Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, recently wrote the following in an opinion piece for CNN.com:
Big publishers “price their books too high while most of their authors earn poverty wages. They take 12 to 18 months to publish a book -- an anachronism in today’s world of instant self-publishing. They often reject talented writers who don’t offer the celebrity platforms of more marketable ‘authors’ such as Snooki or Justin Bieber.“… the self-inflicted wounds of large publishers have already begun to render their businesses less relevant to the future of publishing. Authors are beginning to turn their backs on traditional publishers in favor of self-publishing. Authors are now hiring their own editors, cover designers and marketing consultants. By assuming responsibility for the roles once played by publishers, authors are earning up to 70% of the list price as their e-book royalty versus the 17.5% paid by traditional publishers. They’re publishing low-cost e-books that are hitting all the bestseller lists. The all-important access to distribution -- once exclusively controlled by publishers -- is now available to all self-publishing authors.”
The Department of Justice Lawsuit
Mark’s April 15, 2012, post, titled “A dark day for the future of books,” deals mainly with the Department of Justice’s wrongheaded legal action against Apple and five large book publishers for allegedly conspiring to raise e-book prices. When in fact, what publishers wanted to do was to protect their right to set the prices for their products: something I favor, since I’m a small publisher. I believe I should be free to set my own prices, and not have Amazon or anyone else dictate the retail price of the books I publish.
Mark’s post is worth reading in its entirety. If you’re an author or a small publisher who is selling most of your titles through Amazon (as I am), you may think there’s nothing wrong with Amazon gaining complete market dominance. But to be healthy, the book business needs competitive players. If a single entity (Amazon) gains complete control, all will suffer: readers, writers, publishers, retailers, and device makers.