Line of scrimmage: The interwebz

Macmillan to Amazon: Do it my way.

Amazon to Macmillan: Fuck you.

Macmillan has in its power to say, “No, fuck YOU!” to Amazon and make it stick, and newsflash: It ain’t with the indie bookstores. This is what you do, Macmillan:

Get yourself a team of programmers. Give them 36 hours. Have them put your entire catalog into an online store, both print and electronic. Exploit the Tor online store to its limits.

Print: Sell for just above wholesale and offer free shipping.

Electronic: Strip your DRM from your existing ebooks and feverishly convert your back catalog. Sell them at the wholesale mass market paperback price.

Marketing: Take out ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal announcing your bookstore and flip Amazon off publicly, and at the same time exploit the fact that Amazon has just seared your name into the minds of the reading public.

Your weapon: Your entire catalog.

Goal: Cut the Gordian knot that is the distribution system that has just bitchslapped you and turn a healthier profit.

You could conceivably break Amazon’s back if you succeed (and you WOULD), and other publishers decide to come with you.

I would give just about anything to see something so daring happen in publishing.

Here’s the catch: You’d have to start thinking of readers as your customers.

You know, the people who actually spend the money.

UPDATE: Oh. My. Goodness. Amazon caves. WTF? Yeah, that boy ain’t right.

11 thoughts on “Line of scrimmage: The interwebz

  • January 31, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    The catch is that Macmillan would actually have to balls and vision. They have neither and deserve to go bankrupt.

  • January 31, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    As someone close to me in publishing just commented as we read this: “‘Daring’ and ‘the publishing industry’ are not words that go together. Ever.”

    Also: publishing loves DRM. LOOOOVES it. They think it’s saving the world from piracy.

    Just like the MPAA and RIAA did.

  • January 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm


    Not that i’m rooting for MacMillan. Or Amazon. Ok, maybe I’m rooting for Amazon a little, just because they’re putting a cap on the ridiculous pricing of both print and e, which I’ve been bitching about for ages.

    But this comes at an excellent time in the publishing dilemma trifecta, when we’ve been discussing distribution (from an independent perspective of course!). When mainstream publishers go direct to consumer, it will undoubtedly shift things a little and may set us indies back just a bit; but it will break the bookstore barrier to buying direct from indie writers/publishers, at least.

    Pricing is ridiculous; digital ownership is ridiculous; mainstream authors are spineless for not speaking out against this in the past. It has to take a fuck-you move by Amazon to kick these dinosaurs into gear, really?

    apparently so.


  • January 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm


    Also: publishing loves DRM. LOOOOVES it. They think it’s saving the world from piracy.

    I bet you that readers would actually put up with the DRM if they did everything else.


    it will undoubtedly shift things a little and may set us indies back just a bit; but it will break the bookstore barrier to buying direct from indie writers/publishers, at least.

    Yes, it would set us back because they are our direct competition. HOWEVER, in the long run, we would be normalized and yes, have a way into whatever B&M bookstores remain. In the long run, I think it’d be good for us, too.

  • January 31, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    The reason why MacMillan won’t do this is that it would be screwing every bookstore and every online book seller, who clearly could not compete with MacMillan’s suicidal pricing.

    It wouldn’t hurt Amazon as much as it would destroy MacMillan’s loyal retailers. Customers would be thrilled and this action would certainly go a long way toward ending the slow death of book retailing. Indeed, it would probably drive many struggling retailers out of business in a month or two.

    The problem with traditional publishers is that they are trying to sustain their traditional channels of distribution by hobbling online distribution. But as the music industry learned the hard way, customers will find a way to get what they want online regardless of what the content providers want.

    Traditional book retailers are doomed no matter what industry pundits say. In 5 years brick and mortar bookstores will be as rare as storefront travel agents. Remember them? Not many left. Those book retailers that survive will have to find ways to add value to book selling to attract people to their stores.

    And MacMillan would certainly not be helping those that hope to survive by going into competition with them as you suggest.

  • January 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    At a guess, I’d say the real problem is that Macmillan just inked a contract with Apple that won’t let them do any of that.

    Just a guess.

  • January 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Oh, I’m quite sure, but they wouldn’t have done it anyway.

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  • February 1, 2010 at 11:37 am



    Something’s smelling a lot like American car companies?

  • February 1, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Dude isn’t smelling that “New Car Smell “

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