Here is an opinion piece from a very talented young author, Kian Kaul who took out time to contribute an amazing article about the publishing industry, for the readers of my blog. In his signature satirical style, he talks about how indie bookstores are refusing to work with Amazon and what that could mean for the publishing industry. His insights are worth-noticing as well as thought-provoking not only for published authors but also for those who are going to enter the big market. Read on to find out his observations and views:
Amazon VS Indie Bookstores
By Author: Kian Kaul
"Well, they want to buy books."
"Yeah, but why me?! Why do they come to me?!"
This very funny exchange from Dylan Moran's cult sitcom "Black Books" – in which Bernard Black, a miserable independent bookstore owner, decries having to even deal with his own customers - was broadcast nearly twelve years ago, before digital piracy was an issue for publishing and recession was a lightly traded topic on late-night talk shows. Back in '00 indie bookstore owners could afford to sneer over a glass of cheap wine, indoor smoking hadn't yet been banned and Amazon was where you pre-ordered DVDs. The likes of Bernard Black could only have happened then.
But just last week the Seattle Mystery Bookshop published a blog post titled "You Can't Shake The Devil's Hand And Say You're Only Kidding" – a hotly debated explanation as to why they were no longer willing to stock titles published by Amazon. The owner went on to accuse as Amazon being "the enemy of independent book shops" and that working with them in any way would be "cutting our own throats".
Now, not only do indie shops have to watch out for the Kindle-shaped bludgeon hammering at their infrastructure (those 900 square feet would make a useful parking lot in such an attractive downtown-adjacent location!) but they risk alienating the only groundswell movement willing and able to support them – small-time writers publishing through Amazon and their affiliated self-publishing service. Better to risk stepping on a rake and stumble into on-coming traffic than cutting one's own throat, I suppose.
Sure, us indie authors who empathize could always can print our stuff through Lulu, just like you can plan your trip to the bookstore using Mapquest, pay for that new YA urban fantasy novel with your Discover card and post a review on your MySpace account… but why on earth would you? It's simply more advantageous for writers to work with the largest distributor on the planet who will publish and print their work on-demand in high quality and ship anywhere. But as any writer knows a coldly efficient virtual storefront isn't enough to gain readership in this age of community-based person-to-person interaction. Once published and printed by Amazon, those glossy books and novels are best carried by the armful to the nearest independent bookstore for signings, readings and old-fashioned monetary-based socializing among the charmingly stained carpets, slightly overpriced espresso drinks and the occasional wandering cat.
The closing of Borders and the deathbed sheet-tossing of Barnes & Noble have only driven more customers into the open animatronic arms of Amazon – like a primary school teacher with Aspergers, its embrace is coldly all-encompassing around our little frames but lacking in any of the personal warmth or rewarding camaraderie one finds at their local, corner bookshop. But once the writers have been driven away and the mass-consumers can order the new Suzanne Collins in one click with free shipping, along with a pound of fair trade coffee and a Snuggie blanket, their afternoons look pretty much set.
Soon, the only independent bookstores left will be found exclusively in the back corners of thrift stores, just past the faux-wood furniture and novelty lamps, where shelves upon shelves of Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer mix uncomfortably with LGBT collections and my novel "Stockholm"! All priced at $2 with proceeds benefiting any number of charitable causes. Who knows, maybe this is the way it should all end. Destiny or not, independent booksellers simply can't afford to throw patrons out on the street for asking questions or close early for a liquid lunch anymore than they can risk alienating the only real benefactors they have left. That sort of thing seemed to work out okay for "Bernard Black" at his fictional "Black Books", but then again they were selling absurd situation comedy.
Kian Kaul, born in Santa Barbara, California, has spent the last decade working in Los Angeles as a creative. An adopter of the philosophy of "the style of no style", he has found himself involved in music, new media, television, film and now literature. He considers himself an expert in nothing and aspires to know all. His first foray into long-form fiction produced "Stockholm", originally planned as a sitcom, it inexplicably became his debut novel.
To know more about him, visit his website: http://stockholmbook.com
About his Book:
A struggling and not-so-young advertising creative, Anakin Carver meets Natasha von Ottmann, an up and coming actress working on his new campaign, and accidentally makes her famous. Now romantically involved with a celebrity, Carver finds himself connected into the landscape of popular media and entertainment; a labyrinth of mistrust, petty politics and desperate grasps for power. As he becomes instrumental in the struggle for cultural dominance, Natasha must choose between fame and idealism.
"Everything Is True. Nothing Is Permitted."
In a time of unrest and social change, Anakin Carver may become one of the most influential figures never known. As civilization moves toward both utopia and ruin, all it may need is a subtle push in either direction.
Written in an exciting new format of thirteen "episodes", rather than traditional chapters, STOCKHOLM is designed to be enjoyed like a full season of a cable television series. Each episode satirizes our culture's obsessions with social connection, class conflict, the evolving role of celebrity, the reaches of government and how one man's choices can either help enlighten or destroy our way of life. – (Courtesy: Amazon.com)
To buy his book on Amazon, click here.
You can also “Like” his Facebook page, by clicking here.