Yes, we sell on Amazon. Yes, we currently only offer books digitally. No, we do not belong to the Authors Guild. Even so, Authors Guild president Scott Turow’s recent letter to members concerning Amazon is something we felt we should share.
There’s plenty of important info in Scott’s letter, but here’s the economic cornerstone of the problem:
Just before Amazon introduced the Kindle, it convinced major publishers to break old practices and release books in digital form at the same time they released them as hardcovers. Then Amazon dropped its bombshell: as it announced the launch of the Kindle, publishers learned that Amazon would be selling countless frontlist e-books at a loss. This was a game-changer, and not in a good way. Amazon’s predatory pricing would shield it from e-book competitors that lacked Amazon’s deep pockets.
The loss-leading tactic is an inherently anti-free market maneuver used by powerful players to eliminate competition, and it should simply be illegal in any country that genuinely values a competitive, free market. It isn’t true to say that it endangers bookselling in the US, because it is already well into the process of destroying the book-and-mortar option, toward a near-monopoly where ebooks are the consumer’s only real choice … which is, of course, no choice at all.