Indie News Beat: Cashing in on ICANN

Sometimes it feels like the publishing industry is besieged with scam artists and con merchants, eager to part the unwary storyteller from their cash with promises of quality and exposure. Crafted with not an once of substance, these promises seduce the writer into believing that their novel is special, and that against all evidence to the contrary, their novel will sell by the bucket-load. Once an Indie Author has been around the block, however, it becomes easy to go too far down the road of cynicism, and respond to every new opportunity with the worn refrain: “What’s the catch?”

Thus, our first stop in this edition of Indie News Beat is this story on The Bookseller, which reports that unpublished authors will be given a shot at pitching their work to agents at next month’s London Book Fair. On offer is a 15-minute spot, predictably called “The LitFactor Pitch”, to talk directly to one of several London literary agents and “receive advice on style, content and presentation.”

The article claims that the 15-minute slots are offered free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis, but I think it’s worth noting that this “AuthorLounge” agent meet-up will be curated by a marketing outfit called Authoright, whose website shows that it’s the marketing arm of Authonomy. You can see a pattern in their word formation there, can’t you? So, if you’re in AuthoLondon next Authomonth, from 15th to 17th, and you feel like putting your best authowork in front of some experienced agents, it could be the thing for you, even if the agents end up telling you that your authobook is a steaming pile of authomanure, because you didn’t publish with Authonomy.

Elsewhere in the news, Amazon has upset even more people by making a “land-grab” for new domain names. As part of the long-awaited expansion of the web’s addressing scheme, new, top-level domains (TLDs) will shortly become available. This story on eWeek explains that Amazon is leading the pack to take control of addresses ending in “.book”, “.read” and “.author”.

As the story points out, this is not how TLDs are supposed to be used, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been besieged by other market players with demands to prevent Amazon gaining control of these TLDs. Barnes and Noble wrote a letter to ICANN claiming that the result would be “disastrous”, and that “placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anti-competitive, allowing already dominant, well-capitalized companies to expand and entrench their market power. The potential for abuse seems limitless.”

They do make a strong case: ICANN itself describes one of its key responsibilities as “introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names.” The point here is that TLDs fall into two groups: closed brand names (e.g. “.amazon”, “.gap”), and generic names. As the Barnes and Noble letter points out, Amazon disregarded ICANN’s guidelines to make a grab for generic TLDs which, if granted, will mean that no one will be able to register a second-level domain without Amazon’s permission.

Amazon isn’t the only giant swishing its gnarled hands to snatch at bright and pretty things, as Google has applied for ownership of 101 TLDs, including “.dog”, “.baby” and “.kid” Now that the period for lodging objections with ICANN has closed, we have to wait and see on whose side ICANN comes down. Watch this space.

Author: Chris James

Chris James is an English author who lives in Warsaw, Poland, with his wife and three children. He has published three full-length science fiction novels and is currently writing a series of short story volumes inspired by characters in songs from the rock band Genesis. For more information, please visit his website or Amazon author page.

7 thoughts on “Indie News Beat: Cashing in on ICANN”

  1. Holy crap! What more can they do to limit Indies. Maybe, just this once, I did something right when I snagged the domain name – which will be the one for my new website, soon to go live.

    1. It’s easy to imagine, in just a couple of years, that when we publish a new book, we might want to purchase the “” domain. But not if Amazon gets hold of all of them first. Then, when a potential reader hears about the title of a book, and they search Google for it, the top return will be Amazon’s “.book” address for their Kindle page. Competition, eh?

  2. Wow! CLEARLY anti-competitive! While I believe that Amazon is like China…they’re here to stay , get used it… they’re not trying to step over the boundary, but leap over it…high-jump the damned thing! Will be watching to see how ICANN handles this. Thanks for the heads up Chris.

  3. I am very interested to see what happens with the requested domain names. I have a few domain names that I’ve purchased and done nothing with.
    Thanks for the info.

  4. I’ve had domain names for years in my businesses. If I came up with one I felt I’d use, I’d buy it for a year and then discard it if I didn’t use it afterall. Amazon doing this is certainly not great for the rest of us, from what I can see. However, companies and people inside and out of the US have been doing this for years, just maybe not on the same scale as Amazon. I also custom paint shoes, and I continually get email invites to buy domains that are similar in name to mine.

  5. Wow! Wow indeed but not surprising. Amazon, it seems, is a bit like the planet eater from Star Trek. Thanks for lighting up those dark corners of our literary/publishing universe, Chris. Great article as usual.

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