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James Franco is helping to kill the book industry

January 4, 2012

This concerns me.

James Franco has signed a publishing deal for his first novel with Amazon.com. And while indie authors everywhere might point to this as a sign that the big bad gatekeepers of the industry (who no doubt reject their books out of spite for their author’s small statures rather than because such books are, frankly, crap) are finally losing their battle with the masses of truly brilliant writers everywhere, I see it as a further indication that few such authors (even in their brilliance) can see the big picture that is pieced together from the ever changing Amazon puzzle. Namely, that Amazon wants to own books – all of them, in every way.

Amazon is willing to throw vast sums of money around to shape an industry so that said industry cannot survive without it. And a single, for profit retailer in total control of any industry is generally very bad for everyone else in that industry who doesn’t happen to be that retailer.

Exclusive deals are almost never good in the long term for consumers, even if they satisfy a particular author’s short term interests wonderfully. And while I have no confirmation that Amazon’s publishing arm wants to do only exclusive deals (I’m still trying to find that out), I do find it hard to believe that they plan to make it easy to get Mr. Franco’s book anywhere other than Amazon.com.

And if Amazon ever succeeds in locking up their complete monopoly of the book business, how can that benefit anyone but them?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 1:13 am

    I understand your point, but createspace also lists their authors works through the expanded distribution channel, which includes barnes and nobles, and other retailers. The catch is that most places like Barnes and Noble will only buy the work wholesale if the book allows returns! Most of the indie books on amazon do not allow returns, that is what needs to be changed. I will research this and get back to you. As an indie author I have run into this Amazon induced obstacle myself. http://www.mechvsmagic.com get your copy of M.V.M. Mech vs. Magic:The Battle for Harpatia today!

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    • January 5, 2012 7:31 pm

      While I see your point, I fear a future where it will be the authors who have to do all of the work of getting their books into different outlets rather than the publishers. Also, Franco is not using Amazon’s self publishing tools. They have started an actual publishing house under the Amazon banner, and are signing authors to advances like Harper or Random House would. This is a whole different ballgame where Amazon literally controls every facet of the distribution model. That is bad for consumers.

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