Il blog di Antonio Tombolini

Amazon's new secret service, White Glove anybody?


THIS MORNING I woke up with a great idea: what the heck, I said to myself, LITERARY AGENTS! Yes, literary agents! I actually tried to talk to them about digital editions and speculate on collaboration a zillion times two zillions years ago, but nothing, it all went straight through them, even worse than corporate publishers. Nevertheless, I kept pondering this morning, they represent a lot of authors and a lot of books, many of those are not published by traditional authors e they have them there, with no revenue whatsoever.
So what’s easier, what offers more mutual benefit, than saying “HEY AGENT! Here I am: let’s publish the ebook version of the releases you wish to promote more, those you deem better amongst the ones you are granted by the author, let each one do their bit, their big bit, let’s say that I (Simplicissimus) undertake all promotion and distribution expenses and give you 50% of my earnings, you keep some of them and I give the rest to the author“. “Or, that’s what I realised later, if you prefer, dear Agent, production and promotion expenses will be borne by you and the author and I will take care of distribution in every store: you give me 10%, 30% goes to the store and you are left with a big fat 60%. Not bad, right?“. We leave paper rights to the author, which means the agent, and with an ebook out there selling some copies, nevertheless circulating, maybe it’s going to be easier to convince some regular publisher. And why not, after the ebook is published, if we both feel it’s worth it, we can also publish the paper version digitally and sell it on Amazon, without leftover stock issues and all…
I thought about it for a couple of hours, time to decide that it was pretty damn cool. Pronto: gather some information, test the ground, let’s make sure if it’s true that agents have all these titles that make no money and do not circulate. Let’s see if they like the idea and if they see the win-win potential of this deal.
Surprise: I can get to talk to the first agent on my list who says “shuush… don’t say anything or it’s over! Amazon is already offering the same deal, but they do not want the word to be spread and neither do we!“. There’s no doubt they want it secret: just google Amazon White Glove to find out there’s no official page on the project.
OBVIOUSLY your favourite blogger is here to grass it all out, except for the name of my source. This is how Amazon’s White Glove project works, a sort of silent fracking of the publishing industry.
SO: the premise is that officially mainstream publishers and literary agents must appear all united against Amazon. This is how the can freely have all sorts of agreements with Amazon, even at the authors’ expenses.
Therefore you see publishers screaming and shouting against Amazon on topics on which Amazon seems to be completely right about: steep ebook prices (like Hachette), DRM, American imperialists who want to force their rules upon us, and at this pace, my dear madam, all these nice independent book shops will have to close and all these amenities that cannot be defended here. And let’s talk about that horrible self-publishing idea, afoot of all that’s mean and evil, literary Pandora’s box full of books that have the impertinence of wanting to be read despite they “are not printed” by a real publisher!
WELL. Then Amazon contacts the literary agent saying “Listen to me, let’s put all these books that no one wants to read on Kindle, as ebooks. I’ll take my usual 30% and the rest is yours to share with your author“. So agents sign, and make authors sing, accepting to have their ebook released as self-publishers. It’s all good, isn’t it?
HELL NO, IT AIN’T! Publishers, authors, agents do not get really pissed-off, as they should, at Amazon about this project ! Because there’s a little loophole: Amazon gets exclusive rights on that title. No one can sell it, not even the author by himself. If you then add the fact that a Kindle ebook is not cross-platform, this means damaging both, competition and the book itself, by preventing its fair circulation in order to be enjoyed by anyone who’s willing, regardless of their hardware or their systems.
This is what would really get me going, and I explicitly admire Amazon for what it does, unlike many others in the publishing world who are always ready to talk rubbish about it on shaky grounds, I’d be ready now to resort to Competition laws about this. Mainstream publisher will definitely help me out…


Il blog di Antonio Tombolini

Antonio Tombolini

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