A small post on reactions to the DOJ lawsuit, summated by CBS
“Ironically, consumers are likely to win no matter what happens with the case because the self-publishing gate is open and the horses are out of the barn.”
… really? “consumers will win”? To that, I respond:
I can quite reliably say that publishers will lose, that’s one thing. But importantly, so too will authors.
What I love about this point of view, is that a win for consumers must en come at the expense of the people, oh, you know, writing the product! (And also editing and designing it. I also, absolutely agree that the traditional publishing industry has not played their position well, and have made bad choices, and lost a lot of good will.)
Is that really what consumers, or let’s call them ‘readers’ want?
How do I know that this will be the outcome? Think of it this way: go into a book store (if you can—and he’s, there’s another incumbent group who have messed up), look at the number of publishers represented… ok? Now check out the number of authors displayed within those imprints… an order of magnitude more there, right?
Now look at labour history. Consider what happens to individual worker terms and conditions when they must negotiate with a huge company, for each and every contract (also multiplying the data points many times, for each contractual instance (also note that Amazon does play hard on these negotiations))…
Yes, prices will come down, and that will suggest to authors to go self-publishing (not a wholly terrible idea at all!), and Amazon will still want to make more money (again, perfectly fine).
How do you think those Amazon-held distribution contracts begin to change?.. I do think it’s fair that Amazon will not want to increase the price of ebooks, that would upset their paying customers, so…
While prices come down for consumers, the margin has to be made up somewhere, and the question is: who has the smallest voice then?
We know who the answer points to. Right?
Instead, I think it truly behoves commentators to ask the question:
If prices come down, who is paying for the product?
Addendum: One idea I’d propose, is for authors to join together in collective bargaining (via agents, or the remnants of old, “big” publishing, reinvented for the digital age) —bit of a fanciful notion isn’t that?
Addendum 2: Note that there is not a price-fixing lawsuit for pbooks?… that’s because there are channels in place there to provide actual competition (personally, I think publishers should have gotten on to the whole “independent” ebook distribution (see: booki.sh) earlier, but regardless, it isn’t there for them—for us—right now…)
About publishers protecting their pbook channels, by inflating their ebook offerings? Yes, and I covered that point, that they should have stepped pricing for ebooks, to better capture *new* readers in the last post.)