John Scalzi, who has been one of the most listened-to voices on the Amazon/Macmillan feud, points out that Amazon has still not restored the ability to buy new copies of Macmillan authors’ works. They did temporarily add a “Buy” button for buying used, but then removed that. (Apparently Amazon’s “ultimately […] will have to capitulate” is not the same as “is now capitulating”.)

Scalzi notes that, though he personally is in no financial danger, the Macmillan authors who rely on royalty income who are getting hurt the most by this dispute. He asks that readers support those authors by buying new copies of their books elsewhere.

Much as I dislike Macmillan’s desire to control retail pricing, I have to admit that Scalzi is right: right now, it is the authors who are getting caught in the middle of this clash of the publishing-industry titans. If you have the desire to buy a new paper copy of a Macmillan author’s works, don’t wait until Amazon puts them back to do so.

Of course, those of you who want to buy them for your Kindle at reasonable prices are still out of luck.


  1. While the collateral damage being suffered by authors, and their potential readers, is and has been significant, this result is effectively equivalent to the third party injuries suffered in most cases of labor union strikes. Just as Amazon appears to have decided in the end that pursuing its course of action wouldn’t be in its best interest, most labor union strikes produce net losses, not accounting for possible gains in the credibility of future strike threats.

    In any case, criticism of Amazon’s ‘job action’ cannot be justified per se without taking a similar stance on union strikes. The only valid criticism would be if Amazon made itself worse off (shot itself in the foot) while unnecessarily injuring innocent third parties.

    Regards, Don

  2. Unless you’re boycotting Macmillan e-books, they are also available elsewhere.

    And he’s not complaining about the publisher…he just doesn’t want any money to go to Amazon since they’re currently screwing *him* out of money.

  3. Agree with John. It’s unfortunate that authors may lose sales, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Amazon to wish to have control over its prices (so long as they pay publishers what they’re contractually obligated to pay). It seems to me that cutting off sales gives Amazon the only real leverage they have available.

    Of course, were I a Macmillan author, I’d be screaming, but I think I’d be screaming to Macmillan, not to Amazon.

    Rob Preece

  4. It’s a nice thought and all, but I’ve stopped buying paper books, and Macmillan are pretty adamant about refusing to issue electronic editions of anything I want to buy.

    So I guess I’ll continue to support those authors whose work I read and enjoy but who have the misfortune to have some titles tied up at Macmillan the same way I always have (the same way I did just this past weekend, in fact): by buying Kindle editions of the books they have in print from publishers who aren’t batguano insane.

  5. It seems to me that Amazon is just making a powerful statement, since they have said that they will “ultimately” give in to Macmillan’s wishes on pricing. My view (as a consumer) is that $10 is a reasonable price for new e-books, while $15 is not. I know, the publishers think otherwise, but I have read all of their excuses and they just don’t make sense. It appears to me that their motivation is to limit or kill e-book sales, make more money for themselves, and/or retain tight control of the publishing world. Macmillan might be successful if they can get together with Apple and most of the other publishers to set prices for e-books.

  6. Scalzi is wrong. If the number of people who support the various Macmillan authors is significant enough to make a real difference to those authors, it is significant enough to make a real difference to Macmillan.

    Ultimately, it is Macmillan that drew the line in the sand and dared Amazon to cross it. The authors shouldn’t be mad at Amazon for crossing it.

    As far as I am concerned, the whole book market is screwed up. The publishers should sell their books to retailers for whatever amount they want… and the retailers should then be free to sell them to the public at whatever price they want.

  7. Has anything official from Amazon been released about this issue other than the Kindle Team’s capitulation post? Not that I doubt Scalzi’s pure impartiality and awesome psychic insight that it’s Amazon being “dicks” about it, but in a parallel world without Scalzi omniscience, couldn’t it be possible that Amazon can’t legally sell either ebooks or physical books without a new contract with Macmillan, and Macmillan is currently being “dicks” about some other detail of that contract?

    Regardless, authors are indeed suffering harm through no fault of their own. If someone could identify Macmillan authors (Tor authors, let’s say, since I read SF/Fantasy) who also publish novels at Baen Books, multiformat Fictionwise (or Secure Mobipocket, since I have a Cybook as well as a Kindle), or some other outlet? I’m willing to help out if it’s an ebook and not Macmillan.

  8. the new model isn’t supposed to happen until march, right? if amazon re-listed the books under old pricing from now until then, wouldn’t there be some kind of insane run on macmillan titles, jamming up the whispernet, and costing amazon a bunch of money all at once since e-books are presently priced as loss-leaders? amazon might actually want to wait until they will no longer be selling macmillan at a loss to re-list.

    there are a few macmillan titles that i’ve been meaning to buy myself, and now can’t. but hadn’t planned to yet. shantaram. book 2 of the wheel of time series. not sure i’d do the hoardy thing myself, given the size of my current backlog (and the size of each book *in* that backlog). but book lovers really are hoardy types. it could happen.

  9. Having read Mr Sargeant’s manifesto, I see nothing in his vision that addresses my needs or interests as I am neither a publisher, author, or illustrator, merely a heavy consumer of Science Fiction.

    There are plenty of authors out there so I can and *will* boycott MacMillan with little regard for the collateral damage.

    War has been declared upon me and I will not provide material support to the enemy.

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