You would think that with my love of indie authors, the appeal of Kindle Unlimited, and Amazon’s affiliate program (now that I’m in Florida and eligible for it), that Amazon would be my one-stop shop for all my reading needs.
But I hate Amazon. Just linking to the website makes me feel a little guilty.
Granted, I have linked to books there. When doing a read for a better world spotlight, or when an Amazon-exclusive book just fits so well in a list, then I think it’s worth it. But mostly, no.
My dislike of Amazon is fueled by a personal grudge (I’m from Maine and Amazon banned Mainers from their affiliate program) and slight hipster tendencies, but mostly Amazon scares the shit out of me.
In the ebook industry alone, Amazon holds at least 70% of the market share. That leaves only 30% for the rest of the ebook retailing world to fight over, including Apple iBooks, Google Play Books, and Barnes and Noble. When Apple, Google, and Barnes and Noble are the underdogs, something is seriously wrong.
Also fighting for Amazon’s scraps are Smashwords and Kobo, along with startups and experienced-based companies like Booktrack and Serial Box, who are fighting despite the bleak odds facing book startups.
So why is this a problem? Because it means authors are becoming more, and more dependent on Amazon for sales.
The self-publishing revolution was amazing because it let authors have more control over their work and the stories they wanted to publish, as well as allowing them to control their prices while also getting a larger share of their earnings. But Amazon is essentially a new gatekeeper. Their power can force authors to edit their books to please Amazon’s algorithms instead of keeping the integrity of their work intact. This is a problem that Amazon authors already see.
Amazon seduces indie authors with programs like Kindle Unlimited, implying greater sales and publicity in exchange for an exclusivity contract. Because of this, Amazon has kept over one million books away from other ebook retailers, only increasing their power. Not only does this screw over other book retailers, but it screws over the authors because of the numerous scammers Amazon allows to run wild in KU.
Do other book retailers treat their authors better? Probably not. In fact, many would jump at the chance to dominate the market the same way Amazon is doing right now. My problem isn’t with Amazon having this power, it is with any company having this power.
When one company has the ability to decimate an “independent” writer’s livelihood, then something is wrong. That’s why it’s important to support other book retailers, both for ebooks and print books. I make most of my book purchases on Smashwords, Thriftbooks, and IndieBound and I haven’t noticed any inconvenience from using these sites instead of Amazon and I often get better deals on these websites.
So next time you want to purchase a book– or even read a free book– check out other sources before Amazon.