Amazon to bypass publishers, music industry should follow

Amazon is tossing away the traditional publishing model and is about to scare the crap out of traditional publishers. This Fall, Amazon will be publishing 122 books in both physical and digital formats.

What makes this so Earth shattering? They'll be bypassing the traditional publisher model and are going straight to the authors. Amazon is essentially giving the middle finger to the publisher, and now talks directly to the authors, no need for the middleman at all anymore. (According to Amazon, via the NY Times.)

Amazon will be doing all the middle work too, including editing; a big step for an online site that started out selling goods to millions around the world. There is no word on how profits will be split, but for now, Amazon has publishers freaking out. 

Imagine if musicians took the same model that Amazon is now pushing on Authors. What if iTunes, Zune, or even Spotify got into the publishing game and bypassed the record labels? Thinking about how that would shake things up and have a dynamic shift of power makes it seem almost unrealistic. Sure, music and writing are a bit different from each other, but they both depend on a middleman to get their product out there. Amazon is trying to bypass this step and hopefully we might see others follow their lead.

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Some people clearly don't understand business. If you are praising this move, you don't understand how it will work. If Amazon is a publisher, why would they want to sell those works to anyone but themselves since they are also the retailer. It creates a conflict or a monopoly depending upon how you look at it. It takes exclusivitity to a new level.
I prefer freedom of choice, this is just one more way companies are trying to take away our choices.

ghos said,
Some people clearly don't understand business. If you are praising this move, you don't understand how it will work. If Amazon is a publisher, why would they want to sell those works to anyone but themselves since they are also the retailer. It creates a conflict or a monopoly depending upon how you look at it. It takes exclusivitity to a new level.
I prefer freedom of choice, this is just one more way companies are trying to take away our choices.

Of course, if they did this, then the governments would step in, and force them to make the ebooks available in all formats, as this would clearly be a clear-cut anti-trust violation. I think Jeff Bezos is smart enough to avoid that scenario by making the books available to all, but do it in a way that he can sell it for less on the Kindle than on the Nook or Kobo.

This is only good news if it doesn't become a monopoly. I'm all for giving a fairer share to authors etc. Be in no doubt though that if they do monopolize the book industry, the customer will not benefit. There would be no savings and I bet 'kindle only' titles.

If however it promotes competition and gives the big industries a run for their money, then I'm all for it. It's something that DEFINITELY needs to happen to the music industry.

So how locked down will the contracts be? Will they be able to sell the books at Barnes & Nobles? Can they sell it at any other e-bookstore? When they have a sale, do the authors have any say in it? Will they do that we will give it away for a day and you shall reap the rewards of free publicity? Will they have fact checkers and lawyers to help out an author?

There are alot of questions that I have. All I see is Amazon becoming the new king.

THE PUBLISHERS ARE DEAD, LONG LIVE THE PUBLISHER!

Exactly ! This isn't about Amazon doing some magic and removing publishers from the equation, it's about a retail store that realizes it's influence in book marketing and decides to become a publisher itself because that would practically mean a monopoly.

It's a amazing how influential this online retail company has become. They have become almost a full-flegde tech-giant.

wake up there aren't going to be psychical books or any type of media,that being said you buy a book they control how long you use it.you guys are tech guys and havent seen the writing on the wall.control control control he who controls the spice controls the world.LOL

There is a slight problem to some in that Amazon is not global. It does ship internationally, but it doesn't have online stores for every country. At present there is not an online store for where I live, however, books are relatively cheap from other suppliers. But if a large majority of authors went to Amazon, and Amazon became a publisher (its not really cutting out the middle man, its becoming one), then I (as well as everyone else) would have to start shipping our books (and maybe movies etc) from the US, meaning we now pay taxes in these countries, rather than in our own.

This being said, the cost Amazon may produce the products for may make it cheaper, therefore reducing the overall price of the product making this meaningless, but it would still mean importing. At present publishers sell to many providers.

I would completely support Amazon, not to mention I would purchase all of my Books through them if they go this route.

This isn't a bad thing. This gives Amazon an opportunity to monopolize books. First of all, it will put another dent in the already-dying book stores worldwide. Second of all, it means that Amazon will be the only ones to sell these books. Think about it this way: do you want to own both a Sony reader and an Amazon Kindle, just so you can read books by two of your favourite authors?

The middle man here is meant to be a safeguard. It's in the publishers best interest to sell their books in as many palces as possible: bookstores, online stores, to all e-readers, etc. But it's in Amazon's best interest to have everyone buy from them - they don't want Barnes and Noble, Chapters, or even Wal-Mart to sell their books.

So this is a very dangerous thing for consumers. In my view, anyway.

Simon said,
This isn't a bad thing. This gives Amazon an opportunity to monopolize books. First of all, it will put another dent in the already-dying book stores worldwide. Second of all, it means that Amazon will be the only ones to sell these books. Think about it this way: do you want to own both a Sony reader and an Amazon Kindle, just so you can read books by two of your favourite authors?

The middle man here is meant to be a safeguard. It's in the publishers best interest to sell their books in as many palces as possible: bookstores, online stores, to all e-readers, etc. But it's in Amazon's best interest to have everyone buy from them - they don't want Barnes and Noble, Chapters, or even Wal-Mart to sell their books.

So this is a very dangerous thing for consumers. In my view, anyway.

Thank you; I could not agree more!

I don't understand why amazon is trying to screw publishers. Book publishers never sued their own customers and do not have a bad rap like record labels do.
I think it's very damaging to amazon's relationship with publishers to do this.

1) January 2010 Macmillan and Amazon were negotiating prices of ebooks. Macmillan wanted to raise the prices, while Amazon wanted to keep them at the same price. Amazon withdrew Macmillan ebooks from the store, but then later capitulated so prices went up for everyone. The interesting part is that was the same time that iBooks was introduced, prices went up when Apple started taking their 30%.

2) Cracked ebooks are available all over the internet. The book market runs on very slim margins, with many books not turning a profit. If the costs associated with law suits were not so high, book sellers would be suing the people sharing these books.

3) I have written books myself, published by a well known computer book publisher. I was asked to write the book, but real writers (such as my gf) have submitted books to publishers, only to have them rejected. Getting published is not easy for an unknown author, you don't just say I want to write a book and the publishers fight over you. Amazon could publish books at a much lower cost because of their distribution model and customer reach. With lower risk, they would be much more open to publishing unknown authors, giving them their start.

Publishers will withdraw from Amazon, and then suddenly Amazon have a very small collection. Brilliant! That will stick it to the man.

Simon- said,
Publishers will withdraw from Amazon, and then suddenly Amazon have a very small collection. Brilliant! That will stick it to the man.

And the Publisher's sales will go down. Brilliant! Amazon is probably one of the largest book sellers in the world. Just like Wal-mart, what they say, goes.

While exciting, this is also incredibly dangerous, especially for all the real world stores that won't be able to sell anything they control.

I think that's great. Publishing directly will be great for writers and artists. I think I should now put my sleeping local-heat domain to good use. after all I do build shopping carts! It would be great for bands not to get taken advantage of by record companies.

So Amazon will be the sole publisher. Do you muppets see how that works. The internet giants will own all the worlds information.

Iridium said,
So Amazon will be the sole publisher. Do you muppets see how that works. The internet giants will own all the worlds information.

I don't see how this locks authors into Amazon. The idea would be that they directly publish to all of the distribution platforms that they want to. Amazon, iBooks, Google Books (do they do paid ebooks? I'm not sure), even put it up on their own website and take payment through paypal.

I think that there might be benefits to authors for going exclusive, of course Amazon and Apple would want to get exclusives, but I don't see them turning down authors who don't want that.

What happens when Amazon forces writers to sign a non-compete clause, basically stating that if an author signs with Amazon, they won't sign with anyone else. Or if Amazon refuses to take self-published authors who have books for sale through a competitor. Amazon is becoming a publisher much like Barnes and Noble is, except where B&N's publishers are subsidiaries that act like your "normal" publisher, I fear Amazon as a publisher will be anything but.

Iridium said,
So Amazon will be the sole publisher. Do you muppets see how that works. The internet giants will own all the worlds information.

The onus is on the authors to not rely on Amazon. However, I don't believe Amazon is becoming the publisher. They are just being the medium like eBay for selling creative works for Kindle.

Authors can and should sell their creative products by themselves on their own marketplace on Amazon.com. That is how it should have been from the beginning of time. Publishers were required because they have the capital to market the product, which 99% authors cannot afford, to ultimately turn a profit for both them and the authors.

The bigger question is whether Amazon will start giving best selling authors higher priority over the others when searching for books. Because, duh, that's where the profit lies. Much like Google is promoting its agenda by showing it's Chrome browser ads everywhere.

Edited by Jebadiah, Oct 17 2011, 7:26am :

Iridium said,
So Amazon will be the sole publisher. Do you muppets see how that works. The internet giants will own all the worlds information.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. This isn't Amazon bypassing the publishers...this is Amazon BECOMING a publisher.

DukeEsquire said,

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. This isn't Amazon bypassing the publishers...this is Amazon BECOMING a publisher.

Which is why any author that signs something granting Amazon exclusivity is missing the entire point of the Internet as a distribution model.

DukeEsquire said,

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. This isn't Amazon bypassing the publishers...this is Amazon BECOMING a publisher.

Which is why any author that signs something granting Amazon exclusivity is missing the entire point of the Internet as a distribution model.

Like anything out there, there is always a time for change. This sounds like the publishing companies will either need to rethink their business models, or fine themselves standing in the bread line. Would like to see this work for the authors; it could mean a little extra money in their pockets for their hard work.

And, for those who thank a great deal of people will be put out of work, maybe not. A good deal of these folks (editors) working for the publishers will still be needed for companies that follow Amazon's line of thinking.

fmanchu said,
It's the future I don't see why labels/publishers are holding back. Jump on the wagon or get left in the dust.

You just answered your own question. The labels/publishers ARE being "left in the dust" as the Internet destroys their onerous, monopolistic distribution models.

The reason they are "holding back" is they know they are going the way of the dinosaur.

Next Stop, Music, Movies, and direct TV Shows!!! I'm hoping this model takes off and MS can get shows directly on the XBox and create a Zune Video Pass so I can get what I want. $20 bucks a month and I get to choose say... 40 shows and 5 movies. This is very promising.