Thursday, August 21, 2008

Aren't they nice?

Latest Amazon/Booksurge thang:

The Amazon rep called up and oh so nicely said, with the new Booksurge contract -- and a total favor to me (I should be grateful, right?) -- would be wiping the accounts I owed them because of the older model of contracts they originally had with authors. Quote: "We'll start fresh."

This makes me wonder if they're wiping all these accounts that owe them money because of the right-hand-pays, left-hand-bills model they're using.

The rep didn't want to hear about the Lulu model (customer -- including retailers if they directly to the site -- covers manufacturing costs, shipping, small profit fees to author and Lulu) that ultimately keeps the prices down for the customer. Can I say "huffy"?

He attempted to pat me on my head by telling me I didn't know about professional publishing. Yes, I think I'm quite aware of over-orders, returns and shredded books. The only professional distributors who get it right are in comic books: leftover books are sold, then discounted, finally given away as loss leaders. If a comics retailer gets a damaged book from me, they have only to GIVE it to a likely-looking customer. It never fails: a few bucks given away results in a brand-new addict rushing back in for an order that can come to $125.00 on the spot.

When I spoke to prose authors early in my career, they were quite starry-eyed about getting 50 cents a book. Now I know about manufacturing costs, shipping, etc., and considering the retail costs of books, I'd like to ask: what are the publishers and distributors doing -- shipping those books in golden boxes? Or is the money being dumped into the huge waste model of returns and shredding? It's going somewhere -- who's getting it?

Booksurge was set up by prose authors, who don't want to know. Comics authors know because of our ridiculous censorship model that put our art form in the toilet -- and which we are gradually hauling back out with the roto-rooter of independing publishing and a lot of female authors -- who have to work outside the boxes because the art form didn't give a damn about us.

Oh, and Amazon now say, "WE pay the manufacturing costs." Oh, so that's not the customer's money? Where are they getting this money they're calling "theirs?" Same place governments get theirs?

That's the customer's money. I don't want 30% of the net -- I want a rock-bottom cost that covers manufacturing, shipping, and a bit of cash to the printer, author and distributor. Customers can afford to buy more, so more money all around. More books distributed. More books in the long run.

Then again, with the new electronic-reading devices, this may all be moot anyway.

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