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Troy

What do you think the state of African American Literature is today?

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I've been going on about the problems Amazon, Google, and social media have created for Black booksellers and how much harder these entities have made it for me.  I spend a lot of time talking about these issues because I spend much of my mental energy dealing with them and I've witnessed the impact they have on the entire Black book ecosystem.  

 

 

One could also almost assume from my rants that Black literature itself is struggling.

 

This morning I stumbled across this Youtube video of Ta-Nehisi Coates responding to the question, "What is the state of African American Literature today?"  He said  "I don't have a good answer for that..."  Now Coates was asked this question 5 years ago and he may respond differently to it.  While I've met Coates and he has been to my home.  I don't know him well enough to fire off a an email to get an updated answer.

 

But what struck me was that this question would have been easy for me to answer today and 5 years. I just published a blog post to give my answer.  

 

What do you think the state of African American Literature is today?

 

 

 

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GOOD DAY, TROY! IN MY OWN OPINION, I FEEL THAT AMAZON IS CONTINUING TO RUIN PUBLISHERS BRANDS AND BOOKS BY DRIVING PRICES WAY TOO LOW: REASON WHY GHETTOHEAT STOPPED SELLING BOOKS ON THERE FOR SOME TIME NOW: POSITIONING IS VITAL. GOOGLE OFFERING FREE BOOKS ONLINE DOESN'T HELP ONE BIT EITHER. SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN'T HURT BOOK SALES FOR BOOKSELLERS: IT ENHANCES THEM, AT LEAST FOR GHETTOHEAT.... YET, THIS ISN'T WHERE THE PROBLEM STOPS: BLAME SOME OF THE BLACK BOOKSELLERS, BOOKSTORES, STREET BOOK VENDORS & DISTRIBUTORS FOR NOT ALWAYS VALUING BLACK AUTHORS AND THEIR WORKS (A PRIME EXAMPLE OF HOW MANY IN THE INDUSTRY DIDN'T & STILL DON'T RESPECT URBAN FICTION: ALTHOUGH IT HAS KEPT THE LIGHTS ON IN MANY STORES THAT STILL EXIST...THE FEW THAT STILL EXIST....), FOR DISCOUNTING BOOKS TOO OFTEN, FOR HAVING THE AUDACITY TO BOOTLEG CERTAIN WORKS (YES, I SAID IT!)...AND FOR SOLELY FOCUSING ON CERTAIN AUTHORS IN THE LIMELIGHT INSTEAD OF ACTUALLY TAKING THE TIME TO NOT ONLY FIND OUT WHAT BOOKS SOLD & WHY, BUT TO FIND OUT WHO ACTUALLY HAD/HAS REAL TALENT TO MAINTAIN GREAT SALES FOR STORES, OPPOSE TO JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON AND DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE DOES WHILE SHUNNING UPON THE UNDERDOGS WHO IN MY OPINION, POSSESSED GREATER TALENT THAN THE CASH COWS.... AGAIN, THIS IS SOLELY MY OPINION: EXPERIENCE IS THE BEST TEACHER, AND I'VE LEARNED VERY WELL.... I DISCUSS MUCH OF THIS AMONG OTHER THINGS IN MY UPCOMING MEMOIR, MR. GHETTOHEAT.  

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Well Hickson, I have to to say that if every publisher did what you have done and stopped selling their books on Amazon, then Amazon would not control our books they why they do today.  

 

Amazon

A wholesale boycott of Amazon would be impossible.  Amazon would have their, I mean "our" federal govern go after the publishers and accuse them of collusion. Even though Amazon is effectively a monopoly!  As far a bootlegging, it is well known that Amazon will produce knockoffs of popular products they learn are selling well on their website.  Amazon also serves as the biggest platform for he bootlegging of movies--far better than even Youtube!  Their marketplace is a virtual bazaar of fake products.  

 

Amazon has already opened up stores in NYC; selling books below the price I can buy them for wholesale from the distributor!  Amazon can sell books at a loss until all of their competition is ground to dust. Amazon just opened a Wholefoods on the corner of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Blvds. (OK the Amazon purchase of Wholefoods has not closed yet, but again Amazon owns the feds the deal will go through).

 

Social Media
How are you selling books on social media @HICKSON?  Are you actually transacting directly on the platform (Facebook allow this), or are you having visitor go to some other site to transact?  If it is another site, send me the links I can update the Ghettoheat Books on AALBC.com to that they go to the site where people should buy the books.

 

Black Booksellers

Man running a book website is very hard. Running a physical bookstore--especially in today's environment--must be damn near impossible. So hard for me to be critical of any bookseller particularity one running a brick and mortar store.  

 

Speaking as bookseller, we all make mistakes, we all have our own biases, and honestly many of us are operating on fumes. As a result, we may make decisions or do things that might come across a slighting an author.  This is not always be the case.  That said, I do know some NYC booksellers were notorious from marginalizing indie authors, but they are no longer around.

 

Now consider this: most authors, indie or otherwise, do nothing to support the bookseller.  Now author they may feel this is unnecessary, but this stands in stark contrast to majority of authors who constantly and relentlessly say connect with them on social media and buy their books from Amazon!

 

If I, or any bookseller, got that kind free promotion from authors it would be a much better environment for booksellers, authors, publishers, and readers.

 

Now Hickson, you support booksellers and you ditched Amazon, but you are the exception, not the rule.  

 

How many Black authors do you see posting in the forum--even occasionally?  AALBC.com is far and away the largest platform for Black books and I can't drag people away from Facebook!  Just today an author I know was on Facebook lamenting the lack of Black business. She wrote an 763 word article to make her point. I see this all the time.  The people who make these comments don't seem to understand that giving Facebook free articles just lines Mark's pockets and strengthens his ability to keep Black folks away from Black sites!

 

Facebook will never serve as a tool empower Black people or businesses.  Facebook is optimized, by the best brains available, to extract our wealth, time, and data.

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TROY, WHEN I CAME ON THE SCENE IN 2003, YOU WERE THE FIRST PERSON IN THE BOOK INDUSTRY THAT I MET: YOU CAME TO MY FIRST POETRY READING IN HARLEM. I'VE BEEN VERY LOYAL TO YOU AND OFTEN PROMOTE MY AALBC LINKS I POST: AALBC.COM IS THE ONLY LITERARY SITE I POST ON! SO KNOW THAT WHEN I POST, IT'S ALWAYS A GHETTOHEAT EXCLUSIVE,& ON AALBC.COM ! :0) AS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA, I'VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL WITH BUILDING A FOLLOWING ON THE MAJOR NETWORKS. I JUST BEGAN SELLING ON FACEBOOK THROUGH MY PAGES WITH PAYPAL, BUT I DO DIRECT SALES ON SOCIAL MEDIA WITH PEOPLE WHO PLACE ORDERS BY SENDING ME DIRECT MESSAGES. :0) I FULLY ENGAGE WITH MY AUDIENCE DAILY, AND THEY SUPPORT ME.

 

AS FOR THE BOOKSTORES: AS MUCH AS I WOULD LOVE TO DO BUSINESS WITH REPUTABLE PEOPLE, IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE AS MANY DON'T EXIST...& THE FEW WHO ARE REPUTABLE, HAVE, OR ARE GOING UNDER, REASON FOR ME DOING DIRECT SALES.... *SHRUGS*

 

I ALSO FEEL THE INDUSTRY BEGAN BEING TROUBLED WHEN OTHER AUTHORS AND PUBLISHED BEGAN DEVALUING THEIR BOOKS BY SLASHING PRICES DRASTICALLY: INCLUDING OFFERING THOUSANDS OF FREE DOWNLOADS AND SELLING BOOKS AT 99 CENTS. AGAIN, I'M NOT HERE TO KNOCK ANYBODY OR THEIR BUSINESS TACTICS, ALL I'M SAYING IS THAT GHETTOHEAT HAS BEEN SELLING BOOKS AT REAL INDUSTRY STANDARDS SINCE ITS CREATION IN 2003: & NOTHING HAS CHANGED--MY PRICES HAVEN'T AND WON'T.... I DON'T DO ALL THAT I DO ON A DAILY BASIS: WORKING 18 HOURS A DAY EVERY DAY, TO DEVALUE MYSELF, MY CLIENTS OR MY GOODS. SO I'LL CONTINUE AT WHAT I'M DOING, AND STAY TUNNEL VISION AS ALWAYS IN THE PROCESS. TROY, I'M GOING TO CONTACT YOU SOON BEHIND THE SCENES. HAVE A BLESSED DAY! #GHETTOHEATSALUTE

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