scalzi Author/blogger John Scalzi writes a cogent analysis of the many ways Amazon screwed up over the weekend. While Scalzi, as a Macmillan author himself, is not exactly a disinterested party (as he is literally the first to admit), he does make some good points about ways that Amazon could have pulled the same stunt but built up more (or lost less) reader and author sympathy.

For example, writes Scalzi, Amazon could have built up to the event with its vast PR machine rather than simply flipping the switch and leaving everybody in the dark. As it was, Amazon simply removed the books and left everybody to wonder what was going on—angering both authors (who also tend to blog a lot) and those authors’ fans.

Amazon then remained mum for most of the weekend, letting Macmillan get off its press release first and spin the issue as it desired—and when Amazon did issue a statement, it was made by a very minor part of the Amazon bureaucracy (the “Amazon Kindle Team”) and buried where the average person could not easily find it—and it said some very odd things.

People who read my coverage of the event over the weekend know that I was more on Amazon’s side than Macmillan’s (though not overly fond of either of them for the other things they had done) but Scalzi, as usual, makes some darned good points. Amazon could have done a lot better for itself, and come off a lot less like a petulant child throwing a hissy fit.

Maybe if it had, the outcome would have been different.


  1. I think Amazon is being cute. The $9.99 figure kicked off the Kindle and took eBooks out of the swamp that Sony, Phillips and others were stuck in.

    Bezos knew this was coming. From their customers’ pov they are the good guys. “Hey we tried but, what can we do? We have to raise prices.”

    Meanwhile they are steadily building an alternative publishing ecosystem. Under $10 and you get 70%, over and we negotiate with you if you have clout.

    Outside of the US, we already pay more than $9.99. Amazon has ‘detailed files’ and know what the market will now stand. I guess they would have liked to keep going as they are to get more people interested in eBooks, but perhaps also, the momentum is strong enough that an excuse to stop losing money on each sale while laying the blame on the big bad publisher is not such a terrible ‘fail’ after all.

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