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C.T. Phipps

Audiblegate and other Amazon scandals

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Hey folks,

I was curious if anyone was following up on the recent Amazon scandals where they've been dealing with writers. There's currently the charge of ebook price fixing with the Big PublishersTM but we know that was happening years ago.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/17/22234684/new-lawsuit-accuses-amazon-e-book-price-fixing

I admit I'm a bit more interested in the Audiblegate issue that basically can be summarized as Amazon allowing a year of returns of audiobooks via Audible. You have a year to listen to the books and then you exchange it. How very generous. However, it's not generous to the authors and narrators because it turns out returning those books doesn't get you compensated.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/11/hear-ye-hear-ye-audiblegate-and-the-audiobook-return-fiasco/

https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales

It's the indie authors who will be hit most by this, which is a shame.

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2 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Hey folks,

I was curious if anyone was following up on the recent Amazon scandals where they've been dealing with writers. There's currently the charge of ebook price fixing with the Big PublishersTM but we know that was happening years ago.

https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/17/22234684/new-lawsuit-accuses-amazon-e-book-price-fixing

I admit I'm a bit more interested in the Audiblegate issue that basically can be summarized as Amazon allowing a year of returns of audiobooks via Audible. You have a year to listen to the books and then you exchange it. How very generous. However, it's not generous to the authors and narrators because it turns out returning those books doesn't get you compensated.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/11/hear-ye-hear-ye-audiblegate-and-the-audiobook-return-fiasco/

https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales

It's the indie authors who will be hit most by this, which is a shame.

That's crazy. They should be doing a Kindle Unlimited type of compensation/subscription if they are allowing returns of digital products.

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1 hour ago, Gigei said:

That's crazy. They should be doing a Kindle Unlimited type of compensation/subscription if they are allowing returns of digital products.

With Kindle Unlimited, you get to choose if your books participate or not. Their current approach, as far as I am concerned is no better than theft.

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To be fair I’ve returned a lot of Audible books after realising that they really don’t care if you do it or not. Now i understand why they are so unbothered by it.

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22 minutes ago, Peadar said:

With Kindle Unlimited, you get to choose if your books participate or not. Their current approach, as far as I am concerned is no better than theft.

That's what I meant. 

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I didn’t realize Audible books could be returned like that.  My wife has bought a lot during COVID.  I absolutely would not return a book that she had listened to — that’s just ripping off the author.  I’d be very disappointed if customers were actually doing that to their authors. 

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49 minutes ago, Iskaral Pust said:

I didn’t realize Audible books could be returned like that.  My wife has bought a lot during COVID.  I absolutely would not return a book that she had listened to — that’s just ripping off the author.  I’d be very disappointed if customers were actually doing that to their authors. 

I don't think most of them knew.

Edit:

Here's an update from ACX: https://blog.acx.com/2021/01/20/an-update-from-acx/

Edited by C.T. Phipps

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1 hour ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I don't think most of them knew.

Edit:

Here's an update from ACX: https://blog.acx.com/2021/01/20/an-update-from-acx/

This line is a definite improvement:

"As of January 1, 2021, we are paying royalties on any return made more than 7 days after purchase."

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Amazon Publishing prohibits its titles from offer on public libraries' ebook offerings:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/10/amazon-library-ebook-monopoly/

Quote

 

....You probably think of Amazon as the largest online bookstore. Amazon helped make e-books popular with the Kindle, now the dominant e-reader. Less well known is that since 2009, Amazon has published books and audiobooks under its own brands including Lake Union, Thomas & Mercer and Audible. Amazon is a beast with many tentacles: It’s got the store, the reading devices and, increasingly, the words that go on them.

Librarians have been no match for the beast. When authors sign up with a publisher, it decides how to distribute their work. With other big publishers, selling e-books and audiobooks to libraries is part of the mix — that’s why you’re able to digitally check out bestsellers like Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land.” Amazon is the only big publisher that flat-out blocks library digital collections. Search your local library’s website, and you won’t find recent e-books by Amazon authors Kaling, Dean Koontz or Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Nor will you find downloadable audiobooks for Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and Michael Pollan’s “Caffeine.” Amazon does generally sell libraries physical books and audiobook CDs — though even print versions of Kaling’s latest aren’t available to libraries because Amazon made it an online exclusive.

It’s hard to measure the hole Amazon is leaving in American libraries. Among e-books, Amazon published very few New York Times bestsellers in 2020; its Audible division produces audiobooks for more big authors and shows up on bestseller lists more frequently. You can get a sense of Amazon’s influence among its own customers from the Kindle bestseller list: In 2020, six of Amazon’s top 10 e-books were published by Amazon. And it’s not just about bestsellers: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, the self-publishing business that’s open to anyone, produces many books about local history, personalities and communities that libraries have historically sought out.

In testimony to Congress, the American Library Association called digital sales bans like Amazon’s “the worst obstacle for libraries” moving into the 21st century. Lawmakers in New York and Rhode Island have proposed bills that would require Amazon (and everybody else) to sell e-books to libraries with reasonable terms. This week, the Maryland General Assembly will vote on its own bill, after the state Senate passed a version last week....

 

 

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An informative, interesting long article in The New Yorker documenting this history of libraries and eBooks, particularly the rapidity of development from pandemic.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-communications/an-app-called-libby-and-the-surprisingly-big-business-of-library-e-books

The sad thing, of course, is e content is far more expensive than print books -- and designed to be that way, bringing more and more of the profit in books into the pockets of fewer and fewer providers, including authors.

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