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Playing with The Giants

Playing With The GiantsMy recent post about how Amazon KDP are changing the game for self publishers attracted so many visitors that my blog crashed quite a few times due to the amount of traffic. This extraordinary response can only mean that there are an awful lot of people who are deriving an income from Amazon.

Whether Amazon has made changes that have had a detrimental effect on self publishers is open to opinion, but the telling point from this issue is not singularly about Amazon. It is about the new order of the Internet and how e-commerce has become an integral part of our lives, but that control of e-commerce is in the hands of just a few giants. For those of us who are trying to make a small income from e-commerce we will always be operating under the changing policies of these companies.

The Internet is in essence divided into four ‘Walled Gardens’. Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook and whenever we decide to use one of these giants, we are bound by their set of rules. Albeit that these rules are subject to change and due to the fluidity of the Internet market, they do change regularly.

Even when dealing with companies other that these four, their influence is ever present. The case of the crowd funding publisher Unglueit was classic example. Unglueit used Amazon servers and payment systems, but Amazon decided to close down the service. Of course there was conjecture about Amazon seeing Unglueit as competitive. However, Amazon are one of the largest providers of server services, so there must be many competitive products using their server farms. In the end though, Amazon owns the service, so they are entitled to make their decisions about who can use it.

Whatever service you buy, rent or get for free, there is always the possibility that changes will be made. Social media is a service that we all use, but tend to forget that our accounts can be closed at anytime, and for any reason. Twitter has a reputation for suspending accounts and leaving users wondering why, as does Facebook to a lesser extent. On the subject of Twitter, rumours have popped up from time to time about the possibility that Apple could acquire Twitter to bolster their lack of social networking presence. One could only wonder what changes would be made to the Twitter platform if this were to happen.

As all four giants fight for market share, and each other in court for that matter, change will be ever present on the Internet and all we can do is adapt as and when these changes occur. Sometimes though, as in the case of Amazon’s KDP, it may have seemed that unfair changes had been made. But when you play with giants, there is nothing you can do about that other than complain, get annoyed, and then get on with adapting to the new reality.

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3 comments

  1. Emily Hill

    Hi Derek,

    Indeed, you’re correct … an awful lot of people ARE deriving an income from eCommerce with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

    Of note, to corroborate your thesis; the kdp Community Board dialogue thread that began on 14 September with the query, “Are your sales reports updating normally now?” [https://kdp.amazon.com/community/thread.jspa?threadID=46984&tstart=0] has received 63,558 hits – Amazon Community Board administrator chimed in at 43,000 to tell everyone that ‘things were going fine’ and that sales reporting WAS on track. (hmmm…me thinks not if another 20,000 hits have come in as authors try to figure out WTF happened to their eCommerce book business.)

    My attitude on the ‘adapt’ idea: Sure, I’ll go with you on this one. I figure that each of my eBooks collects 3,000 – 5,000 sales (I’m a bit of a small fry ;) If I can carve out a silo of business from Amazon, and B&N, Smash & iTunes that meets that target – sure, I’ll go that way – why not!?

    I see that today Bezos began wooing indies into the kdp Amazon Select program with an *Additional* $1.5 million in a Global Bonus Fund – that adds to the $700,000 ‘Bonus Fund’ he pushed across the table early in November. What a Show! What an Extravaganza!

    It’s interesting to learn, through your blog, that Amazon took at hit at Unglueit — I knew that they shut down Kickstarter last month. And after untold hundreds/thousands of Kickstarter entrepreneurs lit up the Amazon switchboard, said affected entrepreneurs received the standard ‘Oopsie!’ message; i.e. a technical glitch has just interrupted programming.

    Staying tuned.

  2. Shirley Wine

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Hmmm. That old biblical prophesy takes on a whole new meaning.

    And what is so scary about all this is the realisation of just how far eCommerce has penetrated the ordinary lives of Joe Blow. As for Amazon’s fight for it’s market share in this last week they have platforms up in Canada and Brazil so where will we expect tosee them pop up in the next wee while?

    I’ve just read an interesting blog that claims Amazon is using books in such a way that they are devaluing books per se and using them as loss leaders to sell Kindles and Prime membership…. now this makes so much more sense to me.

    Never mind the authors who slave for months over producing a book….hey it their hard work means we can sell a few more kindles or memberships of prime…who cares if the authors are reduced to sweatshop labour?

    1. Derek Haines

      I have come to the same view Shirley. Amazon have used self publishers as loss leaders to sell Kindles and Prime memberships and in the process have devalued books and ebooks and the work of the authors. With new retailers and platforms entering the ebook market now, I think the future of self publishing lies elsewhere, away from Amazon’s exploitation.

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