Samuel Borgese, for instance, is still irate about the response from Amazon when he recently lost his Kindle. After leaving it on a plane, he canceled his account so that nobody could charge books to his credit card. Then he asked Amazon to put the serial number of his wayward device on a kind of do-not-register list that would render it inoperable — to “brick it” in tech speak.
Amazon’s policy is that it will help locate a missing Kindle only if the company is contacted by a police officer bearing a subpoena. Mr. Borgese, who lives in Manhattan, questions whether hunting down a $300 e-book reader would rank as a priority for the New York Police Department.So, sorry, Kindle owner, find it yourself or you're out of luck -- for the moment at least. Amazon isn't going to do much to help. September 9th saw the announcement of the closure of Quartet Press. My initial reaction was to worry about any authors who might have already signed contracts with Quartet. Then I went back to their blog and read some of the other posts. I'm not lying when I say it appears those behind the scenes were doing everything they could to make a go of it. One thing I particularly liked was how they were open about all phases of the operation -- from submission guidelines to what they were looking for in content editors to how they would pay their editors. That's not exactly something we tend to see from the more traditional publishing houses. The day after Quartet's announcement, Kassia Krazser blogged about the entire process at Booksquare. One particular point she made is something every author and every person considering starting an e-publishing site should keep in mind: It did not come as a surprise to us that companies like Amazon take a huge chunk of receipts (50 to 65% of every dollar, depending on the program you’re in), and as we built financial models, we had to consider — which in some ways means guess — the volume of sales that would come from third party sources. For a digital publisher of any size, the best returns come from direct sales. In the romance ebook world, readers are accustomed to buying direct; many are aware that this practice puts more money in the pocket of authors, and make the effort to “buy local”.
This is consumer education done right, but most customers shop at Amazon or the Sony Reader store or Fictionwise or Books on Board because these entities aggregate ebooks from many publishers. Oh, and by tying hardware to the store, this means the retailers own these customers, lock, stock, and proprietary format. This cuts into the share of cash received by the publisher, and there is no expectation that retailers will become less aggressive. During Apple’s recent presentation, Steve Jobs noted that the company has 100 million active credit card numbers on account. Consider how much negotiating clout the music industry has with Apple right now. Extrapolate.So, how do we, as authors, deal with this situation? More to the point, how do we, as readers and consumers, effect the situation? Are you more likely to buy an e-book directly from an author's site, or an e-publisher's site, or go to Amazon or Fictionwise, or one of the others? Maybe it's time we take a page out of the romance e-pub book and buy directly. It certainly seems obvious that our favorite authors would benefit more as a result. What do you think?