Author Hugh Howey Has Good Questions for Amazon

I admit it–because of all the Amazon/publisher tiffs lately, I’ve started to view breakthrough author Hugh Howey as a bit of an Amazon brown-noser; he always seemed quick to defend the ebook giant, even when they made strange choices. But I think maybe that assumption was wrong.

He recently published a long list of questions directed at Amazon, titled simply “Stuff I Want to Know.” Some of his questions seem…trivial:

I would love to know why we don’t have any sort of gamification of writing implemented yet? Writers should receive little congratulatory badges for hitting reasonable sales milestones.

Why don’t you all create a newsletter system for authors?

But he also has some extremely good and pointed questions, and it’s good to see his perspective as a super-producing Amazon insider. For example:

I want to know why you all haven’t come out and explained that the 70% cut we make on ebooks priced in a certain range aren’t really royalties. (See #5 of this list for an example of improper usage of the term). When they’re called royalties, the 70% seems exceedingly generous. Because publishers pay a lot less. But publishers provide other services, like editing and cover art. We are handing you a finished product. As a distribution fee, you taking 30% (plus more for delivery fees) sounds less crazy-generous. It seems downright reasonable, in fact. Or even an area where you all could afford to give a little more.

Or:

I would love to know how many readers borrow a book and then go on to buy a copy of the same book. I’ve done this before, and I tend to doubt my uniqueness. For Prime members especially, who only get one borrow a month, do they ever love an ebook so much that they decide to own a copy for good?

It’s great stuff, providing both a peek behind the curtain and some food for thought. Read the whole post here.

I’m still only gently wading into the publishing world, but do any of you have questions for Amazon or any of the major publishers? What are the things you want to know? So much of the process is cloaked in mystery; there has to be something.

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