Hugh Howey’s Defense of Amazon

August 18, 2014

Responding to four questions in Publishers Weekly August 13, mega-successful author Hugh Howey sticks up for Amazon in its ongoing dispute with Hachette. 

It’s clear that the publishing world is changing. And Howey, whose books are available on Amazon, is probably better versed than most in how things work from several sides. As he writes, “I’m a lifelong reader, bookseller, critic, writer, and publisher.” He has taken this moment to do what he says many writers, bound to their legacy publishers and fearful of reprisal, cannot: speak out about the concerns of authors.

Particularly telling is his comment that because of the contract dispute between Hachette and Amazon, and Amazon’s pulling of pre-orders, fewer books will be sold by Hachette authors. But, Howey says, the “bean counters” at Hachette won’t take that into account. The sales figures will fall, and that will prompt Hachette to drop good authors.

At which point, I would imagine, they would probably self-publish—with Amazon.

Meanwhile, he says that you have Amazon, making books available for less than ever before, and offering the highest percentage of sales to authors in publishing history. That’s one side. You have a colluder on the other side. Factually, both are true.

But Howey isn’t advocating for the destruction of publishing. Indeed, he claims that his blog tries to help publishers sort through the changing dynamics.

He also levels an interesting charge: Despite the recent claim by authors that Amazon is boycotting Hachette authors, brick-and-mortar bookstores boycott Amazon imprint books. That is, you really can still buy Hachette books from Amazon; you really can’t buy Amazon imprints from bookstores.

Need I remind librarians that Amazon does indeed refuse to sell its imprint’s ebooks to libraries? I find that fact hard to square with Howey’s defense that Amazon is “promoting a culture of reading.” 

JAMES LARUE writes, speaks, and consults about the future of libraries. He can be reached at jlarue[at