There's been a lot of scuttlebutt recently around the Amazon/Hachette negotiations and a lot of it is pretty anti-Amazon. Let me start off by saying, this isn't one of those posts. Mind you, I'm not going to tell you that I think everything Amazon does is perfect because it's not. It is, however, what retailers do. It also amazes me that when Barnes & Noble pulled all of the Amazon Publishing titles from their shelves and said "no more" that no one seemed to really care. Why then, do we give so much attention to this matter?
Because publishers like to hate Amazon and, frankly, it's just not a productive way to be in business.
Most in publishing have spent years crying out that Amazon is unfair, taking too much of their market share, forcing price wars, etc. But has anyone stepped up to do anything about it? Not really. So now we have the perfect opportunity. The Amazon/Hachette mess has escalated to a national story (even Stephen Colbert -- a Hachette author -- mentioned it).
Now that so much national attention is focused on this, how about reminding book buyers that they have other options? There's also a lot of buzz around JK Rowling's upcoming book release which is set to drop on June 19, and with no Amazon pre-orders her publisher is pretty worried about how the book will do. Enter Books-a-Million who is taking pre-orders and offering a 30 percent discount, too. Now that's what I call smart selling. But if you head on over to Barnes & Noble.com you see no mention of this. Nothing. Which amazes me. Then there's Walmart which is apparently cleaning up around this mess; their book sales have soared 70 percent since this whole thing started. Walmart, really? That makes me shiver. Yes, let's keep ourselves on this hamster wheel by trading one big retailer for another. Not so fast. There are a lot of other options, let's explore them:
As a consumer, here's what can you do:
- Call your library, see where they stand on this and how many titles they have and if they haven't thought of stocking up, now is the time to do this.
- Don't shop at Walmart for books. Go to your local indie store or local bookstore and get them there. If you don't have an indie store locally or aren't sure where to find one, go online to: http://www.indiebound.org . You can either track down a local store or buy online from an indie retailer.
- Encourage your local retailers to change up their websites, make sure customers know that while they can't get these titles on Amazon, they can get them there. Take a note from the smart Books-a-Million move and encourage them to promote around this.
If you're a Hachette author:
- I'm assuming you've done this, but just take that Amazon order button off of your site -- at least for now. This dispute could rage on for a long time. Even a month with that button is too long.
- Find out where to send readers: Let your local stores know you're a Hachette author and see how quickly they can get stock. Then...
- Blog on this: Don't get opinionated; just make sure that readers know where to get your books. List online stores as well (Books-a-Million!) and make sure that regardless of what happens with your publisher and Amazon, readers can still find you.
- Use social media: Rowling just posted something around this, encouraging readers to get their books elsewhere. Look for #Hachette and you'll find plenty about this, and you can use it to help push interest to your books and speak to your readers.
Regardless of what side of the fence you are on (author or consumer) imagine if each of us reading this blog post took this opportunity to support other retailers and help out the Hachette authors. How cool would that be?
I'm sure there's a lot more you can do to help, and I'd love to see some ideas shared in the comments but the point is, make the most of this and help your local stores in the process. It's OK to get mad but encouraging consumers to boycott Amazon is not productive and it won't work, but you can use this time to help drive interest to other places, and help local stores and libraries reap the benefits of this dispute.
Seems a whole lot better than mud-slinging.
Follow Penny C. Sansevieri on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bookgal