Monday, November 14, 2011

Last week, I raised the subject of the Amazon Prime Lending Library, from which subscribers will be able to borrow one book a month free. This week, Publishers Weekly is talking about the possibility that a legal action will be raised against them.

With the publication of the first list of available books under the new scheme, it transpired that for the huge majority of them, Amazon has not reached any agreement with the retailer and as the detail is becoming clearer there is considerable anger.

The big six publishers, who have an 'agency' style contract, have been unaffected, but other smaller houses have only been able to establish which of their books feature on it by trawling through the list. There is great unease, but as one publisher commented, to antagonise Amazon would be financial suicide.

At the moment, Amazon is paying publishers as if the book has been bought when it is being borrowed, and some publishers are quite happy with this. This may be a permanent arrangement.

Or it may not. At the moment, Amazon's main interest is in selling Kindles; it seems a new form is launched every other week. Once they achieve saturation sales, it's possible that they may see things differently.

The issue of royalties will of course lie between the publisher and the author, but it looks as if the situation is very confused – always bad news for authors. There are enough problems over underpaid royalties at the moment and however scrupulous a publisher may be, this can only make them worse.

Holding Amazon to account is apparently impossible. Recently an author who is published on Kindle claimed that Amazon, wrongly believing he had broken his contract with them by allowing his book to be published cheaper elsewhere, offered his book for free download. When he protested, they accepted that they had made a mistake but refused any compensation for the 5000+ books that had been downloaded.

I use Amazon myself. It's brilliant for sending books as presents, and with my new iPad I'm discovering the joys of immediate download. I'm sure far more books are sold because it exists. It's only that I wonder what's going to happen once it's priced everyone else out of the market.


LD Masterson said...

And this is why a bought a Nook. I just don't want to be part of Amazon's takeover of the publishing industry.

Charlotte Hinger said...

It ain't over til the fat lady sings. There's so many changes going on in the industry right now that I'm simply waiting until everything shakes down. As Ilene said, it's rarely good news for writers.

Aline Templeton said...

I think a lot of us are feeling the same about the way things are going. I can only hope we're wrong.