It seems to me that self-published authors naturally have some affinity for Amazon. They congregate in the Kindle forums, they appreciate Amazon as a self-publishing platform, and people who are pro e-book are naturally going to gravitate to the people who essentially created the modern e-book market. I understand that.
And like many of the self-published authors out there, I’ve found the Authors Guild’s stridency toward Amazon to be a little harsh at times. Yes, there’s a publishing ecosystem that many Authors Guild members may want to protect, but as Barry Eisler so eloquently pointed out, “It’s pretty hard to see how someone could destroy bookselling by selling tons of books.”
At the same time, I must confess to being a bit confused why self-published authors feel so strongly about the DOJ lawsuit and the Guild’s opinion about it when it affects them… not that much? At all? (Here’s some background on the lawsuit).
If anything, giving Amazon greater flexibility on pricing on traditionally published e-books (which the settlement will do) cuts into self-published authors’ ability to use low prices as a marketing tool.
Do self-published authors really want the Authors Guild, which, again, only allows in traditionally published authors, to speak for them? Do self-published authors believe the Guild is actually undermining any of their interests?
Even if I don’t always agree with the approach, there’s a legitimate case to be made for a diverse, vibrant bookselling environment that fosters competition in the marketplace. The fate of brick and mortar bookstores doesn’t matter much to the vast majority self-published authors, at least from a career perspective — they’re not selling there anyway — but they do matter a great deal to published authors, and to the public at large.
I don’t think people are wrong to fear the hegemony of one or two massive corporations and what that could do to authors’ ability to profit from their work in the future. I don’t think it’s wrong for an organization like the Guild to take a stand for competition in the marketplace. And I don’t think that arguing for competition hurts self-published authors. There’s no such thing as a benevolent monopoly.
But who really should be speaking for authors, especially at a time when authors both publish and self-publish? If not the Authors Guild, what should exist?