With Authors United’s
debate recitation coming up on Wednesday, this week promises to have an excess of “evil Amazon is evil” whining, and David Lieder is getting a head start on the competition.
Writing over at The Writer’s Workshop, this David Streitfeld wannabe reaches into the depths of his ADS* to argue that authors should not not deal directly with Amazon.
So I want to argue that authors should avoid Amazon Kindle, ACX and Create Space, and explain why I recommend that authors use other distributors, except for allowing your books to trickle back onto the Amazon platform after the fact (from another propagator, such as Smashwords, Ingram-Spark, even Book Baby). I want to explain why I teach authors to boycott Amazon ACX (audiobook production) and to replace Create Space with the much better choice of Ingram-Spark (which has print books available to authors at about half the price of Create Space).
Apparently Lieder is a believer in what I am calling the condom theory, which goes something like this: So long as you wear a condom, you’re not technically having sex with your partner. (Yes, it is a dumb theory, but it’s his theory and his arguments, not mine).
To put it another way, this pint-sized Melville House thinks it is okay to do business with what he sees as evil so long as you have an intermediary in between. In his mind, you’re not dealing with the devil if you use a distributor who deals with the devil on your behalf.
I could explain why Lieder’s arguments are wrong, and point out the factual errors, half-truths, and arrant nonsense in his piece, but I have already lost several brain cells reading that piece and I do not wish to expend any additional brain cells arguing the point.
So let me simply list a few:
- Discredited Argument: The fact that some Amazon ex-employees say it’s common for employees to break down crying because the pressures and attitudes across the board as a company are oppressive.
- Factual Error: The biggest defense of Kindle has been authors singing praises about the library program. The authors make money off the library program. So here is yet one more example of an artificial business. Because authors usually are NOT making money from the library. They make money because Amazon artificially funds the library, which is a fake form of propping it up, and if Amazon stops doing this, authors will make nothing.
- Irrelevant Half-Truth: Because Kindle is terrible with graphics, most Kindle owners have black-and-white devices and nobody expects ePubs on Kindle to be pretty. Contrast that with the high quality screens of most Android tablets, and the Retina display of Apple devices and the fact that our ePubs on Apple can be large file size and beautiful, retaining all the graphic quality.
- Irrelevant and Misunderstood Detail: Apple is literally the most valuable public company in the world with the highest market cap of any existing company out there. This translates into stability, when you consider their pragmatic approach to nearly everything.
The problem with his main point is that using a distributor rather than KDP will cost authors money and control. Sometimes authors have to do it (banking reasons, for example) but as a general rule one should avoid giving up control and missing out revenue.
Rather than arguing one should avoid doing business with Amazon at all, this bush league Salon writer wants authors to make a token gesture of defiance while at the same time fails to adequately explain why authors should take a hit on their income but still do business with Amazon.
Now, if Lieder had argued that one should not do business with the evil Amazon, that would be one thing.
Shunning an evil company is a sound ethical position, but it is also a position no one would take seriously in the current indie publishing scene.
So instead Doug Preston’s clone decided to argue for the pansy-assed position that authors should use a distributor, and he used the opportunity to spew all sorts of nonsense in the hopes that you wouldn’t notice the propaganda.
And somehow I got suckered into wasting 700 words ranting about him.
P.S. ADS stands for Amazon Derangement Syndrome, the nickname given to the condition where someone’s hatred of Amazon is warping their judgement Lieder is the perfect example.
image by Håkan Dahlström