BookSurge – Who Owns "PACIFIC AVENUE" all the way to "BOARDWALK"?

By Sandra Jones Cropsey
More years ago than I care
to consider, I wrote to Celestine Sibley, a long-time columnist for
The Atlanta Journal & Constitution
, “There must be an easier
way to persecute one’s self in life than by writing.” I even went
so far as to suggest the need for the formation of “Writer’s Anonymous”
for those of us afflicted with this often most frustrating of addictions.
Ms. Sibley posted my comments in her column, which only further inflamed
my addiction I might add.

Writers are definitely a special
breed. Writers, like artists, can take a person to another place at
very little cost and
won’t lose your luggage in the process.
And writers, like artists, struggle. Many of them struggle with whatever
ghosts or demons drive them to write. Some fall so in love with words
that they never recover. Each day as they sit down at their computer,
typewriter, or paper and pencil, writers struggle with words—searching
for just that right one. And again, like artists, writers struggle financially.
Oh, but do they struggle financially! Through the years, I have come
to know a lot of writers, and only a couple in that group can claim
to support themselves solely by freelance writing. Most have a day job
that takes more of their life and energy than they desire, but they
somehow
still manage to get a collection of choice words on paper and eventually
publish—more often, these days, with a small or print-on-demand (POD)
publisher.

Now it would appear that Amazon
wants to add to that struggle by forcing small independent and POD publishers
to use the printing services of their affiliate, BookSurge. The additional
financial burden would no doubt increase the cost of printing to such
a degree that many writers like me will not be able to afford the cost
of publishing.

Much has been written about
this issue; much will continue to be written. None of it is pretty.
It has been reported that when approached by representatives of Amazon/BookSurge,
many of the owners of independent presses were told to sign with BookSurge
or see the “Buy” button on their listings with Amazon disappear.
We pray this is wrong, as nobody likes to be bullied, and nobody really
likes a bully either, but we do business with bullies everyday. A large
majority of corporate America enjoys success because of being a bully.
But we don’t always have to do business with bullies.

Across the pond, Edward Smith,
manager of YouWriteOn.com, “the UK’s most popular Arts Council funded
site for budding writers” is calling for a boycott of Amazon. “YouWriteOn.com
in response is inviting all POD authors everywhere to list their books
on our site with a free ‘book-buy’ link to any bookseller other than
Amazon. Effectively we are calling for a proactive boycott of Amazon
and are encouraging all writers and readers and other writers’ sites
to join in this by doing the same in their writers communities, which
drive the POD industry, and to also email their discontent to Amazon.”

The Author’s Guild is reported
to be checking into the legality of this situation as it suggests “monopoly”
and a violation of anti-trust laws. “We suspect this maneuver by Amazon
is far more about profit margin than it is about customer service or
fossil fuels. The potential big losers (other than Ingram) if Amazon
does impose greater discounts on the industry, are authors—since many
are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher’s gross revenues—and
publishers. . . We’re reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications
of Amazon’s bold move. If you have any information on this matter that
you think could be helpful to us, please call us at (212) 563-5904 and
ask for the legal services department, or send an e-mail to
staff@authorsguild.org.”

WritersWeekly.com has a special
page on their web site to address this situation
http://www.writersweekly.com/amazon.php, and
A
ngela and Richard Hoy
are doing a great job of
keeping us all informed. Two petitions
have been established to collect signatures:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/protectPOD/?e and http://www.amazontroopsurge.com/2008/04/write-government-about-amazons-illegal.html.

Russell Wild, President of
the American Society of Journalists and Authors, stated in a press release,
“We applauded when Jeff Bezos and Amazon gave small publishers
and even writers who self-published a way to get their books before
the public. . . With these grabby, strong-arm tactics, Amazon negates
all that—and the years of goodwill it has built up with writers, who
ultimately will bear the brunt of any price increases in the printing
of independently published books.”

Being a bully is wrong,
whether on the playground or in the marketplace.
If you cannot win fairly, you do not deserve to win.
Thus would
just the right words be “Writers Anonymous” or “Anonymous Writers?”

Sandra Jones Cropsey is
the author

of
Tinker’s Christmas and Who’s There?

www.tinkerschristmas.com

www.outskirtspress.com/whosthere

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Comments

I think you speak for many of us who are in the small press buisness. This is a sad situation for us, I imagine it is even worse for self published authors. I enjoy Amazon so I hope that they come to the best decison. I will say that Barnes and Nobles and Borders have said they will still cary Lightning Source (Where we have our books printed)so in the event that Amazon does cut our buy now links, we will simply link to those stores and cut our buy at Amazon links as well.

Thank you for commenting on the situation at any rate. I think the more poeple aware of it, the more aware Amazon may become of just how many people this effects.

As a writer and an artist, I find this unfortunate display by Amazon a distraction, perhaps. Still, I will continue to do what I do.

Good morning Sande’
Welcome aboard.It really is a wonderful group of authors
I am sure you have noticed.

Ryan is doing a super good job selecting the cream of the crop and I can’t wait to see where he is going with this.

Your page is very nice.
Best,
Everett Beal

Thank you all for your comments. I rec’d an email from the office of the Attorney Gen’l this past week as a result of signing the petition asking them to check into the Amazon/BookSurge issue. In effect, it stated that they had contacted Amazon, who had assured them that if small presses and others wished to stock 5 copies of books, they would handle the situation in this manner. The letter was very dissatisfying, and we were encouraged to contact the Justice Dept re the possible anti-trust violations. Dan Poynter has a link in his e-zine to follow through. If anyone is interested, I can post the link here.
Again, thank you for your responses.
Sande

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