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”.