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Oh Amazon…

There was the one where you not only removed the e-book of 1984 from the store, but sucked it off of people’s Kindles without telling them.

There was the one where you classified gay- and lesbian-themed books, including YA and health books, as “Adult”, thus removing them from lists and rankings. (This was later claimed as a glitch.)

And now this. As part of a dispute between Amazon and Macmillan about pricing, you pulled all Macmillan books (including Tor), in both electronic and paper editions, from Amazon’s sale listings – generously leaving the affiliates. This has had interesting effects on your stock prices, but could be catastrophic for the authors involved, especially those with book releases this week. And that’s what pisses me off. Corporations negotiate pricing all the time, but they don’t normally shit all over the artists so directly. Amazon threw a childish temper tantrum, and the authors are the ones really paying, though they have absolutely no control over pricing or formats.

As John Scalzi suggests, go buy a book or three – Macmillan titles, from somewhere not Amazon. Not that you could – Amazon pulled them all on Friday night, and still haven’t put them back.

Scott Westerfeld put together an excellent overview of the dispute accessible to those not familiar with the publishing business. Other good and detailed articles: Toby Buckell, Charlie Stross, John Scalzi.

Jay Lake skewers what is to date Amazon’s only comment on the debate.

There’s a lot more out there, but much of it is by people who appear to be ignorant of the details of the debate and the way publishing works (hint: most authors aren’t rich, and neither are they interested in screwing their readers). I’m firmly on the side of the authors on this one, and I hope that the larger debate on ebook format, pricing, availability shakes down in a way that allows the authors to make a living, and the readers to get reasonably priced (and DRM-free!) texts.

But for now, go buy books!

Edit: Must add: Hal Duncan’s always-unique take on matters.


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