On Amazon, independent writers and independent bookstores

Publishing Business

When it comes to Amazon, the indie books world seems to be divided into two camps:

  • People who hate Amazon because it’s undermining independent bookstores, challenging established publishers’ long-held practices, and rapidly dominating the books marketplace in the US (and elsewhere).
  • People who love Amazon because it is opening the books world to new voices and makes independent publishing easy and affordable.

We find ourselves torn over this dichotomy, because it’s so unfair. We love bookstores! They’ve been our sanctuaries all our lives, especially the independent shops!

But we also love the new opportunities for independent artists, including writers, that this new disruptive age is bringing. And, like it or not, we all have to admit that Amazon is bringing amazing opportunities to independent writers. For little or no financial investment, one can publish and reach a potentially rather large audience. And Amazon isn’t alone, though it certainly dominates the market right now.

So it pains us when we read and hear about how indie bookstores hate Amazon and blacklist Amazon-pressed books, because indirectly it attacks the independent writers that indie bookstores have historically supported.

And when you consider that all of this is overlaid with all the FUD over copyright reform, it gets hard to get a clear picture of what’s what.

For the record, we love independent bookstores. Our local favorite is the Boulder Bookstore, and will often travel to visit the Tattered Cover. But we also are about to publish our first title with Amazon, because we don’t have the insider connections with distributors or the (to us) big budgets needed to get on bookshelves everywhere – or even somewheres – even though we believe what we have is every bit worthy of such residency. We’re on a wave of disruption and riding it as best we can. For us, resistance is futile. Or, at best, a non-optimal endeavor.

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