In a continuing series of blog posts about the ways in which Amazon is striving to take over the world, at least the world of book publishing, here is another article that gives 7 practical things we can all do to defeat this Goliath.
I confess in a moment of real despair this past January, I was tempted to sign on with Amazon and postpone my fight to get people to understand why Amazon is the Goliath all publishers and writers as well as readers need to defeat. In that moment of temptation, I would only postpone my fight as the tiny David in order to use the power of Amazon to sell my books. I tried to convince myself that once I had the money I needed, I could easily return to my role as David. Having breached their world, their secrets would be known and I would be doubly armed against them.
Fortunately that type of secret agent work is not required to understand the giant and how it works. As my favorite journalist used to say, you can find all you need to know about anything by reading and keeping track of that information. (I.F. Stone)
Therefore, we have at our fingertips all the information we need to know about how this Goliath functions, what its intentions are and, fundamentally, where its weaknesses lie.
The basic weakness of a force that intends to rule by its own will (e.g., violence in the marketplace) is that non-violence works against it. Boycotts work. It is possible to silence its weapons against us. We can endure even when dumped by the Goliath of sales. The company uses its weapons well and has turned its substantial visibility and money to enforce lots of rules and regulations that will ultimately never enrich authors or publishers or make the reading public as well informed as they can be. No, Amazon has used its considerable size and position to poison the marketplace and to make all new creation a victim of its size and power to dictate sales potential.
At one point, it was assumed, wrongly, I should add, that Amazon was a benign monster. That it had no evil intentions about the book world other than to be a player. However, little by little, lots of cracks in that PR veneer began to appear. The kind that should have made well read people sit up and be frightened, but there was something alluring in that click and buy culture Amazon helped to create. The idea that one could sit up late at night and think of a book and order it and have it delivered shortly in the mail made a huge shift in our reading culture. This small change made larger by the introduction of the e-reader and e-books where it is not a matter any longer of waiting, but of just deciding on which book is to be ordered now!
We could spend time here discussing the ways in which the iTunes store influenced this cultural reaction but let’s not dwell there now. Let’s look at why I am bombarding you with these tidbits of insight or tedium depending on your perspective.
In fact, I am going to push this whole discussion forward and leave some large gaps in the telling of the back story. Some have to do with the price wars and the predatory practices. We can return to all of that at a later date because I think what really interests readers/writers/publishers in this whole discussion of Amazon is this:
Can we defeat the Goliath?
The answer is yes and yes only if we band together and realize what it is we are up against.
This system is broken and it can be fixed. But it must be fixed now and not in some dim future when people are more comfortable with this idea.
Here’s how we begin:
1. Boycott Amazon. It is very easy to turn off your buying habits for a while and not order one book from them.
2. A Boycott of Amazon is simple if sites such as Goodreads decides that it can exist without having their buy buttons linked to Amazon but rather let their authors choose other sites where their books are available.
3. A Boycott of Amazon works well if publishers use their own websites as points of purchase.
4. A Boycott of Amazon works well if you don’t walk into the local bookstore and look up the books you want and then order them on your phone from Amazon but purchase the books right there. Keeping that bookstore in business is truly important to keeping the entire book business in business.
5. A Boycott of Amazon is possible if readers decide what is more important to them–having writers still around to offer new books or just cheap stuff to fill up their ereaders or bookshelves. Books aren’t meant to be throw-away items.
6. A Boycott of Amazon is truly possible if writers/publishers recognize the power of Print on Demand and use it well. Freeing up the environmental hazards of bound books would go a long way towards helping us having cleaner air and water.
7. A Boycott of Amazon is possible if authors use their own sites to sell their own works. E-books are easy enough to set up on your site. And if all of us become much more tech savvy about the ways in which the different formats work on different ereaders, there won’t be any problems helping those with less savvy get help when required.
Writers are the ones who have been the most brainwashed when it comes to the power of Amazon. They think that they should be using their time only to write and to be artists rather than soiling their hands in that murky water of marketing and promotion. This topic in itself deserves an entire post. Not just because it makes me angry but because it is important to understand what the real world of book promotion has become and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
For now, let’s Boycott Amazon and see what happens. All reports on your efforts will be greatly appreciated.