Amazon’s POD Thunderbolt
from The SFWA Bulletin #180, December-January 2009
Amazon's New Print-on-Demand Demands
Dana Corbit details the angry reaction to this move in “Amazon.com Decision Brings Questions, Spurs Lawsuit” in the November 2008 RWR.
Scott Flora, executive director of the Small Publishers Association of North America (SPAN), was among the first to formally challenge Amazon’s declaration of ownership over the playing field. By April 4, 2008, he had issued a public rebuttal.
Angela Hoy of BookLocker.com, wrote that the new contract being demanded would give Amazon control over:
• The retail price of all print-on-demand books by not allowing publishers to sell their books for less on other sites.
• The wholesale price of print-on-demand books – requiring a 48 to 52 percent discount depending on specifics in individual contract terms.
• Digital setup and scanning fees for each books.
• The coveted “buy” button.
Amazon responded that it did not mention BookSurge because it was not requiring its services. Amazon’s Drew Herdener said:
He added that publishers could also work through the Amazon Advantage Programs by sending a small number of already printed books for them to keep in inventory. Flora pointed out that the Advantage Program not only costs $29.95 a year but gives Amazon a full 55% of the retail price of each title. In addition, pre-printing and shipping books defeats the POD model by adding additional costs to the publisher.
The Washington State Attorney General’s office declined to take any action on a possible antitrust violation, considering it to be a federal and not a state issue.
Angela Hoy therefore filed a class action suit against Amazon in Maine District Court. The full set of documents can be viewed on the Amazon BookSurge Antitrust Lawsuit Clearinghouse website, antitrust.booklocker.com. The most current update is from Flora’s SPAN site, which reads as of October 24, that “Currently, the case is under preliminary review with a Judge to decide if it will go to court.”
Not Normal, Paranormal
A para articles, sorry, a pair of articles in the October 2008 RWR took on the world of paranormal romances, Cynthia Eden’s “Get Your Ghoul On” and “Same Story, Different Strengths: What Sets Romance Subgenres Apart.” Both used a similar approach of quoting a number of writers for their takes, so I’ll mix and match to combine common content.
What’s hot right now? Vampires, vampires, and vampires. Michele Hauf has a comprehensive list of vampire titles at www.vampire-titles.com, where an astounding 3950 titles are listed in 14 categories, romance/erotica being only one. She said, “Ten years ago, less than a dozen vampire romances were published in a year. The numbers have soared since then. In 2007, there were over 160 vampire romances pubbed.” But she warned that “Authors must find new and unique ways to present them to us without abandoning some of the expectations of the vampire (such as drinking blood as a necessity to their survival).”
What lies beyond vampires? “Demons,” said Larissa Ione. And Laura Bradford has agented books about “dragons, werewolves, demons, vampires, witches, human who can perform psychometry, aliens, intergalactic warfare, time-travel, and futuristics.” Or all at once. Chosen Sin by her client, Anya Bast, is a “futuristic, erotic romance about a vampire cult headquartered on a distant desert planet.”
Can all those elements co-exist? Yes, with the usual caveat: if done well. Linnea Sinclair explained why. “Sci-fi is oft considered the genre of intellect, of ideas. Romance is oft considered the genre of emotions, of the heart. Combining the two sets up a clash, a conflict, external and internal, which is often one of the stronger elements in sci-fi romance.”
As our writers know, the thrill of world-building, the creation of a culture or society with rules of our own device, is a driving force behind much fiction. Our genre takes that thrill to a higher pitch than most. Paranormal writers have seized upon that thrill with the same enthusiasm that we know. Expect to see continued growth in the form as romance writers begin to explore more of the same sideways slides into possibility that we’ve grown up with.
The Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Diane O’Brien Kelly’s “Writing is Taxing” column in the October 2008 NINK looks at the advantages of obtaining an EIN. One is that you might actually be an employer. If you hire employees or contractors, you’ll need an EIN for the W-2 or 1099 tax forms you send out at the end of the year. In addition, many banks require an EIN for you to be eligible for certain types of business accounts or perks only available to businesses.
Here’s some basic information on EINs from Kelly’s column:
You can apply for an EIN online, by fax, by phone, or by mail, though the IRS website states that online is the preferred method. If you apply online at www.IRS.gov or by phone, you will simply need to answer a few questions in order to obtain your new EIN.
If you apply by fax or mail, you will need to complete Form SS-4 “Application for Employer Identification Number,” available at www.IRS.gov. It can take up to four weeks to obtain an EIN by mail, but with the online system you can have an EIN in just a few short minutes.
No matter how you apply, there is no fee for obtaining an EIN. Your hard-earned royalties stay in your wallet.
You only need to apply for an EIN once, unless you go through a bankruptcy, incorporate, or dissolve a corporation to form a joint proprietorship.
A business brief from the November 2008 NINK.
J.K. Rowling–$30 million
Snippets from the Artists in the Workforce report compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts, provided in the Summer 2008 Authors Guild Bulletin.
Still, the 185,000 writers whom those statistics summarize rank third in income among “artists” after architects and producers. For more details on the report, go to: www.nea.gov/news/news08/ArtistsinWorkforce.html.
MWA Offers BreakThrough Promotions
I regularly find come-ons in my in box for various and sundry firms offering to promote my books. I just as regularly toss them.
The Mystery Writers of America are offering their active members a better way. They’re making the services of BreakThrough Promotions available to their membership at a:
They are being careful to stress that they are not affiliated with BreakThrough nor endorsing their services. This discount is just a perk of membership. Those many SFWAns who are eligible for active membership in the MWA might want to consider whether this discount package might be worth the membership fee.
Organization, Publication, Address, Web Address
Authors Guild, Bulletin, 31 East 32nd St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10016, www.authorsguild.org
Mystery Writers of America, The Third Degree (TTD), 1140 Broadway, Suite 1507, New York, NY 10001, www.mysterwriters.org
Novelists, Inc., NINK, P. O. Box 2037, Manhattan KS, 66505, www.ninc.com
Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers’ Report (RWR), 14615 Benfer Rd., Houston, TX 77069 [new address], 77379, www.rwanational.com
Sisters in Crime, InSinC, P.O. Box 442124, Lawrence, KS 66044-8933, www.sistersincrime.org/
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