If you want to sell it above $10, then their commission becomes 70%!
Also, if your ebook is not exclusive to Amazon, then you don't get access to important marketing tools (KDP program) like free promotions, which are essential to build up social proof and get initial reviews.
Without a prior audience and without those tools your ebook is dead on arrival.
If this is not a horrific monopoly and flat ou author extortion, then I don't know what is. $9.99 is just too low, many books are worth more than that.
Also, they will send emails to your readers suggesting ebooks from competing authors. I think the Amazon stranglehold on authors is preventing a lot of books from even being written, as the authors know that they won't be able to make a living ou of them.
For technical and instructional books, self-publishing is a much better option, with organic marketing done via blogging. You can sell the ebook for say $49, get the whole price sale and the customer email.
Other academics I know have similar experiences. So getting 30% of the sales price comparably looks like a good deal to me...
Writing a book, for the vast majority of authors, is a money losing enterprise that comes back in various other ways. Such as speaking and consulting gigs as a domain expert.
A lot of the books I’ve seen self published on amazon wouldn’t get a juicy book deal anyway. Most of it is garbage and quantity over quality.
This still appears to be true. Though TBH, similar pricing dynamics exist with traditional publishers. That's one reason that you have two and three part books rather than 1500 page behemoths.
I get where you're coming from. On the other hand, pre-Amazon your only real option was to convince some publisher to take on your book. Which wasn't easy for a first-time author. J.K. Rowling was "only" rejected 12 times. Tons of other well-known authors have plenty of stories about how long it took to find a publisher.
This is a problem for the reasons that relying on a single customer is a problem. In 2019, anyone can publish! ... on Amazon.
No, that's how much the author earns from each sale. I will say that Amazon's pricing model - divided as it is into geographical regions - is needlessly complicated. It's easy to misunderstand stuff and end up with a less-than-satisfactory overall price for the book.
(This is for Kindle sales. Paperback is different.)
But you're also correct that it's complicated across geos.
If $9.99 makes more people buy it and the share is better, I am all up for it.
Worth is a very amorphous concept, but I personally am not willing to pay more than that for any ebook. Some books have definitely in hindsight provided me more value, but I haven't finished (and probably never will) reading most of the ebooks I purchased, since they just ended up not interesting me enough. My time is very limited and being able to read a bit of many books is very valuable to me. From this perspective, I for one am very thankful to Amazon for reducing the price of ebooks.
Another question - how does Amazons practice compare to the other publishers? Is it better, same, or worse for authors?
>But experts who spoke with me said that the publishing house serves not authors but another master—Amazon Prime.
This is intentionally written in a way that describes Amazon and APub as being nefarious.
I worked in APub for almost 4 years before moving to a different FANG. It was a fantastic place to work. I'm sure engineers in other parts of Amazon get paged all the time. There was essentially no on-call burden for my team. We got to launch some really cool programs and learn about the publishing workflows end to end (ideation all the way to an ebook or physical title). This company was where I became a really strong engineer (my previous job was at a non-tech company building small scale CRUD apps).
First and foremost, authors were our customers. We did anything and everything for authors - it was meant to be a VIP experience.
Does Amazon want to increase Prime subscriptions? Absolutely. But portraying that I or my team "served another master" is disingenuous horse shit.
Amazon is a monopoly which (a) exerts huge control over the whole culture’s literary output, and (b) has driven / is driving many competitors and suppliers at every stage of the publishing process out of business, using its combination of vertical integration, scale, and ruthless contract negotiation.
I’m not sure “nefarious” is the right word. But it is dangerous having unaccountable private institutions wield such power. Some of Amazon’s business practices seem to me like violations of anti-trust law (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or legal expert), but the past few decades of Supreme Court precedent have reinterpreted/eroded antitrust laws to the point that there will probably be nothing done about it.
I don’t see what their treatment of engineers making the software has to do with the business model or larger cultural impact. (But if you’re worried about labor relations, how do you feel about Amazon’s mistreatment of warehouse workers?)
On the one hand, the barriers to actually publishing something are way down. You don't necessarily need to submit your proposal and sample chapter to 100 different publishers. You can just self-publish on Amazon if you're so inclined and do your own marketing.
But discoverability is now significantly in the hands of Amazon's algorithms. And those algorithms are designed with Amazon's interests at heart--such as driving more Prime subscriptions.
A more efficient and data-driven world isn't necessarily worse than schmoozing with New York or London-based editors over lunch. But it certainly tends to concentrate power.
Of course for serious authors, marketing and editing are still essential and there seems to be a notion of successful self published authors quickly getting deals from publishers for exactly that reason. But undeniably the middle men industry is being affected. I'm not even sure that's a bad thing. Marketing and PR is a function that you can pay people to do. Dead tree production and associated logistics is a service as well. Same with editing. There's no need to get all of these things under the same roof.
Scalzi's first novel was Agent to the Stars (1997), which was indeed self-published but via his own website, not Amazon. His breakout novel was Old Man's War (2005) which was published traditionally by Tor.
And, truth be told, a lot of publishers today don't do a huge amount of author service, e.g. marketing/PR/etc. especially if they're not a specialty publisher with a built-in readership and channels.
There is still some prestige associated with being published by a known brand. Although one sometimes wonders how much of that incremental prestige is really warranted.
Good for authors/readers of genre fiction, where only the words matter but the presentation doesn’t matter much. Especially good for readers who prefer reading on screen to reading paper books.
I’m not so convinced it’s good for authors/readers of other types of books. For example, the quality of printing and binding of most technical books is in freefall. (Obviously the change is not solely attributable to Amazon. The takeover of many major publishers by finance people who have no pride in their product has a lot to do with the quality decline.)
When I read the title my mind ignored the "... of Publishing" because this is just one part of this "hydra".
Amazon seeks to dominate & assimilate as many things as it can like the Borg. It's not too much of a demand by some to break up such companies as it's not good for the people & govt that single private entities have such power.
More of a meta point - there’s generally an anti-FAANG article about everyday on HN, and the underlying editorials are typically these same batch of outlets who directly compete with Facebook, Google, or Amazon directly in ads or video content.
I take the latest pieces on Bezos forcing warehouse workers into slavery with a pinch of salt. You can certainly believe whatever you want, but these absolute claims with no evidence are hard to take seriously.
>Amazon certainly isn’t a monopoly.
Expensive lawyers spend lots of money arguing about what is and isn't a monopoly. But I think it's hard to argue that, monopoly or not, Amazon is approximately an 8000 pound gorilla in book distribution and, as a consequence, discovery.
¹ Under EU antitrust law, the word "monopoly" is not used
² See United States v. E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
That said, remember that being a monopoly is not illegal. Only abusing it is.
The mental gymnastics you’re going through here to support the Amazon monopoly claim is funny.
How a fare price can be determined without healthy competition is left unanswered.
It's entirely possible (and, honestly, probable) that the author-focused projects you guys worked on were themselves in service to the larger goal of driving Prime engagement. It doesn't need to be an explicit OKR to be true, and it's also not nefarious: it's just good business.
What do you mean by Kindle exclusivity? Personally I purchase an ebook or physical book on Amazon just about every month. I read these on my iPad and sometimes on my iPhone if my iPad's battery is dead. I don't own a Kindle device and would never buy one because my 2018 iPad Pro is leaps and bounds better for my use cases vs. anything Amazon offers in the tablet space.
>Do you really consider replacing organic discovery with pay to play advertising a VIP experience?
Look - if you despise Amazon, that's fine but at least post something with more substance.
Personally, I hate that there's so much Chinese knock off garbage on Amazon, and it's not clear to me which reviews are legit and which ones are fake. I've adjusted my consumer behavior so that most of my purchases end up being books or specific branded items "sold by Amazon" instead of Chinese sellers.
> What do you mean by Kindle exclusivity?
I'm talking from authors perspective. To be part of KU you must be exclusive which is anti-competitive.
> Citation needed.
Again, an author thing. Have you noticed that "also bought" have gone away? (https://davidgaughran.com/2018/11/03/amazon-also-boughts-apo...) Authors are forced to advertise using AMS to get their content in front of users when previously discovery was more organic.
Not very VIP.
You'd be surprised at some of the books that top those Amazon sales charts. The biggest consumers are middle-aged women and Amazon self-publishing is where the giant harlequin novel industry moved to.
One of the more bizarre books that popped up included a Dinosaur/cave girl love story  and some other fantasy related themes mixed with romance. Each of those would have tons of real reviews.
There was also tons of sketchy business books and self-help stuff.
I'm sure this stuff was really popular before too, but people tend to be less shy and far higher quantity when buying 'anonymously' online with a Kindle. Bookstores would only carry 'respectable' titles'. So the quiet online bestsellers look very different than NYTimes list just from consumer behaviour alone.
 NSFW https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dinosaur+romance
> In April 2016, Space Raptor B??? Invasion was shortlisted for a Hugo Award for Best Short Story in the prestigious Hugo Awards for science fiction. This stemmed from a campaign by the alt-right "Rabid Puppies" group, a faction of the Sad Puppies movement that laments the perceived politicization of science fiction. However, Tingle disavowed the campaign, saying via his Twitter account that it was the work of "devils", and that if his book were to win, video game designer and anti-harassment activist Zoë Quinn would accept the award on his behalf. His story did not win. Tingle subsequently published Pounded in the B??? by My Hugo Award Loss.
>Every so often, men contact the author complaining that his books use both male and female pronouns. This special edition, using only male third-person pronouns, is for those special people. As the market is so much smaller, it’s u̶n̶f̶o̶r̶t̶u̶n̶a̶t̶e̶l̶y̶ priced higher.
>For each copy of the Manly McManface edition sold, the author will donate one dollar to his local chapter of Soroptomists International.
This is what Soroptomists International is
>A global volunteer organization that improves the
lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.
I'd rather assumed the title makes the work's nature and themes abundantly clear?
The thing that made this really interesting is that in the major categories, there was quite a bit of overlap with what would've likely got nominated anyway. Apparently the only reason the Best Novel winner didn't make the slate and then get pushed below no award in the finals as a result is because the people who came up with the list hadn't got around to reading it yet! (Some of the less hotly contested categories did end up with right-wing schlock being nominated though.)
A sprinkle of kayfabe on top of a sharp wit is delicious.
My personal view, developed over a number of years, is that Amazon is a toxic environment for self-publishing authors:
- Their price modelling is designed to undercut other self-publishing platforms to the point of damaging them. If an author publishes on a 3rd party platform, Amazon will demand that the price point for the book is double the viable price listing on Amazon - so that they can offer the book to readers at a 50% discount (from day 1 of listing). Authors have no control over when the discount is applied, or the level of discount, or for how long it will last. The last time I checked (several years ago, things may have changed since) authors were paid a percentage of the price at which the book was sold, not its original price point.
- Publishing both on Amazon and on a 3rd party platform is not prohibited; however Amazon demand that the list pricing on their platform must be as cheap (or preferably cheaper) than on those other sites (before any discounts are applied). If they find a book listed elsewhere at a cheaper price they will automatically price-match without warning the author. Running a temporary price reduction promotion for a book on another platform can lead to a permanent price reduction for the book on Amazon.
- If an author wants to give away a book for free, this is possible on other platforms, but not on Amazon - unless the author enrolls the book in their KDP Select program, which will allow the author to offer strictly time-limited free giveaway windows ...
- Except an author can only enroll a book on KDP Select if they remove that book from all other platforms and agree to publish exclusively on Amazon. This includes removing the book from profitable venues such as Google Play and Apple Books (which are ideal for iPad/iPhone and Android devices).
- I could go on (but won't).
Many people will disagree with my personal 'toxic environment' view. That's fine. Self-publishing on the Amazon platforms is often enough to meet the needs of many self-published authors, and quite often profitable for them too.
But for me the above points all indicate that Amazon is interested only in killing diversity and creating a readership monopoly, which in the longer run will damage self-publishing and prove to be toxic to both authors and readers alike.