Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And Now The Germans Are Anti-Amazon

After a large number of American authors signed a letter of complaint to Amazon, citing the harm being done to authors while Amazon wrangles with Hachette Book Group, a gathering of German authors has taken the same approach.
Available from Amazon or subject to negotiations?

Amazon's way of negotiating is standard across international lines. The behemoth demands greater concessions from a supplier, the supplier balks, and Amazon makes it difficult to purchase the product. When an author's book is that product, and a seller is doing what it can to keep readers from buying the book, it's the author who suffers more than the publisher. An author has to build a readership and to lose those readers is to lose an audience for future works.

Eminent writers, including Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, have put their names to a letter that is similar to one already sent to Jeff Bezos from prominent American authors.

The Germans cite similar problems with apparent censorship, in that Amazon is misleading readers who are looking for books published by the Bonnier Group. It's the same old story, of Bonnier Group offerings not getting listed as recommended (if you like this, you'll like that, but not if it was published by who-know-who) which indicates that Amazon is manipulating the lists and the recommendations have nothing to do with preferences but everything to do with who is giving Amazon the best wholesale terms.

Unlike their American counterparts, the German authors make mention of their nation's culture, and how Amazon is showing an utter lack of respect towards it. In addition, German law does not allow deep discounts, which puts Amazon's culture in direct conflict. The love of a deal that works in America is not done the same way in Europe.

Of course Amazon responded in the same way, with the same whinge about the publishers being greedy, etc. etc., but that style does not translate well. The German authors are very concerned that Amazon will financially destroy the many small presses that are operating on shoestrings. They tend to be fearful of Amazon's might, and the fact that publishers were reluctant to complain is a reflection of that fear.

The authors took it upon themselves to make their sentiments known, even as their publishers drifted back into the shadows lest the mighty Amazon see and hear and then punish. Instead of publishers being vocal, it is the authors who ask their readers to write to Jeff Bezos' representative in Deutschland (along with Austria and Switzerland) to let him know that they don't like the way Amazon is playing.

In which case, it is only a matter of time before a new group of united authors appears, to extoll the glories of Amazon and all the wonders wrought by the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. The question is, will Amazon in Germany also spam the mailboxes of their KDP authors with misbegotten letters filled with misrepresentations? That fell pretty flat in the States. It most likely won't play well in Germany, either.

No comments: