritically enamoured materialism set in, why was I writing at six? It wasn’t for the publishers. God knows I never really wrote anything to be read, I just wrote because I had to, because it made me happy, because it kept me sane and safe in a world I still, till this day, often struggle to comprehend.

Screw the publishers, I thought. Kick the literary agents to the kerb, I mentally screamed. I will write because I don’t know how not to. Not for the money, or the elusive and often fallible “fame” associated with compiling a bestseller, but solely because I can’t not write.

When I would open up the dam I had forcefully deployed to block all the creativity within me and commence on my imperfect path to writing heaven, my mind would seriously punish me by not allowing me to sleep for weeks, often months. It was like opening up a realm of wonder, full of untapped imagination that was just waiting impatiently to pounce, rip apart any sort of entrapping realism I was attempting to band aid on.

The reality is it is much more torturous for me not to write than it is to. Sure, the chances of being read by anyone really is meagrely slim, but those few and far between who do, make me so much more grateful. Who knows if I’ll ever be “famous”, but accepting my fate as a writer (successful or not) makes me that much more content to do what I don’t just love to do, but in unbridled reality, have to do.

Last time I checked, breathing isn’t an option, it’s survival and I don’t need the act to be recorded on television or anything. Similarly, writing for me is living.

So, what does writing mean to you? Truly?

MP Sharma

Publishers Giving Away Books?

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Missouri State Archives

That’s right. Publishers are giving away books. Over a hundred million of them. Just kidding. This is not something I can imagine ever happening again. I’m sure the major publishers have some kind of charity or school program that offers books for cheap or for free, but I highly doubt that it’s on the level of what I’m about to tell you.

Remember that thing called World War II? Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia and Churchill and FDR. I’m sure you’ve read about it in the history books, but there’s a part of the story you likely haven’t heard. Before I get into what happened during the war as related to books, you should know that they were not quite as available as they are now. Bookstores may be closing, but you still can get your hands on just about any book you want by way of Amazon or Abebooks or another retailer near you. With that being said, publishers took a chance in 1943. They began selling paperbacks for just six cents to the Army. These cheaply made books were manufactured using magazine presses.

You might be thinking so what. What’s it matter if publishers were selling books cheaply to the Army and soldiers stationed around the world. Well it matters because these books soon became wildly popular during the war. You can imagine the living conditions and the thoughts of never returning home of some of the soldiers. But then these books start arriving from America. I won”t exaggerate the role these books played during the war, but the Army eventually could not order these books fast enough to meet the demand of the soldiers and the publishers could not ship out a new batch of books soon enough. The books were often read until they were no longer a book, until they fell apart. Suffice it to say that a single book could be read by dozens of soldiers in lesser war torn areas.

Publishers gave away a grand total of 122,951,031 of these cheap paperbacks over the next four years. Read that number again. 122 million! Guess what the result of all their efforts was? Though paperbacks were sold prior to the start of the program with the Army, the titles weren’t the same as their hardcover counterparts and all books were hard to find because of how few bookstores existed at the time. During and after the war this changed. Rather than pay $2 for a hardcover, paperbacks were just a quarter. The everyday person could afford them and soon millions of Americans were reading.

So again, what was the result of all the work of the publishers during those few years? They helped create an America that wanted to read.

You can read a great article about all of this here.