Tag Archives: Little Brown and Company

Hachette and Amazon. Let’s Talk About It.

3 Jun

Important Update (10:22 p.m.): Amazon seems to be loosening their grips, perhaps because of how readers have gone to other retailers to buy Hachette titles, but an agreement has not been made yet. Here’s the article: Amazon Is Now Re-Stocking Some Hachette Titles

If you haven’t heard, Cold War II is happening between publishers and distributers right now – specifically Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown and Company’s parent company) and Amazon – but there are others involved, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and …oh, yeah…AUTHORS. (Because the fighters seem to forget to mention the authors.)

I am going to attempt to talk about it. But – here’s the most confusing part – since Amazon and Hachette are respecting their signed confidentiality agreements, neither is speaking specifics. They are talking in their secret club tree house, and you’re stuck on the ground because they are not going to throw you the rope ladder anytime soon. You are not invited. This “signed confidentiality agreement” is a fancy way to tell us that they aren’t allowed to be honest yet, even though they are quite possibly discussing a shift in the market that could affect dozens (probably hundreds) of publishers, distributors, and authors. Rumor has it that they are arguing about eBook prices, including revenue splits. Whatever mysterious, Illuminati decision they come to could set a precedent for all publishing houses and authors of the future. (Okay. So that might be a tad dramatic, but seriously – it could affect a lot of people.)

So what’s the big deal? This has happened before after all, but this – THIS – is different. How? If you want more specifics, here’s a bunch of articles that explain some of the dirtier details: Hachette Chief Leads Book Publisher in Amazon FightWal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Slash Prices as Hachette-Amazon Feud Continues, Inside Amazon’s Battle with Hachette, Bringing Down the Hachette.

In summary: one of the five, BIG publishing houses is being threatened by one Amazon warrior. And Hachette is only the first…and they don’t look like they’re winning. In fact, Hachette seems to be retreating to protect their other retailers first. (Gaining alleys maybe?) But the terrifying part is the repetition of it all. Amazon has tried to take out publishers before – BIG publishers – and it seems that they want the five owners of the monopoly to fall to one. (One being Amazon, of course.) I know. I know. It’s easy to rejoice in the five falling, especially when you’ve been rejected by them one hundred and fourteen times, but allowing Amazon to take their place is more than a bad idea. It’s self-destructive. If you have ever played the family friendly game of Monopoly, it is not fun when your older brother owns every piece on the board. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve just lost the game when that happens.

Have I scared you yet?

I hope not.

I am going to sound like I just flipped 180 degrees, but I don’t think this is something we need to be scared of. (Not yet, anyway.) I don’t believe Hachette and Amazon’s high school drama is something we should obsess over. Should we watch it unfold? Yes. Understand as much as we can? Yes. Share the information as the two companies share it? Absolutely.

Since we don’t technically know anything, we can’t keep talking about nothing. We should share what we know with others, but we have to stop crowding our articles with theories and lies and lack of links for information. We’re only confusing one another. We can, however, talk about what has happened.

After Amazon blocked pre-orders of Hachette books (including the geniuses that are David Sedaris, James Patterson, and Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. freakin’ Rowling) Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart have stepped into the ring. Oh, did I mention that Wal-Mart is holding a %40 off sign? (on “select titles” of course.)

Yep. That just happened.

You can go to Wal-Mart right now and buy James Patterson (and whichever second author wrote his latest novel) for %40 off – and Amazon can’t do anything about it. Barnes & Noble can though. They are also displaying major discounts, even reportedly selling buy 2, get one free. FREE at certain locations.

As the reader inside of me rejoices, the author inside of me dies.

Why is no one talking about the authors? Granted, I know that Amazon and Hachette are on a Top Secret Mission to save or destroy their authors (who knows?) but every article discussing the latest events are focusing on the giant companies having their way, both claiming to help authors, neither explaining how because of the signed confidentiality agreements. (I can almost picture other publishing houses chanting, “Secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets, secrets, tell everyone!”) But Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble are steering clear of the actual battle while still reaping the awards of it. In fact, Wal-Mart has reported a %70 increase in sales.

…sigh…

When two get in a fight, two others jumped right in. I guess I’m not against the brawl necessarily. I can’t pick a side when I don’t know what everyone is fighting for. But I am concerned about the authors – you know, the ones who actually WROTE the stories we’re trying to buy (or buying at a %40 discount.) And I am nervous to see the results of Amazon picking this battle with Hachette.

Will Amazon lose its reputation as a customer focused company? Will Hachette’s authors ever see their rewards? Will Amazon fight other publishers next? Will Barnes & Noble or Wal-Mart deepen their involvement now (or even in the future)?

One thing is for certain though.

Readers and authors are the innocent ones. They aren’t battling. They can’t. And they are the ones who are being affected the most.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re asking yourself, “What can I do about this?” – label this my call-to-action:

Stay informed, watch for new developments, and share the information with as many people as you can.

Why You Should Boycott King and Candy Crush Saga

25 Jan

Two days ago, I logged onto Facebook when fellow author, Victoria Perkins, shared this article: King ARE Trying to Candy-Crush The Banner Saga. I recommend reading that article – as well as the others I link below – as you read this, but I will try to explain my argument (and why this can affect other art industries) as if the links are broken. I also want to recommend looking up the differences of patents, trademarks, and copyrights if you’re not already familiar with them.

Okay. Here we go:

If you don’t already know, King is the company that owns Candy Crush Saga, and they have filed with the United States Patent and Trademark office for the words “candy” and “saga.” Before you think it will be impossible to pass this, The Banner Saga sequel – a video game based on Norse mythology – has already been blocked. Of course King claims that this trademark will not be enforced against all uses, but they are claiming they were trademarking “saga” because The Banner Saga by Stoic was getting money because of gamers’ confusion. I find this hard to believe. Gamers can read; they can also see. I’m pretty sure no one would mistake a group of Vikings for a candy, puzzle game.

So, why did King actually file this and what does it means for all industries?

King is a LARGE company with millions behind it. In fact, they are said to take in half of a million per day. Stoic – the owner of The Banner Saga – isn’t. It’s an Indie company that King has claimed they aren’t threatened by. If King isn’t threatened by Stoic, then why is King trying to take away Stoic’s abilities to use the title? Because King is trying to monopolize the market while also preventing other artists from rising. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that other, large companies might follow suit if this is successful. Filmmakers might trademark single-word titles. Publishers might be next. Think about it: they can afford to trademark and to protect that trademark with lawyers without batting an eyelash. Most Indie artists cannot afford a lawsuit, and large companies will rely on that. If this was successful, it could potentially ruin the independent artist.

Now, I have two things I want to clarify:

1.   I don’t think it will pass – but I don’t think that’s reason enough to be submissive about it and not speak out. We must let these companies know how much we disagree with their actions.

2.  I don’t like the repetitive, monopolized culture any more than the next artist – we’ve all seen it. We go to the bookstore one week after the “City of Bones” movie releases and all of a sudden every other novel has “city” or “bones” in the title. Trademarking words to a singular game or book might prevent this, but I don’t think companies or artists should do this. Instead, I wish artists and their companies would refuse to jump onto the trend’s train, stand out on their own, and be confident in their abilities instead of trying to mooch off of someone else’s popularity.

Getting a trademark on a word for any reason is not only wrong, it is also destructive, and it is destructive for everyone – gamers, writers, photographers, etc. If it happens because we were sitting back, this will become the Pandora’s box of trademarks, waiting to freeze future projects.

So what can we do to make sure we’re stopping this? 

We can contact King and ask them to stop, boycott their games, and/or spread the word to others, especially those who play their games. We can also support Stoic as well as other independent artists. Even though there is a small chance these things will pass, I still think we need to show how we will not support these corporations as they try to smother the independent artist. Please consider these three things carefully. I know I will be doing all of them.

I asked what you thought on my Facebook author page, and Raymond E. Feist, the New York Times and  Times of London bestselling author, explained a lot of important information:

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

“Trademarks are different critter than copyrights, but people often confuse the two. The short answer for a very complex question is the can trademark “Candy Crush Saga” and the distinctive type design, and any attached artwork. It’s narrow and specific and doesn’t percent people from using candy, crush, or saga in other trademarks. If it did, they couldn’t trademark crush because of Orange Crush soda and how many candies are out there besides See’s? That being said, they are likely to lose their opposition on Banner Saga unless they can clearly show confusion in the marketplace due to similarities in type design, art, etc. the only reason they’ll get a hearing on this if they do is both are gaming products. If it were Saga Outerwear (real company making outdoor gear) or Saga Music (another real company) they’d have their opposition tossed. My bet is the Patent Office will kick the complaint.”

So what do you think? Are you planning on boycotting and/or messaging King?

~SAT

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