The news yesterday on Bookseller that Amazon is about to tell UK publishers "that should a book be out of stock from the publisher, Amazon would be entitled to supply its own copies to customers via its print-on-demand facilities", is worrying, both from a writer’s point of view and, arguably, a reader too. In my 'other life', I was told by an editor that the proportion of traditionally published (printed) books sold by Amazon compared to other sources is relatively small, but where Amazon has publishers by the balls is over e-books which will become dominant. It's the market of the now, Amazon are king. But not content with being king of ebooks, they want to control all the other publishing kingdoms too, and aggressively. Effectively, this move to control P.O.D. of “out of stock" titles, says that publishers will no longer own publishing rights to that author, something that I am sure breaks author contracts, and might not actually be legal anyway because of that, but hey, Amazon are doing what they can to wrestle control of publishing away from traditional publishers completely. Why should I be worried about that? Why should you? I guess as a self-published author, this is a battle that feels like it’s in another country, rather than just over the hill: 'I can see the war on TV between the people I know about but it’s not gonna affect me, is it?' Wrong. You see, regardless how weak publishing houses are these days compared to yester-year, they are still big, and in some cases they are corporations being strong-armed/bullied/fcuked (delete as appropriate) by Amazon. They are big allies, more importantly, to the writing community and readers alike. Amazon argue they are acting like any other business for the benefit of their consumers (which is also not the case, but I won’t go into that here), but they are not acting in the benefit of writing as a whole. You see, if Amazon will do this to publishers, what will they eventually do to self-pubbed writers? There are so many self-published writers now making a decent living out of Amazon that Amazon will be able to, at some point in the future, enforce more unfavourable terms upon them. And have no doubts that they will do so once they get to be the dominant force in publishing, which is what they are engineering. This is not paranoia, this is business fact. Publishers are in this for the money, yes, but they are driven for the love of the written word. They have a passion for it. Christ, if they didn’t why would they even be involved in it? There are better ways to make money these days. Amazon, folks, are ONLY in this for the money, be very clear on that. They are in it so they can dominate publishing, as they want to dominate music, TV and movie streaming etc etc. So where does that leave me as a writer and a reader. As a reader, I have a kindle, and an Ipad, but I have not downloaded a Kindle book in over 12 months. I’ve been tempted, but every time I get tempted something niggles me. Something that says “this is wrong” a similar feeling if I’ve ever been tempted to illegally download something. No, it’s not the same thing morally, but it just feels that way because I know every time I use Amazon for books I’m telling them they are my first choice for obtaining books. I’m also aware that book discounts aren’t what they appear to be, as Amazon pay next to no tax so what discount I get, I wave because I am paying their taxes for them anyway. Grrrr. These days, if I can’t get a book, I’ll go to the library. That’s what I’ve resorted to, but as it happens that’s very good for my pocket so I can live with that. Now as a self-published author, where do I go as Amazon is, in effect, the only show in town? You see, if I swallow that hard stone that is my moral compass, and decide that I must consort with Amazon to make a living out of self-publishing then I stand a chance of making money out of them (and them out of me). But I am subsidising Amazon by doing so, and setting myself up for a fall later on. If I snub them, will Amazon care? There have so many other authors out there doing well for them, so no. Is there a middle ground? The only middle ground I can see is that if I go ahead and publish through Amazon, I do so but not before I publish elsewhere. When I get around to releasing the short SF novel of mine later in the year, I could use either Smashwords or equivalent, or I might well go down the DIY path of formatting for direct publication onto the Nook, Kobo, IBooks etc. As for Amazon, they might have my business yes, but a few months later and on my terms, i.e. increased price. It might be cheaper for someone to buy my book on other platforms other than Amazon, and I will try to keep that consistent with Amazon’s own royalty terms of 30% (for example if I’m getting about 70p per ebook elsewhere, then the Amazon price will be around £2.30 as oppose to the average £1.30 on other platforms). To some this might sound like professional suicide or cutting off my nose to spite my face. It is neither, because that war I spoke of, in that other country, is in fact just over the hill. And those explosions I hear aren’t coming out of the speakers of my TV anymore, because if I turn down the volume, I can hear them clear as day, echoing a few miles away. And I know, if I do nothing now, they’ll be at my door in no time, and by then those allies we have in publishing, will be long since defeated. And so will publishing as we know it, and in no way will it be for the better.