Hello World… Beyond Amazon

Viva la revolución!

For six years, we have breathed, bought from, blessed — and, increasingly, bemoaned Amazon. If not for the genius of Kindle, and Jeff Bezos, Curiosity Quills Press likely would never have existed beyond a writerly blog, possibly titled Curiosity Kills (changed literally at the last minute, and seriously one of the best decisions of my life!)

But, for better or worse, the Kindle revolution has overtaken the publishing world, shrunk the Big 6 of NYC publishing leviathans down to a Big 5, and exposed the public to the works of J.R. Rain, Hugh Howey, Heidi McLaughlin, John Locke, A.G. Riddle, Richard Roberts, and those of countless others — both self-published and picked up by small-to-medium publishing houses that sprang up to take advantage of the new ecosystem. An ecosystem that seemed incredibly friendly at the outset, but which has since grown into an unwieldy beast that is as liable to gobble up its contributors (which it has now come to treat as its competition, by virtue of Amazon’s own multiple publishing imprints) as help them find their audiences and make their living doing what they do best: inspiring and entertaining their readers.

As Amazon exploded past its humble, bookstore-on-the-web roots into a true “everything store,” closer to its self-admitted vision of becoming so ubiquitous that it would be practically un-American and certainly ill-advised to shop elsewhere, be it for food, entertainment, or diapers (yes, there’s a story there) — and as it came to shatter ecosystems and grind stock into the ground by so much as mentioning it is planning to move into a new line of business, the publishing paradigms Amazon itself had a hand in establishing have begun to crack.

Author advances tumbled, scammers taking advantage of Kindle Unlimited descended unchecked to further cut into authors’ shriveling earnings, physical bookstores shuttered, leaving behind such relics as Borders Plaza — minus Borders itself — and the smaller publishing houses and independent authors increasingly found themselves scrambling for sales, then shutting down. Ours is now a dog-eat-… many-tiny-little-ants world.

Curiosity Quills Press is still here. So are a few other similarly-aged houses. Not many. But many more will pop up, at least temporarily, because the gold rush of Kindle is still there — and inescapable, considering the near-monopoly Amazon now enjoys on both the print and e-book distribution systems in the US (and increasingly in other countries, as well).

Having been exclusive to it, having contributed to it, and benefited from its enormous reach, propagated by authors and publishers such as ourselves… today is the day we’re done.

WishKnish has been a brainchild of ours since February 2016, when we realized that all of our advertising funds and all of our marketing efforts only sent more customers to Amazon, and forced us to keep pouring yet more money their way just to maintain a stable sales graph lest Amazon’s algorithms punish us for not selling as well ALL the time — or for having a relative or a social acquaintance (or even a fan we had never so much as met outside of Facebook!) buy or review our books — and skewing what it considers fair representation in its ranking mechanism.

Dream it? Build it? Live it?

Cumulative effort in marketing? Low commission fees? Discoverability based on merit and hard work? Not in Amazon’s world. But it could be in ours.

Welcome to my journey of imagining, building, and unveiling our answer to the “everything store” — decentralized, democratic, fully transparent. An answer run on the promise, safety, and strength of blockchain technology, incentivized referral, subscription, bundling, affiliate marketing, and payments in dollars, pounds, yen, bitcoin, ether, iota, and everything in between!

With an (admittedly lofty) vision to expand beyond the digital borders of WishKnish, to connect with businesses, projects, charitable causes, and political movements the world over — on websites, at real-world physical locations and events, and wherever else potential customers may be found — we welcome everyone’s thoughts, comments, support. And yes, jeers too!

No more wishes for us, or for our launch partners. WishKnish has arrived. Or, at least, the working prototype thereof. Now, it will be up to us to make sure it lives up to our dreams!