The latest indie publishing sensation and German responses to Amazon’s publishing ventures

The Telegraph reports about the newest self-publishing phenomenon, British writer Kerry Wilkinson who sold more than 250 000 books in less than a year, which made him the bestselling Kindle author in the UK.

Of course, mega-bestselling indie writers are still outliers. But it is notable that more and more of these outliers keep cropping up.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s foray into publishing is not just bothering various US publishers and booksellers, as evidenced by all those reports that Barnes & Noble and other bookstores are refusing to carry Amazon published books (well, it’s their funeral). German publishers are also seeing the writing on the wall, for no one can say whether Amazon isn’t planning to publish their own books in Germany as well.

Hence, the German publishing industry trade magazine Buchreport has asked various publishing industry insiders what they think of Amazon’s publishing ventures.

Joachim Kaps, head of the manga specialist Tokyopop Germany, makes the most sense, when he says that Amazon‘s publishing imprints may be a threat for large publishers, but not for a niche publisher like his own company. He also makes a very important point, namely that publishers should pay more attention to what their authors want and need to prevent them from going indie or jumping ship to Amazon’s imprints.

Matthias Ullmer of the Eugen Ullmer Verlag publishing company believes that Amazon will never amount to anything in the publishing business, because publishing is just too much work. I don’t even know what to say to this, since Mr Ullmer seems hopelessly stuck in the past.

Finally, we have Imre Török, head of the German writers’ organisation Veband deutscher Schriftsteller. Mr Török believes that Amazon is threatening the “literary ecosystem with its many highly qualified and differentiated publishing companies” and will only focus on mainstream bestsellers, while all of those wonderful highly qualified traditional publishers truly take care of their authors. Oh yes, and Amazon is threatening the fixed book price agreement as well.

Török’s response is really the most clueless of the three, which is doubly striking because he is the only author interviewed. Because an author should see the advantages that self-publishing via Kindle Direct Publishing has for writers whose work is not commercial enough for a publisher.

Of course, indie writers don’t exist in Imre Török’s world, presumably because they miss out on all the wonderful caretaking provided by traditional publishers. Never mind that the word Török uses for what publishers do for authors, “betreuen”, makes authors sound like little children in need of having their butts wiped, did this whole comprehensive caretaking of an author ever really exist except in special circumstances such as the legendary German publisher Siegfried Unseld often paying the bills of his most important writers for years, while the authors continuously failed to produce the contracted books? And frankly, I have always found this whole Überfather aspect of Siegfried Unseld rather disturbing, not to mention that Suhrkamp wouldn’t let a lowly pulp writer like me through the door anyway.

German indie writer Frank Dellen has a fabulous response to Imre Török at Prosaschleuder.

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