It occurred to me this morning that one of the main reasons why I get annoyed with authors who describe themselves as “published by Amazon” is that it muddies the question of ownership of the work.
When you sign up with a publisher one of the things you do is give them the right to market your book. You might be able to get some author copies to sell yourself, but you are not supposed to conclude your own deals with retailers. The publisher does that.
Because the publisher is not a retailer, the company will do its best to get your book into a wide range of stores, giving the consumer plenty of ways to buy. But Amazon is a retailer, not a publisher. And just like any other large, successful business, it wants to be the only game in town.
I’m meeting an increasing number of people who believe that if you produce a book for the Kindle you can only sell it through Amazon, and that books for the Kindle can only be bought from Amazon. This simply isn’t true, but Amazon does its best to encourage the idea because it helps it secure market dominance. Authors should be very worried about this. You really don’t want a single company taking the place of both publisher and retailer.
Of course not everything that Amazon does is bad. The new loan facility is an excellent idea, because it restores a right that people had with physical books and ebooks appeared to be taking away. I suspect that some big publishers are fuming about it, but that’s business.
Finally, thanks to Jason Eric Lundberg, I found this wonderful article in Granta by Daniel Alarcón. It describes the book piracy industry in Peru. And I mean book piracy, not ebook piracy. Give it a read.