Letter from the Editor – June 2014

Not everyone reads the magazine, we know that, so I thought it would be good to post the Letter from the Editor that was published in the last issue. Maybe reading this will want you to read the magazine.

 

A funny thing is happening today, and I’m not sure you’ve even heard about it. Behind the scenes, it seems that Amazon and some publishers are in a little disagreement. If you listen to some of the authors, they are blaming Amazon and if you listen to Amazon, it’s the publishers to blame. I’m here to set the record straight, because who is to blame?

Stockholders.

That’s right, it’s not the publishers fault or Amazon’s fault, it’s Wall Street’s fault. Now I will tell you that this letter might get a little in depth into things that are confusing, but I’ll try to connect all the dots.

Amazon is a publicly traded company, as are HarperCollins (News Corp), Simon and Schuster (CBS Corp), and Hachette (Lagardere Group, France). What you now have is rope-pulling between public companies, because of the unrealistic expectations of Wall Street. If stockholders don’t see growth of three to five percent each year, the stock drops. It’s not enough any more for revenues to stay even or grow at a slower rate, so what you end up with is businesses trying to etch out any type of growth on the sales or profit margin, and this has led to the stalemate you now see.

But how will this affect readers? Well, now that you have seen behind the curtain just a little bit into the back-room dealings, readers will suffer because now Amazon has suspended Hachette titles, leading fans to either go elsewhere (probably pay higher prices) or wait. Now you might think that Barnes & Noble is an alternative place to shop, but hold on. Simon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble have also been having problems.

Many authors have said that Barnes & Noble won’t stock their books, and this includes all the small publishers, which might get lucky and have a couple of books at the local level, but nothing national. Amazon is still the best place to shop for books, since it has the largest selection and best pricing in the industry. Most of the time these little hitches are short-lived and both companies realize that they do, in fact, need each other and find a way to work it out.

There is one solution, however, if you really want a book and don’t want to wait: Get the e-book. E-books are never out of stock and you can have it pretty much in less than one minute after clicking the buy button. It is a little funny that all the talk is based on the print copies, when all we hear is that print is dying. I wouldn’t say dying is the right word, but print is not growing.

The focus should be on selling books to readers. It should be on the authors writing the best stories they can. Sadly, businesses lose their way and simply see the reader as a commodity and not as a valued person helping to keep the doors open.

 

John Raab

CEO/Publisher

Suspense Magazine

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