The bullying will get worse for independent authors and micropublishers without a group voice.

publishing.pngIndependent authors need a group with to represent them – and the crap with Amazon and IPG shows that we need this stat.

IPG isn’t an association – at least, as far as I can tell by reading the stuff on their website.  They’re a company providing a service.  That’s cool;  that’s not what I’m looking for.  I’m looking for … well, lobbyists for small presses and independent authors.  Folks who know about digital and print publishing, care about values and fundamentals, and will follow a consistent pro-author, pro-publisher path when digital retailers are becoming like Wal*Mart.

I thought one organization I joined would fulfill these needs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.  (I hope I’m wrong, but I’m sure not holding my breath.)  Judging by the traffic on the listserv, the organization is filled with folks who care a lot when a reader might get a book for free (pirates, abuse of return policies)… and those same people aren’t worried when a retailer or publisher strongarms authors and small publishers.

Seriously – the follow up email exchanges after the situation I described here included this gem (again, paraphrased):

It’s not about the fairness of Amazon’s terms.  It’s about doing business.  They’re simply saying “Here’s our terms, and if you want to work with us, agree to them.”  If you sign up to those terms, then you have no right to complain when Amazon follows them.

The very same individual, however, found Amazon’s policy on eBook returns “very worrying”, because someone might read the book in seven days, then return it.  And while Amazon says they’ll close accounts for abusing the return policy, he didn’t trust Amazon.

Consider these two instances:  One is a giant corporation altering prices and royalties on all of that title’s sales based on their screwup1, and the second is a person – or maybe even a small group of people – reading a single book for free2.

And the second one is the “worrying” one?

Time to get our priorities in order.

I don’t know the full solution here.  Part of me wants to face the Pinkertons head on before Amazon starts trying to pay us in company scrip – I mean, store credit.3 I’m not sure how such a collective action would work – but considering that one of the Big Six managed to make Amazon blink first is a good sign that it probably would work.

1 They were price-matching a price that hadn’t existed for a month, then added a clause to their terms saying they weren’t responsible for any glitches or errors – or the results of those glitches or errors.
2 Because if they wanted to pirate it, they wouldn’t have bothered to buy it. Like DRM stops a determined pirate anyway. Ha!
3 Oh, you know they would if they could.