Andrew Wylie has long taken the side of Hachette inits dispute with Amazon, and he doesn’t see any reason to change his views following the news that Simon & Schuster had struck a deal with Amazon.
PW reports that Wylie gave a keynote address at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA) today, and if the quotes are accurate then Wylie hasn’t softened his position one bit. In fact, he may have adopted an even more extreme position than ever before.
To start with, Wylie relayed a conversation he had a few years ago with a music industry lawyer, John Eastman, who believed that publishers should have given Amazon zero percent of the retail price, and not 30%, because without the content Amazon’s hardware was “useless pieces of high grade plastic. So if they want to give you 30% of their profits, I would trade 30% of book publishing profits for 30% of Amazon’s profits,” he said Eastman advised him.
The fact that the content was also worthless without sales channels such as the Kindle Store seems to slipped by both Mr. Wylie and Mr. Eastman.
It sounds like Wylie sees no value in Amazon at all, and that Amazon could easily be replaced. He’s quoted as saying that there is a strong chance that in the end “Amazon will be told you either do business on our terms or we are going to develop other channels of distribution”.
I wish him luck with that; others have tried to best Amazon at selling books and most of the companies who have succeeded have since been bought out by Amazon. The publishers certainly haven’t proven capable of doing so.
Wylie goes on to describe Amazon as “a digital trucking company” which “the publishing industry, up until now, has cowered and whined and moaned and groaned and given Amazon pretty much everything they want”.
And it gets better. Not only is Amazon little more than a glorified shop clerk, it is also the equivalent of a terrorist organization which has killed children, beheaded journalist, and cause untold suffering.
According to PW, Wylie believes that “with the restored health of the publishing industry and having some sense of where this sort of ISIS-like distribution channel, Amazon, is going to be buried and in which plot of sand they will be stuck, [publishers] will be able to raise the author’s digital royalty to 40% or 50%,” he said. “Writers will begin to make enough money to live.”
It’s not clear who Wylie thinks is going to sell the books after Amazon has been buried, but I guess he is willing to leave minor details like that to underlings. Andrew Wylie, after all, is a literary agent.
While I know several words I would like to use to describe Wylie, I am unfortunately not allowed to write any of them on this blog. I will note, though, that the idea of making peace is not part his lexicon.