If anybody ever wants a reason (besides brain chemistry or childhood family dynamics) for why writers can sometimes be a depressed and paranoid lot, they need only to look at the latest round of hostilities between major publisher Hachette and major online seller of damn-near everything from books to baby booties, Amazon.
The two entities are currently in the midst of negotiations over terms, and Amazon – not content with such ploys as tweaking discount policies and dragging its feet on things like delivery and restocking – has now removed the preorder button from the listings of a number of Hachette titles.
I’m not wasting my time on sympathy for Hachette; they’re big boys, and presumably knew what they were letting themselves in for when this dispute started. Besides, they are a major publisher, which means that they’ve played plenty of hardball themselves, and presumably have built up the calluses.
No, my sympathy is all for the authors, whose books – which is to say, their livelihoods – are currently being stomped on and tossed about in this battle between two giants. Because in the end, Amazon will continue to make money, and Hachette will continue to make money – and a whole bunch of authors will have lost potential sales (and money) that they’ll never get back.