This week Barnes & Noble announced it will close 20 stores every year for 10 years. Are you doing the math? That’s a lot of stores closing, and I’m pretty sure new ones won’t be opening. Does this mean that Amazon will rule the world?
Here’s my take on how this happened. When all the others were trying to figure out how to fight Amazon and the rise of the Kindle, the top execs at Amazon were sitting in their offices in Seattle and laughing their butts off while the New York big six were scheming behind closed doors to put the “agency” model in place. In a nutshell, Amazon was offering top name digital downloads for less than what they were paying for them.
How stupid is that, you ask? Well let’s just say Amazon is laughing it’s stupid tush off all the way to the bank. As they were taking a little bit of a hit when they offered digital downloads dirt cheap to the reading public, they were racking up profits like you wouldn’t believe on the sale of their kindles. After all, in order to take advantage of the deals, you had to have an e-reader or a kindle app for your smart phone, computer and Ipad.
And since Joe Reader now had the equipment to download digital books, Amazon further teased him with more of his favorite authors at discounted prices?
My God! Have you ever downloaded a digital book from Amazon? It takes one click! And in less than five seconds the book is on your Kindle ready to be read. Talk about impulse buying. And if you become a Prime member, you can even “borrow” the book for free on your kindle. Amazon turns around and pays the author full price as if it had been a sale. It's a win-win for the author. Pretty nifty, if you ask me.
What does this all mean for readers? Well, it’s like hitting the jackpot. With more and more readers owning e-readers, more and more authors are jumping ship and leaving the NY publishers to form a partnership with Amazon and self-publishing. Most of these authors are pricing the digital copies way lower than those set by NY.
Why would an author want to do that, you ask? Let’s use me as an example. I spend 6 to 9 months writing a book, and after I turn it into my editor, I no longer have much say about anything – – not the title, the cover, nor the marketing, and sometimes not even my own words. I can’t tell you how many of my best lines end up on the chopping block because my editor thought they were too racy for cozies. And all this for about fifty cents a book. Yep! You heard me. After paying my agent 15%, I get to walk away with a half a dollar for a print book. Yippee!! Book me a vacation to Hawaii!!! Not!!
Yes, traditional publishing did get my books into the brick-and-mortar bookstores, but guess what, folks? That’s not such a big deal anymore.
Barnes & Noble orders 4 copies of a new release from a mid-list author like me, and after a certain number of days (not sure how many but I would guess about 30) they leave one book on the shelf and send any unsold books back to the publisher. It’s hard to sell a lot of books when there’s only one there and it’s lost among all the others. It’s even harder for a browser in the mystery section who doesn’t know my books to discover me. I need a fighting chance to rope in new readers. I can’t do that with one book on the shelf.
And for the first time since I’ve been published, my newest release, MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, is not anywhere to be found at the two Barnes & Noble stores in my area. That could mean one of two things happened – – all four copies sold and they haven’t been replaced or they didn’t even bother to shelf them. At one store I asked for the book two days after the release date, and the worker had to go into the back to find one, which makes me think it’s the latter.--and pissed me off!
So I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to be in control of my own destiny. I have several friends who have made the NY Times Best Sellers list or the USA Today BS list when their $.99 books went viral. The thought of so many new readers reading my stuff makes me giddy. I want it!
That’s why next month I am self publishing my second book, titled SHATTERED. It’s a romantic thriller and the very first book I ever wrote. It will be on sale for the first week in March for $2.99. The cover is gorgeous and I cry every time I think about the story as it still remains the book of my heart.
So tell me, how do you feel about all this change – – and trust me, there is more on the way. Several of the big six have already opened up a sort of self-publishing division to compete with Amazon. And expect to see changes from Amazon, too, as they get a bigger piece of the pie. Competition is always best for the consumer, but IMHO, unless traditional publishers lower the prices on digital books, they’re going to fall so far behind Amazon it will be hard to recover. And as much as I want to patronize the brick and mortar stores, it does no good if the books aren’t on the shelves.
I truly hope that doesn’t happen. As I said, it’s never good when one company has a monopoly. As for me, I love both my editors and would write for them forever if I had my druthers. Unfortunately, my business sense tells me that may not be in my best interest.
What do you think?