Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will Amazon/BookSurge Send Authors Running from PODs to Traditional Publishing Houses?

Well, things are still smoldering away at the Amazon/BookSurge bonfire. The flames have died down, but the fire's definitely not out. I'm posting below all the news from Angela Hoy and She does it much better than I do.

Before I let you read the news, however, let me just say that after reading Angela's most recent posting, which came in her newsletter, I began to wonder if some authors who might prefer to self-publsh using POD technology aren't going to reconsider finding and agent and going the traditional publishing route. If they are going to have to wait around for a long time -- and it could be a long time -- for the Amazon/BookSurge fire to be put out (if it is put out and doesn't instead get fanned into a blazing bonfire that consumes all the POD publishers), they might just as well sign a traditional publishing contract and wait that 18 months or so for their book to be published. They'll still have to do the same amount of publicity, but they'll save some money, get the clout that comes with a traditional publishing contract and be sure to have that coveted "buy" button on Amazon. Of course, they'll lose some control over the publishing process and some royalty money as well.

I don't know. I'm still standing with a foot on both sides of the fence. My agent is peddling one of my books to traditional publishers, and I'm about to market another to a small, traditional niche publisher. I've got another book project, however, that will likely go to my little POD (I'm not naming names at this point...) whose "buy" buttons are all still on. And they are still producing my booklets for me as well. I just came up with another short book idea, and I plan to self-publish that one as well.

What's the consensus? Continue self-publishing anyway, hold out or change gears and go traditional?

Here's Angela's latest:

April 23, 2008

Special Report

Amazon/Booksurge Ultimatum Update By Angela Hoy

Here's what's happened in the last week or so:
* Arriving a bit late to the party, but welcomed nonetheless, the National Writers Union finally issued a statement last week. As expected, like SPAN, the Author's Guild, ASJA, and others, the NWU is publicly condemning Amazon's actions. "The National Writers Union/UAW Local 1981 strongly opposes Amazon's new restriction on the print-on demand market and calls upon Amazon to immediately withdraw this monopolistic intrusion, or face our call for investigations by the Justice Department and Congress."
* Publisher's Weekly reported this week that it appears AuthorHouse/iUniverse is going to tithe to the Amazon/Booksurge God (my analogy, not theirs). WritersWeekly reported the same thing three weeks ago.
* Authors are nervous. One POD author notified us that he decided to stop the publishing process of his new book with his publisher because of the Amazon situation. We, too, have been fielding numerous emails of doubt from authors. Many don't want to use Booksurge but feel they will be forced to do so, in addition to using a printer that has Ingram distribution (considered imperative for bookstore sales). We've also read discussions online that show some authors are holding onto their manuscripts until they know which way this boat is going to turn. Unfortunately, if the government is involved (it is), they might have to wait a long, long, long time. Authors are understandably nervous about using Booksurge because of their reputation. Authors are also upset about paying double setup fees.
* Some authors have threatened to abandon POD publishers who are signing with Amazon/Booksurge because they value their reputations too much to risk having a poorly printed book with their name on it.
* Some authors are saying they will refuse to work with Amazon/Booksurge based strictly on principal. They would rather sell fewer books than be forced to pay more
money for something they think is unfair... and that may even be illegal.
* Xlibris finally responded to WritersWeekly's request for information... by saying really nothing at all. Their lack of information is included in this statement, "We apologize that we are unable to comment on the subject below as we are still standing by for the official communication from the higher management and our partners. As of this writing, it is still business as usual with" Why do you think the statements issued by these on-the-fence publishers look so similar? Gosh (snicker), it almost looks like they were written by the same person. Hmmm...
* One POD publisher who was given the ultimatum reported they thought the program might be on hold while another publisher later reported being heavily pressured to immediately sign the contract.
* WritersWeekly has been contacted by numerous small publishers who have already been contacted by Amazon/Booksurge, or who fear they're next on the list, most of whom want to remain under Amazon's radar for as long as they can.
* Numerous authors, publishers and even book buyers have contacted Amazon/Booksurge to voice their anger directly, but are either ignored or receive a canned statement. reports, "With Amazon's growing power in book sales, it's understandable that publishers may be a bit anxious on learning that in Amazon's 10-k filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company lists among its many competitors not just bookstores but also publishers."

Wish I had good news for you but I don't. So, don't let your guard down. It's not over and it likely won't be over for a long time.

We're posting updates regarding this situation HERE.


OldStaff said...

It astonishes me how little the writers groups or the media knows about what is actually going on. The only books that BookSurge is printing for AuthorHouse/iUniverse are those that are being sold through Amazon. Everything else is still being printed by Lightning Source.

Nina Amir said...

Yes, it amazes me, too. You would think this would be all over the news by now. I keep wondering when someone is going to go to the press and start a public outcry. That would change everything. I'm a journalist, but not a newspaper reporter, and I can tell you that taking something like this to the news media and letting the reading public know what is happing might be just the thing to put an end to it all.