Episode #36: When Amazon and Hachette Lock Horns, Authors Take the Critical Hits.



You’ve heard about it in the news. You’ve heard the published of all backgrounds rattle sabers and give the battle cry from on high.

Now, a voice of reason steps in and looks at this from a business perspective.

This is a Shared Desk that pulls no punches and tells it to you like it is as Tee and Pip welcome back to the show, Laurie McLean. Laurie, if you recall, was here on The Shared Desk previously, talking up Amazon shenanigans in 2012 and what it was intending with the publishing world. Now, as the Internet Jager that is Amazon go toe-to-toe with Hachette’s Kaiju, authors duck and cover…but still remain the casualties in this financial throw down.


00:00 — Introduction

  • Pip feels as if she’s a little off on account of being drop-in free…
  • Welcome back to the show Laurie McLean of ForewordLiterary (found at ForewordLiterary.com!)
  • You’ve heard authors talk about what’s going on. How about we get someone with a deeper connection to the business chime in…

1:55 — Amazon, Hachette, and the Authors Caught in the Middle

  • What is going on between Amazon and Hachette?
  • From an agent’s perspective…
    • Step back to the 1950’s on how publishers figured out costs and royalties…
    • Fast forward to Present Day when digital publishing found its feet.
    • Tee is really missing his drop-in’s.
    • Publishers continue to hang on to their large piece of the financial pie even with the reduction of costs for eBook production.
    • With the larger profits of eBooks, Amazon argues that Hachette can afford to give a little more.
  • The battle is now extending to Warner Brothers and to a German distribution company.
  • The Germans should be advising Amazon about fighting a war on more than two fronts.
  • It’s difficult to avoid Jon Hamm’s bulge with all this going on.
  • This is not a good guy/bad guy thing. This is a battle between playground bullies, and authors are the kids waiting to see which one’s going to
  • Amazon can always change the rules (as Hugh Howey — yes, that Hugh Howey — reports here back in February…)
  • Tee snaps against Howey and Konrath who are held on high as “heroes” when these two are towing the lines for Amazon.
  • There’s a big difference between Amazon and Hachette, and the U.S. Congress.
  • Jeff Bezos, Lex Luthor, and Walter White — the same person? Maybe…
  • How realistic is it asking readers to boycott Amazon?
  • Laurie waits with interest to see what will happen when a larger house (like Penguin and Random House) faces off with Amazon?
  • Tee fondly remembers his favorite Bud Ice commercials…
  • Who will blink first? Amazon or Hachette?
  • The fallout from all this: Damage to the new and midlist Hachette authors.
  • Amazon, while good to Tee last summer, is not your friend!
  • Did publishers make this bed with Amazon, or did readers and indie authors give them this power?
  • What Amazon has become: How can you say “no” to that?
  • Perhaps the publisher should think about learning from Amazon instead of butting heads with them.
  • What kind of damage control can authors do during this?
    • The authors taking the biggest hit? Those who do not have the name recognition.
    • The loss of Hachette pre-sales and no suggestions from Amazon are cutting into their profits.
    • It’s affecting even bigger names like Elizabeth Bear, and she’s doing the right thing — talking about it.
  • Authors are getting taxed more and more to be self-sufficient. Is this the future?
  • Will publisher’s expectations become greater as authors take on more?
  • The publishing business is currently split between two kinds of markets: a place for great stories (independent publishing) against a place for great writing (Big Six publishing).
  • How can authors take sides in this matter when you’re caught in the middle?
  • As this show’s patron saint, Chuck Wendig, puts it: This isn’t a Us vs Them sort of thing.
  • Writers still matter. Remember Moonlighting? How about Heroes?
  • Know Hachette authors? Blog about them. Give them a voice.
  • Serious love for Stephen Colbert! (Part One and Part Two)
  • Sounds like Laurie is also not that impressed with Mr. Konrath…
  • Show some love to Elizabeth Bear, friend of the show and kickass science fiction author!!! BUY HER BOOKS!!!

30:36 — Lightning Round Edition of “Writers Off the Clock”

  • Quick review of Edge of Tomorrow
  • Tee calls it the Pacific Rim of the summer, and that is not a good thing.
  • Tee has a moment concerning Emily Blunt.
  • TRIVIA: Edge of Tomorrow was released on the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landing.

31:51 — The Wrap-Up

  • When and where is this going to end?
  • The talk at BEA…as it was held in New York…was a bit biased.
  • Will this get worse before it gets better?
  • Tee needs a quick recap on the iBook Store kefuffle that got the Department of Justice involved…and he gets it. (And knowing is half the battle.)
  • And because of these Apple shenanigans, we are now here.
  • Gazing into the crystal ball to wonder what lies ahead…
  • Had the publishers not been greedy, they wouldn’t have to contend with another greedy entity…
  • Now that we’ve gotten the straight talk about Amazon and Hachette, let’s hear about Foreword Literary.
  • Why Laurie believes in the hybrid author and working with the author to make awesome happens.
  • But enough about Foreword Literary. Talk more about us…..
  • Foreword snatches up Alex White. #winning
  • Tee and Pip chat a bit more about what Foreword Literary does for the author.
  • Are you a writer? Looking for an agent? Pay Foreword a visit, follow the steps, and pitch. (Tell “The Bulge” that Tee and Pip sent you.)
  • YES! We want your feedback — 703.791.1701



Find us on Twitter at either Tee’s or Pip’s account,
leave us a voicemail or question for the show at 703.791.1701,
or leave us a comment here at the blog.

Enjoy the ride
and we’ll catch you later.


Filed under Episodes

8 Responses to Episode #36: When Amazon and Hachette Lock Horns, Authors Take the Critical Hits.

  1. I’ve still got another 20 minutes of the podcast to listen to, so maybe you get to this point, but…

    Amazon and Hachette are in a pissy battle over who gets to hold onto a percentage of money made from sales. Obviously, neither one of them is doing any work to EARN this money. Seems to me Hachette’s authors, and the agents who represent them, should step up and say, “Look here! That money you’re fighting over. You didn’t earn that. WE DID! And we’ll be taking that and the two of you can shut up an get back to selling books, or you’ll find that you’ve got no books to sell. Capish?”

    I’m surprised that none of you mentioned that those percentages should go to the one group that is doing the most work and is underrepresented in the talks: the authors.


    • admin

      That’s pretty much what Laurie said straight off the bat. The huge profits ‘the bulge’, of ebook sales should have been shared by the publishers with the authors in the first place.
      As for Hachette authors standing up, Laurie does mention an example of just that, but at this point there is little authors can do against two titans. Mostly they are just trying to save their books and royalties.

  2. Pingback: Amazon versus Hachette: the authors lose « Agent Savant Agent Savant

  3. I just started listening to this episode, but I want to call B.S. on something that is happening far too often. Why is everyone worried that Amazon will drop the royalty percentage down to 50%. First of all, so what if they do? It’s still a better rate than authors get from traditional publishers. Second of all, we should be less worried about what Amazon might do and more concerned about what traditional publishers are actually doing right now that is hurting authors, like meager advances and royalties and one-sided contracts that only benefit them at the expense of their authors. Sure, Amazon is in it to make money, but they do so by creating a better experience for the reader. As long as they continue to do so, they’re aces with me.

    • I didn’t see this reply until today. First, thank you for listening.

      As far as Amazon being good for the reader, I would never say Amazon isn’t good for the reader. Readers are getting new and exciting stories from a variety of sources. So for readers, yes, Amazon is wonderful.

      Here, though — we’re talking about the authors.

      I have a blogpost going live tomorrow morning that goes deeper, but to say that Amazon is looking out for “authors” (which some claim) is ridiculous. If Amazon wants more money from authors, they can — at any time — change the rules.

  4. Pingback: Amazon v Hachette: Round Two (Featuring 100% More Monster Porn!) | TeeMorris.com

  5. Again, why are you more worried about what Amazon MIGHT do at some point in the future, instead of focusing on the horrible contract terms and royalties traditional publishers are giving authors right now? Publishers need us a lot more than we (readers and authors) need them, and it’s really starting to show.

  6. Pingback: Episode #37: Kindle Unlimited — Whether You Like It or Not | The Shared Desk