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Amazon: the pros and cons of publishing through this megacorp today

Amazon’s growth in the book industry has publishers and writers facing more challenges than ever. While Kindle Publishing provides a simple enough format to upload books, this accessibility comes at a price. The publishing market has become stretched thin as each publisher vies for the biggest portion. Amazon itself is responsible for 70-80% of the book sales in the US. This significantly large stake leaves smaller businesses at a disadvantage, while simultaneously causing remaining publishers to push to stay in competition – leaving only major publishing houses able to stay in the game.

While it can be said that Amazon has provided a steady stage for self-published authors, its massive growth is making it increasingly difficult to work with any other platform. The problem with this success is that it isn’t growing the industry – it’s making it smaller. As we currently stand, publishing companies of all sizes are being bought out (such as Amazon buying out Createspace, and PRH purchasing Simon & Schuster). This pattern is treading dangerously close to monopoly territory. With Amazon driving the bulk of self-publishing sales and acquisitions, it enables the company to change the market to suit their interests. This in turn will mean less competition for authors, wherein the industry can decide they require lower offers and fewer royalties.

As of March 2021, Amazon and Big 4 publishing houses are facing two separate lawsuits. One accuses them of price fixing e-books, while the other accuses them of price fixing in the retail and online market for print. The lawsuits are being handled by Hagens Berman, the same law firm that won a case against Apple and Big 5 back in 2011, for similar price coercion. 

Despite their dubious business dealings, Amazon’s control of the market as well as regular updates still makes them useful to self-published authors in numerous ways.

Pros of Amazon

Kindle Select: Kindle Select is an additional service that Amazon offers from KDP. This one is considered in between a pro and con. Kindle Select is a 90-day contract that authors can sign off on, which grants Amazon exclusive rights to their book. In return, Amazon offers more variety for promoting their book, helping it to place on higher visibility pages and grants higher royalty return. The potential for the book to get swept up is there, but also not. It also severely limits where your book can be sold digitally, solely to Amazon for the duration for those 90 days. After this expires, the author is allowed to opt out should they choose to do so. 

Cons of Amazon

When all is said and done, Amazon has been both a boon for the self-publishing industry as well as a growing problem. If allowed to continue in an unimpeded course, Amazon will likely go on to choke the market until consumers and authors alike will be pitted against overpriced paywalls that will only benefit publishers and distributors, and not the authors who make all of this possible. However, with a majority of readership existing solely through this online behemoth, they remain a necessary evil for both traditional and self-published authors today.

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