Death by Amazon

Businessmen pulling colleague's leg at office


by Raymond M. Coulombe

Recently I received a panicky e-mail from a writer I sometimes follow. For reasons unknown, Amazon suddenly banned his books. His fiction wasn’t particularly high bow, but it was no worse than thousands of other books out there. While he’s not a well known author, he was able to crank out sequels on a regular enough basis to have a steady income.

Amazon has enabled a lot of lesser known authors the ability to publish and make a living. However, what Amazon giveth, Amazon taketh away. For all intents and purposes they are the only game in town. The author said he could publish through other markets, but they aren’t big enough to provide him a living.

The poor guy is terrified with the prospect of having to get a day job. The horror. No, really. After years of hard work he was able to turn his hobby into a paying gig. It’s inside work with no heavy lifting, so it’s a pretty good deal.

I decided not to mention the author’s name right now, just in case he’s able to resolve his issues with Amazon.

So are things better in the old fashioned world of regular paper books in brick and mortar bookstores? Hardly. Sure, there are a lot of different imprints. One would think there were a lot of publishers. That’s not the case. When you look at who owns those imprints, it boils down to about four different publishing houses.

Publishing has been centralized to the point where they have the power of life and death over a writer’s career. When the Internet first came into existence, a lot of us had hope that things would been wide open. That happened to an extent, but then Amazon took over. On the plus side, they have made it possible for lesser know writers to make a living. On the down side, they can snuff out that career on a whim.

Heck, the author might have even been the victim of a computer bot and some algorithm, not even a real person. Talk about it not being personal -there could have been no people involved with the decision at all.

It’s a scary world for us little guys, but writers have to write.

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