Which Hachette books are affected by Amazon spat, and why Kindle users are locked in
May 29, 2014 | 6:34 am
Here’s some more assorted Amazon/Hachette coverage. First of all, Gizmodo has some examples of the books you find on “Amazon’s hit list,” with charts comparing pricing and availability at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The article itself is rather slanted, concluding with the call to action, “Amazon has every right to fight dirty. And you have every right to show them the consequences.” Nonetheless, the charts are interesting.
It’s also interesting to look at at where the story slants are. You see plenty of pro-Hachette/anti-Amazon stuff in the media and the commercial blog networks (Gizmodo, GigaOm, etc.) and the blogs of authors who write for Hachettes (Lilith Saintcrow, Charlie Stross), but not so much in the single-poster blogs (Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, David Gaughran) who are more inclined to be skeptical of Hachette.
It’s almost as if the commercial media have ties to the same megaconglomerates publishers do, or perhaps the reporters are or have aspirations of being traditionally-published book authors themselves and don’t want to bite the hand.
Even Techdirt, which I would normally expect to be skeptical of big publishing, cites GigaOm to accuse Amazon of DRM-enforced monopoly, and of “throw[ing] its customers under a bus in the name of better business deals.” And it compares Amazon’s current Hachettes spat to the time it pulled Macmillan’s “Buy” button in 2010. Oddly enough, it makes no mention of the fact that five of the then-six big publishers were found by a court of law to have illegally colluded to raise e-book prices across the industry. Who really wants to throw e-book customers under a bus, I wonder?
And who, exactly, is to blame for Amazon having DRM on their books? It’s not Amazon. They offer it, but they don’t require it. Tor hasn’t used it for two years, Cory Doctorow has never used it, nor has Baen, and many self-published authors don’t either. And as far as I know, all the other major e-book retailers offer the same choice. If the other big publishers wanted to stop using DRM, they could do it tomorrow. (Not that they will.)
And for that matter, as I will discuss in another blog post that will go up later, it’s not really the DRM that keeps people locked into the Kindle anyway. The people who make that argument tend to assume that most Kindle users are expert enough to migrate their DRM-free books to another platform if they want to. (Hint: they aren’t. Nor do they want to.) It’s the convenience.
Finally, for those who just can’t get enough of reading comments, here’s a Slashdot discussion of the matter. Enjoy.