Amazon’s Publishing Monopoly: I Love It!

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

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.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.
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Comments
  • Peg Shafer

    Heh heh.
    I was a copywriter for Doubleday Book Clubs years ago. You’re right about these lunches. And they went on for 90-120 minutes.

  • AuthorDavidEH

    That was a rather sparkling analysis, Mr. Hatch. Thank you for laying it all out.

  • Richard Armstrong

    Bravo, Denny. I’ve been trying to explain to my Amazon-hating friends for years that Amazon has been good for publishing in general and very good for authors in particular. Hard on small independent bookstores? Yes, but such is the way of the world. Thanks for laying out the case better than I ever could.

  • DraytonBird

    God, how I hate my publisher. The publisher is to the author as the dog is to the lamp-post. For 32 years one of my books has been – they tell me – a best seller in its specialised niche. God forbid I ever had to live off royalties.

    I’m now working on a shortened edition plus video and audio versions sponsored by someone with a nice big fat list.

  • LesF

    Nicely done. Have enjoyed your work for many years. Thank you! 5th Takeaway: Praise to Denny Hatch for the phrases
    – “I paid freelance copyeditors to flyspeck my prose.”,
    – “was the world’s most efficient business model for turning trees into landfill.”, and
    – “electrical spritzes (digital books)”

  • Johnny Rojo

    I agree with all you say, but wonder if this means the end of browsing titles cozily in a nice little bookstore.