The Word for Writers
Fredas Foibles 3 30 08
by Freda Douglas
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This article is quite long, even though I have not quoted it all. It was written by Angela Hoy of www.booklocker.com, publisher and seller of my book Winds of Change. I would encourage my readers to discontinue using amazon.com for your reading and research needs. B&N have the same books and they also offer reduced shipping.
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!
I have to wonder if Jeff Bezos is even aware of what is going on within his organization. Here is Amazon's Vision Statement, taken directly from their website:
"Our vision is to be earth's most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online."
What it doesn't say is, "Our customers can buy any print on demand book they might want online...as long as we also get paid to print it.
Nobody likes being backed into a corner, and saying "do this or else" naturally breeds angry rejection and hostility. If we did agree to sign the contract, pulling and transferring files to Amazon/Booksurge would take an enormous amount of time and money. From the POD publishers we've talked to, and from our own experience at BookLocker, we could all be looking at a dire and immediate threat of revenue cuts if we refuse to sign the Amazon/BookSurge contract.
Most importantly, there could be an outcry from and potential financial hardship on the authors, who are completely innocent in all of this.
In BookLocker's opinion, and the opinion of all the fellow Lightning Source customers we talked to, the Amazon/BookSurge proposal does not appear attractive at all (yes, we obtained the contract and the file submission specifications). Amazon/BookSurge would make money two ways on Amazon.com sales - first the fee for printing the books, and then 48% of the list price of each sale through Amazon.com.
Lightning Source allows its customers to set their own discount rate for Amazon and other retail sales, and does not force POD publishers or authors to pay "48%."
Furthermore, it could take the larger POD publishers months to submit their book files to Amazon/BookSurge, at a considerable cost and number of man-hours. This makes the deal even less attractive. Finally, while the initial list of books submitted by POD publishers could be submitted to Amazon/BookSurge for free, the contract states future books would cost $50 each to process. The cost for individual authors to publish through BookSurge is considerably more, with an average publishing package cost of more than $1,000.
Since Amazon/BookSurge does not offer Ingram distribution (Ingram distribution is considered imperative in the industry for bookstore sales), any company that accepts the Amazon/BookSurge deal, who desires to keep offering Ingram distribution, may need to maintain two copies of the book files. Since the Amazon/BookSurge current specs don't match the Lightning Source specs, future book files, both interior and cover, may need to be formatted separately. So, they would have to pay double the setup fees and might have to do double the formatting work as well...or pay designers to do double the formatting work.
Likewise, self-published authors who believe they must have Ingram Distribution AND an active "buy" button on Amazon to be successful may need to pay double the setup fees (to a POD publisher AND Amazon/BookSurge), and also may need to create two separate sets of formatted files.
In the event where two versions of a book might be available, Mr. Clifford said the Amazon/BookSurge version of the POD book would trump (override) the version offered by Lightning Source on Amazon.com.
AMAZON WAS BUILT BY BOOKS....That Were Written By AUTHORS
When authors get wind of this, we believe they are going to be livid. Authors are also readers. They love books. We suspect they buy from Amazon in droves. I, myself, have been an Amazon junkie for years, not only heavily promoting Amazon.com in my non-fiction books for writers and on our very popular website, WritersWeekly.com, but also listing my own books for sale there, ordering other authors' books, DVDs and numerous other products as well. I pulled up our Amazon customer account and looked at our receipts. We've spent $1508.81 at Amazon.com in the past six months. Multiply that by the number of authors this will affect...authors who, like me, have a multitude of websites to choose from when doing their shopping online.
In addition, authors participate in the Amazon experience, via blogs on the website, by posting reviews about other books, and more, activities that help to continually make Amazon bigger and better. Authors are a loyal bunch! For years, they've been faithfully sending their readers to Amazon.com, again and again, even when they earned lower royalties for doing so.
It's not inconceivable to think that this group, if shoved against a wall like this, won't simply pledge their allegiance elsewhere. Let's face it, BarnesandNoble.com offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more, too. Authors can change the links to their book pages on their websites, in their ezines and press releases, and even in their email signatures to their book's page at BarnesandNoble.com. Authors can spend their own money elsewhere as well (as I plan to do). I imagine BarnesandNoble.com will be very happy to process the extra book sales that could result from all of this.
Amazon.com might also upset countless companies that have Amazon Affiliate bookstores on their websites (many authors have these, too!). If Amazon/BookSurge were to follow through with turning off the "buy" buttons for thousands of POD titles, customers following those links from other websites could be confused and annoyed. After clicking on a link, they would find no easy way to purchase the book directly from Amazon, and no way to obtain free shipping on that book, even if they're willing to buy more products to meet the $25 free shipping threshold. One would think Amazon must know the free shipping strategy works to upsell customers on additional products. That's why they offer it. Without it, these customers could have no incentive to buy more products because the product they surfed in to buy does not qualify.
One has to wonder if traditional publishers will be next? Will Amazon eventually require all books sold through Amazon.com to be printed by BookSurge?
Let's all hope and pray this situation is one huge, misguided idea from some mid-level management person and not corporate policy being dictated from the office of Jeff Bezos
Resource box: Buy my book Winds of Change at www.booklocker.com/book/3303.html.
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