So I’ve been reading the discussions regarding Jessica Yee, her book, and publicity, and there were some comments somewhere about not going with Amazon because that would be “selling out” and wanting to support an indie publisher. Which got me a bit flummoxed.
Firstly, Amazon’s more of a distributor/retailer (though they are breaking into publishing), so it shouldn’t make a difference who she publishes with.
But secondly - and most importantly - how much does “not selling out” matter to you to the point of limiting access to your work?
The book, Feminism for REAL, is currently only available in one location, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Not the most obvious spot for book sales, especially if you’re not in Canada. The book itself is $15, close parity to AUD, so it’s not so bad pricewise.
Shipping cost: $18. MORE THAN THE BOOK. Which unfortunately is a dealbreaker for me. That’s what happens when you live in Australia - shipping is a pain. At least with Amazon you can select from a wide range, and shipping works out cheaper. In fact, I know a lot of people who buy from Amazon because even though it ships from the US, the book + shipping is still cheaper than the book in Australia alone!
Also Amazon has Kindle, which means ebook options, which means (usually) more accessible and cheaper versions of books that I can get right now, rather than waiting who knows how long for a book to show up. Saves paper too! But mostly I get access to a range of books on topics I’m passionate about - books that I can’t often find here in Brisbane, even in the libraries, because the libraries focus on Australian publishers and the stuff I’m after tend to be American.
Is all that accessibility and spreading of knowledge worth losing to gain some sort of indie cred? Is there no way that the CPA could collaborate with another distributor to get the book out to more people who can afford it? How much does it cost (in time and money) to convert it to ebook format?
There’s been a lot of talk about privilege in publishing, but sometimes I feel like actions & attitudes like these just reinforce the privilege of this sort of knowledge and information being restricted to an academic elite, rather than to the masses who are probably most familiar with Amazon than anything else. “ooo can’t get the philistines to read it themselves! they need to DO THE WORK!” yeah come on.
okay i tried to write this as a reply but it was too long.
VERY QUICKLY: first things first, jessica yee never said anything about “selling out” as far as i can tell: she said “selling her soul.”
…people telling me that I need to sell my soul to Amazon or a bigger name publication and not stick with an independent, small-house, union printed publisher so we can be “known” isn’t something I want to do (and is honestly counter-productive to what the book is about anyways). [from her article at Racialicious]
i hear where you’re coming from tiara but i feel like this is a bit out of left field. if i understand correctly, your argument in favour of jessica going for a big publisher like amazon is because it will mean cheaper shipping prices for someone halfway across the world, fullstop. yee gives three reasons (and doesn’t address “accessibility” as you put it but rather notoriety) as to why she chose not to go with them. i clearly don’t know where she stands on this, but wouldn’t be surprised if you reached out to her directly she would respond.
but, from what i personally have heard of amazon’s fuck ups regarding censorship of queer materials, in addition to other moral quandries, i can definitely understand why a badass feminist like jessica yee would decide against supporting them in favour of, as she puts it, a small-house, independent union printed publisher.
i think this is also part of a larger debate amongst activists, writers, musicians, artists: do i go with someone who will make it so more people can access it, or do i stick to my political guns and go with a distributor/publisher/producer who represents and supports my politics? it’s a tough balance to strike.