Open Letter to The Department Of Justice

Keywords: Amazon. Cats on a Keyboard. Civil society. Books.

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The current system of traditional publishing is not a business with high profit margins, and it is far from perfect. But it does enable multiple companies to pay a variety of editors, writers, designers, and marketers to discover, perfect and promote a broad mix of written works that merit publication. The money that supports this system comes through the individual purchase of commendable books, reasonably priced. It is not a business sustained by advertising revenues, by the sales of other vehicles (such as e-readers), or by a system of patronage.


In other words, the book publishing business relies on reasonably priced individual products, sold to individual readers, for its survival.


Amazon is a behemoth. If it is able to set any price it wants for the products it distributes–books published by companies with whom it is competing, through the Amazon Publishing Division–Amazon will drive book prices so low reputable publishers will go out of business.


Book prices have been consistent for many years; standards have evolved through natural and real market forces weighed against the actual costs of doing business, whether or not [Read more…]

Traditional Books Light the Kindle Fire

Traditional Books Light the Kindle Fire

Picture of Nook with Bestsellers

Traditionally published books sell Kindles and Nooks.

Does that seem crazy obvious to you?  Maybe–but think about what it means.  People buy e-readers  to read, at least initially, bestsellers like The Hunger Games Trilogy, Game of ThronesThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  It’s the big and the beloved books that drive e-reader sales.   Books that have been acquired, edited, designed, published and promoted by traditional houses.

Think about that the next time you see an ad for an e-reader–I do.

Much as I support self-publishing in some cases, I must ask:  how many people, do you think, [Read more…]

Bookstores vs. Amazon Blog War

Istanbul BookshopBookstores vs. Amazon Blog War

There’s a blog war going on about the future of the independent bookstore, and it touches issues very important to me, so I’ll weigh in.

In a Slate blog I felt seemed inadequately researched, Farhad Manjoo raged against the “high prices” of books in bookstores, termed the marvelous essay by Richard Russo in the New York Times “hectoring,” and called books published by major houses all “mass-manufactured.”  Mr. Manjoo displayed  [Read more…]

The Hangman’s Daughter Makes Me Cheer

‘The Hangman’s Daughter,’ e-book hit, now out in paperback –

I love this story!

We are all guilty of bemoaning the state of book publishing today, often to the point of conflict.  In the past few days, two heartfelt essays promoting what is best in both old-school corporate publishing (Adrian Zackheim in his Portfolio blog) and what is wonderful about printed books (Aaron Gilbreath in the Chicago Tribune) stood out.  I scanned through the comments after each essay–so many people, so vehement, sometimes disrespectful, so convinced that both print and publishing are on the way out. The rancor is unnecessary; the issue not black and white.

There may be a best of both worlds on the way.  In the tale of The Hangman’s [Read more…]