i call bullshit. amazon doesn't screw over small publishers - it screws over ANYONE (small or large publisher) who doesn't have a basic conception of price structure and profit margin.
it's no secret that amazon bleeds people that supply them, just like every large retailer on the planet. the only difference is that amazon provides a forum for smaller publishers to do business with them, whereas most large retailers don't. in the industry i work in, one of the biggest players is 'the sports authority' - they are very difficult to do business with on purpose, because they are really smart about every little place they can make money. amazon is the same way - but if you're a small cottage manufacturer of basketballs (not sure these even exist, but bear with me), no one at the sports authority is going to take your calls. before you can even get your foot in the door, you have to prove to them that you can offer fulfillment up to their standards. but what happens with amazon is that someone with absolutely no business sense winds up in a business relationship with them, and they get reamed.
amazon isn't the only way to sell books. to act like it is and then whine about it just plays into amazon's hand solidifying them as the only viable way a bookseller can make money. continuing with my strained analogies, if you own an organic farm, you sell your produce at farmers' markets, not through wal-mart. the author of that post is awfully self-satisfied with the quality of her books (employing 'brilliant' designers and all), yet she doesn't talk about how she markets her books, how she supports her authors, or any of the other aspects of being a publisher. it's a hallmark of the american idol generation of entitlement to think that your work is so good (whether its your singing, your writing, or the books you publish) that everyone should bow down to it, and that you become fabulously wealthy as a result. but not every business model is sustainable. sorry. if she's doing the following things:
a) gambling on unknown authors
b) paying top dollar for design and editing services
c) printing her books as un-economically as possible
d) setting an MSRP that is around 3x her total cost per book
SHE WILL NOT MAKE MONEY through amazon. this is not amazon's fault. this is her fault, because she has a terrible business model. if she insists on A through D, then she has to find a way to sell books (like through her website, but without discounting them in order to "compete" with one of the largest retailers on the planet) that doesn't involve them.
if the MSRP on her books was $35, she'd make money hand over fist every time one sold... although that probably wouldn't happen, because no one wants to pay that much on a book from an author they've never heard of. is that amazon's fault too? i guess reading that blog, i was struck by how ridiculous her central theme was: namely, that amazon should put aside its goals of making money in order to make sure that small presses that publish hidden or minority voices are able to thrive. they're a business. they fuck people over. that's how they got that big in the first place. bill gets this - that's why he says they can either capitulate to his terms or fuck right off. if chance press got a little bigger and was in a position to sell to them, the same would hold true. if it's that important to me to get exposure for my books by selling them on amazon, and i lose money, then it's a marketing expense.
i just think it is SO OVERDONE this criticism of amazon bending people over backwards in order to get as much money out of them as possible. it's been happening since the dawn of commerce, and amazon is certainly not the first or last. that's the pendulum swinging in one way, with presses like bill's representing the swing in the other direction. for anyone willing to look past what's available on amazon, there's a whole world of amazing literature available direct from the author or the publisher. personally, i don't really give a shit about selling to people who don't care what is available beyond the big box etailers - there are enough people in today's etsy-diy-slow food world who do care, that we can sell a few books here and there to support our press, and for me that's great. okay, sorry this is long... but that blog post made me ranty.