A Call For Author Support

I want to talk to you all about other authors today, and why they need your support right now, but to do that, I need to talk about my own situation first. So hang with me for a few paragraphs, please, until I get to the point.

A quick check of Amazon shows my Tor books are still unavailable to buy directly from the store, so I suppose we can say Amazon is still digging in its heels. So it goes. But it also means other authors with books from Macmillan and its imprints are still not being sold either.

I’ve told people that I’ll be fine no matter what Amazon does in the short term, and that’s true.  I sell well enough that even with Amazon temporarily out of the mix I’ll do fine, and I have enough income aside from my Tor books that I can take this in stride. Moreover, thanks to the awesome financial skills of Krissy Scalzi, we have money in the bank. None of this is coincidental, incidentally. I’ve been a writer long enough to know that shit happens, precisely because it’s happened to me, numerous times. I’ve structured my career so I can take a hit or two and keep going. It also helps that I’ve been very lucky in my career, in terms of breaks and sales, and am now in a position where I can wait out an event like this.

But as I said: I’m lucky. Other affected authors are not so lucky. Many if not most of these folks do not have the financial cushion I do, and the sales that they are getting cut out of here are going to make a real and concrete difference to them when it comes time to tally up royalties, and when they’re trying to sell that next book. I have friends who are deeply worried right now about what this thing is doing to them, and they should be worried, because it’s going to hurt them if it drags out. Amazon is not the entire sales universe, to be sure, but it’s a significant chunk, especially for genre writers who build their communities online and sell a large percentage of their work online (and thus through Amazon) because of it.

I said it snarkily yesterday but I’ll tell it to you in earnest today: Amazon was moving against Macmillan when it pulled those books, but in doing so it also moved against Macmillan’s authors. Amazon thought it was sniping at a corporation, but in fact it unloaded a shotgun into a crowd of writers. It wasn’t smart, and although I know the world isn’t built to accommodate this particular concept, neither was it fair. There’s a lot of collateral damage here.

One response to this from fans of these affected writers is to boycott Amazon. But you know what, I think that’s putting the focus where it shouldn’t be. This crux of this matter is a negotiation between two corporate entities, and that’s something a boycott just isn’t going to matter to, or solve in any meaningful way. And in the case of the authors involved, it’s not going to help them make sales.

So rather than focus on what should happen to Amazon or Macmillan, here’s an idea, and here’s my point: let’s us focus on the writers, who are getting kinda screwed here. None of this is their fault, it has nothing to do with them, and they don’t deserve to lose sales and their livelihood while this thing goes down. If you want to make a statement here, don’t make it against a corporation, who isn’t listening anyway. Make it for someone, and someone who will appreciate the support.

Support the authors affected. Buy their books.

How to do this is simple enough: Remember there’s more to bookselling than Amazon. Offline there are brick and mortar bookstores — go visit one. They like visitors. Tell them I sent you. Online there is Barnes and Noble. There’s Powell’s. IndieBound will hook you up. Specialty bookstores have their own web sites. You can often buy books online from the publishers themselves. Hell, even Walmart.com sells books.

Yes, yes. I know, you know Amazon isn’t the only place to buy books online. But that doesn’t mean you use those other places. I had a friend who used Barnes & Noble’s web site for the very first time in a decade today, because, as it happens, Amazon wouldn’t let him buy a book. He was pleased to discover B&N let him use PayPal. Good for him. The point is, he didn’t let a balky retailer keep him from getting a book he wanted. I suspect too many people do just that; they get used to going to that one place online and forgetting there are any other options. Well, you know. Remember, please.

Here’s the Macmillan site — I give it to you not as a show of support for Macmillan but because it has all the books, imprints and authors affected by this thing. Find a book you like and want, and then go to any retailer you want, who will sell you the book, and then buy it. It will matter to the author. And I personally would appreciate you supporting these people who are my friends and fellow writers, who could use a break in all of this. Give it some thought today, if you would. And pass the idea along. Thanks.

327 thoughts on “A Call For Author Support

  1. Doing a little digging, it seems that while Amazon has agreed that at some point they will have to give in to Macmillan’s supposedly onerous terms, they have not done so yet.

    So it looks like that until a new agreement is in place, Amazon will continue to delist as leverage?

    It’s the only thing I can think of.

  2. I do most of my online book buying at bamm.com (Books-A-Million’s web storefront), and I find their membership prices (we’re members) are competitive if not lower than Amazon’s.

    I like them because our local D&D group has been meeting in their cafe for years.

  3. The one-two punch is, I think, to:

    a) Go to Amazon, look for a Macmillan author’s book, fail to purchase it, and write a letter to Amazon customer service. Worded pleasantly, not in all caps, not with eighty exclamation points lining up for duty. Tell Amazon in that letter, “Hey, I’m going to go somewhere else and buy this book, thanks.”

    b) Go somewhere else, and buy that book, like this suggests.

    My zwei pfennig.

    — c.

  4. I’m not with Macmillan, but I have friends who are. Yesterday I bought a Macmillan book at my local Borders and specifically told them I was purchasing the novel because Amazon had failed.

  5. Great post, John. My second novel (from Henry Holt) comes out today, and yeah, having it not available on amazon hurts. a lot.

    paul tremblay

  6. A fine concept. You are very correct, people do get locked into a mindset of buying certain products at a particular place, and pretty much forget that that product is available elsewhere. It’s certainly true for me; I very rarely order a book from anywhere else than Amazon. And I typically order a little over a $1000 dollars a year from them. It’s time to do a little looking elsewhere, as I’m due to replenish my TBR pile anyway, and there are many authors who are published by some arm of Macmillan who have my attention.

  7. Wait – what you’re telling me is that buying books is a noble duty? Dare I say that it is even a charitable act? SWEET! I am going to overspend with abandon, guilt free! Barnes and Noble, here I come. It is going to be a good day.

  8. John, Problem here is the the Kindle is my reader of choice so the only thing I can to do to support Authors is to buy books that are available.

    e.g. I purchased Robin Hobbs new book today, Kindle version approx. $7.99.

    This is what it’s going to take selling books to a geek like me.

    Jim

  9. Small consolation it may be, but it seems amazon.co.uk aren’t screwing you all over.

    Your books, and all other Tor books I’ve seen are available there
    (Not that I’d buy them from Amazon any more)

  10. Jim:

    “Problem here is the the Kindle is my reader of choice so the only thing I can to do to support Authors is to buy books that are available.”

    Well, no. You could in fact buy any book you want, but choose not to because you locked yourself into the Kindle ecosystem, and a single vendor.

    What you could do if you would like is buy a physical book, then give it to someone as a gift or even a donation (tax-deductible!), or even keep it as a remembrance of a time when you bought such physical things.

    Point is, this isn’t an issue of what you can do.

  11. May I recommend another online store? I’ve been a customer of The Book Depository for a few years, and I’m quite satisfied with their service. The shipping fees are already included in the book prices (worldwide!) so ordering one book at a time (say, when there is a blog post recommending an interesting book for example) is not a problem. The accept PayPal, and you don’t even need to register an account to order books. You can if you want to have your details remembered, of course. I’m told they are also indie-friendly.

    So, since I don’t use Amazon, this whole mess hasn’t really affected me or my book buying options. But I’ve started recommending my preferred alternative to friends more actively because of this.

    They have an US site also; haven’t used that but I’d guess it works just as well, and maybe has shorter delivery times to the US.

  12. Well written on how there are other bookstores out there!

    I own {indie}pendent books which is a bookstore dedicated to self-published authors and those using small publishers.

    I know many other indie bookstores, and it would be nice if we got used. We often give much more personalized service. I even gift wrap all our orders for free!

    Josie
    http://www.indiependentbooks.com

  13. Bleh. I want to support authors hurt by this and punishing Amazon for acting like idiots is nice, but I can’t do that without rewarding MacMillan for being assholes. So it’s hard to get enthusiastic.

  14. Well the problem here is, that the people who only use/know about amazon are people who dont read blogs etc an i still think its the majority.(though i dont know enlighten me if im wrong)

  15. @Jim

    I, too, have a Kindle. It’s also my reader of choice.

    But I *don’t* need to buy the book from Amazon to read it on the Kindle. I just bought a e-book from CE Murphy (admittedly a Luna author) and sent it over to my Kindle. Yesterday I picked up an e-ARC from Baen and downloaded it to my Kindle (didn’t even cost me the .30c!)

    You can go to Fictionwise and pick up an ebook in .pdf (which the Kindle will read) of Imager’s Challenge–which isn’t currently available from Amazon, and as far as I can tell never was. (I use Modesitt as an example because he’s the only Tor author I know off the top of my head)

  16. JeffB:

    “I can’t do that without rewarding MacMillan for being assholes.”

    The amount your support would mean to Macmillian is statistically insignificant. The amount your support would mean to an author is statistically rather significant. Weigh that in your consideration.

  17. It seems to me that the authors with the greatest possibility to get well and truly screwed by this are those with first novels coming out last week or this week. I’m certain Amazon generates a large fraction of the new-release sales, which are the largest part of sales, and which presumably go on to determine the future of that new author. While I hope that the Amazon debacle will be taken into account when looking at sales figures for a new author and deciding whether to buy future books, I wouldn’t want to count on it. So those are the authors I’d like to support the most. MacMillan’s home page has a “New at MacMillan” tab, and other such pages for each of their imprints. Is there a way to find out which of those are new authors, beyond the time-consuming process of rule out anything labeled #82 in a series; authors I know well; then read author bios for the rest?

    Not that I plan to ignore established MacMillan authors, but I do want to concentrate on buying new releases and especially new authors. (Unless I’m missing something with the above causal chain?)

  18. Jim@9: In addition to what John Scalzi said, the Kindle format is the mobi format but with its own ID. The internet has directions for putting whatever ebook you want onto the Kindle. If you don’t like any of his suggestions, you can still buy ebooks currently unavailable from Amazon elsewhere instead.

  19. John: Point taken. Same goes for wanting to punish Amazon as well, probably. Unless you’re holding off on a Kindle purchase, maybe.

  20. Jeff: you could buy a book from a Macmillan author, just not one of their Macmillan-published books.

  21. I agree in the show of support for the authors. Just this past Sunday I stopped in to the B&M Barnes and Noble to pick up a book from a local author. I picked up two others that I had researched through Amazon as well but could not purchase there.

    I am all for supporting the “mid-list” authors (as I heard one such author describe himself as).

    Thank you for the sound advice and blog.

  22. I know they’re very difficult gems to find, but if you’ve still got local, independent booksellers, buy your books from them.

    Yes, I paid full retail price for the last hardcover I bought (The Gathering Storm, $29.99) and the pile of paperbacks purchased at the same time, but I had the joy of touching and smelling the books, and talking to a real, live book enthusiast about what I was gleefully forking my money over for.

    It was worth skipping the Amazon discount.

  23. It is very weird that you are posting this today…

    I had much the same thought yesterday, walked into town and went to my favorite little indie-bookstore. I was talking to one of the girls, explaining the whole Amazon thing to her and mentioned your postings on Whatever. She went back to her computer, opened up Whatever and started reading.

    In the meantime, I hunted around and picked up Charles Stross – The Family Trade and Greg Bear – Legacy (both published by Macmillan)

    She was still reading Whatever when I went up to the counter to pay. She got up from her desk and rang both my purchases in, pointing out that I had purchased two books from Macmillan authors. I told her that was the point of my little shopping trip for the day.

    I felt very good about myself as I walked out he door :)

  24. As the friend blindly referenced above who used BN.com for the first time in nearly a decade, I’ll outline what I’m doing while all this Amazon stuff goes down — instead of using Amazon, as I normally would, or holding off on purchases until Amazon has them available, I’m going to be ordering titles from a number of places that haven’t seen my business in a while. Today it was BN.com. Tomorrow it may be Powell’s, or Dreamhaven, or direct from a publisher.

    Best,

    Bill
    SubPress

  25. Another Kindle reader here. I’m very unhappy with what Amazon did here, but I’m not sure where else I can get reliable ebooks for my reader. Yeah, I know Kindle is a closed platform, but given that I’ve had mine for nearly two years with no problems of this magnitude, I wasn’t unhappy with the closed ecosystem until just now. Anyone here know of an option for me to get DRM-free ebooks from major publishers? Then at least I could convert them to Kindle format. Paper books aren’t as good of an option for me because I travel too much. If I found a good alternative source of ebooks, I would never buy from Amazon again — as things stand today, though, I’m not sure how I can avoid it.

  26. While I am firmly in Amazon’s camp on this one, this whole fracas did remind me that the family hasn’t spent an enjoyable morning browsing a bookstore in entirely too long a time. We’ve made a date for Saturday.

    I will look at Macmillan’s website to see if there is anything there I am interested in and haven’t read yet.

    I’m doing this for you, John (and for the authors). I really don’t like what Macmillan is trying to do here and I think it would have extremely loud and nasty repercussions down the line if they succeed.

  27. @Jim you’re right in terms of Macmillan authors, so short of purchasing a physical book, you can’t do what John suggests in his post. But he’s right in his comment that there are other options. If you want to make a statement/help the authors, that is.

    If you want to stay with kindle, you could buy a non-DRM book and read it on your kindle. Or even find an author who gives away a pdf for free (I know of at least one Macmillan author who does) and then buy the book itself in print form even though you don’t “have to” to get the ebook.

  28. You’re not really tied into the Kindle ecosystem. About 3/4 of the books on my Kindle were not purchased through Amazon. And it’s not just Baen. Go to fictionwise.com, and search for your authors and see if they have anything that fictionwise lists as multiformat. Specifically you’re looking for Mobipocket(PRC) or Kindle compatible (MOBI) and not Secure Mobipocket (PRC).

    You won’t find any of the Macmillan books there in multiformat, because they insist on DRM that doesn’t actually work, but many authors have multiple publishers, and may have some works that are published by more enlightened publishers, or even self-published if they couldn’t sell that particular work. It’s certainly worth checking out.

    I deleted a long grumble about DRM here, because it isn’t really the place for it, except tangentially, and I know that John actually agrees with us about DRM.

  29. In response to my Kindle post. I also purchased a book from O’Reily today that is mobi, pdf and epub that I can use on my Kindle.

    So I do support other sellers as well.

    Jim

  30. Well written on how there are other bookstores out there!

    I own {indie}pendent books which is a bookstore dedicated to self-published authors and those using small publishers.

    I know many other indie bookstores, and it would be nice if we got used. We often give much more personalized service. I even gift wrap all our orders for free!

    Other indie bookstores out there do the same thing. And because it’s usually one or two people buying the books, we can recommend and discuss a book before you buy it.

    Josie
    http://www.indiependentbooks.com

  31. Something that always pissed me off about the bookstore was that it didn’t carry all the sf that’s was out there, because publishers didn’t want to pay for the shelfspace, because the books numbers weren’t good enough. At Amazon you can find almost everything, or connect with a vendor that has what you want. I realize there are specialty sff book stores, and I’ve ordered stuff from them to get something speical. Amazon does a better job of marketing authors than do the publishers. The publisher cares about the money. Amazon cares about the money. Amazon shot itself in its own foot. I’m not sure they meant to hurt the authors. But authors are beholden to Amazon now, so how pissed can the writers get? Unless they own stock in Amazon.

  32. Phiala:

    “I do want to concentrate on buying new releases and especially new authors.”

    Support whichever authors you like! Is my motto.

    Erik:

    See the comments upthread from Cally Beck and John Chu.

  33. I agree 100% that we need to support authors. I’m one of them. And I have a major hardcover release coming from St. Martins next month (part of MacMillan) and have books published by both SMP and Tor.

    What’s being lost in the Amazon-MacMillan fight is the fact authors are the producers of the content and readers are the consumers. Everyone else is either helping in the conduit or in the way. As we said in the Infantry: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.”

    What’s also getting lost is this: Amazon won, not MacMillan. Amazon was using eBooks as a loss leader. Now they’ll make a profit and can blame the publisher for the higher prices. Throw me in the briar patch. No one is really pointing out Amazon had already agreed to increase the royalty rate paid out to 70% in June on Kindle. I haven’t seen publishers increasing author royalty rates on eBooks– in fact, Random House is leading the way to DECREASE the rates.

    I’m afraid traditional publishers are still fighting the future. Why exactly does MacMillan need Amazon? Because it’s there and has customers. Take it a step further and why, exactly, does an author need a publisher, Amazon, the publicity departments at the publishers (who, if you’re not already a big gun, do little for midlist authors)? Yes, we need gatekeepers and distributors, but ultimately readers and word of mouth are the gatekeepers and the internet is becoming the distributor at an increasing rate. You can just as easily go to my web site and buy books (cheaper than at any other on-line venue) than at Amazon. And if you buy a physical book, hell, I’ll sign it and personalize it. That’s not to say I still don’t want to be traditionally published. It’s the vast majority of the business. But it’s changing.

    As authors and readers we need to keep our focus. It’s blasphemy, but I used to get bombarded with “Support your independent bookstore” news. I had to point out to an author friend that there were four bookstores in Boulder, CO where I lived once upon a time. Two indies and two chains. His books were in the chains. They weren’t in the indies. I think indies are great, but as a child growing up in NYC there was this great independent bookstore in downtown Manhattan we used to go to on Sunday called Barnes & Noble. There’s a place for everything.

    I always wondered why there was never a “support your independent author” campaign. There were never any headlines when the independent author went out of business.

    Perhaps this post is a start of it.

    Readers if you like an author, you can find his or her books one way or the other. It might take a little more work, but they are out there.

    Authors, if you have backlist which you own the rights to, that a traditional publisher wouldn’t look at before, think twice before signing that letter they’ll be sending you to get your eRights. I’m starting Who Dares Wins Publishing because I have rights to sixteen books traditional publishers wouldn’t even bother to look at under the old paradigm. I’ve already put four books up and sold more in one month than my traditional publishers did in six months.

    The business paradigm is changing and from the people between the author and the reader I hear the bellowing of dinosaurs caught in the tar pits.

  34. Great series of posts on this, John.

    I have a more high-level question: How do you think this kerfuffle will (or will not or who cares) affect the evolving business model of ebook publishing, with author compensation and rights figuring fairly heavily in the discussion?

    If I were a jaded author, I might give up on big-publisher publishing and go with a very non-corporate indie or self-publish to avoid stuff like this, deciding the loss of publicity and marketing and distribution would be made up for in flexibility and avoiding the risk of becoming victim to corporate face-offs.

    (I’m not that jaded author, but I am fascinated and affected by the decisions being made by all players in publishing at this crazy time. [To be clear, just as an author and a reader, not specifically as a Macmillan author.])

  35. I really don’t understand why anyone puts up with the Kindle. I understand wanting an e-reader. But an e-reader that’s beholden to a specific vendor? Why would anyone who is interested in the arts in any way be willing to stand for that kind of monopoly. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    PS – John, I’ve been following your blog for a long time, but I haven’t yet purchased one of your books. I think I will take this opportunity to do that! From an actual BOOKSTORE. (St. Mark’s Books or Shakespeare & Company in NYC will do!) Also, if you can recommend another good sci-fi author from Tor for a woman who’s getting back into sci-fi lit after having been raised on Asimov and Bradbury but having left the genre for a while, that would be appreciated, too! :)

  36. While I still see Macmillan as the bad guy in this scenario, I can see your point. I’m an avid Amazon customer and will remain so even after this stupidity blows over, but Amazon is not the be-all, end-all in book buying for me and shouldn’t be for anyone else. If someone truly wants a Macmillan author’s book I’m not sure why Amazon not carrying it would stop them from going somewhere else.

    Personally, I always check pricing between Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Overstock.com, and Books-a-million. (Sorry, I just can’t go to Wal-Mart.) Amazon usually, but not always, has the better deal; however, Overstock.com often prices 5-10% below Amazon on some books. That’s the joy of the Internet: you can search to your heart’s content for the better price. Thank God Al Gore created it.

  37. As a general note, let’s not make this yet another thread about Amazon and/or Macmillan. I’ve got several threads on the site already for that. I want this to be about authors.

    Teresa Jusino:

    “John, I’ve been following your blog for a long time, but I haven’t yet purchased one of your books. I think I will take this opportunity to do that!”

    Thanks! That said, think about picking up other affected authors, too. I don’t mind selling a couple fewer books in order to spread things around at the moment.

  38. Mr Scalzi, readers will read books anyway they can get it. But how about you writers group together and support the readers in getting at your books easily and at the lowest possible cost? It seems to me that you (as a group) have a good amount of influence with the publishers since you are the original content providers. You need to start kicking and prodding to get them out of the medieval age they seem to be stuck in. Having publishers be luddites helps no one.

    As a reader, it’s my impression that Macmillan, fresh from having Apple suck up to them to get marketshare, simply gave an ultimatum to Amazon. Amazon responded as they usually do, by refusing MacMillan’s business (see their past actions on internet taxes). The only reason they caved in is because they realize their position would also hurt their customers and they truly seem to want to move books into the internet age.

    Macmillan should understand who they are dealing with in Apple. Apple is not going to be the savior of the publishing industry. They just want the marketshare first and then they’ll start dictating even worse terms to the publishers.

  39. I think this is a wonderful idea. As a former manager of an independent bookstore I would like to say if it is at all possible try to buy from an independent.

    The big chains whammed them pretty good. It is why I teach now. Here is my favorite and I am sure they would love your business http://www.mystgalaxy.com/

  40. OK, thanks for the recommendations; also on this side of the pond

    WHSmith.co.uk

    has some decent discounts, and free shipping when you hit the £15 mark.

  41. Well written on how there are other bookstores out there!

    I own {indie}pendent books which is a bookstore dedicated to self-published authors and those using small publishers.

    I know many other indie bookstores, and it would be nice if we got used. We often give much more personalized service. I even gift wrap all our orders for free!

    Josie
    http://www.indiependentbooks (dot) com

  42. You can still get Tor books from amazon.co.uk (although I realise people may be reluctant to give any arm of Amazon their custom at the moment).

    Actually, would it be more effective to buy Macmillan / Tor books from those arms of Amazon still selling them (showing them exactly what demand there is), or to get them somewhere else (using lost revenues as the incentive)?

  43. Picked up a couple books from BAMM today. Already a member of the Millionaire’s Club, I’d never used the website. Didn’t realize it was very comparable to Amazon, even with the free shipping over $25. Some books were even cheaper. :)

  44. Thanks for this reminder about who is being hurt while Amazon and Macmillan play games, John. As a brick-and-mortar bookseller, I’d like to encourage folks to support authors and independent booksellers at the same time. Some of us are putting up displays of Macmillan/Tor authors in our stores.

  45. It’s been just 5 days. I think it’s early to feel sorry for the poor authors starving. I don’t get it. It’s not just amazon fault. Its also macmillan fault. And all this situation it’s just a negotiation. And both sides are taking leverage on the authors and the readers as well. Anywhere in the world, right now, are people getting out of job. That’s a tragedy… this is just some temporary uneasy situation.
    My apologies for my poor english and my not so kind point of view.

  46. BTW, I buy my books online at waterstone.com and Barnes & Noble. I’m very happy with both.
    Good Luck to everyone

  47. @freecomment – I think the reason why people are panicking so much about this is that it’s an indicator of where things are going, how much is changing in publishing, and it’s a sign that authors, publishers, and sellers alike need to re-think how they’re going to proceed in the face of selling books digitally. It’s scary because no one knows how this is going to go, and there’s no real precedent. And there’s nothing scarier than the unknown.

    I’m a writer who hopes to be published someday, and I just hope all this gets worked out before I get there! :) Preferably in a way where authors are respected, treated like creators and not like commodities, and are compensated fairly for their work.

  48. Great post, John. Definitely a good way to encourage helping the authors stuck in the middle of all this. I updated all my pre-order links at my site–this mess was the push I needed to take time out and make sure all distributors are represented.

  49. Time for an author’s co-op web storefront for non-DRM (or light-DRM) works? Or heck, even just an aggregator site for authors who sell their works from their own websites…

  50. Stopped by a bookstore by accident on sunday and decided to run in and buy ‘Hate Mail’. I couldn’t think of another Macmillan author I’m currently reading so I bought a Scalzi book, yiesh has that guy been stealing my money lately! Him and that Pratchett dude have been really raping my debit card. (PS ‘Hate Mail’ is proving a great read, thanks John for mentioning it everywhere!)

  51. 17: With all due respect, the days when the US dollar was worth a lot more than the Canadian dollar are long gone.

    For your convenience:

    http://www.bankofcanada.ca/en/rates/converter.html

    Today one American dollar will buy 1.07 Canadian dollars. A couple of weeks ago the Canadian dollar was actually trading above the US dollar.

    Back when our dollar was cheap, Canadians generally paid less than Americans did for booksThese days once one converts, the Canadian price is usually substantially more than the US list price.

  52. The Grey Area @ 43 – Something that always pissed me off about the bookstore was that it didn’t carry all the sf that’s was out there, because publishers didn’t want to pay for the shelfspace, because the books numbers weren’t good enough. At Amazon you can find almost everything, or connect with a vendor that has what you want.

    And brick and mortar bookstores can do this thing called “ordering” for you. If you don’t see a book you want, you “order” it from the book store, they pay the shipping charges, and you get the book. They even hold it for you until you pick it up, and you pay when you pick it up, not at the point of order.

    Also, “publishers didn’t want to pay for the shelfspace“? Bookstores don’t work that way.

  53. RJ, writers have no influence on the price of their books. None.

    It’s also funny that you talk that way about Apple, but seem to think Amazon is some shining knight. Amazon is a company who wants to make money, just like Apple, and just like Macmillan. And they have a right to make money, and so does Apple, and so does Macmillan.

    Anyway, the next time I hit the bookstore, I will be on the lookout for Macmillan authors.

    Thanks for keeping the updates coming, John

  54. @Bob Mayer #45.

    You covered a lot of ground, but I don’t think everyone would agree with your answer about why an author needs a publisher. And I say this as an unpublished author who may very well self-publish and who believes that authors without big publishers will become a much bigger part of the market in years to come.

    yet publishers still add value. Editorial assistance should not be underestimated. It is huge, and I think many readers and authors don’t realize how huge it is until they experience it (and yes, many house totally drop the ball on editing once an author has established himself as a bestseller). There’s also cover art and helping to figure out marketing and PR strategires, even if as you say midlist and new authors get little or no budget.

    The gatekeeper role? Absolutely, that is going to gradually become less important, though not go away entirely. But a book is almost always better after having been through the kind of editing that generally only a publisher willing to spend $5000-$20000 to get a book ready will do

  55. John, all of the people who think you’re an asshole should really read this post. I think this is another reason why I’m not a fan of your work, but more of you as a person. It isn’t often that we see someone basically say “There are other people who need your help and support more than I do,” and honestly mean it. I’m going to see what looks good on the Macmillan and tor sites and grab a couple books on my nook. Do you have any suggestions, perhaps? You recommended Heinlein to me before, and I enjoyed that, so any other suggestions would be appreciated.

  56. When I was at Borders this weekend, I made it a point to buy a Macmillan book. I ended up with a debut YA fantasy, “Eyes Like Stars” by Lisa Mantchev.

    I’ll be taking a look at the Tor recent releases, too.

  57. John, thanks a million for this!!

    I’m not only a Macmillan author, I’m one with my first major book release–launching today (2/2), after Amazon has said it will “eventually” capitulate.

    How soon eventually comes we have no way of knowing, of course.

    Authors in my position–like Anna Dean or Ken Mercer, to name two in my imprint, Minotaur–are going to take the worst collateral damage.

    I really appreciate you suggesting something positive for the victims in this mess, and I’ll look for a copy of your book in one of the independents I’ll be signing with on tour.

    Thanks again!

    Kelli Stanley
    CITY OF DRAGONS (Minotaur, February 2, 2010)

  58. I have a SF convention coming up in 10 days, and I plan to buy 10+ books from the dealers room. I got a list based on books mentioned here and the Uncle Hugo’s newsletter that I will buy in a reader friendly pro author environment.

    I will also listen to what the authors are themselves saying about the current Charlie Foxtrot.

  59. The first time I bought from Amazon was way back in the dark ages when they only sold books, and one navigated the web using Lynx.

    Yes virginia, I bought books using a text based web browser.

    So I’ve been a customer a LONG time, and I a really angry at these idiots right now.

    Almost all of our independent bokstores are used book stores, (thus no direct money to the author) though we do have a couple of niche genre stores. For Arizona folks, The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale is a wonderful little store that sells 98% mysteries) but has book signings for Mystery, SF, Thriller, and History writers as well.

    I think I’ll call up one of the independent SF shops in Californai and order some books this evening.

  60. Thank you, John. This post was selfless and generous, which is nice but certainly not surprising.

    My book has been out for two years now, so I suspect that barring a call from Oprah’s people in the near future, the bulk of sales on this book have already occurred. But as a number of people have already stated, it’s the Macmillan authors with new work entering the pipeline who stand to lose the most. They are the ones sitting at home muttering “Why me?”, and rightfully so.

  61. I decided over the weekend to not shop at Amazon for books anymore. I use BN.com now. Heck, I have a membership card for an extra spiffy discount.

    Today, I ordered a couple of Steven Brust books as gifts, as well as a couple of Lawrence Watt-Evans books, also as gifts.

    I’m ticked authors I know and like (some as friends) are getting hurt by this.

  62. I am SO glad I didn’t buy a Kindle now. Plus, when the world ends in 2012 (or you’re camping) where will you charge it at? (Go to Thinkgeek for a solar charger?)
    Teresa Jusino- I’d say Old Mans War. As for other authors, take some time and look at what whatever bookstore you go to has. That’s what fun about a real bookstore-looking at books and deciding what you want to read. Hold it in your hand, read the first 5 pages, see what else the authors written. I guess I’m going to the bookstore today to look for a new book.

  63. I’ve ordered from both Amazon and Barnes & Nobles before, and had good luck with both, but for my money I still love going to my local Borders. There’s nothing like wandering through a brick and mortar store to see what catches your eye. I always leave with one or two extra books it seems.

    One of the books I bought there Saturday I did just realize is a Tor book from a well established author. May have to make another trip to see if anything else catches my eye from maybe a newer author.

  64. I left the Amazon fold over a year ago, after their last little “accident” ,and I’ve not really missed them. I have a Sony e-reader and a Blackberry, and I find almost everything I want for them elsewhere. I still buy actual books, both locally and online. My options without Amazon are quite limitless. I’ve been uncomfortable with Amazon’s control over my reading for a good three years before this latest splat. There are so many little incidents in their history that dissuaded me from being a customer. Amazon is a retailer I fully supported from the time they opened business, but they have gradually slipped and slid until I no longer trust them.

    As the consumer in all this, I hold the ultimate power, as everyone on the other side — retailers, publishers, authors — want my money and patronage. I have all the choices. Even if my choice is to lock myself into a certain format or source, it is still MY CHOICE. I keep that fact in the corner of my mind as I read through all this.

    My thought is, could this be another Amazon ploy? I’ve read a lot on both sides of the current fluff up, and I wonder if Amazon is hoping Macmillan’s authors will turn en masse and start screaming to the publisher. I wonder if Amazon is deliberately pointing the gun at the hostage authors.

  65. For What It’s Worth, If You’re Looking To Cut-N-Paste:

    I am writing to let you know my disappointment at letting authors and readers get caught up in your tussle with Macmillan. I intended to purchase the book listed above, but will instead purchase online through Barnes & Noble. I will be taking my business elsewhere until you can find a resolution that does not rely on taking money out of authors’ pockets.

    —–

    Perhaps there’s a standard letter being sent, but I didn’t see it. So here’s what I sent to Amazon customer service before buying my copy of BONESHAKER at B&N. I do appreciate the support ticket is attached to my account – perhaps being a Prime member who spends quite a lot will count for something if enough people write in.

  66. I would always prefer to buy books from as close a source to the author as possible. I particularly like the way you make your books available from subterranean press because they are always that bit more special.

    If there was some kind of author “co-op” that would serve as a nexus of release information that would be great. At the moment I subscribe to blog rss feeds for that information but it isn’t that practical to be subscribed to all of them.

    I’m not in America so my choices are a bit more limited. I have bought a lot from Amazon in the past but if I can find alternate sources I will buy from them.

  67. Personally, I browse Barnes & Noble or Books A Million about once a week. I’m a big proponent of “stumbling upon” new books, since I find most book reviews (like movie reviews and music reviews) to be fairly subjective. Until I learn the taste of a reviewer through trail and error (usually by reading the first 5-10 pages of a suggested book at B&N) I just follow one of the oldest formulas in book buying: look for a good title or good cover art and see how the first few pages strike you.

    I submit this as anecdotal evidence that visiting the old brick and mortar not only is a great way to reconnect with the physical loveliness of books, but that doing so helps you connect with your bookseller — even a big, corporate bookseller. I’ve been in my local B&N and BAM so many times I know the folks there. I suggested that “Gone Away World” by Nick Harkaway would be a great addition to the shelves and talked with the local manager about the overall splediferousness of the book and, lo, suddenly a book that had not been on the shelves was on the shelves. Not only did I order a copy of GAW online, but the local B&N probably put several into inventory.

    I suspect with smaller, independent booksellers (the sort we don’t have down here in South Georgia [insert banjo music]), this effect is even more pronounced.

  68. @Teresa

    I “put up” with Kindle because of the convenience of accessing almost any book anywhere at a fair price. I don’t typically re-read very many books, so the DRM doesn’t bother me. I view Kindle books more like a rental than an ownership situation. It’s funny how many music fans accept Apple’s closed model, but beat Amazon over the head because of Kindle.

    John, I appreciate that you’re trying to make this dispute more positive and to remind readers of the authors hurt by this conflict between Macmillan and Amazon. I also understand that you and others view me and my fellow Amazon supporters as being inherently opposed to authors when I say that I will not be purchasing any new Macmillan books any time soon. I believe on a fundamental level that a retailer should sell a product for the price they wish – regardless of whether or not they take a loss. Macmillan is opposed to a free market for books by conspiring with Apple and others to fix prices. It just floors me how many people here think this is just fine and that Amazon is automatically the bad guy for wanting a say in setting prices on their site.

  69. Oh, I just checked. Macmillan books (at least Scalzi titles) are still available as audio books on Audible, which was bought by Amazon and which seems more or less immune to the various storms.

  70. I certainly value the books I buy and the authors that write them. Fortunately, for me, I have a stack of books to read. But there is one new one release today I want and I will buy another paperback by same author “To Say Nothing About the Dog”.
    That book is Blackout by Connie Willis, just released today.

    A quick look at the book sites revealed the following concerning price for the new book:
    Powell’s – $26 (pay tax unknown, shipping?)
    Barnes and Noble $16.90 (members $15.21) (pay tax, shipping?)
    Borders $26.00 (pay tax, shipping?)
    Amazon $17.16 (do not pay tax, $0 shipping)
    (I also ended up adding a paperback $7.99 from same author)

    Seems pretty clear to me that buying from Amazon is the smart thing to do and certainly the financially responsible thing to do for me. This is why I ordered the items from Amazon today.

    I think it is terrible that authors are made to suffer but unfortunately that is the way business works. If never is personal.

    As a consumer, I want to pay the lowest price possible. Amazon’s spat seems to be over ultimately what I would have to pay for certain items. If the above book purchase would have been a book involved in the ordeal there is a good chance I would simply wait it out. Unless I had nothing else to read.

    I am curious, do the authors get any part of the difference in price that is at the root of all this?

  71. I wish I could show some support for the authors who got screwed but I live all the way down in Brazil. I’ll probably go to my favourite brick and mortar bookstore later on, so if by a miracle they do happen to have some macmillan books on the shelves I’ll be sure to buy them!

  72. Jeff Barrus:

    “I also understand that you and others view me and my fellow Amazon supporters as being inherently opposed to authors”

    What? I have not said such a thing and I will thank you not to insinuate that I have.

    That said, yet again, let’s not make this particular thread about whether we are on Team Amazon or Team Macmillan. This is the hangout for Team Author.

  73. John, great post. I tweeted a link to it. And on a related note, am in the process of closing my Amazon Associates account. (It’s symbolic, really, as I don’t make any money from it, but I do send hundreds of people to their site every month from my blog.)

  74. @Atsiko, So writers dont get a say on what the publishers do, but the publishers need to get a say on what the retailer does? You don’t see a problem in that?

    For many book lovers, Amazon was/is a shining knight. They invested heavily into the ebook business when nobody else would and made it as easy to purchase a book as pressing a button. They get huge props for that from me and many others.

    I’m not saying they are different from Apple (they actually got their playbook from how Apple dealt with the music industry). I’m just saying that _no one_ is going to be saving the publishing industry. Apple is only going to suck up to the publishers until they get the mind/market share and then they’ll jump on the rotting carcasses too.

    What’s needed is for the publishers to start changing from within and adapting to the new age.

  75. Thanks for that list, John. I happen to have come into some BordersBucks and I am going to spend them on one of those authors. Probably not you though. I like you, I do, but I already have most of your books!
    Also, my cat Kuma would like to say hello to Her Highness. I think he has a bit of a crush.

  76. Amy:

    “Interesting that you would recommend buying at Walmart”

    I didn’t recommend them. I noted they sell books. A link is not inherently a recommendation.

  77. Question:

    I’ve seen a lot of people mentioning B&N, but nobody (and this was only by scanning through the posts) mentioned Borders. I probably do 80-90% of my book buying from Borders.

    Just so I know from an ethical point for the next time I go book shopping, is there something about Borders I should be wary of?

    – Jeff

  78. Edward G. Talbott @73: A lot of the support activities that publishers do could be taken over by authors’ agents. I can easily see a situation where the agents expand their role as gatekeepers and promoters to work directly with eBook retailers, JIT publishers and online author co-ops to promote their authors.

  79. This entire affair drove me to do two things last night:

    1) Buy a nook. I was going to anyway, but this really bumped up the priority, and

    2) Put down on Fictionwise for five, count ‘em, five ebooks purchased by Macmillan authors. I snagged three by Fred Saberhagen, one new mystery novel, and David B. Coe’s Children of Amarid.

    Purchases of works of yours I don’t have yet will also be forthcoming, Mr. Scalzi!

  80. John @94: I think Jeff is inferring a bias against Amazon because the most/all of the actions you recommend to support the authors would give sales revenue to McMillan without providing sales revenue to Amazon. So perhaps he views this as “rewarding” McMillan.

    Apart from the impact on the authors it would be interesting to see if any publisher would dare to pull a Google and abandon Amazon completely. . .
    yeah, when Satan makes a snowman.

  81. I see wordpress stripped out my angle brackets comment in my previous…trying again. (BTW does the comments screen accept HTML escape codes like < ?
    John @94: I think Jeff is inferring a bias against Amazon because the most/all of the actions you recommend to support the authors would give sales revenue to McMillan without providing sales revenue to Amazon. So perhaps he views this as “rewarding” McMillan.

    {insert oblig comment about Amazon and self-inflicted gunshot wounds here.}

    Apart from the impact on the authors it would be interesting to see if any publisher would dare to pull a Google and abandon Amazon completely. . .
    yeah, when Satan makes a snowman.

  82. John,

    Even though Audible.com is owned by Amazon, this silliness didn’t prevent me from purchasing a couple new Macmillan Audio titles this morning from the audible site. I need to gear up for this coming work season (Spring) when I’ll listen to 6+ hours of audiobooks a day, so this was an excellent opportunity. As you said earlier, the profit (or loss) to Macmillan or Amazon is miniscule, but the net benefit to the author isn’t.

    Note: a bit late as I see Murphy already mentioned this in comment #91

  83. I like seeing places I know online. I can actually see the DnD books at Jay and Mary’s in the shot. Interestingly, I can’t see your books – they’re just out of frame below the photo.

    You shut yourself out of your own shot.

    John, do you need to talk to someone?

  84. I won’t go elsewhere on this because that supports MacMillan. Yes, it helps the authors, but it does so in direct support of MacMillan’s bad practices here.

    Instead, I have written MacMillan. Yes, that is likely to do nothing. But, neither is any individual book sale likely to help an author. Collective action, however, would help in either instance. I choose to address the corporation I see as the greater villain in this particular instance.

  85. Done and done. Just ordered Stuart MacBride’s two latest MacRae novels from bn.com.

    Also told Amazon that, due to continued executive misbehavior, I will no longer be buying books from there. To rectify, turn the buy buttons back on and have Jeff Bezos take out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal apologizing for his misdeeds.

    That breathing sound you hear is me not holding my breath for the latter.

    Reposted your link with commentary to my blog. The more people read, the better.

  86. Jeff @ 90

    I think you may have missed the point that the reason Amazon sets their prices low now is so that nobody can stop them from doing anything they want with prices in the future. They are attempting to monopolize the industry with their practices. Short term, their prices are cheaper. Long term, you have no choice who to buy from, and they can pick and chose what’s allowable (no gay literature), and what price they feel like charging (nobody left to udnercut them).

    This is a major fail for consumers.

  87. It makes me sad that authors are so dependent on publishers. I understand publishers have the printers, distribution, marketing, etc…

    But for ebooks? I would happily buy ebooks directly from authors and bypass publishers completely. Or a print on demand machine somewhere I can go to, or website to order, etc…

    I get its more work for authors but there’s got to be a better way than the current system.

  88. To those of you who read e-books/kindle – several alternates to getting titles are detailed upstream. To those of you who (like me) prefer paper.
    Pick an author
    check OTHER places where he/she is published (I am all about supporting the authors, but I really don’t want to reward McMillian )

    example – Night Shade Books, Subterranean Press, and other make NICE quality books (I better royalties are better also)

  89. @Bozo #102 – I certainly don’t disagree that what publishers provide could be provided elsewhere. As an author, if I were willing to spend the money, I could hire an editor, layout person, and cover illustrator to do the job.

    I simply wanted to counter the idea that publishers offer no “real” value. I don’t believe that their gatekeeper role or their role in distribution will survive the next 20-30 years looking anything like it does now, but the role of making the book a better product does add value and someone needs to do it or the product will be inferior.

    Of course, many readers won’t mind a somewhat inferior product if they can get it for $2 instead of $14.99, but that is a whole different topic.

  90. Thanks for this, John. I have a paperback reissue coming out from Tor today and a hardcover original coming out from Tor in two weeks. I’m hoping that by the time the hardcover is out, Amazon will have put the “buy” links back. But my paperback is getting hosed. I appreciate the post and the sentiment behind it. Let’s hope that all of us come through this relatively unscathed.

    David B. Coe

  91. Really, folks, I don’t know why I need to keep saying that this isn’t the thread for Team Amazon/Team Macmillan stuff. You all do seem like reasonably intelligent folk. I’m having difficulty understanding why it’s not sinking in.

    (Dusts off the Mallet of Loving Correction)

    Also, please: Macmillan. Not McMillin, MacMillan, MacMillin or otherwise. I’m beginning to understand why it drives my Tor editor nuts to see it spelled incorrectly.

  92. [Applies Mallet. I'm serious, folks. There are other threads on the site to declare your undying allegiances. Go there. This one is about authors -- JS]

  93. John, thanks for another great post!

    I’m looking forward to buying books today. I’ll especially look for debut authors/new releases. The first week of a release is crucial!

    @ the folks that recommended UK sources, thanks! I’ve been looking for other-than-Amazon sources for my UK books/audiobooks. Appreciate it!

  94. Here I am trying to behave after buying a bunch of books at B&N a week ago. I guess it’s time for a Powell’s order.

    I’ve been thinking of requesting an e-book reader for my birthday, but between this and the George Orwell incident last July, it won’t be a Kindle.

  95. John: As you know, I’m very glad to support authors and publishers. However, I must state flatly that most publishers have acted as if their hands were coming directly into contact with s**t when dealing with eBooks, which are ALL I am willing to purchase. (And I’ll get Kindle when I see Bezos sitting on the throne of Olympus with the heads of the twelve gods on pikes in front of him.)

    I buy a LOT of ebooks, as you may have noticed from posts elsewhere. I’d buy a LOT more, except they simply aren’t available. For example, I somehow seem to have gotten myself hooked on the Percy Jackson series via the audiobook route (I’m currently listening to “Sea of Monsters”. ) I would be VERY happy to buy the text eBooks. So where the **** are they? ONLY on the Amazon ******* kindle, or a website in India that won’t let you buy and download from the U.S.

    If the publishers and their authors want my support, I’m glad to give it, but MAKE THE DAMN EBOOKS AVAILABLE AND NOT JUST FROM AMAZON!

  96. Lots of ideas on where to buy more books. I’ll have to check out fictionwise.com.

    What? I have to go into a bookstore? Do you know how much money I spend when I walk into a bookstore? It’s worse than when I walk into Petsmart when they have adoption days for kitties. I guess I can pull myself away from the internet and go to my local independent, which btw is awesome. I definitely am on Team Author here. I still haven’t bought all of your books yet, John. This might be the opportunity to do it.

  97. @Geoffrey Kidd – If you know where to look, you can find most things. At the same time I agree with you. I tried to buy Old Man’s War for my nook from B&N, and it isn’t available even though the rest of the series is.

  98. Teresa Jusino: I would also add that John’s Big Idea series is also an excellent source of recommendations. A link to archived entries is on one the right sidebars (right below the calendar), or you can go here to see a list of authors featured in 2009.

    You may want to avoid the Amazon links at the bottom of each entry and use the B&N or Powell’s links instead. ;-)

  99. I have just realized that some, though not all, of the Big Idea authors are Macmillan. Doesn’t matter. They’re still good authors, no matter who publishes them.

  100. I have been buying SF from http://www.webscription.net since I bought my Sony Reader about a year ago.

    Although the site was originally build by Baen, they also have more publishers now.

    I find the prices very affordable and the site provides a multitude of formats. Although it could use a re-build, the site has some useful features such as a tracker for ebooks I already purchased.

    In addition, I have discovered a number of authors via the free library and by buying WebScription bundles.

  101. With a pretty close scan down the comments, I think this is a new resource to add to the list: Better World Books. They have prices competitive with Amazon, flat-rate shipping, new and used books, AND they donate to literacy projects around the world, promoting a triple-bottom-line business model. Social values include valuing the author, as far as I can tell.

    Worth a look.

  102. FYI, Borders, if you are a member of their FREE rewards club, regularly sends out coupons (currently a 33% off one is in my mailbox). However, their limited stock at times can limit the selection when you are wanting to get a book NOW to take home with you.

    For those of you who like to have their books scribbled in by the authors, stores such as Mysterious Galaxy and the Poisoned Pen do have a fair number of signed books as well.

  103. I like Borders and I’d mention it but the nearest one to me is over an hour away. B+N on other the hand, is fifteen minutes away.

  104. Kelli Stanley (#76): I see that BN.com has City of Dragons as an e-book suitable for the Nook and BN eReader; I’m about to download the sample chapters, and may well buy the whole thing once I’ve read those.

  105. Recommendations Please:

    Assuming your favorite SF book is by John Scalzi, what is your second favorite book? :)

  106. Since the purchase of my kindle (please no boos) I haven’t thought to buy a “real” book. But I hear what you’re saying. So today I will send some books as random gifts to some friends and fam. Who knows, maybe I will introduce them to their new favorite author.

  107. Hey John,

    Great post. I’ve recently discovered Whatever and I’m very glad that I did.

    I have this gift certificate to B&N that I received for Christmas. I’m pretty broke so I’ve been trying to trade it to someone for cash. I think I’m going to go home and buy some books instead. *EG* All I needed was a good reason and supporting you local starving writers is a good reason.

    Also, I am going to cross-post this to my LJ and FB.

  108. Though I am now a bookseller with a bricks and mortar store, I come from many years in house with some of North America’s largest publishers. I was a publicist, so I like to spread news: here’s another recent posting that I think adds to this discussion.

    [publishing] An open letter to Kindle enthusiasts and ebook activists | jlake.com
    http://www.jlake.com

    Best, Simone Lee
    Pages books on Kensington, Calgary AB

  109. John@126:

    I do know where to look. I’ve got a black belt in google-fu.

    I’ve been a member of the fictionwise book club for almost ten years now. I’ve hit B&N’s ebooks. Diesel ebooks, Books On Board, Mobipocket, and a couple of other legitimate eBook sources whose names escape me right now. Believe me, if it’s available at all, I can find it, and I hate the fact that an awful lot of stuff I’m willing to shell out for is available only if I can stomach raising the Jolly Roger.

    Fictionwise has most of Scalzi’s books in DRM-infested Mobipocket and eReader. (OMW is mobipocket-only), and I bought my copy of Ghost Brigades from panmacmillan in the UK, although they seem to have changed their DRM to Adobe since I bought mine.

  110. Well, the only time I’ve bought from Amazon was when I either a)had a gift certificate, or b)couldn’t find the book ANYWHERE else. The faceless monolith that is Amazon gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

    What I DID do was go to my local Bricks and Mortar Borders (because I’d like them to stay in business) and picked up several copies of books on Macmillan imprints. The ones I didn’t have, or that I only has softcopies of, I kept. The rest, I gave away as gifts. And now I get to engage in self-congratualtory bullshit, and feel all virtuous and like I stuck it to The Man and everything. You rock, John.

    Because there are probably plenty of people ranting at Amazon right now, and the noise-to-signal ratio is pretty high, I figured I’d do something different – throw money at the problem. I hope others think to do the same.

    Disclaimer – I worked for C-SPAN in the BookTV division for a long time, I got a look at how the publishing industry works (and doesn’t). And my first instinct was to wonder how hard the authors on those imprints were getting screwed. Kudos to you for having a financial cushion, God knows I’ve contributed to it over the years.

  111. I’m on my planning period at school and just came back from my local B&N store. It is two blocks away from the school I teach at. I went in a purchased a copy of your bok The Ghost Brigades. I wnated to strike a blow in support of you and other writes who are caught in the crossfire between these compaines. I’m ashamed to say that I am not up on my John Scalzi books. I finished Old Man’s War this past weekend and just LOVED it!!! I can’t wait to get started on The Ghost Brigades!
    By the way, Athena’s Mardi Gras stuff is in the mail and she should be getting it shortly.
    I’m behind you and then other writers 100%!!

  112. keija@135:

    Lois McMaster Bujold, hands down. Her Baen Books are available at http://www.webscription.net, except for “The Spirit Ring”, and fictionwise has her “Sharing Knife” series:

    http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/t/series/?seriesid=1331&si=0

    and “The Spirit Ring” (standalone novel, DRM-free) http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b1641/The-Spirit-Ring/Lois-McMaster-Bujold/?si=0

    and her “Five Gods” books:

    Curse of Chalion: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b3817/The-Curse-of-Chalion/Lois-McMaster-Bujold/?si=0

    Paladin of Souls: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b17284/Paladin-of-Souls/Lois-McMaster-Bujold/?

    The Hallowed Hunt: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b31492/The-Hallowed-Hunt/Lois-McMaster-Bujold/?si=0

    I recommend the lady unreservedly. She and Mr. Scalzi are the ONLY authors on the planet for whose works I would consider paying hardcover prices for electronic editions.

  113. Nicely done, linked, and shortly, facebooked. Thanks for doing this, it’s good work and a good deed. As an author who isn’t with Macmillan and thus not in the direct line of fire Amazonfail hasn’t hit my bottom line, but it hurts a lot of friends and colleagues and I don’t like that one little bit.

  114. I have a perfectly fine, independent S.F. bookstore handy. I will visit the nice people there this weekend and Do My Duty. (Actually, I buy from them anyhow. But this is a great excuse!)

  115. I just ordered Cherie Priest’s Fathom and Joann Sfar’s Little Vampire from B & N, and then I wrote Amazon a little note explaining why they didn’t get my money, and then I posted on ElJay about the whole deal (http://joecrow.livejournal.com/95812.html), and then I came here and bragged about it. It’s, like, the circle of life, or something.

  116. With all due respect to everybody talking boycotts or switching to a different online provider. I buy books. I want to keep buying books. If Amazon gets away with delisting whole companies, then every other online provider will do the same, eventually.

    Everyone is missing all the elephants in the room.

    It is now after noon, on Tuesday, February 2nd, and the paper books are still not available for sale.

    It doesn’t matter if you change vendors, or go to physical bookstores, the longer the books are still not for sale, the longer Amazon gets away with this, the more your right to buy books, any where, are stripped away.

    Books-a-million is a chain of stores, just like Barnes&Nobel, or Borders. They all have an online service as well as physical stores. They all have the same ability to vanish books, authors, publishers, at a whim.

    So you now have Amazon vanishing books, that’s one elephant. That is blatant, obvious, everybody can see it, but you also have publishers vanishing books by letting them go OP, or doing pathetic print runs. That’s the other elephant.

    Bob Mayer posted earlier about his books, post #45. I have all of his books. I probably have most of the books from every writer posting in this thread. Sad to say, but he has sold more copies than all of the other writers here combined, and you guys are ignoring his point.

    How many authors posting here have books that are out of print, no longer available to anybody simply because some corporate entity decided that “they” couldn’t make any more money on “your” books. Publishers have been ripping off both the customers and the authors for decades, they overcharge one and underpay the other.

    Stores online/brick, publishers, they are all the problem, the model is broken. Find another way.

    iTunes changed the music industry. Find some way to do books, both paper and e-books, that let you write and me buy.

    Because, while the elephants battle it out, everyone gets trampled. Find another way to write, publish, and get paid for it, without dealing with elephants; ’cause they don’t care who they step on.

  117. See, John, this is just another way you keep other authors down, man.* On a serious note, nice post – it’s good to remind folks that real people are affected by all of the corporate BS. Also, I need to check to see if Toby Buckell’s Sly Mongoose is out in paper… mmm paper….

    *To new readers – reference to an earlier spat. Read as humor… no, really.

  118. I just bought 4 books by new-to-me authors. This is a great reason to justify my reading addiction and support the authors.

    Thanks for suggesting this.

  119. I am tending towards amazon’s camp on this (and I do own a kindle). I believe that the digital versions of books should be cheaper as there is no labor or materials cost at the margin and each additional book sold is nearly 100% profit. However, I would not mind paying hardback prices for the books IF the drm is taken off and I could lend the book to a friend like I can do with physical books. I actually believe that sales $$ going towards the authors will go down if this persists.

    I would not be surprised to see some authors and publishers go to digital only in the near future. The loser will be the printers eventually but I think that we are headed that way anyway.

  120. Scalzi, is it time for a specific book (or author) recommendations thread, with commenters encouraged to note whether the recommended author’s stuff is currently missing from Amazon?

  121. Thomas M. Wagner @140
    Thanks for the link!

    Steve @154
    is it time for a specific book (or author) recommendations thread

    That’s a great idea. :)

  122. John, you missed an online / store retail chain. Borders. And even though I do know the risk of trusting Wikipedia with any information, the fact that it is noted that they broke from their Amazon link a while back does not entitle them to get left out… in fact I’d add them to your list. Heck, reading that my first thought was … “Missed Borders… wha??”

    Mind you I’m out of South Dakota and the closest non-used book store is about 40 minutes away, and is a Borders stand alone.

    I bought a few books last weekend. At the time I bought books I had not realized that there was a spat going on between the two corps, but I did pick up Tor books anyways, because the author I was intrested in reading writes under that imprint. And because of the spat, I’ll be ordering the last in the trilogy from Borders online, since the B&M didn’t have it on hand when I went in.

  123. Josh, I know book stores order books. My point was, often I don’t know a book is there until I see it. I see books at this site, but more often than not that translates into instant gratification by ordering it online. For instance, I found J.S. while ordering a book online. His was in that row of suggested books. I went there to buy a Charles Stross and found Scalzi. Also, I guess I just thought I heard that publishers would pay to have books faced on the shelf, and that there is only so much room on the self so numbers must matter. I’m probably confusing that with food items.

  124. Been having an interesting experience looking for affiliate programs at online retailers. I’m basically refusing to add Amazon links to any reviews on my site until this dispute is over and Amazon actually relists Macmillan authors instead of just talking about it. Trouble is, Amazon certainly does have the easiest and most user-friendly affiliates program out there, and it offers loads of flexibility for webmasters. Once you’re signed up, it’s usually just a matter of copypasting code.

    So far, only Powell’s seems to have a similarly easy UI for its affiliate program, so I’ll begin the long process of adding Powell’s buttons to my reviews. (1 down, 615 to go :-/ ) But BN.com wants you to have a Google AdSense account, which I don’t really want, and as for Borders.com, as far as I can tell they don’t pay you in store credit, only by check, and instead of offering a way to link directly to specific titles they just want you to plaster banners all over your site. No thank you, ma’am. I’m hoping I’m wrong and am just missing something, and I’ll get a reply to my query email telling me how to do what I want. But you’d think they’d provide obvious instructions-for-dummies on their site, dammit.

  125. Where can I get a “Mallet of Loving Correction”? There are times when I could use just such a tool. The closest thing I have is “An Idiots Guide to Aversive Stimuli”

  126. Thanks for this post, John! And thanks everybody for all the suggestions. I warmly second the recommandations for Fictionwise if one likes ebooks, and The Book Depository for buying paper editions. Being in France, I’ve come to rely on it a lot when I want an english language book. I also like Play.com, another UK based online seller who carries a lot of books in addition to music and movies. I’ve found both reliable, quick, easy to use and, very often, no more expansive than Amazon.

  127. As a book lover I am with the authors. I will continue to buy books from Borders/Barnes/Walmart etc. I am upset that Amazon would stop selling all Macmillan books so I wrote Amazon and let them know if they don’t want my business no problem I’ll go some place else. I am not a kindle user and had Amazon been smart they would have pulled only ebooks so not to affect everyone. Maybe I’m just one person but I do want them to know how I feel.

    BTW I love these authors to much and will continue to support them!

    P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast, Alyson Noel, Gabrielle Zevin, Mary E. Pearson, Max Turner, Lisa Mantchev, Janet Evanovich, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kristin Hannah,Emily Giffin, Dan Brown, Jeffrey Eugenides

  128. John,
    does it really make that big of a difference if the books , which say have been released a year a go cant be bought for a week or so.I dont know the sales of books per week or anything but i doubt it will be so much that a author of some 8$ paperback novel has to suffer hunger now because his books cant be bought for a week.

  129. @whos2say, I’ll also note that Connie Willis’ Blackout is also available on Amazon for Kindle at $14.30. Not all Kindle books are $9.99, especially not on the day of release. There’s a lot of variable pricing. I’ve seen ebooks like this available for pre-order at $8.39 (or something like that), then around $14 or $15 on day of release, then down to $9.99 a little later depending on how popular the book is. And yes, Blackout is on my Kindle right now; I’ve been waiting for it for over a year since I heard she was writing it, and I don’t want to wait for $9.99!

  130. From this independent bookseller and friend to authors, *thank you* for this post.

    I have been following this whole furor-
    on-a-flash-drive on your blog, Sharon Lee’s and
    Tobias Buckell’s blogs. You rock, and so do your
    commentors.

    There are other formats – some of them even work
    on Kindles – and other places to buy books.

    Thank you again
    Lauretta
    Constellation Books

    PS Has anyone with a Kindle had their Macmillan titles yanked/delisted during this mess? I’m
    curious as to how far this went.

  131. And I am looking forward to watching james @ 165 experiencing his first encounter with the Mallet of Loving Correction…

  132. John –
    Tell you what: I’ll support ME. Because it’s pretty much the attitude you’ve taken in all of this (you care about your sales over and above your readers), just as Macmillan’s attitude has been one of profit over readership.

    So, I’ll buy books of the authors I like. If they’re a Macmillan-owned imprint, I’ll be buying them second hand. That includes you and Charlie Stross, whose opinions on the matter are so self-centered and pro-Macmillan, I feel I have no other choice.

    This way, *I* win. I get to read what I want to read, and I make very, very sure neither you nor Macmillan see a dime. Since Macmillan seems intent on hobbling the e-book market and propping up the deadtree market, I’ll play their little game and go back to buying deadtree books. Second-hand, so I get what I want without feeding you or Macmillan.

    If they aren’t Macmillan authors, I’ll make it a point to buy their reasonably-priced, often non-DRMed titles. Directly from the authors if at all possible (e.g., Cherryh and friends’ effort at http://www.closed-circle.net/ ), so the money goes to the author, not the publisher.

    When you and Macmillan are ready to recognize that e-books aren’t going away, I’ll reconsider my position.

  133. @ rhsok #163: Several authors have books who come out in hardcover this month, and if the Amazon/Macmillan thing is not resolved quick, their sales can take a serious hit, and even lead to a derailing of the launch campaign for the book. (Try promote a title who isn’t available for a week or more in one of the major retailing outlets of the country, in this age of instant information and instant gratification…) For a professional author who publish, say, a novel a year, it can put a not negligeable dent in their budget.

    BTW, this is exactly the sort of thing that could happen to one of my favorite authors, John Maddox Roberts, of the SPQR Mysteries fame, whose new title The Year of Confusion is about to be available on Feb 16th at Minotaur Books (an imprint of St Martin Press, in turn a division of Macmillan, who advertise the book on their website’s front page). And what do you know? You can’t preorder it at Amazon today! So I put it in my Wish List and sent a complaint to the customer department. And made a note to check other booksellers in two weeks time to buy the book…

  134. Hey, I know Borders got pretty trashed up above and not mentioned in the post, but we carry TOR books. Plus I am almost positive that the picture up above is a Borders store. That looks pretty nice right? I would be happy to help anyone find TOR books by their favorite authors. It’s always great to talk to people about the books they love because it gives me new ideas for my reading list. This isn’t some corporate line, just the humble offer of a bookseller.

  135. @Thomas M. Wagner: and yet, I’ll still pursue this course of action, as I fundamentally disagree with Scalzi’s position.

    I’m not a bit concerned about your opinion of that action. My intent was to inform Mr. Scalzi of the effect his position has had on at least one of his long-time readers.

  136. @A book reader #168 – How is John only looking out for himself? He said time and time again that he is fine through this, that we should support authors whose lives will be more dramatically impacted by this. He has not once, to my knowledge, said buy Macmillan books only or anything of that matter. He simply stated that we should help people who might need help and that if we are to be buying books anytime soon, to maybe throw our support in the authors camp, not the camp of Macmillan nor the camp of Amazon, but the camp of the actual damn people who will be hurt by this.

    You’re right though, you’re only looking out for yourself. By actively avoiding purchasing new books from any of the Macmillan presses you aren’t hurting the company, you’re hurting honest people who are trying to make a living by entertaining you. John hasn’t acted self-centered on this matter in the way you seem to think he has, nor has he stated anything Pro-Macmillan, either. Hell, if he wants to be slightly self-centered, doesn’t have the right considering that his income will be hurt by this, even if it is minimally? He has a wife and daughter, so he has the right to have some self-interest in this matter.

    Get off your soap box, I’m stepping off of mine.

  137. @John Scott –
    I’m more than happy to help authors, hence my point about buying e-books directly from authors whenever possible, and buying through retailers (not those operating under an agency model) when it’s not possible, as long as it’s not a Macmillan-published title.

    However, I will not buy books, new, published by a Macmillan company, because I refuse to give even the suggestion of support for Macmillan’s action by allowing them one cent of my money.

    If authors are still hurt by that, then perhaps they should think twice before renewing their contract with Macmillan. A contract is not something entered into at gunpoint. The authors have a choice.

  138. 172: Except you’ve either misunderstood or deliberately misrepresented Scalzi’s position. Neither he nor Macmillan are anti-ebook. And as for the Macmillan/Amazon war, Scalzi’s position has been (clearly stated, I thought) that whichever side you think has the better plan for Kindle pricing, for Amazon to retaliate against writers over a dispute they’re having with a publisher is indefensible and, yes, bullying.

    I’m not a bit concerned about your opinion of that action.

    As it’s obvious you’re not a bit concerned about anything or anyone at all, least of all getting your facts straight, this was always obvious to me. But that doesn’t mean arrogant public douchebaggery shouldn’t be called out on GP. You don’t have to care what people think of your actions, but don’t be annoyed if, by posting them publicly, they get responses anyway.

  139. @Thomas M. Wagner: I’m not at all clear how you got the impression I was annoyed that my opinion garnered responses. Unless in your world the definition of “annoyed” includes “responded to your comment.”

  140. @A book reader – Who do you think the purchase of 1, 10, hell, 50 Macmillan authors is hurting, the company or the individuals who spent a huge amount of their lives writing those books? Macmillan won’t notice you purchasing those books nor will that notice you not purchasing them. Authors should think twice before renewing their contract with Macmillan? TOR is one of, if not THE, largest sci-fi publishers in the world. I see their logo on the spine of a novel almost as a stamp of quality, much like the Nintendo seal from the NES era. I totally agree that both Amazon and Macmillan are being incredibly douchey and only looking out for their bottom lines. They aren’t looking out for the authors, so maybe be should, and that is all John was saying.

  141. I get it. Fortunately, since I had some birthday cash, I was looking to throw some money at authors.

    And checking the Macmillan site, I saw Daniel Abraham’s name. My wife loves the first three volumes of his “Price of Spring” quartet, and now I’m reminded that I can pick up the fourth volume.

    Then there’s Sarah A. Hoyt (recently the subject of a Big Idea post), and she’s a Heinlein fan and sounded pretty cool to boot. I’ll take a flyer on her, then.

    So there’s two purchases to account for, and a lesson learned. Thanks, John.

  142. Oh, no, John! One person is not going to buy your books! HOW WILL YOU EVER SURVIVE WITHOUT A BOOK READER?

    Who apparently can’t follow really clear directions. Directions you’ve reiterated.

    Dear A book reader, please don’t ever buy any of my books, either. I’m afraid you might do yourself an injury somehow with them, because you seem not to understand basic English.

  143. While there’d been a lot of discussion about how this situation hurts authors, I hadn’t even thought about new releases and debut authors and their initial sales. To imagine all the time put into writing and wrangling the manuscript for publication, and then see some of the ships left abandoned at the docks and not set sail — I fear that these authors will never recover that “glitch” in their sales numbers. I suspect I’d be screaming bloody murder to my poor friends and family.

    I echo the person upstream who hopes that publishers will remember these dates when it comes time for the next book contract, but fear that won’t happen either.

    Thanks, John, for bringing this up.

    Dr. Phil

  144. @Lauretta: No, no Macmillan titles were “yanked” from my Kindle, nor were any samples from Macmillan books deleted from my Kindle, nor were any Macmillan books removed from my Amazon wishlists. One thing I’d wish everybody would remember over Amazon removing 1984 from Kindles was that it was an illegal copy of 1984.

  145. @John Scott: I disagree. Mr. Scalzi’s position, as far as I’m concerned, is “buy these authors regardless of the actions of their publisher.” That’s something I can’t stomach.

    Don’t for one second take this as my support for Amazon’s action. I think the actions of both Amazon and Macmillan are deplorable. But, as deplorable as those actions are, I cannot in good conscience continue to give money to a company like Macmillan. They yanked their Tor e-book agreement with Baen’s Webscription service. They reduced the contractual author payout for ebooks by 5%. And now, in apparent collusion with Apple, they’re attempting to increase the price of ebooks by 50% and force Amazon (and, presumably other online retailers as their contracts come up for renewal) into an agency model.

    Yes, a small portion of each Macmillan purchase would go to authors. But the vast majority of the money goes to Macmillan. That doesn’t sit well with me in light of Macmillan’s actions.

  146. @A book reader, Completely agree with you. The writer camp seems to be in a circle the wagons mode right now and are ignoring the actual problems with the business.

    @John Scott, ebooks are supposed to be a minor portion of income for the writers (less than 5% according to Stross). But the rage vented at Amazon over the weekend should tell you that real story is different.

  147. @A book reader and @RJ – I wasn’t even speaking of ebooks, to be honest, because the larger portion of sales, in terms of numbers, still comes from physical books. And yes, I know that you prefer e-books Book Reader, and at this point so do I (it’s why I bought a nook after all) but there are still a larger portion of people out there who will buy a physical book over a digital form, which is why B&N and Border’s have so many locations.

    RJ – in regard to your circle of wagons comment, do the writer’s not have a right to do so? No one else is looking out for them, in this situation, at least. They have right to be angry at both parties. Amazon accounts for a large amount of sales, and the yanking of their works from the website hurts them. Macmillan is only thinking of their coffers and not the people who do the work to make them their money. I agree that it is wrong for Macmillan to be doing this, so please don’t think I am defending them. The fact that they and Apple are pretty much the root of this irritates me too.

  148. ABR @ 184: You know, if you’d phrased your position this way in the first place — instead of ha-ha-you’re-not-getting-a-dime, projecting your own selfishness onto John, and falsely accusing both him and Macmillan of trying to stamp out ebooks altogether — you’d have come off as less of a d-bag. Not that you care or anything, but I’m just sayin’.

    RJ @ 185: The rage vented at Amazon has to do with their delisting all editions, including print, over a price dispute regarding ebooks. If Amazon had just delisted the Kindle versions, you’d have heard grumbling, but that’s all. But Amazon chose the path that would hurt writers the most, which we can see you’re both totally fine with.

  149. @John Scott: authors have a right to circle the wagons. Just as much right as ebook readers. It shouldn’t be at all surprising that either camp has their own interests at heart.

    The problem here is that readers have the (limited) ability to help authors, but authors seem unwilling or unable to help readers. It’s a one-way street right now.

    Please don’t construe this as me placing any sort of blame on the authors. I’m not. But I *am* suggesting that I, as a reader, would deeply love any model that allowed more of my money to go directly to the authors and sidestep the publishers. Whether that’s a direct-sell model, or something as simple as authors putting up a paypal link so when I buy an extremely-cheap 2nd-hand title of theirs, I could send them money directly.

    I’m also suggesting that authors look for ways around this problem in the future. Again, whether that’s negotiating for retention of rights to ebooks, working for better terms when their contracts are up for renewal, or finding some way to go independent, all would serve them better than the current situation.

  150. I agree no one’s absolving Macmillan of anything here. If they’d been the ones to delist their titles from Amazon over this dispute, they’d be the ones getting the abuse and boycotts, and deserving them.

  151. @John Scott, yes the writers have a right to be angry at both parties. But with this kind of campaign they are only targetting Amazon. If you buy an author published by Macmillan from anywhere, you are in effect supporting Macmillan’s business practices and policies.

    When the writers call for and move to a more tech friendly publisher, then I would consider their approach balanced and start buying them again.

  152. As wholly unsubstantiated slurs go,

    ‘authors seem unwilling or unable to help readers’

    is an excellent example of the genre.

    Frankly, if I were an author I’d be unwilling and unable to help ‘A book reader’ too…

  153. @stevie: They are “unable” becuase they are locked into contracts. They are “unwilling” because, as bad as their situations are, they seem afraid to attempt any other business model. Except for a brave few willing to strike out on their own, or realize that contract negotiations are a two-way street, and that things other than the immediate bottom line can be negotiated.

    I understand that the vast majority of the commenters here are also authors, and may be a bit too emotional right now to view this from the consumer’s point of view. However, continued and blatant insults of those who buy your products and happen to have a viewpoint that differs from your own really serves no one.

  154. A book reader:

    “I understand that the vast majority of the commenters here are also authors”

    Actually, no, they’re not.

    Otherwise, I’m entirely happy for you not to buy my books.

    Now, as any more of your discussion is likely to get you the Mallet, as you’re now blathering primarily about Macmillan, off with you.

  155. @stevie, “unable”, someone just pointed out above that the writers do not get a say in how publishers set prices or what goes on down the line. About “unwilling”, except for Cory Doctorow, I dont see too many authors griping about DRM on their ebooks or geographic restrictions on sales etc. So the statement seems true enough to me too.

  156. #87 Bozo
    As you have noted, Lynn Abbey, C.J. Cherryh and Jane Francher are now selling e-books through their Closed Circle website. They just started, and I’m pretty sure that they are DRM free. There is some new work, and I think it is C.J.’s intent to eventually put her entire out of print backlist up.

    A fledgling operation right now, but I think everyone should wish the ladies well.

  157. @RJ – DRM, in theory at least, isn’t evil. When it hinders the consumer, as it usually does, it is though. The idea behind DRM is akin to having a security system in your home. You want to protect your assets, as do the companies who feel the need to put over reaching protection on their products. I say this as a consumer who loathes the way DRM is implemented, too. I did my senior research for my computer science degree on anti-DRM and how if only hurts the consumers, not the people it is intended to thwart.

  158. Scalzi @ 199 –

    I have a really funny image of a laughably small imp cackling to himself in the back of Amazon’s server farm as he continually places Scalzi, John at the end of the reinstatement list.

  159. i just cancelled my amazon order for dana stabeows new book. and reordered from barnes & noble.

  160. Hey, great advice, John. I’ll soon be linking to your post from my website (fallsapart.com) and I’m advising my readers to take heed. I’ve also purchased four Macmillan books from a local independent and posted the names of those four. Let’s turn a Macmillan book into a surprise best seller.

  161. RJ @ 195

    You are trying to salvage the unsalvageable; what this boils down to is the same old, same old.

    For reasons unknown there is a sub-group of thieves who want to persuade themselves, and possibly others, that they are not thieves really, and that if Balenciaga would just sell their handbags for a reasonable $9.99 instead of $2,825.00 they wouldn’t be forced to steal them.

    Trying this out in a Balenciaga boutique inevitably results in a swift lesson in applied economics, but the learning experience is somewhat slower on the web…

  162. Maybe it’s mentioned before but there are other, better outlets for those of us who like eBooks. If this situation bothers you because you are a Kindle owner and now you can’t buy many, if any, MacMillan books for it, you are right to be concerned. You should take this as a serious indication that you made a mistake choosing a device that can only use books from a single vendor (in practical terms, this is only specific to DRM-encumbered books, and unfortunately, that’s the majority of them now, obviously a non-DRM book can be purchased somewhere else and used on the Kindle, whether after conversion or not.)

    Point is, you might seriously consider selling your Kindle and picking up something like a Sony reader instead that will allow you more options for stores. At the very least you could buy from both the Sony store and Books on Board. I’m sure there are others. I personally buy from Fictionwise and BoB and have rarely had to go elsewhere for my needs.

    If you are a fan of authors like Doctorow who give out free eBooks, then I would strongly suggest you buy a paper book and give it away to a friend who likes such things, and continue to enjoy your free eBooks!

  163. Off Topic – –

    Sherman Alexie reads your blog? Wow. I mean wow. Your readers couldn’t go wrong with adding some Alexie to their reading lists if they haven’t already.

  164. I think a number of readers—particularly those who are not “my author right or wrong”-level fans of particular Macmillan authors—are more upset with Macmillan than Amazon. And that upset carries over to the comments of Macmillan authors such as John, who urge supporting Macmillan authors by buying Macmillan books. For instance, see this comment on a TeleRead post linking this entry.

    Which means, therefore, their anger with Macmillan carries over to those authors too.

  165. It speaks to Scalzi’s character (positively) that he would be so tolerant of an obvious internet troll (A book reader) for so long. Almost Ghandiesque if you ask me…

    To anyone else still listening, be sure to tell your friends about your concerns on this matter. Though it’s true that Amazon and MacMillan probably won’t notice your individual actions here, the spread of ire against a corporate giant can be swift and punishing. The most effective way to make your voice heard is to acquire more voices and synchronize them to your own.

    Get those “occasional buyers” to go out and buy a Tor book or something. If you’re feeling especially hateful of Amazon, point out to your friends that you feel that way and that you’ll be buying through indiebound, or BN, or Borders, or wherever else. I think you’ll find many people are relatively indifferent on the matter and will just follow your lead because they didn’t have a will for the choice of seller anyway. (Though I should apologize preemptively for helping to turn you into a sociopathic manipulator…)

    Oh and I need to call out for Peter Watts here. I think he deserves more attention to his great Rifters series, and other stories. It’s another one you could take the eBook for free, it’s well formatted on feedbooks.com for example, and then buy a few paper copies for your friends!

  166. Chris Meadows:

    (Raises Mallet, sets it down)

    Being angry at authors who have no control over these events is a bit stupid, though, isn’t it.

    If people decide not to buy books at this time, fine. Being angry at authors because they happen to be with a particular publisher in a scrap with a particular retailer? Stupid.

    Being angry with me because I suggest supporting authors who have nothing to do with this scrap? Well, whatever.

    And that’s enough of that topic.

    Zachery Jensen:

    “It speaks to Scalzi’s character (positively) that he would be so tolerant of an obvious internet troll (A book reader) for so long.”

    I was out of the house for a bit.

  167. # Chris Meadows @215 notes:

    ‘Which means, therefore, their anger with Macmillan carries over to those authors too.’

    Which is silly of them, isn’t it.

    The idea that books are interchangeable widgets, irrespective of the author, derives from, and works perfectly well in, ‘The Virgin Billionaire’s Brazilian Bride’ sector of the market.

    It doesn’t work when the books in question are not formulaic, and it most definitely doesn’t work when the potential reader actively objects to formulaic books.

    The fascinating thing about Closed Circle is that the three writers, CJ Cherryh, Jane Fancher and Lynn Abbey have remarkably different styles and remarkably different visions. They are most certainly not interchangeable, and they don’t write to formula.

    I’ve bought from CC and I have to restrain myself from reminding them that it would be nice if they would put more books up so I could buy them, since reading my reminders simply uses up time they could be spending on getting more books up.

    So, for anyone who still doesn’t want to buy a Macmillan book notwithstanding John’s eloquence, I have a simple solution. Go and buy something at Closed Circle…

  168. Hi John,

    I checked out your blog for the first time yesterday on a recommendation from Lawrence Watt-Evans. Just wanted to say I like your style — as a writer and as a person. Your take on the Amazon vs. Macmillan debacle is compelling. Thanks for drawing our attention to the authors who have been unwittingly caught in the crossfire between these two companies.

    I have some B&N gift cards left over from the holidays, which I will be using to buy some books by Macmillan authors. Just read Chapter One of The Android’s Dream, and I’ve gotta read the rest.

  169. I picked up a new book just this morning before I saw this post. It was a debut author (Rachel Brady, mystery) from a small publisher (Poisoned Pen Press, they of the excellent AZ bookstore) purchased at an independent store (LA’s teeny tiny Portrait of a Bookstore).

    All in all, I feel made of virtue.

    In the LA area, Vroman’s and Book Soup are excellent general selection choices.

    And for genre, there is Mystery and Imagination in Glendale (where I saw Stross last time he was in town) and Dark Delicacies in Burbank, where we met the esteemed Ellen Datlow.

  170. Good suggestions. I’m a habitual Amazon book buyer but I think I’ll go look at the Macmillan list and buy one from Barnes and Noble this week instead. With them taking paypal they may become my new standard place to buy.

  171. Things I agree with: buy from an independent. Amazon said some dumb things.

    Things I *really* agree with: If publishers think Apple is their buddy they have a surprise coming. If people think Amazon is about locking down content take note of mp3 store v. Apple’s pure-drm music store; note that kindle drm is publisher mandated.

    I can just imagine Jobs leaning back and laughing, first at the suckers in the publishing industry who are falling for his line, even while he is raking the music industry over the coals of his personal hell pit, *and* at the incompetent maneuverings of Amazon’s always second-rate pr outfit.

    (Meanwhile, would you like to buy an overpriced oversized ipod touch? You can only put the apps on it that Jobs allows, even as he collects semi-annual fees all those developers have to pay for the privilege of being in his monopolistic store.)

    Reiterate: buy independent. Buy local.

  172. Let’s see now.

    I posted on Whatever at Noon, then went to lunch. Then to the Post Office to pick up books arriving in the mail; did I mention that I get books from all over. Then to the store to pick up fixin’s for my version of calabacitas.

    It looks like nothing major has happened on Stross, so I’ll post my recipe for what I’m fixing.

    Last night, I put 3 ounces(by weight) of dry posole, and 4 ounces(by weight) dry pinto beans into a container to soak over night.

    When I got home I pulled out the 4 quart slow cooker and put a pound of ground hot italian sausage in to brown, came in and read through the posts on Whatever.

    Tsk, tsk…

    After a half hour, the meat was almost cooked through, so I broke it up and started cutting 2 zucchini and 2 red bell peppers. The meat was brown and broken up, so I drained the water from the posole and beans, rinsed them, and put everything in the slow cooker, with enough water to cover everything. Came back in and checked the NYTimes Bits blog.

    Oh, dear…

    When everything is up to a slow simmer I will add a cup of sweet pickle juice. I always save the sweet pickle juice, it comes in handy for cooking.

    Checked Amazon to see if the paper books in my shopping cart will load. Nope.

    You guys might consider posting recipes while we are all waiting for hell to freeze over.

  173. While I am totally on board with you, John, I have one thing folks might keep in mind when boycotting Amazon.

    There are a lot of little independent used bookstores that are only able to keep afloat by selling some of their wares on Amazon as a marketplace seller.

    I’m one of them. And I’m feeling the pain right now, too.

    So, if anyone’s looking for used books, please don’t boycott the Amazon Marketplace sellers. We’re part of that ecosystem we all want to keep alive.

  174. ALF:

    As noted, I’m not advocating boycotts of anyone. That said, in this particular instance buying new is the order of day, inasmuch as authors don’t get a cut of used books.

  175. John, thank you for not only enabling my book habit but making me feel like I’ve performed some sort of mitzvah in the process. I’m looking forward to receiving the copy of Platinum Pohl (Tor) ordered this morning, as well as Tobias Buckell’s Tides (Wyrm Publishing) in hardcover [signed! numbered!], ordered just after his website outage.

    Felt so darn good, I fixed the washing machine — maintenance of which is technically the property manager’s responsibility, rather than mine — so that it no longer simulates earthquakes during spin cycle. My fellow aprtment-dwellers thank you as well.

  176. In general I buy books from Amazon simply because I’ve found that they have the cheapest international shipping, and the biggest selection of books. I have compared prices with Borders, B&N etc, and Amazon’s always come through as the cheapest one. I am more than willing to pay more for the books themselves, however. After this debacle started I went to my Amazon wish list and found that I had several books that as of now were “currently unavailable”, all of them by Macmillan authors of course. Two of them were supposed to be in my latest order. To say I was pissed when I realized this is an understatement. Not only because I was aggravated that I wouldn’t get to read what I wanted to, but also on the behalf of the authors. So despite the added shipping cost, I’m as good as decided that I will order these books from Borders as soon as my next paycheck gets in. What Amazon is doing is a horrid way to treat authors, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  177. Writers don’t get a cut of used books (obviously) , nor does checking out a book at the local library help the author directly.

    In the long run, sales of used books do keep the price of hardbacks (and to a lesser extent paperbacks) higher. If a $25 hardback sells at a used store for $12, I might get 3-4$ for it. (which does get built into the initial retail price, at least in part)

    And of course, an inexpensive used book might well introduce me to an author I might not otherwise have read, which in the medium to long term does mean more money to the author when I buy his newer books. (this is why Baen gives away free e-books of some older titles, and why S.M.Stirling has the first 12 chapters of most of his books on line, get the customer interested and they will shell out in the future)

    Any why do we call them “brick and mortar” stores? I’ve never been to a bookstore that was built from brick and mortar. Maybe it’s living my entire life in Calif, and Arizona, but bookstores are constructed from “Stick and Stucco”.

  178. @Kristina #231

    [I] found that I had several books that as of now were “currently unavailable”, all of them by Macmillan authors of course. Two of them were supposed to be in my latest order.

    Had you actually checked out and paid for the order with the Macmillan books?

  179. There’s no danger of me stopping buying books! And hell, if I have to go out of my way to buy a book from an author I like… well good thing I like that author because I’m unlikely to change my buying habits for an author I don’t like (or have never heard of).

    Though I will say that whereas before I’d often buy electronic instead of hardcover, I may have to wait for softcover copies to ship if electronic pricing becomes absurd. There’s just not much I buy in hardcover — too bulky.

  180. Just heard a review of IMPACT by Douglas Preston on All Things Considered. It’s a Forge title and so is not currently available for direct purchase from Amazon. Pity to get such a prominent plug and not be able to take full advantage of it.

  181. The kind of writer whom Amazon is going to hurt worst is the Macmillan mid-list literary writer — they have no one to defend them or stand up for them and no where to go.

    After that, the writers who will be hurt worst are the ones with hardcover books just coming out and whose books got dumped off of pre-orders and wish lists. Anyone short of the status of a Robert Jordan can be hurt by the loss of 500 hardcover sales.

  182. @219 – When somebody has a wishlist that outnumbers the number of books they can afford to buy then the books pretty much are interchangable up to a point.

  183. I have never bought anything from Amazon so this doesn’t affect the way I buy books. That being said I will be buying more books than I normally would as a way to show my support to these authors.

  184. @223 kejia

    Had you actually checked out and paid for the order with the Macmillan books?

    I can comment on that. I bought a bunch of Herman Hesse last week, they were “Picador”. They shipped just before the freeze.

    The one “Farrar, Straus and Giroux” book that came out this week was in my cart, then was dumped into the “Saved Items–To Buy Later” once I opened the cart. It would not load in my cart when I clicked “move to cart”.

    Now that the buy buttons are gone, you can’t add a vanished book to cart.

    I bought one “Tor” book as a “bargain book”. That is a remainder book from Amazon. If they owned it, they sold it.

    I finally broke down and bought the “Farrar, Straus and Giroux” book from the Strandbookstore, through the third party link. It was a debut hardback, The Lost Books of the Odyssey: A Novel – Zachary Mason, that came out today.

    I’ve got 50 books and DVDs coming in the mail. I’ve got about 30+ books to buy over the next month. Half of them are on the vanished list.

    The number of books I buy each month make it impossible to buy from Borders, etc…, you have to pay sales tax if they have a physical store in the mailing area. I maximize the number of books I buy by being active in the sources I chose.

    I stopped by Borders to find the “Farrar, Straus and Giroux” book I wanted. It was not there. Three people before me approached the help desk. They each were turned away with the advice to buy their book online. There was no offer to order the book through the store. This is standard at the chain stores in my area. They carry only the big sellers, and make you pay premium for everything else by making you buy it online. Thus I buy using Amazon and the affiliates. Amazon does not require a yearly fee to get discounts. They do not charge sales tax.

    But now of course, all the buy buttons have vanished, thus they have me by the short and curllies; and I spend my time cooking or watching my vast collection of disaster movies, or posting recipes here on Whatever.

    Can you feel my pain.

  185. Well, I just did my part. I bought 3 books from BN.com from Macmillan authors. I haven’t bought a novel in years. So this will maybe get those juices flowing again. Turns out I had a BN.com account I had forgot about. I think I will use them from now on.

  186. My buying pattern is to read library copies of books and then purchase my own copy for re-reading. But for this occasion, I’ve ordered three books by authors unknown to me outside this blog:

    Steal Across the Sky by Nancy Kress (Tor books, just out in paperback)

    WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor, pre-ordered paperback coming out March 30 — and it hurt not to buy the bargain version at Amazon but I held firm) excerpt here

    DarkShip Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt (Baen, just out in paperback) excerpt here

    Very easy checkout at bn.com, and I loved the paypal option.

  187. Thanks for sharing this. Though I usually buy books either on a bookstore or its website. If it is impossible for me to find on the ones here, my last resort is Amazon. Books I rather buy on a place that is only for books, I do not know why. But I wish everything settles down and a lot of success for all these authors that are now having problems because of this.

  188. Just bought Jay Lake’s “Green”. I was going to anyway, and it seemed like a good time. I even paid more than $15. I must be an idiot.

  189. What a great, and useful, idea! Tomorrow I’m calling my local indie and ordering a book or two. They typically get anything I call in within 3 days. Full price but no shipping, and I can walk there. FTW.

  190. Bravo Mr. Scalzi. And to all of you who do not want to “reward” Macmillan for not having ebooks at $9.99, thats just silly. The fact is, if Macmillan didnt exist as a company we wouldnt enjoy books from guys like Scalzi, Sanderson, Scholes, Card etc etc the list goes on and on. Support the authors, buy their books, then we will all be able to enjoy their work in the future. Its not about sticking it to the man, its about supporting the authors who are innocent bystanders in this whole things so that they can keep on writing. Again, bravo Scalzi.

  191. Sunday, I went to Barnes & Noble a few miles from my house, and found that they had a mystery written by a friend of my sister and brother-in-law, Steve Hamilton, The Lock Artist. After buying it at B&N, I later found that the publisher of that book, Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books is part of the Macmillan empire, so Steve is sadly caught up in this. As of this writing, it’s still unavailable from Amazon, except for the Large Print and Audio editions, which I guess are covered by different contracts or something.

    Also, last night I dumped Connie Willis’s Blackout from the “Save for later” portion of my Amazon cart, and ordered it from B&N’s website instead. I just got an email from B&N that it has shipped and will be here Thursday. $17.55 + tax, which is at least in the same ballpark as Amazon.

    I know that Blackout is published by Spectra (not part of Macmillan) but hey, it’s a Connie Willis book. I have to buy it somewhere, and I’m not inclined to do business with Amazon at the moment. And Amazon needs to be reminded that my ability to shop elsewhere applies to all publishers, not just Macmillan.

  192. Dang, I’m sorry, I meant to post my little whine in the “Now they’re just being dicks” thread. My bad. And I’m sorry if I made it sound like you, John, were calling for a boycott. Not what I meant but I can see how I came off that way.

  193. You know how fun it is to get someone hooked on the books of an author you love? And then they want more?

    Yeah, that.

    Go buy a book by one of those Macmillan authors, and give it someone who really ought to be reading Jay Lake, or Scalzi, or Cory Doctorow, or Peter Watts, or Kage Baker, or Vernor Vinge . . . (SF and F books by Macmillan presses are here: http://us.macmillan.com/MacmillanSite/categories/General/ScienceFictionandFantasy ).

    Get the innocent bystander addicted with the “first one’s free” principle.

    My older brother did this to me, and I promise, it’ll work for you, too.

  194. On my blog, I decided to do a feature on Macmillan books from genres that would appeal to my readers. I also plan to (ugh… but it’s worth it) buy finished copies of the Macmillan ARCs I’ve received for review. I’ll do the same for HarperCollins if Amazon decides to be bullies to them next. I have to say I’d be amused if Amazon ended up driving away all the big publishers and all they had left was a ton of self-published stuff customers would be forced to sort through themselves trying to find the quality – then again, going by the messages I’ve seen on the Kindle board, the diehard Kindle-ers will read just about ANYTHING as long as it’s 1. on the Kindle and 2. Cheap or free. Do they truly have no favorite authors…. series…. genres? As someone who loves reading it’s hard for me to imagine truly having no must-read favorites….

  195. Holy moly, Harper Collins now wants to “redo” their contract with Amazon too. More to talk about tomorrow folks. Will Amazon delist all of those books too?

  196. Hi, i write from Spain and recently my brother gave me a book he had adquired in a book store in Madrid. It was “The Ghost Brigades” edited in paperback by Tor. The price was 3,95 Euros. Thanks to that I discovered the works of John Scalzi. When I finished the book looked for the others and have to buy them in the spanish translation published by Minotauro. Although buying in internet is the best manner of finding great books I think that looking for them in a bookstore is more fun. And you don´t know what hidden treasure do you gonna find. Thank you for your work señor Scalzi.
    Saludos.

  197. Well, I’d really like to thank everyone who helped make me aware of bookdepository.co.uk

    Finding a site that delivers for free to my neck of the globe (Malaysia) is an unbelievable godsend.

    Now, let me sit back & pray for the day that non-DRM e-books become the norm, so that I can get a Nook or Kindle or whatever is nice at the time….

  198. Wait until Apple gets into the mix. Why have a ‘publisher’ when the primary purpose of a publisher was to print the book and get it on the shelf?

    Now with Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook, and soon the iReader (2011), why would they *ever* want to deal with publishers?

    Maybe authors will go straight to the device providers in the future, selling books like people sell on ebay.

    Whatever happens, I can promise two things.

    1) This will get much, much uglier, and cause a lot more collateral damage
    2) Publishers will lose

  199. Todd – Why have a ‘publisher’ when the primary purpose of a publisher was to print the book and get it on the shelf?

    Except that’s wrong. A publisher’s primary purpose is finding good authors, paying them, creating a good book from what they had in, and then marketing it. Print costs are negligible, and distribution is not even paid for by them.

    Now with Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook, and soon the iReader (2011), why would they *ever* want to deal with publishers?

    The expensive stuff, like revising, editing, formatting and marketing a book are all paid for bu the publisher, and the publisher pays the author up front in what’s known as an “advance”. Then when the book sells more than the advance, the author gets royalties.

    This is how professional authors manage to keep themselves afloat financially. If that goes away, most professional authors will have a few months of misery, and then become members of another profession. One you can keep yourself fed at. And I include most authors who’re not even making enough to live on, but are supported by a spouse.

    Check out Elizabeth Bear for some information on how much she earns off each book. If those books were to be her responsibility to edit, format and market, she’d have to pay out (roughly) her $12,000/book to get decent work done on them.

    And that’s my “Teach a pig to sing” moment for today. Tune in tomorrow for the next edition. Now, off to the gym!

  200. Ugh, Barnes & Noble. That said I whole heartedly support this plan, in part because I’m fortunate (or, in some cases, unfortunate) enough to work a block away from a fine independent bookstore.

  201. Josh, Todd was not all wrong. The reason the publisher finds the book worth printing is to eventually get it to the shelf, so it can make money. It’s all about money. There are other ways to make a book market-ready that do not require a publisher, at least not for editing and proof reading and design. All those jobs can be hired out (there are ethical concerns here–different topic). Just because we are used to the old model of making a book, does mean it can’t change. But if I’m wrong in that assumption, please tell me.

  202. I felt inspired by your post and poked around Barnes and Noble.com a bit and bought a few books. Shipping was still free, and it will get here faster than amazon’s free shipping.

  203. The Grey Area – Todd was not all wrong. The reason the publisher finds the book worth printing is to eventually get it to the shelf, so it can make money. It’s all about money.

    Except that’s not what Todd said. Todd said “The primary purpose of a publisher was to print the book and get it on the shelf” which ignores all the steps in between that cost money.

    There are other ways to make a book market-ready that do not require a publisher, at least not for editing and proof reading and design. All those jobs can be hired out

    Where will the money to pay for that come from, who’s fronting it, and what happens when a book ends up not paying out that up-front cost?

    Ponder that. This is the limit if my interest in explaining how an industry works to people who think they know better based on very hardly any facts. If you want to know more, ask authors. Ask publishers. Ask editors.

  204. The Gray Area @ 264

    Under the current model one of two things happens: 1) I write the book, my publisher buys (the rights), fronts all the other costs, and I get paid so that I can eat while I’m writing the next book—then, assuming I earn out—more money comes in on a regular basis starting between 6 months and several years after publication, allowing me to continue to eat. 2) My publisher buys the book on proposal and I get paid in advance to write it, then they front all the other costs and the rest follows.

    If I want to become my own publisher I have to front all those costs myself and have to wait till the book earns out (maybe) to recoup those costs (again maybe) up to several years after I’ve fronted them. But, since I don’t have a spare 5-20k sitting around that I can bet on a possible return potentially several years down the line, what actually happens is I stop writing and find a new job and there are no more Kelly McCullough books. So, yes, Todd was pretty much all wrong.

    And that’s without accounting for things that my publisher does that don’t go directly into the making and selling of the book, like my publisher’s legal department—which I hope never to become any more familiar with than I am now. In a perfect world none of my books will ever get involved in a legal dispute of any kind, but if someone decides to sue me for any reason whatsoever in regards to my writing, the fact that I have a major publisher on my side significantly reduces the chance that a frivolous (or otherwise) lawsuit bankrupts me.

  205. Perhaps, the authors who are “suffering” should tell their publisher that sellers should be permitted to sell their books for a price set by the seller. What does it hurt the author or the publisher if Amazon sells your books at a loss? Your cut is the same, regardless of Amazon’s sale price.

    I think you are the ones with the power to tell your boss to stop hurting your bottom line. I won’t be buying Macmillan books even when they are available at Amazon if they don’t cost what I’m willing to spend. Artificially raising prices so Apple, or BN, or Sony can make more money doesn’t help the consumer, and frankly, it’s the consumer who decides what price your books are worth to them.

    Making books available at a price that consumers will pay will prevent the piracy some here are encouraging. Piracy is really the most likely outcome of Macmillan’s attempt to tie the hands of retailers.

  206. Kim:

    “What does it hurt the author or the publisher if Amazon sells your books at a loss?”

    This has been asked and answered so many times across several threads over the last few days that I really have no interest in answering it again, Kim. Look around the site, you’ll see why it’s not a great idea in the long run.

    Also, putting “suffering” in quotes there makes you look a bit of a jerk.

    Finally it’s funny to make this point:

    “it’s the consumer who decides what price your books are worth to them.”

    in an comment essentially supporting a retailer’s desire to fix the cost of ebooks at a price point designed for its benefit, not the consumers’. Especially when the publisher has expressed an interest in having a variable price point which accommodates consumer demand.

  207. Kim@268

    ‘Piracy is really the most likely outcome of Macmillan’s attempt to tie the hands of retailers’

    And those wicked people at Balenciaga really need to recognise their customers’ right to acquire their handbags at a reasonable price like $9.99 instead of $2,825.00, and not force their poor customers to steal them…

  208. Josh said, “If you want to know more, ask authors. Ask publishers. Ask editors.”

    Over the last 15 or 20 years I have asked. So the world is changing. I didn’t say I didn’t know how the process works, I said there may be other ways to do it. In an SF world the writer might not be so dependent on the old way of doing things. As the current world is showing us.

    Kelly, I’m glad there are ways to keep writers working.

    The market place determins

  209. Why I buy from Amazon and not BN.com – Amazon delivers via USPS. BN delivers via UPS and I’m not home for UPS and there’s often no one to receive it. That’s also why I don’t do Amazon Prime – it’s also UPS.

  210. Two Macmillan authors who were unfortunate enough to launch books yesterday were Jenny Woolf and Kristin Hannah. Give their books an extra look.

    “Winter Garden” (”Can a woman ever really know herself if she doesn’t know her mother?”)

    “The Mystery of Lewis Carroll,” (”Discovering the whimsical, thoughtful, and sometimes lonely man who created Alice in Wonderland“)

    http://us.macmillan.com/wintergarden

    http://us.macmillan.com/themysteryoflewiscarroll

  211. As a long-time mid-list Tor writer, the current situation that you so eloquently describe has hit me very hard, and I am hardly the only one. With half of publishing in free-fall and the other half hunkered down in their bunkers waiting for the fallout to end, finding new markets, even for someone reasonably well-established, is an ordeal. Two of my colleagues who have until the last two years had earned a fairly decent living from mid-list books, have had to put writing on hold in order to stay solvent.

    In my forty-two years as a professional writer, I have never seen the marketplace this bad, and the current feud is making a bad situation worse for a lot of us. By all means, use specialty bookstores for purchases — they, too, have been hit by the pinch. Besides, specialty bookstores usually know the titles they sell, and can match up customer with what he or she is looking to read, and that’s a win for the reader, the bookstore, and the author.

  212. Just Checked Winter Garden on Macmillan site. They want full hardback price plus $3.00 more for the ebook. $29.99

    At $10.00 it’s an impulse buy, at 15 I’ll check reviews and buy from known author, at $30.00 I say bye-bye.

  213. Thanks for the link to the Macmillan site. I had been looking for the ebook versions of certain books, but couldn’t find them at the usually places. Looks like Macmillan had them all along.

  214. Please also keep in mind that there are many many local independent bookstores which, if they do not carry your books, will be happy to special order them for people. Large chains such as Wal-Mart and Borders and Barnes also devalue books and could easily gain the power to do what Amazon did. Writers need to join forces with independent publishers and bookstores – that’s their best hope!!!

  215. Very nice. It’s definitely time to buy some books. (I’m hoping Apple will buy a zillion of those $9 loss-leader ebooks just to hurt Amazon. I know that’s a fantasy, but it’s a nice one. I’m really angry with Amazon’s leaders.)

    Like you, I’ve been extremely fortunate, and I’ve learned to save up for the lean times. I can certainly afford to buy some books. Thanks for suggesting it.

  216. Paul Wirtz, why wouldn’t Macmillan offer the ebook at the price they want Amazon to sell it for? It seems they want to discourage ebook sales. I assume it’s because they’re afraid of ebook pirates. Yo ho ho.

    I read in today’s NYT, fear of pirating has publishers’ attention. I’m not sayin books are like music. I’m not saying DRM-free books will be pirated like music was/is.

  217. @Josh –

    I was simply stating some cold lines of thought from companies like Apple, Amazon, etc., as it would be in your best interest to remove a ‘middle man’. If authors or quality suffer, most of the time they would believe the system would find a way to correct itself.

    Note: MacMillan/Amazon = $$$$ Amazon wants to control the price of books just like Apple controls the price of iTunes. Frankly, a big part of that is marketing product, too. “All iTunes tracks are 99 cents” is catchy and marketable. “All iTunes are whatever price the market dictates” is not. There are many other reasons behind this (including a possibility of starving out publishers) but I will not digress further.

    Moving on…

    As devil’s advocate, how many great authors are out there that never get picked up by publishers? What if there was a sort of “cloud” of authors working to edit and give input on others work?

    And…

    To spoon feed the line of thought for those not willing to connect dots, the point I was making was that publishers getting a book on the shelf to make MONEY and control the channel.

    Publishers own the space in bookstores and use that controlled space to promote the stuff that sells the most – they don’t do out-of-the-box stuff, or even advertisements,or…anything, really, to sell a book.

    Finally…

    If you love publishers or hate them is beside the point. They are going the way of the dodo because 1) their distribution channel is disappearing and 2) the main reason you HAD to use a publisher was to make hundreds of thousands of physical books – now the ‘product’ can be distributed without a publisher *making* the books, shipping them, distributing them, etc. All you have to do is hit *upload* and it appears in the e-store of every internet users computer instantly.

  218. @The Gray Area I have no Idea why, but I also note the Hardback is full retail and can be found at other locations for less. So the Ebook could be less at other locations as well.

    I buy most of my books at Baen anyway.

  219. Our book, WHAT WAS I THINING?! 58 Bad Boyfriend Stories [St. Martin's Press] was published in paperback the end of January for Valentine’s Day. It was based on a web series and has an Internet audience. We geared our campaign (with our own money) towards one click Amazon. Needless to say, we are very upset. We’ve changes all our URLs and kindle links – not because the publishers told us to but, because we found out through the press. I really wish the publisher had made an effort to contact us. When Mommy and Daddy fight — the kids get hurt. St. Martin’s should have an email blast that keeps it’s children (authors) informed.

  220. Todd @280

    ‘the main reason you HAD to use a publisher was to make hundreds of thousands of physical books’

    No.

    They ‘HAD’ to use a printer if they wanted to make hundreds of thousands of physical books.

    The inability to distinguish between a publisher and a printer is not a good feature in a person purporting to discuss the present and future book trade…

  221. ‘WHAT WAS I THINING?! ‘

    I’m having some problems with that 4th word; is there a copy editor in the house?

  222. @Stevie

    Don’t major in the minors with the details, buddy!

    Writers didn’t say “oh man, after it’s published, I hope the printers say yes and make em.”

    I’ve worked in the print industry – I’d know.

  223. Todd, I think you’re right. The thing is, I don’t want you to be right, but that’s not the issue.

    You say that, “Publishers own the space in bookstores and use that controlled space to promote the stuff that sells the most.” I assume this is just the chains you’re talking about. I thought I heard the same thing, but Josh says it doesn’t work that way. I’m not sure, and too lazy to look it up.

    As for cleaning up a book the way an editor can: all services that go into making a book can be contracted out.

  224. Note:

    For anyone who doesn’t like my line of reasoning, please don’t try to pick it apart by attempting to be as literal as possible. It doesn’t make for good debate.

    Also, please don’t think I’m in love with what I’m stating. It’s more of an analysis of the distribution channel and a middle man being squeezed by the new one.

  225. At the risk of sounding like Mr. Scalzi, let me say that it seems that most of the comments recently seem to be straying into a discussion of publishing or the controversy as opposed to the author support. An interesting and heated discussion, and it’s been all I can do to hold back (must. . .not. . .give in).

    So regarding authors – I am a big fan of thrillers – think Cussler, Clancy, Ludlum or more recently James Rollins and Daniel Silva. Can anyone recommend a good new Macmillan author in that genre with say no more than 2 or 3 books. I’d like to head to the brick and mortar to pick up one to help out someone really impacted by the clash of the titans here.

  226. Todd

    Strive to grapple with the fact that this is the web.

    Telling us that you have expertise doesn’t hack it; showing us that you have expertise does.

    So far you have demonstrated an almost total ignorance of the relevant issues; same old, same old …

  227. [Deleted -- hey, remember when I said this wasn't the place to be Team Amazon or Team Macmillan? Guess what? It still applies! - JS]

  228. Todd, thanks. In Detroit here. I think I get some of it, but there is always something new to learn. Also, it helps to hunt down one’s own dogma from time to time and just shoot. Dang pesky little dogmas! Cheers.

  229. I don’t disagree with the fundamentals of what JS is saying here. I would only point out that if publishers did not insist on DRM on their ebooks, then consumers (whether they owned a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or something else) would have a choice as to which ebookstore they wished to buy from for just about any title, instead of the very limited selection currently available without DRM. It’s not Amazon (or Sony or B&N) that has its readers “locked” into their bookstores — it’s the publishers demands that (easily circumvented anyway) DRM be used.

  230. I’m one of those Powell’s-cultist Portlanders (I believe the world is held up by a signature-encrusted pillar in the spec-fic room downtown), and I happened to buy a box of books from Powells.com on Sunday. I was really just planning a general book binge, but when I saw that the first three titles I chose were Macmillan, I thought I’d make it a theme.

    I got books by:
    Molly Gloss (she’s Houghton Mifflin now, but Dazzle of Day is Tor.)
    Vernor Vinge
    Michael Chabon
    Julie Phillips (bio of Alice Sheldon/Jas. Tiptree)
    Robert Holdstock
    Peter Høeg

    I’m resisting the urge to sidetrack into an enconium of Powell’s, but I can’t help but tell Alison @272: Powells.com does USPS shipping.

  231. I’m a Tor author…and a Baen author and a Daw author and a Harlequin/Luna author. And right now I am thanking my own foresight for not having my eggs in one basket, and the Scheduling Gods for not having a new Tor release out.

    But people who do are getting hosed. WORSE, the folks with paperbacks, whether new releases or not, because to get that free shipping, people often add a PB to the HOT! NEW! HC they are buying.

    I hear a lot of calls for authors to do something else and somehow magically produce and publish, or at least sell, their own books. I do not, however, see a lot of calls for that from writers.

    Anyone wonder why that is? I can tell you, because I may be one of the few people commenting that actually HAS some small business experience. Having had, and failed, in a small business, there are a thousand things you must do that are invisible to the customer to keep a small business going. You must see if you actually can RUN the small business out of your home (even if it is e-only, many municipal codes forbid this). If not, you must buy or rent commercial property to run the business from. You must get business insurance. You must get business licenses, sometimes as many as three (city, county and state). You must get a business tax number for your state and the IRS. You must pay business and sales taxes. You must keep business accounts or pay for someone to do so. All of this takes more TIME during which I am not writing. And it takes MONEY, which is going out the door, not coming in. This is one reason why 4 out of every 5 small businesses fail in the first 4 years. EVERY minute that I take to run a small business, fulfill an order, stroke a website, package and ship a physical book, format a book in some arcane reader form or other, yada yada yada, is a minute I am not doing my JOB, which is to write.

    To sum up, here, to run a small business selling my own books, whether in e- or paper format, I would have to take the odds of 80% failure and the loss of at least 50% of my writing time.

    For the record, when our small (scrapbooking, brick and mortar) business failed, our end result was a loss of over $200k.

    Start a book business myself? That’s the sound of hysterical laughter you hear. Thanks, I think I’ll stab myself in the eye with a fork a few times instead.

    For heaven’s sake go buy books from the folks coming out this week elsewhere!

    Here is another suggestion: http://www.firebirdarts.com/ This is a one-woman show, and never mind what is on the website, she can and will order and send you ANY book you want, from any publisher, and she gives superb customer service.

  232. Stevie –

    I was going to say I am sorry you feel my line of thought comes from ignorance, but then I realized I don’t really care either way what you think. I know where my expertise lies, and any statement of such would be showing away.

    If you do not agree that publishers are in trouble due to the fact that they are losing their established marketing channel, I do not know what to tell you (other than this line of debate wouldn’t have started without the Amazon pricing issue of late).

  233. Felicty @294. I’m with you, but we need to figure out why they stopped writing the Hugo winners on the other pillar. I mean there’s still room! That’s how we shop when we want something new.

  234. Todd@ 296 said:

    ‘publishers are in trouble due to the fact that they are losing their established marketing channel’

    There is a long list of reasons why publishers are in trouble and changing marketing channels is at the omega end thereof. Probably the most important one of all was that publishers bought into the myth that markets could create structures which abolished risk, which just goes to show that the evil that Ayn Rand did lives on whilst the good was interred with her bones. Not that there was much good, but I’m trying to be fair.

    One of the ‘no risk’ strategies adopted was the belief that if they paid huge advances on books supposedly written by famous people they must make vast profits thereon; ‘If I Did It’ is a case in point. Printing 400,000 copies of a book and then pulping them is not good for anyone’s bottom line, though I would concede, if pressed, that the fact that it shafted Rupert Murdoch is a mitigating factor…

    Of course, that

  235. …leaves a very large hole in the ranks of the authors who would otherwise have had advances on books which might have earned them and their publishers some money.

  236. I just canceled $250 in pre-orders from Amazon, some of which is in Limbo. I don’t like not knowing if the book I’m willing to buy on spec is actually going to show up.

    (Scalzi, Amazon doesn’t think you don’t have any pending books right now, or I would have been able to cancel one of yours.)

    (Also, macmillan is a related search term when you search for John Scalzi on Amazon)

    I re-placed the order with B&N.

    I’ve also ordered Priest’s Fathom and Modesitt’s Imager from B&N.

    And just to try the service out I ordered 7th Son by Hutchins, Ill Met in the Arena by Dave Duncan and Steel Across the Sky by Nancy Kress from bookdepository.

    BTW, are any of the other Big Idea books published by a Macmillan imprint?

  237. Todd @296, then it’s all good, because I doubt anyone posting here particularly cares what you think. Pretending to expertise you may or may not have (what’s ‘the print business’ – a part-time job at Kinko’s?), hedging your own arguments by claiming you’re just playing devil’s advocate, and arguing that anyone who doesn’t agree with you is simply nitpicking, overliteral or stupid – well, I can’t read your mind, so you may actually believe what you’re saying rather than simply be killing time between classes trying to piss people off on the Internet. But if there’s anyone besides porn at which the Internet is really over quota it’s bored nerds making uninformed arguments because they’re playing “devil’s advocate”.

    Felicity @294, I can’t say that Michael Powell is my choice for Best Human Being and Businessperson Evarz, but I’ll give you that his bookstores are probably a pillar of the world. Plus, used and out-of-print books!

  238. Here is why authors don’t go into the self (e- or real-book) publishing business.

    In order to HAVE a small business you MUST have the following:

    Clearance from where you live to run a small business on your premises. If you do not have this, buy or rent space from which to operate same. ($ to $$$) If the authorities find out you are operating a small business from your home (and they will) without this clearance, Very Bad Things can happen. Like fines ($$$$$)

    Small business insurance. ($$ to $$$$) If you do not have this and someone injuries himself or you have a flood or a fire, your homeowners will NOT cover you ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$).

    Business licenses. Sometimes three, from city, county and state. ($)

    Business tax number.

    The ability to process credit card payments ($$. Yes, Virginia, they charge you). You can use PayPal, but that comes with its own set of fees and problems.

    Someone to separate your business accounting from your personal accounting. And someone to handle the business tax reporting. If this is you, this is time you won’t be using to write.

    A website ($ to $$$$). If you are setting up and maintaining, this is time you won’t be using to write.

    Someone to handle orders ($ to $$) After all you don’t want to ship product until you find out if the credit card/PayPal account is good. If this is you….yada.

    Someone to think of good ways to promote your books. If this is you….

    The sure and certain knowledge that 4 out of 5 small businesses fail in the first 4 years.

    A day job, because at the end of 4 years, chances are you will need it.

  239. Saint-Germain: Memoirs: Tales of the Vampire Saint-Germain – Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
    and
    Green – Jay Lake

    Any other suggestions? Although I’m dipping into next weeks book budget….

  240. Todd, The Gray Area, Stevie –

    I don’t profess any great insider knowledge. But consider the role of the publisher as financier and accountant. Everything the publisher does can be contracted out, as you say. But a publisher is like a bank that knows the market: it can put together the money needed to pay for all the service that’s done (in-house or contracted out) as part of the book production process.

    Imagine going to the local branch of your bank seeking a loan – with only your idea or finished manuscript as collateral.

  241. Nadya @297 — They should start up again with a pillar at Powell’s Beaverton. That place is seriously sci-fi-friendly. It needs a pillar.

    mythago @302 — True, though I haven’t heard anything negative since unionization went through.

  242. @Bryan – I agree. Perhaps publishers will be squeezed into conforming to the requests of the Amazons and Apples, begin to go broke, and will be gobbled up.

    I won’t be following this thread anymore, but I found it interesting how some people love to “shoot the messenger” – to the point of making up a new name to get a dig in (even though I believe they understand the points and agree anyway).

    Weird – but what else is new. :-)

  243. Bryan

    I am adamantly opposed to the garbage peddled by ELTON P. STRAÜMANN and his surrogates here and elsewhere; the fact that publishers have screwed up is not evidence that we do not need publishers at all.

    We do need publishers to improve their game, and Macmillan is trying to do that; they therefore deserve some credit.

    Amazon, on the other hand, is simply trying to shaft anyone who will let them and that includes anyone delusional enough to imagine that Amazon intends to loss-lead ebooks till the end of time…

  244. Here’s a novel idea, and maybe it exists…what about an aggregate site that searches for books. You choose 4-6 retailers from a list. After you put the books in your cart, you view a column for each retailer. (Some will have all the books, some won’t.) Shipping and payment options will also be visible. Then you choose based on price, format, availability & shipping.

    This way you needn’t hop all over the net and you are not denied a preview of books that you were unaware existed. Does that make sense? IOW, I often search for a type of book and then view the selection. So, if Amazon is pulling a certain publisher, it restricts my ability to view all the available books. With an aggregate site, this would be eliminated. (I do love Amazon’s format over B&N and Borders.)

    However, the search would have to take a small cut somewhere.

    That way, the focus up front is more on the product before shifting to the retailer.

    #12 rhosak: I read blogs AND buy from Amazon. An anomaly?
    #153 allynh: We have a right to buy books? Hmmm…Does that mean someone has an obligation to print them? As much as I LOVE books (and I could care less about Kindle tho I see it’s value) I’m not sure I understand. To me it’s like food. Are farmers obligated to plant crops?
    #156: cliff: Am sure e-books require much effort – digital storage, servers, programming, the initial investment. Perhaps, over time we will see a price drop, but up front, I’m not surprised at cost.

  245. @311 Nan

    Hi, Nan.

    I was thinking in terms of First Amendment, Free Speech, issues.

    When any online vendor, can vanish a book, author, publisher, at whim, you have the possibility of future censorship. When I go into Borders, and they do not have the book in the store, they don’t offer the choice of ordering a copy from the store, they brightly say, “Order it online”, in that chirpy way of saying, problem solved. Yet the book may also be unavailable, i.e., vanished from the online store as well.

    When one vendor can be allowed to do this, and BTW, the paper books are still vanished on Amazon(as of February 4th), then it sets a dangerous precedent for all other vendors.

    Yes, the work may be available somewhere, but it won’t be available to the general reading public who don’t have mad google skills.

    Now you can say, “Oh, poo, you’re just being silly”, but I’m old enough to remember when control of access to a book was de facto censorship.

    And did, I mention, the paper books are still vanished from Amazon.

  246. Hey I feel your pain. I’m not an author, but I can’t believe Amazon has done this. I will support all of you in any way I can. Cheers. s-j

  247. I think I will support the authors but more directly. I will start searching for more independent authors that charge much less for their ebooks by selling directly (to Amazon or anyone else).

    And of course there is always Baen books, fictionwise (a rather large selection of reasonably priced books), and many others.

  248. I wanted to thank Sherman Alexie for directing me to this page. My son is a huge Scalzi fan…I will definitely be ordering any books for him through Borders.. Personally, I love a bookstore, where I can wander, scan the books and find books that online ordering would never direct me to.

  249. From a consumer point of view, those ebooks available at MacMillan’s online store cost more than they did on Amazon! Greed, the American Way again! Doesn’t anyone realize that All of the publishers will demand higher prices and it hurts us the consumers, in the pocketbook. I don’t plan on buying those more expensive books. Do you think Mac Millan cares what the authors earn? Of course not, the publishers are more afraid that e-publishing will put them out of business. While I’m sure there will always be physical books, e-books will put some publishers out of business, it’s inevitable . I’m amazed at how many people are so set in their ways they will only read an actual book instead of try an e-reader. You read for the enjoyment of the content, not because it’s a paper book. It’s fear of the unknown, what people fear, they criticize. I’m not impressed with your logic, John. Or all these uninformed “so called book lovers” for arts sake!

  250. I’ve read a thousand blog posts on this and figure the writer gets screwed anyway, in all forms, throughout history. Why should this be any different? I’ve tried publishing several different ways and none of them are easy. Good luck to you authors. The cool thing is between the boycotts and anti-boycotts, I haven’t seen this many political sales of books since the good ol’ Franken v. Coulter v. Michael Moore v. O’Reilly days.

    People are actually talking about books again.

    Scott Nicholson
    The Red Church

  251. I suppose an Alternate Universe story/book titled “The World Where Writers Were Not Screwed” would be deemed too unbelievable by pretty much everybody…

  252. “If you want to make a statement here, don’t make it against a corporation, who isn’t listening anyway. ”
    And buy from another corporation who isn’t listening either. I’d certainly be willing to buy directly froom the Author, but the fact is MacMillan’s desire is to screw Your CUSTOMERS.

    Amazon was paying MacMillan what they wanted and then taking a loss to sell the ebooks cheaper than paperbacks (how they should be priced btw), MacMillan didn’t like this and started getting other publishers to put the squeeze on Amazon to let the pubs raise the prices (yeah, they said they also wanted a lower cost tier but I trust that statement about as far as I can throw ‘em).

    This whole brouhaha started because MacMillan wanted to essentially fix the price on ebooks and Amazon wasn’t having any of it.

    If you’re so concerned about other authors making their livelihood push your publisher’s parent company to think about your customers and not their bottom line. There’s two sides to this issue and Amazon’s not the one on the wrong side.

  253. Is this really about Anti-Kindle feelings? Amazon doesn’t want to raise the price of E-books. The books with amazingly small overhead for publishers. Said publishers want to make up to $5 more for every e-book sold. If I thought the authors were going to see this $5 dollars I would be wailing and gnashing my teeth too. However, it appears to me that the only entity trying to look after the little guy (granted the little guy in this case bought into the Kindle ecosphere) is Amazon.

  254. Really? Guess I am behind the power curve in a big way on this one.
    One question: why are MacMillan books not available on Amazon as I am typing? Is this NOT related to your discussion?
    Sorry if I am way off topic and, regardless of my topical comments or not, you, dude, totally rock as an author!! I have enjoyed everything I have ever picked up of yours. Keep up the good work, glad there is no big impact for you, and I will continue to buy your books wherever I can get them.

    Thanks for all your writing efforts!

  255. I realize that this is somewhat late in the game, but I am one of those authors who needs some support. I paid attention to the MacMillan/Amazon debacle, and I have seen what the giant has done to the garden. I publish and sell my books and ebooks on my own site, and while they are on Amazon and Kindle, I have seen little sales if at all. Everyone here has talked about visiting the local brick and mortar store or other big aggregating sites, but few have actually thought of visiting the authors’ own sites. Think about that while you’re busy talking about book sales. I offer free shipping, and I have a small catalog in a variety of formats. If you want to find books of your favorite genre trying using their keywords instead of surfing Amazon.

  256. I believe it will take a lot of time before eBooks will start to be generally accepted as a valid alternative to classic paperback books – and by accepted I mean they won’t be over or under priced, will have nearly the same size of audience and last but not the least, it won’t all depend on one major company.

  257. I think it is unfortunate for the writers to be in the midst of Amazon and Macmillan disagreements. I haven’t tried buying books from Amazon because I usually like to go to local bookstores and buy books. But I haven’t read books ever since I finished Dan Brown’s novel. Maybe I should check the other links, which you have suggested, so that I could buy Sweet Valley pocketbooks and other kind of suspense novels.

    Kristen B.
    Magnavox mdr513h Reviewer

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