Nyet To Amazon, Says One Author

December 21st, 2006 · 4 Comments
by Kassia Krozser

We’re heading off to an undisclosed location for the holidays (okay, one holiday — we’ll be back next week), but couldn’t let this one pass without comment. A children’s book author in the UK, one who is apparently quite passionate about independent booksellers, has demanded that Amazon remove his book from their site.

George Walker was “…horrified to find that his new title was featured on the site without his permission, following good sales in bookshops” (this makes one wonder if he believes that Amazon goes around, seeking permission from every author they publish, or if the author of the article decided to err on the side of over-the-top language — it’s hard to tell when you’re dealing with a people who do not speak English very well).

The book in question was apparently self-published by the author, and Walker has taken his stand. Of course, he’s taken his stand in a way that will make it harder for potential readers to find his work. Principles are excellent things and supporting independent booksellers is a laudable goal. If it weren’t for our local Vroman’s, we would be missing more than a few of the finer things in life.

However, we would be remiss if we didn’t note that, well, not every hamlet in the world has an independent bookstore — and, sad but true, not every hamlet with an independent bookstore will be inclined to stock a self-published book. And what of those customers who do have a bookstore with inclination but the novel is sold out? Well, Walker offers an alternative to Amazon: localbookshops.co.uk. Again, laudable, if that particular site has done the legwork necessary to make it a common household name.

Yesterday, we noted an article that pointed to a host of reasons behind the decline of the independent bookstore. Amazon and its evil cousins are only two. It’s hard to remain independent in this modern world — believe us, we know. But cutting off your nose to spite your sales is not the way to go. Amazon and independents can coexist in the world. Both have their own niches, and we all recall the importance of those niches. Stopping the sale of one book on Amazon is surely taking a stand, but we wonder if the cure is worse than the disease…or if the disease is maybe part of a natural evolution.

Either way, George Walker seems to be fine with his decision. Who are we to judge? Oh right, we live to judge.

File Under: Square Pegs

4 responses so far ↓

  • Brenda Coulter // Dec 21, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    This guy is hilarious. Amazon wouldn’t have sold more than a handful of his little books in any case. It’s still a fact that the vast majority of bookbuyers do not make their purchases via the internet–and even if they did, Amazon has plenty of online competition. Yet all of the online stores put together don’t hurt indie bookshops nearly as much as the “big box” retailers do. So may we assume that Mr. Walker has refused to allow any of those stores to stock his book?

  • Janet Szabo // Dec 22, 2006 at 6:18 am

    I am a self-publishing writer. Prior to the release of my (knitting) book last March, I signed up with Amazon’s program for independent publishers and was all set to sell books through them. However, it quickly became apparent that selling through Amazon was going to COST me money. I also sell my book from my website (and through several other routes of distribution). I had knitters tell me that they were going to order books from Amazon rather than from me just to take advantage of the free shipping option. So, I did the math. If I sold 10 books from my website, I made $180 dollars profit. If I sold those same 10 books through Amazon, I made $30 profit–and Amazon made much more profit per book than that. I didn’t self-publish a book to enable Amazon to make money. I self-published a book so that I could make money. Obviously, if I were doing print runs in the tens of thousands and my cost-per-book was much less than it is, selling through Amazon might make sense.

    So although my book is still listed on Amazon, I don’t sell through them. It’s amusing, though, that people think that if it isn’t available through Amazon, it must not be available at all. I run an e-mail list for knitters interested in the topic I write about. A new member joined last week and posted that she looked for my book on Amazon and they said it wasn’t available, and did anyone know where she could get a copy? I responded that if she just Googled “Janet Szabo,” my website, and the websites of several hundred stores that carry my book, came up.

    I’ve done quite well not selling my book through Amazon. I won’t sell the next one through them, either. Granted, it’s non-fiction and I am sure the realities are different for fiction. I just wanted to provide another perspective.

  • KathyF // Dec 24, 2006 at 3:21 am

    Actually, the publicity from this probably doubled his sales. Hey, 20 more books is 20 more books!

  • Maximum Persuasion // Jul 18, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Hmmm.. and won’t Amazon at least pay royalties to this fellow? I can’t imagine them expecting them to engage in hokeypokey without getting caught.

    Especially in this wired (wait- is it “unwired”) world