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Amazon’s Publishing Monopoly: I Love It!

And I adore the welcoming arms of 21st century technology!

July 1, 2014 By Denny Hatch
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Goodbye, Amazon: We're Through!

There are still a few items I buy from Amazon because they're not easily available elsewhere, but I stopped buying any books, print or digital, from the company. What I knew of the predatory, proto-monopolistic practices of Amazon caused concern. I believe no single corporation should have as much control over the book market as Amazon clearly aims to seize. Books aren't generic, interchangeable products like toothpaste or flatscreen TVs, and in the long run readers, authors and publishers all benefit most from a genuinely diverse marketplace. —Laura Miller, Salon. May 20, 2014. Miller is the author of "The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia"

At age 78, I probably have been involved in book publishing longer than any living person.

My father, Alden Hatch, was the author of 40-plus biographies and a slew of magazine articles.

My uncle, Eric Hatch, was a writer of screwball comedies, the most famous being My Man Godfrey. The 1936 film was judged by the American Film Institute as the 44th funniest movie of all time and Eric's screenplay was nominated for an Oscar in 1937.

From my babyhood, the house was a continual parade of authors, publishers and agents. My entire career has been in books—as a book publicist, book traveling salesman for Library Journal, book marketer, book club director and author.

Amazon a Monopoly? Yes! It's a Godsend!
For the first 60 years of my life, book publishers and agents were a clique of self-styled literary connoisseurs. Newbie authors were regarded with disdain. The stack of unsolicited manuscripts in the assistant editor's office was sneeringly referred to as the "slush pile."

Under Depression-era rules of the game, all print titles were (and are) returnable for full credit. Everything is on consignment. This means publishers are bankers not only to authors, but booksellers and wholesalers.

Forty percent of all printed books are returned for full credit. Most are trashed. Print publishing of books is a truly sick business model.

Until Amazon came along, the typical book had a lifespan of three months, whereupon it was yanked off shelves nationwide to make room for new inventory. It became a "remainder," offered on distress tables for a buck or two.

A few copies were kept for the publisher's "backlist" stock, while the rest were disposed of.

 

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