I received, along with every KDP author, Amazon’s email this morning and my immediate response was, “What the everloving f***?”
I’d seen that sort of word salad before – after breaking up with someone. The sort of message that is filled with hurt feelings, false equivalencies, misattributions, and not much else.
It’s an uncharacteristic move by Amazon, who previously seemed to act as if they didn’t care what anyone thought about anything. They’ve never had to explain themselves before. They’ve certainly never pleaded with their customers and suppliers before. Bullied their suppliers, yes. Pleaded with them, not so much.
My second response was, “Why on EARTH would Michael Pietsch care AT ALL about what KDP authors think? The entire point of tradition publishers is NOT to care about what independent authors think.” Then I saw that Amazon had extended its message to readers. That made marginally more sense.
So yes, Amazon has blinked. And I think the reason is that they’ve received a little bit of a reality check. They apparently CAN’T bully all their suppliers. Now Hachette doesn’t represent a ton of Amazon’s (weakening) profits. But Amazon still needs Hachette. They need Hachette not to be an example. Because if one publisher does it, another one will too. And if the Big 5 all do it, the littler ones will too. And if book publishers do it, other suppliers will too.
And Wall Street is watching. Bezos’s leash is a little shorter than it has been.
Why Amazon wrote this note, instead of doing the usual clamming up, will probably always be a mystery. But I kind of prefer Simon Collinson’s theory.