By Suz deMello
Amazon is known for its ruthless business practices—it doesn’t merely squeeze competition, it strangles it until it dies.
Amazon currently sells 40% of all new books sold in the USA. Their percentage of the market in ebooks is even larger—perhaps 66% according to the above-cited Salon.com article.
Amazon is not only a bookseller, but a publisher, and it favors its own imprints and minimizes the ability for readers to find its competitors. The most famous example is that of Hachette. Check out Stephen Colbert’s clips on the issue.
Well-known is Amazon’s dislike of sexy covers, adult-oriented books and erotica; it seems to especially target purveyors of steamy books. Though Amazon touts its independent publishing program as a boon for writers, many indie published authors, especially in erotic romance, complain that Amazon’s search engine has made it difficult if not impossible for readers to find their books. The Kindle Unlimited program has cut further into their book revenues. Ellora’s Cave, one of the most prominent publishers of steamy and erotic romance on the web, has downsized radically, citing a massive drop in Amazon sales of its books as the reason.
Well-known erotic romance author Selena Kitt had this to say (and a lot more):
If you’re an erotica writer, you know that Amazon has a double standard. If you publish a title and put it into the “erotica” category, there are certain things that aren’t allowed in the title or on blurb. But if you put that same title and blurb into the “romance” category, it’s fine. Half-naked couples in a hot, torrid embrace are just fine in romance, but strangely, in the erotica category, they’re often filtered and sometimes even blocked.
The loyalty of many customers to Amazon is misplaced. For example, Amazon often does not feature the best online price for a book or other item. A couple of cases in point:
On 30 Sept 14, the price of one of my shorties, Highland Vampire, on Amazon was $2.51. The price at Harlequin’s site was $2.39.
Being the daughter of Brits, I’m a tea drinker and lately have been into using loose teas (they really do make a better cuppa). Initially I had been purchasing from Amazon—isn’t that the place we’ve all become accustomed to checking first? Then I went to the Twinings Tea site and found that I’d been grotesquely overpaying. My fave Darjeeling at Amazon costs $8.24 and it’s an “add-on item,” which is some sort of irritating practice at Amazon—I couldn’t get the tea without buying other stuff, and I couldn’t find a work-around for that bit of Amazonian weirdness.
The same tea is almost half the price—$4.49—at Twinings.
Like many, I have come to rely on Amazon for so much! I listen to music on my Amazon music player on both laptop and cellphone, and download music from Amazon as well. I’m an Amazon affiliate. I also buy books for my Kindle Paperwhite, which I love, from Amazon.
But maybe it’s time to cut the cord. Why should I fund an entity that seeks to exploit me, maybe even put me out of business?
I’ve taken down my Amazon affiliate ads—that won’t hurt, as they’ve never earned me a penny. I’ve changed my email signature line, which used to direct folks to my Amazon author pages, to instead include my website and blog. Other changes will be harder.
I’m an Ellora’s Cave author. I also have books placed with two other publishers that have disappointed me in myriad ways—see these links:
www.harlequinlawsuit.com and scroll down to #9 at
So I’m going indie. But Createspace and KDP are fabulous platforms for self-publishing. How ethical is it, given my concerns, to use those platforms?
And beyond my personal worries, there’s the greater problem. Amazon sells a huge number of books, films, music and other creative and factual works.
Should one entity control so much of what goes into our minds and thoughts?
Will Amazon destroy erotic literature with its changing algorithms and prejudices? Will Amazon make it impossible for some books to flourish?
Does Amazon threaten our freedom of speech and thought?
About the Author:
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written nineteen books in several genres, including nonfiction, memoir, erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms Totally Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
–For editing services, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
–She tweets @Suzdemello
–and posts to Pinterest
–Her current blog is TheVelvetLair.com