The retail book selling space needs to be robust and diverse.
In order for that to happen we have to work hard to protect our value proposition, the price printed on a new book. We have to stop using discounters which amounts to remaindering our most valuable products months before they are even available. How healthy can the retail space be when months before our best new titles arrive they can be purchased at a 42% discount?
The short view for the publishers is that we don’t want confrontation, we need to reach the readers and the revenue of our discounters, especially Amazon, and that our authors and agents would never allow the risk involved in taking back control of pricing. We fear that Amazon would take our books off the site or remove the buy button and the sales will disappear, authors will flee and agents won’t do business with us. Ask the authors and they will tell you, ” look ,my contract pays me the same for every sale no matter who sells it at whatever price”.
The long view is far calmer. Books are here forever in some form. As Markus Dohle has said, not for 50 years, not for 100 years but forever. And that means digital too.
Amazon is a threatened space. If it isn’t Alibaba, it will come from everywhere and either we will throw our books, our cultural treasure and the jobs and intelligence and all the rest on the conflagration of discounters to win our readers’ pocketbooks, or we will wake up one day and see the long view.
We aren’t in this for the next 6 or 12 months. We are responsible for books and culture and ideas forever and it is our responsibility to pull our books from discounters. The retail space for books will SNAP back to life and even if Amazon or Walmart in their hubris takes off the books from their site unable to deal with honoring our value proposition, how long can a book site go with the books of Random House Penguin or any our major houses.
Take the long view.