#FutureChat recap: Multi-track issues

#FutureChat recap: Multi-track issues

Friday (22nd August) after our good #FutureChat exchange about the recent protests of Amazon's negotiating tactics, one of our FutureBook community members noticed that the #UK's "Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store" ranking seemed to be top-heavy with a group of Amazon Publishing titles. In fact, these titles doing so well on the list were all books published by Amazon Publishing imprints. And they were the same titles, in fact, that the mobile-service company EE was offering in a free-Kindle-ebook promotion. This was a good tip. And when I reached Amazon's folks about it, they were forthright and honest in responding: something was causing the giveaway downloads of the 10 titles in the promotion to be incorrectly counted as sold copies, not free ones. The company was working on a fix right away relative to this promotion, which was concluding over the weekend. It was a minor incident, of course, but one indicative of how easily things can go awry at times when automation handles so many tasks -- in this case, distinguishing (or not) between an actual paid copy of a book and a freebie. I remembered, though, something that the Pennsylvania-based author Chuck Wendig had said during our #FutureChat that day. We had been talking about potential over-dependency by some authors on Amazon. Wendig said that when this issue is raised: He's right, of course. The Kindle ecosystem is not only the achievement that made e-reading a viable proposition, but also a "walled garden" programme that come-hithers customers to use the device and Amazon's seamless shopping facility for it, all in one. In consumer terms, the reader's dependency grows along with his or her ebook collection. And in writers' terms, the ease and reach of the system can mean looking at their careers through Kindle-colored glasses. And there's one of the most interesting issues we encountered in Friday's #FutureChat, which encompassed a lot of issues. London's Tom Chalmers of Legend Press and IPR License, for example, pointed out that -- as some critics are saying -- the Amazonian strategy of negotiation tactics and public explanations of points may have backfired: Lots of views came into play: As I pointed out -- and Wendig frequently reminds his writerly colleagues -- the going wisdom is that authors' best bet is to diversify their sales points, trying hard not to get locked into the sales ecosystems and supply chains of any one major retailer. David Neal of Buena Vista and Wellington: Wisconsin's CM Riordan had the right question, though: When one marketplace -- Amazon -- is so dominant, the readership and consumer base simply may not show up at other sales points. Still, as Wendig put it, it may not be a matter of equal sales volume everywhere as much as disaster-prevention: Chris Lynch in Cardiff's Cathays district mentioned that the proprietary .mobi format used in the Kindle system could be its own rock around someone's neck in certain scenarios: And Wendig voiced one of the most important points we hear in these debates lately -- caution and prudence don't necessarily add up to criticism of Amazon -- or of a competing service: Michigan's Camille LaGuire had differed with Wendig on whether the Kindle's penetration in the market could be a problem down the road: Tim Lewis in London got everyone's curiosity up with this quip: Carla Douglas in Ontario put her finger on one of the key attractions of Amazon's consumer-service orientation: Marcello Vena, whose new venture, All Brain, has just been launched, added that before the convenience came the vision: While Douglas was ready with the potential downside of super-convenience: That imperative of convenience and workabilty figures into the experience of Brooklyn's Lance Schaubert: Julian Gough in Berlin reminded us that many publishers may not offer the kind of direct-to-consumer sales opportunities we might like, though there are lots of efforts to develop in this direction: The commonly understood phenomenon of readers loading far more books onto their readers than they can get to came up during our discussion: Peoria's Andrew McGlothlen knows the issue: Lewis and LaGuire seemed less convinced that over-collection of material is an e-problem: Ditto Ned Hayes of Seattle: Our friends at BookNet Canada arrived with some material -- via Kobo -- on this issue: And Vena offered some impressive statistics on the trend: And as we neared the end, several voices were heard praising Amazon for the potentials it has opened, not blaming it for the challenges we all face: In terms of those parallel protests, Bristol's Tom Abba asserted that it's not the actual sales-terms negotiations driving the complexity of publishers' and authors' relationships with Amazon: And Dan Meadows in Maryland offered a careful qualification of his own: And as folks moved on into their day -- or evening, according to their locations at the time of the chat -- we ended up with several rather philosophical notes, maybe the best from Schaubert:
Join us Friday for another #FutureChat -- this time about various forms of what Tim Ferriss calls "retail stonewalling." With the discovery that some bookshops are carrying print books from Amazon Publishing imprints -- to support local authors and fulfill consumer requests -- how viable is it for bricks and mortar to follow the Barnes & Noble pattern of blackballing those Amazonian imprints?  Join us on Twitter on Friday (29th August), live at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT. Main image - Shutterstock: Gerald Bernard