No, this isn’t an April’s Fool, to quote the article:
Amazon is to begin paying royalties to writers based on the number of pages read by Kindle users, rather than the number of books downloaded.
I could get really angry about this.
I could start a huge post about how Orwellian, how unfair, how this completely screws any and every person who has ever put pen to paper.
I could write about how this illustrates perfectly that Amazon are abusing their DOJ sanctioned monopoly and that someone needs to do something.
I could get really angry about this statement from Mr Bezos:
We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read.
See authors! You shouldn’t be angry because you asked for this! Great feedback people!
I could get even angrier about some of the comments in this article from people who have never written a book or done anything creative in their entire life:
I think popular writers will get paid more under this new system.
As if being ‘popular’ is something that benefits society. Hurrah for conformity!
I could be apoplectic with rage about the privacy issues that Amazon know’s which freaking page I’m on in a book I’ve purchased from them.
But I won’t – all I think about are the writers. Those poor (and I mean poor) authors who spend the best part of a decade labouring over something that means everything to them, only to be screwed at every turn by people who haven’t one ounce of creativity in them and leech off those who do.
I know that the changes are purely for Kindle Unlimited where subscribers pay a set amount each month to borrow as many books as they like, but Amazon has form on this and this is the thin end of a very shitty wedge.
Trying to look past all this and to see a bigger picture here, it illustrates a very important point.
Everything around you was created by someone. That film you saw, that music you heard, that painting you experienced, that game you played, that book you read are all created by artists in one form or another.
But art in itself doesn’t put food on the table, doesn’t pay the mortgage, doesn’t put your kids through school.
Artists will only create those things if they get paid fairly for them, if they can’t make a living out if them, they aren’t going to just sit there and starve. They will just stop doing it and go and find work elsewhere – probably as a slave in one of Jeff’s automated warehouses.
A film director, a musician, a painter, a game designer and that poor author, doesn’t have a clue whether what they are creating will be successful and make back in monetary terms what it cost them in effort, effort that’s sometimes measured in years.
The creative process isn’t perfect, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t, but if you only get paid for the ‘popular’ hits – you will starve. The money you make on the ‘misses’, allows you to create the ‘hits’.
Imagine a society where artists only create sure-fire ‘populist’ content, nothing challenging, divisive, opinion-forming, upsetting will ever be created again – that’s not a society I want to be part of.
It’s a worrying development and it stems from people who have never created anything in their life, but have found a business in leeching of those who do.