Industry analysts seem certain the Amazon, Apple and Google online battle ‘will benefit authors’ in the e-book market. As the three tech giants invest heavily in their publishing platforms, the concern remains the terms offered to authors. There is no guarantee that the three corporations will treat authors any better than Uber treated its drivers or Spotify treats artists in the new publishing ‘gig economy.’
2020 saw improvements to Apple’s author portal (for those without Macs), while Google Play redesigned its analytics dashboard for author sales. It looks likely both platforms will invest further to attract indie authors in 2021.
This doesn’t automatically mean a huge win for authors. Amazon has a huge market lead over the others. It wants to move more sales to subscriptions and that subscription model will almost certainly cut royalties to authors.
Marketing and promotion on Amazon is increasingly pay-to-play. Apple and Google are sure to follow suit at some point when the revenue model can sustain it.
As previous industrial revolutions have demonstrated, increased competition amongst growing monopoly players does not guarantee benefits to the workers supplying the product. Weavers, potters and assembly line workers all had to fight against exploitation. This time, it could be the authors’ turn.