Wylie Compares Amazon to "a Digital Trucking Company", Terrorists
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.
Bob Mayer October 29, 2014 um 3:41 pm
One assumes he burns all checks received from Amazon for his clients? At the very least, donates his 15% to charity?
puzzled October 29, 2014 um 4:21 pm
Why stop at giving Amazon 0% margin? Amazon should be willing, no – make that ecstatic, to pay for the honour of selling books and ebooks, and pay handsomely. After all, the rest of the Amazon business can support these payments.
Timothy Wilhoit October 29, 2014 um 4:36 pm
There should be a corollary to Godwin’s Law. Anyone comparing a retailer to a murderous terrorist organization has committed a full Godwin. Wylie isn’t even worth fisking. If Amazon ever starts retailing WMD to third world juntas, then he might have a point.
Nate Hoffelder October 29, 2014 um 4:45 pm
I don’t see how one could fisk Wulie’s statements in that keynote. It’s just not possible.
Cee October 29, 2014 um 5:01 pm
Someone should tell him that Amazon is a book store, the biggest book store in the world right now.
If he thinks it’s a trucking company, he’s not qualified to be an agent. Or maybe he is.
Timothy Wilhoit October 29, 2014 um 5:08 pm
If he were paid zero percent, he *might* be worth it. On second thought, no he wouldn’t. If he were the only way to get a book published, I’d rather bury it under several layers of peat.
fjtorres October 29, 2014 um 5:56 pm
Interesting, I always wondered if an acerebral human might be mobile.
And here in one article we find not one, but two. And they are in fact mobile.
As one would expect, they utter sounds but make absolutely no sense.
Somewhere, somebody is probably compiling an article for NATURE documenting this discovery.
Nate Hoffelder October 29, 2014 um 6:25 pm
That’s not completely fair to the lawyer; we only have his words second-hand.
fjtorres October 29, 2014 um 6:31 pm
Let him sue Wylie for defamation. 😉
Mackay Bell October 29, 2014 um 7:37 pm
Wait, I’m confused again. I thought Amazon had a monopoly that AU wanted the DOJ to investigate. Now he’s saying it’s the big publishers have the monopoly and can force Amazon to do anything they want?
Could they please get their arguments straight. I get the "Amazon is evil" part. But their why it is evil stuff keeps changing.
Nate Hoffelder October 29, 2014 um 8:00 pm
Okay, I was wrong. It is possible to fisk him.
And funny, too!
Timothy Wilhoit October 29, 2014 um 8:00 pm
It’s important to keep moving the goalposts. If at all possible, the goalposts should be moved in the dead of night to a secret location where they are hidden with camouflage netting. Then they can shout "Damazon! They hid the goalposts!"
Angela Booth October 30, 2014 um 1:34 am
(Snicker) I love this: “Amazon will be told you either do business on our terms or we are going to develop other channels of distribution”.
Yep. I can see that happening. Any century now. After all, big publishing has millions of dollars to invest in ecommerce websites. And distribution is easy. Just make a phone call. Many, many businesses are BEGGING to sell books, since they have such huge margins, and are so easy to warehouse and deliver.
Of course, Amazon will respectfully close down, because they can’t can’t compete with publishers actually SELLING books.
Whatever that man’s smoking, I want some. 🙂
Adi October 30, 2014 um 4:19 am
"…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. "
Hmm, lets continue along that train of thought, shall we?
"Authors should give publishers zero percent of the retail price, and not 85%, because without their content publishers would be useless pieces of shit."
Sounds about right. I guess he has a point.
Sharon October 30, 2014 um 4:54 am
So now the industry stalwarts are picking on truckers. That’s as bad as someone saying that literature is not a consumer product like a toaster…no one would do that…wait.
I think they should institute Trucker’s Day at Amazon to honor this. Baseball caps and down vests and country music blaring from every speaker.
puzzled October 30, 2014 um 8:01 am
Every day is Trucker’s Day!
Frank Skornia October 30, 2014 um 11:06 am
Isn’t this the same Wylie that tried to launch those Odyssey Editions exclusively on the Kindle of his client’s backlist, claiming that the contracts never included digital rights and then got seriously smacked down by the Big 6? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/books/22odyssey.html?_r=0
Wow, what a turn around in 4 years…
Nate Hoffelder October 30, 2014 um 11:31 am
I recall that it was mainly Random House that slapped him down, but yes.
Frank Skornia October 30, 2014 um 12:34 pm
I knew there was one of big pubs mostly responsible but couldn’t remember which one, thought it was Penguin, but you’re right it was RH: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/business/media/25random.html?_r=0
Nate Hoffelder October 30, 2014 um 12:46 pm
I bet all of the majors stopped returning his calls, but RH was the one which got credit.