In one of the great Terminator movies a critical point comes when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character says, "Come with me now if you want to live.” Well, Amazon has dropped a bomb on the publishing world with its new Netflix-type plan for eBooks, and all I can say is it’s time to fight back. Come with me now if you want your book to live.
A new service, Kindle Unlimited, allows those who pay just $10 a month, for unlimited access to its catalog of 600,000 ebooks. This is one of the worst things for the book publishing industry.
It limits publishing and author profits, it gives an extremely unfair advantage to Amazon over Barnes & Noble, it furthers the price disparity between print and digital, and commoditizes books like never before.
How is any of that good for the public?
The big five publishers have wisely opted out of this service, but it still leaves plenty of publishers and books to join in. Big-name publishers are involved, such as Scholastic and Houghton Mifflin.
The all-you-can-read version is not new to publishing, but had been limited to smaller companies, such as Oyster and Scribd. Oyster offers titles from six of the top 10 publishers and Scribd consists of big publishers, such as Simon & Schuster, Wiley, and Harper Collins.
It’s a destructive model to use for book publishing. This is not the movies or music. Movies can earn full fare in the theaters. They then can sell the DVD. They can also sell it to cable/networks to air—and then make it available on Netflix. But books get one shot to sell and there aren’t ways to make money beyond selling a book to a customer.
Books are a lifeblood to America. They double-check the media, the government, and other forms of communication. They offer ideas, information, insight and inspiration—our country can’t afford for books to falter.
When you screw with the economics of book publishing you alter the landscape of how things are disseminated. When profits for authors decrease, there’s less incentive for them to publish a book.
If people start buying through the all-you-can-read menu, they will start to take business away from new books that are not on that bulk offering. For instance, if you only want to read what you can get under the $10 a month plan, you won’t make budget or time available for new books or books not in that plan. People will skip the new phase and wait for books to be back-listed and tossed in to the heap of all-you-can-read.
I think that publishers are suicidal to participate in this. First off, it will kill book sales. Second, it will further erode their brand. Third, it gives more powerful attention to Amazon and that is the opposite of what they should do.
The problem in battling this is that consumers won’t complain about this at all. They will gravitate towards it in droves. Why wouldn’t they?
The more Amazon draws people in, the more likely other holdout publishers will join in, further leading to the capitulation of book publishing.
Soon, a person will spend more in park fees for two days at Disney than they will for an entire year of reading books. That’s a disgrace!
What will then happen, once Amazon has hooked in enough readers and further taken control of publishing, it will publish more books—but not thrust them into the book buffet—and it will raise the monthly fee faster than the rate of increases in the sectors that outpace inflation, such as college tuition and health insurance.
It’s another dark chapter for publishing and Amazon is leading the way for its ruination.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014
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