"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane
Late last year, Barnes and Noble shut down the site that most of the Indies were most dependent upon: Fictionwise. The reason for a shut down was (in my opinion) an attempt to force the customers to switch to their proprietary format, the nook. As recently as five years ago (does that still count as recent?) a broad spectrum of ebook readers were still hoping for a standard format. Instead, what we got were more and more proprietary formats. Fictionwise provided all formats, just as Smashwords does now.
According to recent articles on Publisher’s Weekly, sales have been so bad for the nook and B&N’s ebook line, that the CEO has been forced to resign and they are going through a big reshuffling.
My own titles sold well when Renebooks was publishing them and they were carried on Fictionwise. Those were the largest per title sales that I made and I was a regular on their Dark Fantasy Bestseller lists. When I founded Daverana Enterprises in 08, one of the first things that I did was to find out what it would take to get our books carried on Fictionwise. We were close to making their minimum requirements when B&N bought them and made the place UNfriendly to the Indies. They doubled the minimum requirements.
Other sites have arisen over the past year to try and fill the gap, but so far as I can see none of them are as big or have the potential to be as big as Fictionwise was.
The death of Fictionwise is a symptom of the way that corporations do business. Compared to the larger scheme of things, Indies like my company are very small potatoes. When one of us gets big enough to be noticed, the corporations either gobble us up or find a way to destroy us.
This is not going to stop me from trying to build Daverana up, but it does give me pause to think. It’s also why I voted for Elizabeth Warren.
Oh dear, you might say, that ugly word has now reared its ugly head: POLITICS.
I cringe when I see the Republicans consider small businesses to be those with slightly under 10,000 workers. They cannot conceive of a business the size of my own and that of other indies. I have seven people on staff and five more who are freelancers. That’s not counting our authors, of course. Indies like us do not exist in their eyes until we get large enough to get squashed.
On the one hand, I believe that Indies (and I’m talking at this point about more than just publishing) hold the seeds for a better tomorrow. But first we need politicians who are willing to go the distance to protect us from the unjust and destructive practices of major corporations.
If we don’t get political, we will not survive.