S&S Versus B&N And The Self-Publisher Schadenfreude Tango

So, in case you missed the news, Simon & Schuster are having a very public secret snit with Barnes & Noble over — well, best as I can tell, B&N sees itself as the only big dog left in bookstores and wants better support from publishers, and S&S claims it cannot afford said support and probably also sees itself as one of the only big dogs left in publishing, and blah blah blah, genitals-a-waving, slappy slappy, flappy flappy.

I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong. I know I like Barnes & Noble as a bookstore and I know I like a lot of the books Simon & Schuster puts out. I also know that Barnes & Noble is increasingly focused on things other than books despite still being labeled a “bookstore,” and I also know that Simon & Schuster is occasionally responsible for some pretty scary contract clauses and is also responsible for one of the new vanguard of vanity presses (which in my mind you should avoid like it’s a bitey gonorrhea monkey coming for your wiggly bits).

Point is, they’re both businesses who do awesome things and shitty things.

Because businesses are like that.

I have seen on the sidelines, however, some cheering of this situation.

It is cheering by some — hell, relatively few — self-published authors.

Just the same, I thought I’d take a moment to remind you, as Delilah Dawson does here, that the people who get hurt in all this are, well, people. Authors get hurt because you can’t find their books. Readers get hurt because they can’t find the books they want. Even workers at B&N and S&S are hurt because they’re not a part of this cruel and clumsy tango. They didn’t sanction it. Most of those folks love books and love authors.

Let me say right now that schadenfreude by any author — self-published or otherwise — is an ugly thing. Put it down. Walk away from it. Don’t cheer damage done to other authors. Don’t cheer the erosion of the publishing industry. And further, don’t suspect for one second that something like that couldn’t happen to you. This could happen between any distributor and any publisher (and has, actually). This could happen when Amazon or some other e-tailer changes the rules on self-published work. Nobody is safe in this big corporate scraps.

Whenever Godzilla and Mechagodzilla fight, shits gets broken.

People get stomped.

Nobody wins.

So: no more cheerleading the misery of others, please.

And, if you’re so inclined, feel free to support your favorite Simon & Schuster authors by finding their work wherever you can find it — even if that’s somewhere other than a Barnes & Noble store. (Hey, aren’t indie bookstores cool? Indiebound is your friend.)