In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at the Kindle Storyteller Award and Amazon's impending buy box lawsuit.
Do listen to September's Self-publishing News podcast here. We talk about Spotify, of course, and took a deep dive into what the controversy over AI-generated art means for indie authors and the wider book business. This week's #indieauthorchat is in its usual Wednesday slot, at 8pm UK time, 3pm Eastern Time. Tim will be guiding us through the often murky waters of the world of influencer marketing.
Peter Gibbons Wins £20,000 Kindle Storyteller Award
Monday was a busy day in the UK Houses of Parliament. While the world's media was wondering who the country’s next Prime Minister would be, the literary world awaited the announcement of a far more important winner. The winner of the Kindle Storyteller Award. With a £20,000 first prize, this is one of the richest and highest profile prizes for indie authors.
The award went to Peter Gibbons for King of War. The book is the fourth in his Viking blood and blade saga. Huge congratulations to Peter and fellow shortlisted writers: Ann Girdharry, Jo Kirk, Rachel Lucas, and Clare Lydon.
Looking Back at Frankfurt
We’re in the interim period between Frankfurt Book Fair and our own SelfPubCon. This week, I’ll be playing the role of Janus and looking back on one and forward to the other.
Coming at the end of the northern hemisphere’s Summer rather than the Spring, means that Frankfurt is an interesting touchstone for how the book world will start to reform after the disruption of Covid. And visitor numbers seem to have held up reasonably well. Organisers were bullish about the 90,000 trade visitors who attended. It’s too early to say what the long term is for in-person conferences. For an industry seemingly so keen to set aside its less than stellar reputation on the impact it makes to climate change, I would raise an eyebrow to see much hawking of such events. But not, perhaps, surprised.
Meanwhile, in terms of the actual discussion, audiobooks continue their several year streak as the dominant theme. The reporting from Publishing Perspectives highlights something really interesting. And that’s the sheer variety of approaches to audiobooks that the industry is now taking. What this seems to speak to is an industry sector that’s now becoming mature. And as it becomes mature, it is no longer fighting for its place and, forgive the pun, to be heard. Audio’s place is now something we can take for granted. Not only that, it is a major part of our landscape. The question now is what shape that place takes.
For all that diversity, it is Spotify whose actions hold everyone’s gaze at the moment. And their introduction of a la carte pricing in the US is noteworthy. It marks a move away from both the credit-based subscription model Audible have favoured and the all you can eat model that others have pushed. Authors nervous about what subscription might mean for royalties will be watching keenly.
Looking forward to ALLi's own big Autumn event, SelfPubCon takes place this weekend. You can get the full lowdown on the event by reading what's coming here. From social media to marketing, KDP to translation, we'll be covering a huge range of topics. Including, yes, BookTok. You can access the whole 24 hours of talks for 3 days free. Or you can get hold of a six-month or a lifetime pass, the latter of which will allow you to access all of ALLi's SelfPubCon sessions forever.
Amazon faces $1bn claim over buy box Auctions
For quite some time, there has been speculation over Amazon's preferential treatment of its own products. In the book world, there has been a suspicion that Amazon bestseller lists favour its own imprints. And that this in part is down to the more favourable displays it gives to those imprints, like Thomas and Mercer. Five years ago, ALLi ran a fascinating and in-depth piece that sought to investigate precisely this. It came in response top indie authors expressing concern that their slowing sales may be the result of the rise of Amazon imprints. More important, their fear was that the rise of those imprints might be going hand in hand with preferential treatment. ALLi's investigation found no evidence of this.
But a new $1bn claim coming to the UK courts accuses Amazon of preferentially treating its own products. The context of that treatment is the use of the buy box. That's as opposed to the buy button, which is also the subject of controversy, with sellers able to bid to own the prime real estate on a product page. The buy box is what you see next to the picture of the product that often has another product inside it. That other product is similar to the product on the page. But it is often cheaper. And allegedly, which is crucial to the case here, they are often from Amazon's own ranges. And this, the case alleges, is damaging to customers and to other producers. I await the outcome with great interest.
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