On a Personal Note

To the folks who have followed up to ask if I was going to be okay with the whole Amazon/Macmillan blinking contest: Well, you know. I don’t expect the corporate eye-pokery to last beyond the weekend, but if it does, the wife and I have tucked away some pennies here and there and stored up provisions for the winter. And if worse comes to worst… well. Let’s just say we love our pets. Our adorable, delightful, succulent pets.

Seriously, however: we’re fine, and we’ll be fine even if this little event somehow and rather stupidly drags on past Sunday. Thanks for asking.

58 Comments on “On a Personal Note”

  1. John, I admire how you take things in stride. You da man.

    And if the worst should happen, I recommend barbecue sauce.

  2. As the lovely Cherie Priest has pointed out, Amazon is hardly the only place that sells books – contrary to Amazon’s delusions.

  3. My husband likes to annoy me by picking up one of the dogs and saying, “I love you but we’re going to eat you first.”

  4. I’ll keep buying your books even if I have to travel the 16 blocks to the bookstore and lift them from the shelf with my own hands. It’ll be hard and I’ll expect the sacrifice to be noted publicly, but I’m willing to do my part.

  5. Was it Amazon or the publisher who made the decision to pull? Because Amazon will pull listings at publisher request, too.

  6. John

    First the good news: Amazon.co.uk has your books on sale per usual.

    The bad news is that Amazon’s legendary price reductions on hardbacks seem to have gone missing; ‘The God Engines’ is priced at £20.

    And ‘Metatropolis’ is out of stock but if I care to pay £30 they will order it for me…

  7. Stevie:

    A cheaper version of META should be along in July, so hold out for that. TGE would need a UK publisher, and we’re working on that.

  8. chang who is not chang is just going to EXPLODE. please god let me be here when it happens. :)

  9. Dude, that photo is so fucking wrong. You’ll be happy to know that your next royalty check is going to a local no kill shelter.

    Keep it up with the photos and we’ll see just how serious this gets. Srsly.


  10. OK, I’m just going to sit here refreshing the screen until chang who is not chang weighs in.

  11. I find it hard to believe the lost sales for an author would be significant, at least for the sort of authors who sell on their own names or by word of mouth. People will just go find the outlet that does sell the book.

  12. Steve Burnap:

    Oh, they could be significant, all right. For example, I sell a significant amount of work online, more than the average author (actually substantially more), and much of that goes through Amazon because it’s the market leader. It’s entirely possible for that a prolonged delisting of my work by Amazon will cut into my sales by up to 20% – 25%. And yeah, I have a significant Web presence, but not every reader I have knows I’m here.

    Now, as I’ve implied, I’m in a decent financial spot at the moment thanks to smart money management and also alternate streams of income. But it’s not to say this won’t be significant for me, if it continues for long.

  13. I don’t believe it will continue, although I’m not taking sides on who blinks first. I suppose it comes down to how long Macmillan can weather the loss of sales versus how willing Amazon is to have customers discover other places to buy books.

    I got a good Borders coupon this week; maybe I’ll stop in at the local store, or the web site.

  14. It’s nice that your wife is good money-manager, who made sure you have a nest-egg to fall back on. (We know who the credit goes to on this one)

    If there was even the slightest chance that I might be facing a 20-25% pay cut, I’d be seriously freaking out right about now.

  15. I’m immediately reminded of Menchi from Excel Saga, the pet taken in strictly to be an emergency food supply:

  16. Have you been fattening that cat up just in case something like this happens? Sort of like bottled water in case of a tornado or hurricane?

  17. One interesting thing to me is how poorly this was planned on Amazon’s part. Rather than doing this as a stealth move, they could have done this as part of a PR campaign. “Standing firm against higher prices that the evil publishers are trying to insist on”.

    Instead they’re trying to do this under the radar.

  18. You probably saw the special edition of Publishers Marketplace with an excellent write up of this situation, and mentioned your website.

    Congrats to Macmillan for having a great big pair.
    We should stand with them. My boycotting Amazon will not have much effect, but my husband’s? He practically gets his meals delivered by Amazon. He has promised to try to remember not to order anything from them until this is settled. If I see any new Amazon books, there will be a bonfire on the lawn.

    (Long term lurker delurking… love the blog.)

  19. O Great Scalzi, what a superb picture of the Beauteous Ghlaghghee Demonstrating Her Infinite Patience.

    This is yet another tempest in a teapot in which you have involved yourself. And it is yet another that is not all about you, in spite of your best efforts to make it so.

    We are as always amazed by Her Grace and Forebearance.

    We are not nearly as impressed by you. The Subcommittee investigating exactly why Magnificent She has taken you on as Special Project has been called back into session.

    We eagerly await its report.

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  20. Hmm, chang WIN chang appears not to have noticed that John implies that if push comes to shove he will cook and eat Her Magnificence the Beauteous Ghlaghghee.

    How disappointing. I had the popcorn all ready too.

  21. You mean I might have to venture out into the unknown and go to a store?

    Has anyone raised a stink over on Amazon? It’s funny how Amazon will delete complaining posts when they don’t like it. I can’t even remember what kind of stink was raised when they deleted 1984 from people’s Kindles. I think I’ll pop on over there and see.

  22. what is this “store” people keep talking about? are they implying that books can be procured someplace other than online?

  23. If it comes to that, we’ll set up a fund to “Save John Scalzi’s cats”. Perhaps the cats will pose for a calendar.

    (I suspect that there are scads of minions at Amazon and Macmillan that are trying to work out a new deal before Monday.)

    Meanwhile, the latest google keyword search yields the heading: “Some Macmillan Bestsellers Start Falling at Amazon, Rising at BN.com‎”.

  24. I think you’re right that this will blow over fairly quickly; I sent Amazon a pointed note last night, and if they don’t fix this within a couple of weeks, I’ll make the effort to cancel all my preorders and reinstate them someplace else (perhaps Powell’s).

  25. I wouldn’t count on the “over by Sunday”, given what I’ve heard of the Amazon.co.uk/Hachette thing (supposedly similar to this, and not settled for months). Sorry.

    That said, this semi-lurker supports you.

    Which reminds me, instead of searching harder for my misplaced copy of Zoe’s Tale, I guess I’ve got an excuse to go buy a new one.

  26. Very Kliban-esque of you.

    My cat is fat/So now I’ll dine/and eat all up/this cat of mine

  27. John@18: Well, you probably know much better than I but I do hope you’re completely wrong!

    I am mostly going by my own buying habits. I rarely, if ever “browse” at an online bookstore. 90% of the time I buy after typing a book title in the Firefox Amazon search thingy. I personally find their site nearly useless for finding new stuff to read. Blogs like this one are far useful to me (and more often than not for authors other than the blog owner…)

  28. If anyone ever wondered whether, despite chang’s denials of being chang, chang really is chang, I think we’ve had our answer in comments 2 and 29. chang definitely isn’t chang.

    And yet, I cannot but note that Xopher is perfectly correct in comment 30:

    Hmm, chang WIN chang appears not to have noticed that John implies that if push comes to shove he will cook and eat Her Magnificence the Beauteous Ghlaghghee.

    Is I noted in the comments to a recent post, chang — and as I said above, it is now confirmed that when I say chang I am not referring to chang — has been sadly failing of late to live up to the admittedly high expectations that chang’s previous work on behalf of the executive committee has led many of us to hold. There are so few heroes left in this world, and I am shaken unto my core by this sad development.

  29. @41 Warren
    Will you join me in calling for the leadership of the Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club to rethink their choice of a spokesperson in chang WIN chang?

  30. @42 adelheid
    It’s not just chang (who can not possibly be chang), it’s the entire executive committee is being called into question by these recent disappointments. But I nonetheless believe that they can once more ascend the heights of achievement that they once so regularly reached, and I do not know of any others capable of doing the same. If only they would again show the dedication they did before!

  31. Chang who is not Chang
    is Ching every second Tuesday.
    Three Wednesdays from now,
    after we’ve grown tired of catsup
    and dogsup, we’ll begin eating you,
    the whatever-you-call-yourselves
    who peer through the small hole in the hall
    into my space,
    like voyeuristic howler monkeys
    hooked on Ritalin Chewables.
    More monkeys the merrier,
    Signed, Fluffy
    The master of the compound
    is looking quite plump himself nowadays,
    like a half-cooked turkey,
    half-cocked a bit as of late as well,
    especially on Sundays.
    I must figure out a way to lure him
    away from that damnable computer . . .
    Post-scratch-scratch I detest the way
    the master maliciously misspells my name.
    He’s mocking me, dammit!

  32. You could always try what the gypsies/romanies allegedly do when they cook hedgehogs.

    Rolled up animal into a ball and cover in mud, and then bake.

    When cooked, just break the mud off and the spines/fur should come away still stuck in the hard baked mud.

    Will save on all of that tedious plucking time :-)

  33. This link below ties in with Amazon/McMillin brush fire, and other issues that the SFWA is dealing with. topic. There are about a million comments at the bottom of the interview, with some authors pinging in. Very interesting.


    “The Millions, an online magazine, has a great article titled “Confessions of a Book Pirate.” In it, C. Max Magee interviews an anonymous pirate, who explains why he uploads and downloads unauthorized copies of electronic books using Usenet groups and torrent sites.”

  34. @MarkHB:

    If you weren’t weird, I’d be somewhere else and far less entertained. The latest virus going around town is accompanied by a most annoying headache which is unresponsive to any known painkiller. The only things that kept me from going completely insane yesterday were re-reading Noel Streatfeild’s children’s books and the Whatever blog. (Now you know *I’m* weird :)

  35. Yeah, Powells may be independent, but they are also corporate thieves. They have this system where you can send them used books and they’ll pay you for them….but they use the online system to steal books. You put in the ISBN and they tell you how much they’ll give you…so you agree and pack up your books and they get them and decide that they are not in good enough condition to actually pay you for, so they keep the books and don’t pay you for them. And no, I didn’t send junk, I sent new books that were sent for review and didn’t get read and books that were read once. And they did it more than once. (yeah, shame on me for trying again and again and again) So, no, Powells is a lose

  36. One of my favourite jokes:

    A traveling salesman stays overnight with a farm family. When the family gathers to eat there’s a pig seated at the table. And the pig has three medals hanging around his neck and a peg leg. The salesman says, “Um, I see you have a pig having dinner with you.”

    “Yes,” says the farmer. “That’s because he’s a very special pig. You see those medals around his neck? Well, the first medal is from when our youngest son fell in the pond, and he was drowning, and that pig swam out and saved his life. The second medal, that’s from when the barn caught fire and our little daughter was trapped in there and the pig ran inside, carried her out and saved her life. And the third medal, that’s from when our oldest boy was cornered in the stock yard by a mean bull, and that pig ran under the fence and bit the bull on the tail and saved the boy’s life.”

    “Yes,” says the salesman, “I can see why you let that pig sit right at the table and have dinner with you. And I can see why you awarded him the medals. But how did he get the peg leg?”

    “Well,” says, the farmer, “a pig like that–you don’t eat him all at once.”

  37. I was hesitating, about to buy The God Engines at Amazon UK for £20, when it disappeared right in front of my Ctrl-R. Now it’s only available from a 3rd party at £38.51. Is this connected?

    Hesitating, because I’m considering an Amazon boycott. That feels odd, as essentially I’d be demanding higher prices! Can’t say I’ve ever thought about doing that before. Maybe that’s why all the UK Borders shops have closed, leaving us with nothing but Waterstones, who still run their loyalty card scheme – that’s no way to compete with Amazon and the supermarkets, is it?

    Leaving a bricks & mortar shop with an armful of Gaiman, Scalzi or Stross, is the habit of a lifetime, and as much an earthly pleasure as the latest Asimov or Clarke, or Yes or Led Zeppelin, once was. We really need to find more ways to keep choice alive.

  38. John Kerr:

    “About to buy The God Engines at Amazon UK for £20”

    Not to cut myself off at my own knees, but £20 is a bit much for The God Engines anyway. We’re working on getting it to the UK for a more reasonable amount. So patience — your pocketbook will appreciate it.

  39. See, if/when I have kids, if they ever ask me “Daddy, who’s your favorite?” I’ll tell them, “Why, E.F.S., your older brother, was our favorite.” “But why isn’t he here now?” “Well, the E.F.S. stood for ‘Emergency Food Supply.’ ”

    My ex was totally on board with this plan, by the way.

  40. Mr Scalzi: “We’re working on getting it to the UK for a more reasonable amount. So patience — your pocketbook will appreciate it.”

    What a nice man!

    Also: no; already waited too long. Chapter 1 convinces; your best yet; must have now. Back on Amazon UK @ £20; cheaper than shipping from Sub. Press (>£23).

    Ordered. Money on way. Please write more.

    PS: Sorry sentences stilted: just watched Watchmen, Ultimate Cut. Some great casting. Rorschach perfect.

    PPS: Wife said nice man too. Bye.

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