I haven’t followed this debate too closely. There was plenty of press discussing big bad Amazon but Amazon was being totally quiet. So I was reserving any judgment.
I give Amazon a four star review for not only their efficiency and work they do, but for leveling the playing field, and here are the four reasons why.
1) When you send orders to a store, distributor or wholesaler, publishers can count on returns of 20 to 80%. If Amazon orders books (which they do in increasingly larger numbers) it’s rare to get more than one or two percent returned. They are masters at this and consequently enable us to cut-down on our print runs.
2) Amazon makes it easy to post reviews of our books, whether they are online or print reviews. Nor is there any discrimination, space-wise, between the coverage we get for individual titles or Hachette gets. Additionally, when one of our books is ordered, they list other titles of ours that might be of interest, proving themselves to be great marketers.
3) Earnings from Kindle sales are excellent as both publisher and author find more profit (especially when we, as publishers, split eBook income on a 50:50 basis with our writers) with virtually no production costs. I’ve heard that most of the bigger houses don’t do this, writing contracts giving most authors only 25% of electronic income. Perhaps some of the authors complaining about Amazon on social media, would be better served if they complained to their publishers, like Melville or Hachette, if they are not getting 50% of this pie.
4) Amazon generally pays us within 30 days, with wire transfers to our bank. Nobody else in the industry come anywhere close to them and enables us to keep up with printing costs and salaries.
Point (1) is something I never would have considered, but must be a big deal. As a small business owner, point (4) is huge. No big companies pay within 30 days. Stalling beyond 90 seems to be standard corporate practice these days.