The Good, the Bad, and the Amazon

The Good, the Bad, and the Amazon

Apr 19, 2022

One of the things we set out to do at Owl's Nest is to be transparent. Partly because the publishing industry, as it stands, is notoriously not transparent. Lots of things are kept behind mysterious doors, especially when it comes to money. Now, we aren't revealing everything, because the actual details of royalty structure (how authors are paid) are contractual with individual authors. But there's so much about publishing that we would love for people to know more about. Hence, the Instagram Live Karin and I set out to do where we discussed all things Amazon and publishing. Karin mentioned last week that we had to put it off several times, but we finally made it happen last Saturday afternoon. I'll link it here if you haven't had a chance to watch it. It was a great conversation and we only touched the surface.

The short version is this: as an independent, start-up publisher without a massive amount of capital, we rely on Amazon. Despite all of its flaws, Amazon is good for our business (and many businesses like ours). It is a platform that makes our books available all around the world—and (this blew my mind when I learned it) we make significantly more profit when people buy from Amazon than from any other seller.

As someone who came from the reviewing side of the book world, this information goes against everything I thought I knew. The running commentary in the book reviewing world is that the only way to support indie is to support indie bookstores, and in fact, buying from Amazon is actively frowned upon. However, like most things in this world, the truth is a lot more complicated. We want to be clear, we love independent bookstores, we want them to thrive, and Amazon has challenged their existence. But, it's also true that Amazon has made it possible for independent creators to exist and make a living. Along with many independent publishers, we are among that group. Amazon is crucial for us and we couldn't exist or make a sustainable profit without it.

I am so glad that my knowledge about "shopping indie" has become more nuanced. Not only because we are running an independent publishing house, but also because as a consumer I can now make more informed decisions about where I want my support to go with each purchase. Sometimes that may be to an independent bookstore, other times it may be to an independent publisher or creator.

So, that's the tea, friends. Amazon is both awful and wonderful. Hoo Hoo knew?

~ Katie

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