Amazon-Hachette: by your words shall we know ye

Amazon-Hachette: all fighting, no fun, right?

We thought it was time to lighten up, so we’ve created two beautiful images, word clouds in both cases.

The first one is based entirely on material taken from the Authors Guild, in the sections of its blog devoted to Advocacy where it talks about this issue. As the pre-eminent writers organisation in the US, I thought it was only fair to let the Guild fly solo on this one.

The second one aims to create a visual depiction of the rhetoric of the rival, pro-Amazon, camp. I’ve used content taken from Readers United (an Amazon creation), from Hugh Howey and from JJ Marsh/David Gaughran. I’ve selected the latter two pieces, simply because those posts are cited by Amazon in their must-read bibliography and are, indeed, meaty and authoritative articles.

The construction of these word clouds is truly simple. I used this online tool (that has, as far as I’m aware, no ideological affiliation with either party) and pasted in the text copied from the sources listed above. The Word Cloud tool discards common words (the, and, etc), then checks the frequency of everything else. The more times a particular word appears in the text, the larger the font used to display the word in the image. It’s like maths, only prettier.

Got all that? OK, so good.

Here’s what the Authors Guild word cloud looks like: (you can click to enlarge it)

Authors Guild Word Cloud Amazon Hachette

And here’s what the pro-Amazon word cloud looks like: (you can click to enlarge it)

Readers United Word Cloud Amazon Hachette

They’re kind of similar in a lot of ways. The words you’d expect to be there are there, and prominently: Amazon, Hachette, authors, books.

And some of the other words, though somewhat less prominent, give a real flavour of the unfolding situation: words like dispute, defense, tactics, culture.

It’s also notable that the Author’s Guild has a tendency to use words like council, president, letter, antitrust. Governmental words, if you like. The Amazon cloud reads a little differently from that: you’ll see their image chockful of words like industry, prices, sales, ebooks, revenue. Business words, not government ones.

Now we’re completely without sides in this debate. This author is currently being (very well) published by Hachette and is about to be published, in the US, through Kindle Direct. So me personally: I love both sides; I love them to bits; the pair of them give me a wonderful living, in every sense.

Only here’s the thing. Books are all about readers, right? They’re who we do this for. They’re the noble souls who feed this wonderful industry. But just glance back at those images, the Authors Guild one and the Amazon one. See if you can spot who forgot to mention the poor blessed readers – and have a wonderful weekend.

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