So there I was, sitting at home watching a baseball game, and I get this email from Lulu telling me the books I have there are now also available through Amazon. Just right outta the blue, no asking or nothin’ – as of now, readers can find me on Amazon and purchase my books through that megolythic supplier.
Oh, by the way, Amazon takes a cut, so in order to do that they’ve raised the price of my books.
Yeah. So while readers CAN buy my titles from Amazon, I’m still suggesting they purchase through Lulu – they’ll pay less. My revenue remains the same, but why should my readers pay an extra couple of bucks just to purchase from a giant megacorp and slap a few dollars into their pockets? They had nothing to do with writing or publishing my work. Sure, it’s cool to see my titles there, and sure – I’ll take any access to more readership that I can get. But I never agreed to hand Amazon any profit. They simply saw something that was popular and decided they wanted a piece.
Regardless, I’d been toying for a while with putting the titles out in ebook form for the Kindle. I already produce ebooks of my novels in DRM-Free pdf versions, but figured I could reach a wider audience if I produced them for the Kindle. As they’re priced at $2.00 average, they’re more likely to garner some interest over the $9.99+ titles Amazon likes to supply. Kindle owners tend to flock to any title that’s only a couple of bucks – it’s a cheap way to try a new author.
(for the uninitiated: if you’re a book publisher, and you want owners of a Kindle to be able to purchase, download and read your book, you have to “publish to the Kindle.” Basically that means using Amazon’s special voodoo to upload your manuscript, which they’ll turn into an ebook filled with spikes and razor wire that can be purchased and downloaded by Kindle owners, but filled with the same codes and crap that prevent them from sharing, storing or really even owning what they’ve just bought. Like all their other Kindle titles, they can buy it and read it, but not share it – and Amazon, as they can and have, can reach right into that Kindle and remove anything you’ve got on it whenever they feel the urge. Stuff you’ve paid for, they can arbitrarily take away.)
So I researched, and I read up, and I was “this” close to it when all of a sudden, as I’m preparing to go ahead and sign up, I ran into the brick wall of all brick walls.
You all know how I feel about protecting my (and your) finances. How militant I am against credit cards, credit use (outside the realm of home and auto buying) and how bat-shit crazy I get at the thought of someone reaching in to steal identities and money . . . Well Amazon has this little caveat that you don’t really notice until you’re three minutes from committing, finger eagerly hovering over the Submit button, thoughts of your novels being downloaded onto Kindles around the world (even though I have yet to meet someone who even knows what they are, let alone see one being used). . . when suddenly you realize there’s one requirement that has you swallowing your gum.
Amazon requires – absolutely demands – full and complete access into your checking account.
And it MUST be a United States bank account – which thanks to 9-11 can only be obtained by United States Citizens (which I am, but that’s not the point).
Amazon will NOT allow you to use a Paypal account – they claim it’s for tax reporting purposes, etc etc, bla bla bla, but I call Bullshit on that. The I-fucking-RS doesn’t have direct access to my checking account! Amazon has only to fill out tax paperwork and submit it to the I-fucking-RS, let them worry about whether or not I claim it properly. And let’s be honest, I’m not earning enough on this to claim anything other than a hobby venture. I have a business license for another aspect of my art, and even THAT doesn’t bring in enough to claim business tax on. It simply goes into the heading “other income” and you pay tax on what you made.
So, if you’re an Indie, and don’t have a business bank account you’re used to opening up to every teenager with a PC and a grudge, then you have to give them access to your personal checking account. Do that, and Amazon will gladly make your title available for download to the Kindle. And your paycheck, savings, and identity available to said teenagers with said grudge and that old PC.
Not only does this requirement suck eggs through a nostril, it prevents our friends in Canada, Australian, Europe – wherever – to produce for the Kindle. Publishing companies can, sure, they all have accounts in other countries – partners – they sell foreign rights all the time. But Joe Writer who wants to protect his/her money/identity from thieves?
Amazon says Fuck you, Joe Writer.
Not satisfied with their quest to eliminate Independent bookstores, and swallow whole any and all they can get their grubby little mitts on, they’re kicking Joe Writer to the curb. ISBN or no, if you wanna play their game, you gotta open your doors wide, bend right over, and smile, so Amazon, and ten thousand hackers with itchy code fingers can waddle right through your privates.
I’ll stick with my own ebooks, thank you very much. My pdf, completely DRM-free ebooks. You can buy one, share it with friends, pass it around, keep it forever, read it a hundred times, you can even READ IT OUT LOUD and I won’t sue you for audio book violation !
In fact, later this summer, you’ll be able to download audio versions of my novels from the Midnight Reading website. Listen to them in the car, stuff ‘em into your iPod, take a walk with them, let your kids fall asleep to the sound of my voice, reading chapter after chapter.
I’ll try to sound intelligent !