Angela Hoy, editor of Writers Weekly newsletter, alerted me this past week of news pertaining to the publishing practices of Amazon, which recently bought BookSurge. I know many of you publish with major houses, some with independent presses, and some with POD outfits. As a ghostwriter, I keep abreast of the POD industry since some of my clients are businessmen or women, such as motivational speakers or business owners, who wish to self-publish or use POD to publish "in-house" because they have their own marketing platforms. I thought the following was interesting and so am passing it along.
Since acquiring BookSurge, Amazon intends to gradually disable the "buy" buttons on its website for all POD books not published through BookSurge. (Why Amazon would want to do this is a bit strange since BookSurge, like Publish America, is erratic in the quality of its product and receives a lot of complaints at Writer Beware and other online watchdog groups ... which is not to say that all of their clients are dissatisfied.)
It's also a strange marketing move on the part of Amazon since, while the average POD title only sells 148 copies, Amazon nevertheless sells tens of thousands of POD titles every year.
The Washington State Office of the Attorney General has received numerous complaints from both POD companies and individuals. The Attorney General's office believes that such a move by Amazon may well constitute "monopolistic practices" and has referred the issue to its anti-trust division. Links to the Writers Weekly article and the response by the Washington State Office of the Attorney General are provided below. The Writers Weekly article has internal links for anyone who wishes to register a complaint with Amazon.
It's true that most POD titles are poorly written and edited, but not all. But that misses the point. People should have an outlet for their work, and let's face it: while there are other online sellers, such as B&N, Borders, Books-a-Million and a hundred others, people gravitate to Amazon for books like shoppers gravitate to Wal-Mart for laundry baskets and kitchen utensils. With traditional publishing being very hard to break into, I also think it's a bit Orwellian to start limiting the ideas that can reach mass circulation.
Writers Weekly article: Writers Weekly: Let BookSurge Print Your Books--or Else
The Attorney General's Response:
Washington State Office of the Attorney General