Sunday, August 21, 2011

Things that make me go "hmmm".

by Joelle Charbonneau

Maybe redheads are just suspicious by nature. It could be genetic. Or maybe I just like poking things with a stick. Whatever the reason, over the past week and a half I’ve been watching a few developments over at Amazon with a critical eye.

About 11 or 12 days ago, everyone in the Amazon buying universe got an e-mail announcing their new Kindle Cloud Reader. Not being an e-reading girl, I admit I don’t understand all the cool new features that this gadget is providing. But Amazon must think it is pretty awesome because they have gotten the word out about it in a huge way. I’ve seen tweet after tweet, stories in PW and Publishers Lunch and all sorts of other advertising about it. When Amazon thinks they have a winner, they send marching bands down Main Street and have skywriters streak the message across the sky.

So, perhaps that is why I’m looking sideways at another recent move Amazon made just a day or two after the Cloud Reader announcement. This move was made without fanfare. No e-mail blasts. No marching bands whipping up excitement. Just a quiet shift on the website which has moved all self-published e-books into a new category – Kindle Indie Publishing.

Once again, I will admit I’m not an e-reader, so I can’t really say how this move affects a reader searching for new titles. But this shift on the website looks a little suspicious to me. For years, Amazon has been telling authors to ditch the traditionally published route and self-publish their books. That the authors who chose to self-publish are equally important to them as the ones that are traditionally published. And yet, as of a few days ago, Amazon has rounded up those “Indie” authors and put them in a category separate from the traditionally published authors.

I know Amazon is telling authors this is a good thing. That this will help readers and authors alike. Maybe it will, but the skeptic in me can’t help seeing this move as Amazon creating its own personal ghetto. Ok, I’m probably going to get lynched using that word, but it’s the only one I can come up with that fits. This new Kindle Indie Store rounded up and separated self-published titles from all the others. It tells the reader that for good or ill, these titles are different.

The cynic in me can’t help wondering at the timing of this move. Amazon will soon be launching the first titles in their fiction imprints. These are titles that they have shelled out money for. Their editorial, artistic and marketing staffs has put huge time and effort into these titles. Amazon want them to be stocked on bookshelves along side the traditionally published books they have encouraged “indie authors” to shake their heads at. So, it wouldn’t surprise me that they want to distinguish these new imprint titles on the virtual shelves as well.

I’m hoping the cynic in me is wrong. That this move really is good for the “indie” authors. Lots of my friends have gone that route and I would hate to see them shoved to the side by Amazon in favor of the newer, cooler kids on the block. But anytime Amazon (or anyone for that matter) makes a move without a major announcement, I just have to say “hmmmm”.


Dana King said...

I think you're right, and with my first Kindle self-published book about to come out this week, all I can say is, "it figures."

So it goes. It's like the old joke about why this guy insists on playing in a card game he knows is rigged. "It's the only game in town."

Dave White said...

Looking at my Amazon page, from what I can tell, there's no difference. Unless they haven't done anything yet. It doesn't say "Kindle Indie Publishing" and it doesn't announce anything else. So, as far as I can tell at the moment, no difference.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Dave - I know a couple of authors who are starting to see a difference, but since I don't understand the process from the inside, I can't articulate what that difference is. It sounds like it is slowly rolling out across the Indie authors and their author pages. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens from here. Like I said, it just makes me go "hmmm".

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Dana - make sure you drop by and give all the deets about your book when it hits this week. I can't wait and I'm happy to spread the word.

David Kaufmann said...

I have a couple books out through Amazon's Kindle and CreateSpace. (Am I allowed to give their names?) My impression is that Amazon is trying to segregate Indies. But I'm not sure if it's going to have a major impact on authors like Dana and myself, because along with self-publishing, we have to self-market. As a friend who's been in publishing over 30 years told me, getting fully distributed these days is easy. It's the marketing that's hard. But marketing is hard for everyone. Unless one is a big name, how much marketing do the traditional publishers do for a title? As an example of the kinds of marketing we have to do, I found this site via a Twitter search. I now have a whole new list of books to put on the check-out/buy list. (Yes, Dana's is way up there.)

Dave White said...

Hmmm. Just looked at my Amazon author page too. Unless it's slowly being rolled out, I don't see a change. Of course there might be no change for me because I also have my traditionally published Random House books up there too. Who knows? As long as Witness to Death continues to sell well, get great reviews, and I get some royalties, I don't really mind.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

David - we totally encourage you to plug your work. I like adding to my TBR pile:)

And Dave - the traditionally pubbed authors seem to be noticing less of a change on their page than the non-traditionally pubbed ones. At least as far as I can tell from what my friends are saying. I'm not sure if that will continue.

David Kaufmann said...

OK. Thanks, Joelle. I have a Kindle Single - a 99 cent novella called Rampage on Rogers Avenue. It's the first of the Scotch & Herring Mystery Series. It fits into the "gentle mystery" category - more puzzle-like. (Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, that sort of thing.)

David Kaufmann said...

By the way, I used to have a blond-red beard. It's got too much white in it now to qualify as red, but there's still plenty of color. :)