There are two ways we can deal with the news that two of the ‘Big Six’ US publishers have reportedly refused to sign new contracts with Amazon, with Amazon consequently pulling promotional support for their titles. We can tell you straight up, like we just did, and you can go on about your day. Or, we can use it as a prime opportunity to expand the continuing adventures of Amazon, international hitman and underworld kingpin, as detailed in previous posts on the subject. And which do you think sounds more fun? Exactly.
They were known round town as ‘the Big Six’. Nobody knew their real names, but everyone knew their reputations: all blood and fire and the cold steel of a knife in the dark. Hatchet. The Mack. Frostbite. Happenstance. Johnny Two-Snakes. Ad HoC. Sure, they may have sounded like a bunch of rejected villains for a forgotten Batman spin-off, probably one called What The Butler Saw that focused on Alfred’s own secret crimefighting days before he hooked up with the Wayne family, but between them, they had run this town that apparently the publishing industry is in this metaphor.
That was, until he showed up. Amazon had come out of nowhere, no affiliations, no loyalties, no motives but an unquenchable thirst to take over, see? One by one, suppliers had fallen, snitches turned, crooked cops turned a blind eye. Now, he had them all in a headlock: yearly contracts to guarantee safe transit of their gear through the marketplace. And now he’d gathered them all here, in this rundown warehouse in which it was mandated by law that this kind of deal go down, to renew the contracts.
‘What’s takin’ him so long?!’ cried Johnny Two-Snakes, clearly getting anxious. A side door opened and they had their answer: as Amazon walked through, pulling off his black leather gloves, they could see a leg through the crack in the door, lying on the floor, twitching. All six snapped their collective gaze away from the door, and waited to be addressed.
‘Gentlemen! Welcome!’ cried Amazon with the unassailable confidence of one confident that he is unlikely to be assailed at any point in the foreseeable future. ‘I’ll keep this brief. I hear two of you are thinking of bailing on your contracts for this coming year! Well, needless to say, the consequences of such a decision could be dire. Quite dire. Thank you for your time.’
Before they realised it, all six were outside, standing trembling in the rain. Johnny Two-Snakes was grateful that the weather hid the tears of fear running down his cheeks.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.