Okay, so I do have one little point to add regarding the Infamous Amazon E-Mail.
It includes a call to action–a request for readers of the letter to contact the CEO of Hatchette. That more than anything else is what is causing the buzz about the letter.
People are asking, “Why do they expect me to contact Hatchette?” And posting links to letter, just like I did. Then more people are reading the letter and posting the same thing, including a link to the letter.
That’s why. Jeff Bezos, first and foremost, is a salesman. He is the salesman, someone who has elevated the profession into an art. Everything that he has done to build Amazon from a garage shop to a multi-national conglomerate has been based on being the best salesman on the planet.
Does he expect that this e-mail will get people to write to Hatchette? Maybe some will. Does he expect that a deluge of e-mails from indie authors like me will break Hatchette’s hard heart and make the negotiations go smoothly?
Let’s not be silly.
This e-mail is an end run around the stranglehold that publishing conglomerates have on the media business. Pretty much every news outlet has some ties to a major publisher of some kind or another. Consequently the coverage of the Amazon-Hatchette dispute have been almost universally slanted against Amazon.
Amazon’s side of the story is written about by indie authors in their blogs. Not a huge platform when compared with network news and national papers.
The content of the e-mail is pretty straightforward. It makes the same comparisons between e-books and paperback books that I have been making for years. It points out that there is no practical reason that an e-book should list at the same price as a hardcover book. It lays out an argument that I think is clear and well-reasoned. You may not agree with it, but it makes its points clearly and concisely.
In short, it’s pretty dull.
The call to action, the request that the readers send an e-mail to Hatchette, is the hook. It’s there to get people talking about the letter and reposting it and getting people to read it.
That’s pretty clever. It’s kind of like all those gimmicks like “Fright Insurance” and “No One Will Admitted During The Last Ten Minutes” that William Castle did to promote his films. If you give people something to argue about then they will do your promotion for you.