Double U Tee Eff, Amazon

I’m writing this over the weekend, so no doubt by the time it goes up Tuesday this will all be old news (and probably out of date) but this is by far the silliest and also slimiest thing I’ve yet to come across in my publishing career.

So, by now you’ve probably heard about the letter that Amazon sent out butt early Saturday morning (if not, you can find it here). In summary, Amazon and Hachette have been pulling each other’s hair over contract disputes. I don’t know all the details and won’t pretend to, but it’s been going on for a while.

And, apparently, Amazon decided that the best way to get ahead in said fight was to email all their KDP authors and ask them to email Hachette and tell them to stop being jerkfaces.

What.

What.

I have very rarely actually spluttered, but there you are.

First of all, I don’t care about the Amazon/Hachette dispute that much because it does not directly affect me. Also, at this point it has reached such levels of ridiculousness that it feels unreal.

Second of all, Amazon doesn’t do much for its KDP authors unless they’re enrolled in KDP Select (where the book is available exclusively through Amazon, so the author can’t offer their book through multiple channels), and even then, the benefits are not great.

It’s entirely possible that Amazon expects (and maybe some people do) indie and self-published authors to think that they owe Amazon a huge deal because Amazon allows them to sell their ebooks on Amazon. Never mind that Amazon takes at least a 30% cut from each sale for doing nothing except providing a little bit of real estate (and, by some accounts, undercuts KDP books so it makes it harder for them to go up in the ranks or show up in searches. I don’t know if either of those have ever been proven, however).

KDP authors do not work for Amazon. They will not get any benefits if Amazon “wins” their dispute with Hachette (and, as some people point out, will probably lose out by Amazon forcing more ebooks–and those by bigger publishing houses–into the cheaper categories that indies and self-published books tend to hang out in).

KDP authors are not Amazon’s minions.

This move is just so wildly unprofessional that I don’t even know what to say. So here’s some other smarter, more knowledgeable people to say it for me:

John Scalzi

Chuck Wendig

Four Moons Press

And here is Hachette’s response to this whole debacle, which, unlike a certain email, looks like it was actually run by someone with a brain before they let it out the door.

To reiterate, I, like most people who sell ebooks on Amazon, have no say in the Amazon/Hachette thing because I am not involved. And it was uncool for Amazon to try and force me into the middle. So, if anything, now I am slightly on Hachette’s “side” purely because they haven’t tried to put me into a fight that I have absolutely nothing to do with.

Badly done, Amazon, badly done.

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