INKWELL NEWSWATCH 
Monthly Online eZine  
News And Views For Working Writers

INdex 
 
 INside Scoop
 
 ON THE COVER
 
 INside AUTHORS
 
 COLUMNS
 IN Her Own Write
 INscribe
 Pen IN Hand
 Write On!
 INstruction
 
 WRITER'S LIFE
 Fiction
 Nonfiction
 Screen & Stage
 Poetry
 
 TOOL KIT
 Top 10 Resources
 Advice/Q&A
 Features
 Book Reviews
 Items Of INterest
 Global Offerings
 INside Services
 
 INside CHUCKLES
 Bill The Bard
 The Writer At Work
 Games & Puzzles
 
 FREEdom STUFF
 Classifieds
 Syndication
 Classic eTexts
 Free Software
 IN Banners
 
 ABOUT IN
 Who's IN
 What's IN
 Submissions
 Editorial Calendar
 Advertising
 Join IN's Team
 Contacting IN

IN Front Cover




Search

Learn To Be A Better Journalist

Buy Classic Literature Collections

Acclaimed Screenplay Writing Software

Books On How To Write Fiction

Become A Well Paid Travel Writer



Vote daily and raise our ranking!


COLUMNS
IN Her Own Write
January, 2008


Best Revenge

We’re All In The Doghouse Now
Living in the age of Amazon.com
By  Anne R. Allen

It’s a decade ago. I’m holiday shopping in my small California town and, I confess, I venture into the Big And Nasty chain bookstore that has recently nudged several independents out of business.

I buy a hard-to-find magazine I haven’t been able to locate elsewhere. But once I make my purchase, I plan to buy my other books at the surviving indie store down the street.
 
The owner of that store explodes in rage at the sight of the Big And Nasty logo on my bag and throws me out, bookless.
 
I go home and make my purchases online from a new outfit called amazon.com. 

*                             *                              *

That bookstore owner wasn’t just lacking in people skills; she was fighting the wrong enemy. She was a kid beating on her big brother for taking too much room on the sofa while outside, a Godzilla-sized monster was about to stomp the house to pieces.
 
And I had issued Godzilla an invitation.
 
Amazon.com — Jeff Bezos’ online bookstore that was originally billed as an alternative to the Big And Nasties of the world — has indeed become the biggest and nastiest of them all. With its .uk and .ca spawn, it’s the Web’s #2 retail monster.
 
OK, it’s big, but is Amazon really so bad? There are some obvious negatives:

1) It’s a soul-killing factory for workers, if you believe Mike Maisey’s hilarious 2002 book, 21 Dog Years: Doing Time At Amazon.com

2) It’s taken even more customers away from beleaguered indies.

3) It doesn't allow a buyer to commune with a book before making a purchase (or hang out in a cool black t-shirt sipping a latte).
 
But look at the pluses:

1) From Tolstoy to toasters, almost anything’s available: easy, fast and cheap. Well, sometimes not so cheap. More on that later.

2) Self-published and small press authors can reach a national or even international audience.

3) Those customer reviews are a hoot to read and often provide better info than reviews from the pros. Plus, writers can urge fans to give us those nice gold stars, which provide cheer on multiple-rejection days.

4) For small publishers, it eliminates the cost of maintaining a website. My own publishing company uses Amazon exclusively for online sales.
 
And therein lies the problem. Unless a buyer is in a brick and mortar shop in the UK, the only way to buy my new book, The Best Revenge, is to order it from Amazon. But at amazon.co.uk, they charge a “sourcing fee” of nearly $4 for the book as “out of print or hard to find.”

My publishers tell me this happens to all small press publications until a book establishes a sales track record. But how can you generate sales when your book now costs 1/3 more than comparable paperbacks?
 
Things are way worse at the Yank amazon.com. They listed Revenge as “out of print” five days after launch date. Two months later, it’s offered “new or used” for the “Low Price! Of $124.76.” You read that right. Actually, the price is down from last month’s $128.17.
 
My 2003 book Food Of Love has a similar story. It’s finally available for about $14 from amazon.co.uk (no more sourcing fee!) and amazon.ca, but at the U.S. amazon.com, the prices run from $80.33 to $121.92. We’re talking about a paperback here.
 
Who can I ask about this? Nobody. Godzilla does not give out his home phone number. I’ve sent e-mails to customer service as well as the online auctioneers who flog my books for such outrageous dollar amounts (with those mystifying cents tacked on) but nobody responds.
 
Plenty of links are provided for publishers who want to pay big bucks for those helpful hints that offer customers a similar book at a discount: called their B(uy)X, G(et)Y policy. That’s right. Those Amazon book recommendations have nothing to do with the book’s content, only with advertising dollars.
 
To give them credit, the UK Amazon site does have a button labeled “I’m the author and want to comment on this book,” although you won’t get an answer if you ask about the surcharge. In the U.S. and Canada there’s no such option.
 
Can I send customers elsewhere? Nope. Food is available from barnesandnoble.com for $14.98 USD — but only if you order one copy at a time. And indie bookshops all over the U.S. have had no luck ordering either book. (Cornerstone Books in Salem, Massachusetts is still trying. Thanks, Gil.)
 
I’m feeling a lot like Mike Maisey. Except my sentence in the Amazon doghouse is for life. Maybe it is for all of us.IN Icon


Anne R. Allen is a California novelist and book editor who has been living part time in the UK. Her latest comic novel, The Best Revenge, An Historical Novel Of The 1980s, (Babash-Ryan) debuted in the UK on Sept. 1, 2005 and is available from amazon.co.uk and most UK bookshops. Her first novel with Babash-Ryan, Food Of Love is available from amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com as well as amazon.co.uk. Her latest short story, Thank You, J. Edgar Hoover appears in the debut issue of the new litzine, Dispatch http://litdispatch.net in December. analan2@yahoo.com

Sign Up and Use Our New Forums! Voice Your Opinion! Discuss Our Content! Ask for Writing Assistance. Post Your Successes, Queries or Information Requests. Collaborate with Other Writers.

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049

IN Her Own Write
IN This Issue
Timeout
For Whose Eyes Only?
Rewrites Without A Contract?
What's Your Genre?
Who Needs An Agent?
Lots Of Plots
Writers' Conferences?
Writing The Dreaded Synopsis
Hooks, Loglines, and Pitches
Landing An Agent

Support IN
Receive Free Gifts
$20.00 Voluntary Contribution
$35.00 Voluntary Contribution
$50.00 Voluntary Contribution

New Novelist Software


Effectively Manage Your List


Writers Digest 101 Site Award






Your Ad Here

Traffic Swarm For Writers


Hottest Books This Month!

Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

Poetry
The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

Pegasus
It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

Re-Verse
The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at FatherGoose.com


Our Own Banner Rotator System
Any banner seen below is either our own or one of our members.
Support the cause - click a banner.


Want Your 468x60 Banner Above? It's FREE For Newly Published Books

© Freelance Writing Organization - International 1999-2049
All Rights Reserved. Copying in any way strictly forbidden.
Our Disclaimer Is Based Upon McIntyre's First Law: "Under the right circumstances, anything I tell you may be wrong."