Sadly, in this sort of silly spat, I will bet on Amazon. Choosing not to sell a book, or in this case a lot of books, because you don't like the publisher only hurts the readers and ultimately the store, because readers will go elsewhere.
Your condesension aside, all booksellers chose what to sell or not to sell. I would bet that Amazon doesn't carry or sell every single book that is published. And, if I'm correct and they don't, they must have some sort of criteria that dictates what to not offer. Even the largest brink-n-mortar bookseller cannot have it all. Sometimes it is based on politics (too far left or too far right), or economics (too expensive to stock and sales will be too slow to justify the jam in the cash flow) or too regional (Northwest authors may not be stocked in Vermont and authors from Ohio may not sell well here) - whatever. There are infinate reasons and they all may have their validity. For us to not stock books by Amazon is just one. We used to stock all of the new mass market copies of Agatha Christie that were in print from two different publishers at $7.99. But Harper has gotten the rights to all and is putting them into trade paperback at $12.99. Any current publisher releasing trade paperback editions of authors whose books are readily available in a gazillion used paperbacks... What's the point in stocking them? Isn't Amazon going to compete against itself by selling old, used copies of McBain alongside the newer, expensive copies? Or maybe they're no longer going to sell used copies of the books they are printing...
Anyway, not stocking their McBains is about the price of the new copies and how slowly they'd sell. We currently have a good supply of used McBains and have no demand for new.
That is all well and good that you are sticking to your guns. I love independent bookstores, but I buy all my books of Amazon. I read around 150 books a year. Their prices just cannot be beat. I can't afford to pay full cover price for a book at an independent (I've yet to see one that charges anything below cover price unless they are remainders). I just received a preorder of 5 best selling author's books. Each one of them was around $13. That's AT LEAST $10 cheaper per book than any independents I know. If I were rich it would be a different story, but I have to watch my pennies and Amazon is where it's at. If I can find a good price from independents then the shipping costs eat up anything I've saved. I'd love to buy, but I can't afford $27.99 each for all my books.
I agree that books are priced too high. For at least a decade, the major publisher have seemed to price their books so that they can be discounted. Discounting is something that corporate outfits can afford to do. They're called 'loss leaders'. They're the old way of getting customers into the shop so that they buy other things as long as they're saving money on the thing they came in to buy.
Puzzle this: I have, in a pinch when I needed them for a signing, bought copies of an author's books at a price club. The price I paid there was less than what I would have had to pay the publisher. What are the economics of that? Are they getting a better, deeper discount than I get from the publisher? If so, that's illegal ( - back in the early '90s, Penguin lost a huge court case over giving different discounts to different accounts). They're probably not. But they're willing to lose money on a couple of hardcover so that you're there to buy a skid of tuna fish.
Small independents cannot compete with the discounts of Amazon or Costco. That's why there are so few left. And your taking advantage of those discounts is also why there are so few independents left.
Keep in mind that the standard, base discount in the bookworld is 40%. That means that if I were to buy a $20 book from a publisher, I pay them $12 for it. With that $8 'profit', I pay the payroll, supplies, rent and so on. THERE IS NO WAY FOR A SMALL INDEPENDENT TO STAY AFLOAT IF THEY TRY TO MATCH THE DEEP DISCOUNTS OF THE CORPORATIONS. Our pockets are not that deep.
Here's a clear case: The new Michael Connelly, The Fifth Witness, has a list price of $27.99. That is the price we charge. We got a 46% discount, meaning that we paid $15.12 for each copy. Amazon is selling the new hardcover for $16.24. They're selling the Kindle version for $9.99. Not only can we not match those prices, the publisher is undoubtedly losing sales of the hardcover to the e-book. And then they've also lost the sale of the eventual paperback, which is coming out in October (just six months after the hardcover) at $14.99. The Kindle undercuts them all - they are even undercutting their own price of the hardcover. How can the publication of books survive at that rate?
So, Heather, if you insist on paying so little for a book, it is a good thing you are so content to deal only with Amazon because soon they'll be the only ones left to buy from.
JB, I empathize, but people don't worry about Goldman Sachs being "too big." And Amazon is not a global bank with its fingers in everyone's business. I'm a writer, and I still think the Big Six is the way to go for authors.
I would disagree with you about Amazon not being global. We had a number of people cancel their orders for the US hardcover of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest because they could order UK paperbacks months in advance from Amazon UK. I'm sure this is happening with Jo Nesbo's books. I know it damaged the US sales of John Connolly and Minette Walters years ago, both of whose books were available in England long before their US publishers released them here. In fact, Connolly's US publisher corrected this by moving up his US release date to match the UK specifically so that they wouldn't lose sales to the ease of ordering UK copies on-line. And, to be clear, we cannot order them. They're embargoed in cases like this so that we can't undercut the US sales, but individuals can order them and Amazon can profit by the this. US booksellers lose, the authors lose, the US publishers lose - Amazon gains.
Cara, if you don't view Amazon for the global entity it is you're kidding yourself. And as for it not being a bank - patience, I'm sure they'll get there.
And I, for one, do worry about any business that is 'too big to fail'. 'Bigger is Better' never benefits the taxpayer or the consumer - or the workers, who make up both sets.
Forgive me, but I was not born with a capitalist mindset. I think it's probable that someday, bookstores will be a thing of the past. But the bookstores that last are going to be the ones that adapt. There are still plenty of book selling opportunities that can't be replicated online. Children's books come to mind as do collectors' editions, graphic novels, coffee table and gift books. In-store events could include book clubs, author signings, and writing workshops. You don't have to sell books and only books. What about notebooks and pens? Coffee cups? Greeting cards? Things that writers and readers love. That's what the indie bookstore in my town has done and in the last few years, they have actually expanded while other stores in other towns are closing down. I have a Kindle but I still shop at that bookstore (and love it with all my heart).
Anna, you say you're a writer but bookstores will be a thing of the past. You must then be comfortable with people no longer being able to have your books on their shelves, to be able to easily loan your works to friends, to having people stumble upon your works in a dusty, old used bookstore a century after you're dead. I find that sad.
You also say that you have a small independent bookshop in your community that you love. I suggest that you go in there and have a conversation with them about all of this. Ask them if they're content to stock and sell Amazon books. I'd be really curious to know what they say.
As for you not having a capitalist mindset. I didn't either. I never aimed to be a bookshop owner, didn't tell my high school guidance counselor that this is what I wanted to be doing when I was 53, but here I am. And as we live in a capitalistic system, that's where the game is played. That you or I don't like it does not matter one bit. No one who works in a bookshop does it to get rich. We do it because it is honorable, rewarding and we get a lot of free books.
I don't like the idea of a bookstore blacklisting authors or even publishers. The logic seems, well, illogical as well.
Besides what I wrote in reply to Rick, if Amazon's books were priced at $25 a trade paperback and I knew they were not going to sell at that price and I choose to not order them purely from a financial reason, would that still be view as 'blacklisting'? If Amazon was known to be underpaying female authors for their works and I chose to not stock their books due to that, is that 'blacklisting'? If I disagree with the politics of the publisher - let's say they're supporters of Apartied or funded by narco-terrorists - and do not wish to support them with my money, is that 'blacklisting'? If a publisher's business model aims to make my bookselling business obsolete, why am I obligated to participate?
But a vendetta against Amazon is truly cutting off your nose to spite your face. You can't offer your customers the books they want you hurt YOURSELF, not your customer who goes to Amazon or Amazon who probably profits from your ire.
If my customers are going to Amazon anyway to buy these books, why am I hurting myself by not stocking them? Let's keep in mind that the way readers are most likely going to find out about these books is by being ON AMAZON. And if they're already on Amazon and they regularly buy from Amazon and not small independents, I fail to see why it hurts us to not stock the books that they're not going to buy from us anyway. What it means is that we can devote money and shelf space to other authors, authors from small independent publishers perhaps ignored by the corporate bigwigs: Rue Morgue, Busted Flush, Bitter Lemon, Poisoned Pen, Felony & Mayhem.
If, as many of the posts have pointed out, that the business model of the independent bookseller is doomed and we are destined to close, then, soon and in the future, there will be no place for these Amazon-published authors to sign anyway. What's going to happen, inevitably, is that Amazon will have the authors go to the warehouse (remember that Amazon's original business model was to be that they would have no physical presense at all, no warehouse at all - you would order a book from them and they'd order it from the publisher and have it shipped to you. That didn't last long, did it?) to sign the books that they're going to ship to their customers. If they aren't already planning this they're slipping a cog.
Because where this must go, inexorably, will be to readers downloading books and having a chance to meet the authors only at talks. If everything goes to e-readers, there's no point in a signing tour. Maybe a lecture tour but you can do those on-line as well. Authors never need to leave their homes. You can do a world-wide skype tour. Readers will never again meet or see their favorite authors. Why should anyone underwrite that expense? It can all be done on-line. No more signings; there is nothing to sign.
Lastly, no customer has asked if we have any of these Amazons books. No customer has asked us to order one for them. I take that to mean that they're buying them directly from the publisher.
So, you may ask, is this tilting at windmills? Am I baying at the moon, trying to hold back the tide, demanding to be thrown into the water to sink and therefore prove my innocence by drowning?
At some point, we each have to stop accepting what we see as wrong. If a publisher's business model aims to make my bookselling business obsolete, why am I obligated to participate?
That's wrong, I won't do it and I won't stay silent in the face of what is wrong.
"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
Network, released on November 14th, 1976... a quarter century ago.