Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Amazon's Latest Move Against Authors

I read an article that states Amazon wants to pay its Kindle Direct Publishing authors based on the number of pages Kindle readers read, not per download. As if isn't difficult enough to make money off writing, now Amazon is only going to pay authors based on how much of the book people read. One critic pointed out it's like going to a restaurant and only paying for eating half a hamburger.

This is in addition to KDP letting people borrow and return digital books! On top of this, Amazon is watching what we read, targeting us with suggested purchases. We already know they can recall books automatically and alter the text at will!

Publishing through Amazon directly is the same as signing a contract with any other giant, corporate entity: the publisher owns your work, can do whatever it wants with it, and the terms will never benefit the author.

The good news is that this is voluntary. Only Kindle titles enrolled in the program face these kinds of restrictions, but Amazon kind of has writers by the shorthairs. If we want the non-sucky royalty rates, we have no choice but to let Amazon give our work away for free, essentially. If we want to retain control of our work, we have to accept the sucky royalty rates. We may yet see a day when agreeing to these distribution terms is mandatory to publish anything through Amazon.

These systems are set up to favor the business. If you take Amazon's wonderful royalty system, they expect a lot in return. While these things are legal, they demonstrate what's possible, and that it does not benefit authors in any way. Our system of economics is set up to favor the business, not the person who actually does the work. Always remember that.

Authors beware: direct publishing through Amazon is portrayed as freeing writers from one-sided publishing deals, but it is anything but. There may not be a big contract to sign, but it's still in the terms and conditions. Don't get screwed.

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