The Post, of course, is owned by Jeff Bezos.

Some points to remember:

  • Publishers make, on average, more from ebooks than print books, while authors make less. This is despite the publisher cost for ebooks being less (given that it’s minus all those pesky storage and logistics issues).
  • The issue of “lower advances for higher royalties” is really, really fraught (although, at the moment, it’s more like “no advance for higher royalties”). While a lot of authors–yours truly included–are receptive to these sorts of arrangements, I’ve been flat out told by insiders that change like this would “break publishing”. And note that not all of this resistance comes from publishers themselves; I can’t join the SFWA, for example, because my imprint is (still) blacklisted for attempting to offer a no-royalty contract. (This, despite the fact Hydra changed its contract terms over a year ago to try and appease SFWA demands. Go figure.)
  • Amazon’s royalty cuts for self-published works aren’t comparable to publisher/author royalty cuts, and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is being disingenuous. Instead, they’re comparable to the cost splitting Amazon does with publishers. Amazon, in other words, doesn’t deal with authors at all; it deals with publishers, whether those “publishers” are huge multinationals or single individuals. This is why people who self-pub are also sometimes called “author-publishers”. The “70%” they get from Amazon needs to cover all the costs they incur that would normally be incurred by a traditional publisher, e.g. cover art, editing, and investment in future works.
  • As far as I’m aware, self-published authors can’t avail themselves of Amazon’s co-op space. Co-op1 is a BIG FUCKING DEAL to traditional publishing. (And by reports, at least some of the Hachette/Amazon dispute is about co-op fees in a “nice preorder button you have there… shame if you didn’t pay for it and it disappeared” way.)
  • Traditional publishing is somewhat dysfunctional, as far as industries go, and authors are at the bottom of the stack. This is “fair” inasmuch as that authors, while they produce raw content, don’t actually incur any risk per se. (Again, this is the equation that shifts when authors become publishers, a.k.a. self-pub.)

  1. In the context of publishing and bookselling, “co-op space” refers to pretty much any in-store marketing/display technique other than “just shove it on the shelf spine-out somewhere”. That big table of books at the entrance to the store? Yeah, publishers buy space on that table. Ditto for those “top sellers” and “new releases” and whatever shelves. In the context of online stores, co-op is things like “related works” listings, search results, and so on.