Giving Amazon less of my money

You know the saying, putting my money where my mouth is. Well over the weekend I finally decided to further increase my distance from Amazon. I’m going to move away from my Kindle.

Kyle's mom from Southpark, courtey of giphy

I know, right?

More and more, over the last year it has become obvious that Amazon and Jeff Bezos are not just too powerful, but too evil.

I had, until now, been against Kindle Unlimited as an author, but (slightly) ok with it as a reader. I’ve canceled my KU subscription. Nothing against those authors making a killing in it, but it’s not a model I can support any more.

So, what now?

I already use Calibre to manage my ebook library; downloading my Amazon purchases and storing them locally, so it’s just been a matter of going back a decade and downloading older stuff (I say that like it’s not hundreds of books). I also had to figure out how to strip Amazon’s DRM (Remember, evil) and re-download some of the more recent purchases. Don’t worry, I don’t share my files, but to convert to ePub to read on other devices, the DRM has to be stripped.

Then What?

Well, I have a Kobo Clara HD on its way. I already bought a book on the Kobo store, to ensure that I could still download and store locally my purchases, so that’s easy enough workflow wise. My understanding is that while not as tightly coupled as Kindles, the Kobo devices are pretty well tied to their store, so purchases show up, etc.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this decision. One of the final straws was this site, visualizing Jeff Bezos’ wealth. I see that and think about Kindle Unlimited, which is the only instance of zero-sum in publishing, forcing authors to cheat to get ahead, which screws others, while Amazon would take years to react. If Amazon wanted to fix Kindle Publishing, they could, in a week. They don’t because it’s profitable (I’m guessing) to not.

Barnes & Noble might have been my first choice, but they just can’t seem to figure out what they want to be, bookstore, nerd stuff store, e-reader maker, etc. All the while spiraling the drain, so they were out.

Generic android powered reader thing, Uh, no. Jesus, no.

So that left Kobo. They’re a strong competitor to Amazon. They treat authors pretty well. Their store is on par with Amazon’s. They seemed like a good partner.

Will I stop selling on Amazon?

Not at all. Will I continue my ongoing efforts to reduce my dependency on Amazon? Yes.

From the beginning of this year, I’ve focused a lot on ads targeting Nook and Kobo readers. Amazon is certainly still the biggest piece of the pie, but where they were almost 80% of my income in 2019, they’re just 64% of my income thus far in 2020.

Wait, what about Apple?

Well, a few things.

  1. I don’t like reading on glossy and lit screens. Even with clever light shifting tricks, an ereader is a far super screen if you want to feel like you’re reading on paper, which I do.
  2. my iPad ain’t light, at least not compared to a dedicated ereader.
  3. Add in that even with DND mode on, it’s too easy to wander when reading, “What’s up on Facebook? Lemme look?” or “I should tweet about this.”
  4. Apple aren’t great partners. They’re opaque, they (somehow) pick who and what to promo.
  5. Their tools are HORRIBLE. (Update: 5/8/20) Well I might be wrong now, we’ll see.

No knocks on those who like to read on Apple books, more power to ya. Just not for me.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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