Lee Child on Amazon’s real-life bookshops – and because we should be worried

February 12, 2016 - Kindle Unlimited

In December, Amazon US expelled a 2015 in-house all-format all-category bestseller list, and afterwards a journal USA Today came out with a possess industry-wide all-sources version. What was a difference? Two words: The Martian (good movie, though a book was better). It was a outrageous seller, series 4 on USA Today’s list, though nowhere on Amazon’s. There were other titles in a same supernatural situation. Why?

Because, even now, for many books and many people many of a time, a biggest coax to squeeze is indeed saying an tangible book in a earthy place. Because for many people many of a time, reading is a take-it-or-yawn-leave-it activity. Books are not utterly trouble purchases, though conjunction are they sparkling adequate for eager online hunting. (Again, for many people many of a time, that I’ll stop repeating now, though usually if a e-fanboys determine to plead a genuine world, not their fake version. Deal?)

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Nothing sells books improved than earthy displays in bricks-and-mortar locations. Millions of people upheld by bookshop windows or airfield bookstalls, and saw The Martian, and some deceptive sense clicked in and they said, “Oh yeah, that’s ostensible to be cool”, and they bought a copy, and enjoyed it. Same for a other supernatural titles. That is still how books get sold. Research bears it out. Physical eyeballing is proceed forward of any other prompt, be it word of mouth, spam, amicable media or other kinds of advertising.

Which is a problem for Amazon. Classically it uses books to offshoot business and afterwards data-mine them. But it gets usually dedicated book buyers. Browsing on Amazon isn’t good as a infrequent experience: tired sets in. (How do we make something totally invisible? Put it on page 17 of an internet search.) And Kindle hasn’t taken over a world. It has staid into a plain niche, like those little tubes of toothpaste – essential for travel, though no one uses them during home. (Down, fanboys! Real world!) So there is no proceed for Amazon to replicate that happy, pointless confront with a earthy bookstore window. Yes, there are bots and algorithms, though those infrequent millions of three-books-a-year people never see them: they don’t buy books online.

Which is a better for Amazon. It prides itself on going where a business are, and doing what a business want. And it needs to. Its expansion final all a business there are.

So now, gossip has it, Amazon skeleton to open another 299 earthy bookstores (it already has one, in Seattle). The rumours are denied – or during least, not reliable – and during initial peek they seem economically insane. At a best of times, books are low-velocity, low-margin items, and blurb rents are geared to a conflicting – clothes, handbags and other high-profit stuff. But then, for 20 years Amazon has valid peaceful to eat losses, and investors have authorised it to.

So, what if? And suspect those 300 stores were usually a start? We’d fast proceed a de facto monopsony. Amazon would turn a usually unsentimental track to marketplace for 1,400 US publishers and a million US self-publishers, for possibly digital or paper product. The story is worrying. Amazon has already attempted to use a energy in a punitive fashion, as if dynamic to harm publishers financially. All kinds of fees and “contributions” are required. “Pay to play” was plainly a name of a game, until Amazon’s lawyers suggested a reduction pithy description. One publisher resisted, and a comparison Amazon executive boasted: “I did all we could to screw with their performance.” Already, self-publishers have usually “terms and conditions”, that change capriciously – so distant usually to Amazon’s advantage. Is it good open process to concede one house to have sum energy over a nation’s published output?

  • Lee Child is a unchanging Special Guest during a Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival; Special Guest tickets are now on sale for a 2016 festival, hosted during a Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, 21-24 July.

source ⦿ http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/12/lee-child-amazons-real-life-bookshops-why-we-should-be-worried

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