After a full weekend of ZOMG on Twitter about the Macmillan/Amazon showdown, where Amazon did the hokey pokey with the buy links for Macmillan authors, I was having a hard time articulating why this didn’t send me into rage and ire. I’m horrified for authors whose books are no longer on sale from what I’m told is the largest independent bookseller in the US, and I’m sorry that people looking for books from Macmillan authors on Kindle will not find them and likely move onto something else. But I’m not angry at one party over another. Mostly I want to throw my hands up in the air similar to when my children are fighting over a small pile of Cheerios while I’m holding a full box.
Why? Because I don’t harbor any particular feelings of loyalty toward Amazon or toward Macmillan. As I said on Twitter:
My brand loyalty: to authors who write good books. Not to publisher, not to bookstore, not to vendor. Author. And Book. That is all.
I care who wrote the book, and I develop loyalty towards authors and towards specific books they’ve written. I could give a rat’s ass who published it. I suspect the only people who pay attention to what house published whom is someone who works in publishing. I couldn’t tell you who writes for Pocket or who writes for Tor – except now I can find one author’s books in Kindle and not the other. I don’t know who is a Macmillan author and who isn’t – and even when I started searching for books to see who was and was not available at Amazon, I had to stop and think which book and which authors would be affected because I honestly didn’t remember.
I have no brand loyalty towards a specific house or imprint. Increased transparency for editors online is a good thing for readers like me because I’m more likely to learn about their tastes, and see where they align with mine. I don’t necessarily remember if something is an Avon book, but I might care that Esi Sogah edited it because I know her taste from following her on Twitter and reading what she says on the Avon editor’s blog. I’m not impressed with Macmillan’s positions on ebooks, and know that if I am looking for a book published by a Macmillan author online in digital format, I likely will have a devil of a time finding it.
The exception to the publisher house brand loyalty oblivion are small presses who’ve consistently impressed or horrified me. Most of the time, if it’s a big publishing house or an imprint of one? I couldn’t tell one from another and don’t care to, either.
I don’t have any terrible brand loyalty to Amazon, though. I don’t care where I buy my books. I care about price and whether I can get them digitally in the format I want. I am discerning about the books and the authors and the prices I pay. And I don’t buy books all that often from Amazon. I buy groceries, children supplies and electronics, but books? Hardly ever. I use a Kindle, as I said earlier, but I bought it used and rarely do I put Amazon books on it, even though buying my books from other sources means I don’t have access to the additional features like syncing across devices. I’m more likely to buy from eHarlequin or AllRomanceeBooks.com than Amazon.
I don’t think either Amazon or Macmillan is thinking about the consumer in any of their tree-pissing positioning. I understand intellectually what they’re doing, but in the end, since I look for books and authors, not publishers and stores, their showdown only strengthens my deep and bubbly apathy towards publishers and vendors.
It doesn’t change much of my shopping habits, though it prods my empathy in a big way for the authors caught in the middle of this face-off. My loyalty is to them, and to the books that they write that I love. I don’t care where they come from, and I don’t care where I buy them, so long as I can have them. Neither Amazon nor Macmillan have stirred my loyalty as a reader such that I’m going to change anything.
What about you? Do you notice which publisher published what? Do you shop at more than one bookstore? What’s most important, the author and the book, or the publisher or the store – or none of the above?