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Jim Cox Report: May 2012
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
The lead topic this time around is Amazon.com -- a corporation that in when it began was original, innovative, 'user friendly', and a positive and creative force within the publishing community. Today Amazon.com is a corporation that seems to have now gone the way of Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other corporate giants striving for the kinds of monopoly powers enabling them to extort their vendors, lethally undermine their competitors, and ultimately fleece their customers who are increasingly left bereft of viable marketplace choices and competitions due to the ultimate goal of all monopolistic corporations -- price fixing.
Publishers, booksellers, reviewers, authors, and the general reading public are now subject to Amazon's increasingly sudden, arbitrary, haphazard, irregularly imposed, predatory practices and policies. Seemingly all in the name of becoming the clearly dominate force within, and shaping the future of, the publishing industry.
Almost from the original launch of Amazon.com, the Midwest Book Review had been providing hundreds of reviews every month to Amazon free of charge and as a service to the authors and publishers (especially the small and independent presses) whose books we reviewed.
Then without notice, rhyme or reason all that came to a crashing halt.
We, as well as authors and publishers, made numerous inquiries as to why our reviews of their books were removed from Amazon's web site. A number of different answers were given. One of the most common was to refer to an Amazon policy of not allowing the posting of reviews that had been paid for.
Never mind that our reviews of print editions of books had been and continues to remain free of charge. Because some of our volunteer reviewers charge a $50 'Reader Fee' to review ebooks, Amazon decided to prohibit our ability to post any and all of our reviews directly. This 'policy' also applied to other professional book reviews such as 'Reader Reviews'.
Nevertheless, as of this writing, to underscore Amazon's arbitrary inconsistencies, there remain 1944 of our reviews on the Amazon.com web site. (Just type in Midwest Book Review in the Amazon search engine and you'll see the number come up).
I advised authors and publishers to post our reviews of their books themselves. The results have been decidedly unpredictable. Some do so without incident or difficulty. Others get bounced back time and time again.
Now and then an author or publisher will let me know what's happened. Here's just such an alert:
In a message dated 3/20/2012 1:59:42 P.M. Central Daylight Time, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
To my complete surprise, after amazon.com/books gave me a hard time for trying to re-post your reviews, they emailed me 3 days ago to re-accept your reviews. They must have realized I didn't write the reviews after all.
It seems that within the next 3 days, they will add the reviews back.
Hope this is happening to your other reviews.
P.S. I will send you stamp money within the next 2 weeks.
Thank you for the update. I'm going to include it in one of my Jim Cox Report columns to encourage other authors when faced with similar inexplicable reactions from Amazon.
Midwest Book Review
Then there are Amazon's perennial attempts to 'sell' reviews by the Midwest Book Review (and others) which are posted on their web site for (as I recall) $9.95. These are reviews which we furnished free to publishers (who have the responsibility of notifying their authors accordingly). Where is the market for this nonsense? It reminds me of the email scams that con artists send out by the hundreds of thousands hoping to get one or two suckers to respond.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's an email from Carolyn Howard giving some corroborative detail:
Sent: 1/7/2012 9:43:09 P.M. Central Standard Time
Subj: Regading Amazon's policy on "owning" a review:
The myth that Amazon "owns" reviews and, that once published there, a reviewer or author cannot use it elsewhere is absolutely false. Apparently my friend Aggie ran into that rumor as she was researching her topic on the Web. I am not surprised. It is rampant--probably because of a misunderstanding of copyrights.
In the chapter on getting reviews in the new edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo), I reprint a letter from Amazon explaining their policy. They claim rights to use posted reviews as they wish. Presumably, if they chose to do so, they would credit the reviewer, and I can't think that this would be such a bad thing, depending on how much exposure that might give the reviewer.
Having said that, the author/reviewer may still reprint reviews as they see fit. They still own their own writing.
I, like Abby, am not a copyright attorney. Still, the letter I have comes straight from Amazon and I must assume that should they sue me or someone for using our own reviews, a good copyright lawyer could help and the process might make very good fodder for some amazing national news coverage. It's called making lemonade of lemons. (-:
But Amazon's discriminatory power grabs are not restricted to reviewers. They are trying to establish monopolistic dominance in other areas of publishing as well.
Here is a case in point from Jan Axelson from last February:
[Pub-forum] Amazon drops all IPG Kindle editions in price dispute
Date: 2/21/2012 3:00:05 P.M. Central Standard Time
Amazon has dropped all Kindle editions distributed by IPG because IPG wouldn't agree to the terms Amazon was demanding when IPG's contract ran out. IPG didn't say how bad the offered terms were, but I can imagine. This after they sold my latest Kindle edition at a loss for several weeks.
I'm friends with a number of local Madison, Wisconsin bookstore owners. They have kept me up to date on how Amazon routinely engages in 'nickel & dime' incursions on bookseller sales margins on everything from 'shipping & handling' charges for overseas sales, to listing fees, to inventory storage fees -- and just about any other kind of fee Amazon can come up with.
As an example, here is an email I received from Sarah Heptinstalls, one of my volunteer book reviewers and a regular reader of the Jim Cox Report:
Sent: 12/8/2011 1:13:33 P.M. Central Standard Time
I received Mr. Cox's monthly letter and sent it to a publisher I know. This is his response.
Amazon is really making a lot of book store owners angry too. They (Amazon) announced that if you go into a book store, scan the bar code and walk out without buying, Amazon will give you $5.00
A lot of book store owners have declared war!!!
We live in the 'Age of Corporate America'. It is the major corporations who buy our politicians, who unfairly exploit our working class, who have eroded our middle class, who have dominated our publishing industry. Looking at corporations like Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and Amazon.com we can clearly see that the age of Robber Barron Capitalism has come again.
Our only hope resides in the possibility of an educated and informed general public taking action to curb monopolistic corporative excesses. And with respect to Amazon, the only hope for that to happen lies with writers, publishers, booksellers, librarians -- and independent book reviewers -- informing the public on what is happening, why it is happening, and what can be done about it!
Now on to reviews of new "how to" books on writing and/or publishing:
The Writing/Publishing Shelf
Get Published Today
Penny C. Sansevieri
c/o Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781604945591, $25.95, www.amazon.com
Penny Sansevieri is a commercially successful author, social media marketer, media relations professional, book marketing expert, a book blogger on the Huffington Post, and CEO of Author Marketing Experts. In the Spring of 2010 Penny Sansevieri taught the first ever, a six-week self-publishing class on self-publishing. She draws from her many years of experience and expertise in "Get Published Today!: An Insider's Guide to Publishing Success", a 366-page deftly written and superbly organized compendium covering every aspect of the publishing industry with respect to what aspiring authors have to do to get themselves published. A 'real world', practical, step-by-step instructional guide, "Get Published Today" deals with everything from how to get published in 90 days (or less!), getting digitally published (ebooks), selling into overseas book markets, finding a suitable publisher, self-publishing options, traditional publishing models, and so much more. Of special note are the chapters focusing on copyright, the importance of editing, book distribution channels, and the fundamental necessity of budgeting as part of the publishing and marketing process. "Get Published Today" should be considered mandatory reading for anyone seeking to become a successfully published author in today's every changing and volatile publishing industry.
52 Ways To Sell More Books!
Penny C. Sansevieri
c/o Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
PO Box 421156, San Diego, CA 92142
9781604947182, $10.95, www.amazon.com
In "52 Ways to Sell More Books!", book marketing expert has compiled a wealth of specific tips, tricks, techniques, strategies, and ideas for successfully competing for attention in today's highly competitive book selling marketplace. "52 Ways to Sell More Books!" covers using all manner of media to raise the awareness of the reading public with respect to a new book including online promotions, radio and television, book reviews, publicizing on Amazon (the single largest on-line bookseller), book signings, building book marketing websites, ebook editions, utilizing social media tools including blogs and e-zines, and a great deal more. A 182-page compendium of thoroughly 'user friendly' and deftly presented information, "52 Ways to Sell More Books!" is enthusiastically recommended the next best thing to attending one of Penny Sansevieri's
workshops and will prove to be an invaluable and enduring resource for aspiring authors and novice publishers.
Finally we have "The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating postage stamps this past month:
L. E. Muesch
M. Saylor Billings
Kathleen A. Welton
Tony Rosa -- "Birdie"
Ben Walters -- "Fire Crew"
Gary Taylor -- "I, The People"
A. L. Campbell -- "The Prodigy"
James W. Haddad -- "Pier Shock"
Elaine Bossik -- "The Last Victim"
Rickard D. Pittman -- "New Earth"
Steve S. Ryan -- "Beat Your A-Fib"
Michael Loynd -- "All Things Irish"
Michael Brown -- "William & Lucy"
Mike Waddell -- "Perform at Your Best"
John Montandon -- "By His Own Blood"
Cuyler Overholt -- "A Deadly Affection"
Kristine Dexheimer -- "The Upside of Down"
J. V. Petretta -- "An Impossible Dream Story"
Richard de Montebello -- "Saber Cat Comics"
Tricia Spencer -- "The Touch of Roy and Dale"
Edwin Lee Vrell Jr. -- "The Death of Calvinism"
Linda Stone -- "What's Going on at the Montcliff?"
Warren Rovetch -- "Tales of a Footloose American"
Dan Calandro -- "Lose Your Broker Not Your Money"
Rik Feeney -- "Writing Books for Fun, Fame & Fortune"
Jessie K. MacCoinneach -- "The Harbinger: The Raised"
Mary Cail -- "The All-Weather Friend's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease"
High Plains Press
K. P. Taylor -- Doulos Books
Kyra Morris -- Bottletree Books
Deb Schense -- Penfield Books
Ed Breisacher -- The Darwin Press
David Parker -- Darwin Bay Publishing
Nicholas Terlecky -- Paiboon Publishing
Brittany Shirley -- BelleBooks/Bell Bridge
Roger W. Nielsen -- Teton Crest Publishing
Beverly Newton -- International Jewelry Publications
Rachel Semlyen -- Royal Fireworks Publishing Company
Magdalen Silberman -- Latin American Literary Review Press
Sara Sgarlat -- Sgarlat Publicity
Beth Blenz-Clucas -- Sugar Mountain PR
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
If you have postage to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.
All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website. If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.
So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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