Thanks for posting this, Kathleen. I suppose if they're going after the POD places, the small independent presses will be next. I'll be happy to take my business to BN.com if Amazon gets ugly. If enough of us are willing to stand up to them by taking our business (both selling and BUYING) elsewhere, then they'll wise up. Sheesh, aren't they happy with their huge market share already???? Greed is not a becoming characteristic!
Posts: 415 | Registered: Jul 2006
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quote:I suppose if they're going after the POD places, the small independent presses will be next.
POD is a technology and many, if not most, of the small independent presses do use PoD.
I exchanged messages with the owner of a traditional (that is to say royalty-paying) small independent publisher yesterday on this subject. She was very concerned about how this would effect her company and her authors because BookSurge is not competitive in prices and does not have a good reputation for customer service.
Small independent presses are exactly who they are going after.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited March 31, 2008).]
Yup, I'm a small independent publisher myself, and I contacted Lightning Source to see what they're doing about it (they print my books and they have treated me VERY well so far!) Since they're owned by Ingrams, they're a "big gun" too. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out. And why has the story not been on the TV news or in the paper yet (if it has, I've missed it)? It seems to have all the ingredients of an "exciting" news story - big business greed, small businesses being stomped on, the big business trying to be a monopoly (which is illegal, hello??? Argh).
Posts: 415 | Registered: Jul 2006
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There is some buzz about it on the internet and I've seen a petition and calls for letters to Amazon. I hate to say this but I don't watch television. (It's true but it always sounds snooty. I just don't because it bores me.) So I don't know if it's gotten any coverage. I suspect television news wouldn't have a clue the significance of the whole thing.
Can you comment if Lightning Source had any reaction when you spoke with them?
The opposition to this move by Amazon is growing. I won't quote the SPAN (Small Publishers Associaiton) message because I don't have permission but this contains permission to forward so I think it's all right. (If not, Kathleen, let me know and I'll edit the post)
And this from the Authors Guild:
Last week Amazon announced that it would be requiring that all books that it sells that are produced through on-demand means be printed by BookSurge, their in-house on-demand printer/publisher. Amazon pitched this as a customer service matter, a means for more speedily delivering print-on-demand books and allowing for the bundling of shipments with other items purchased at the same time from Amazon. It also put a bit of an environmental spin on the move -- claiming less transportation fuel is used (this is unlikely, but that's another story) when all items are shipped directly from Amazon.
We, and many others, think something else is afoot. Ingram Industries' Lightning Source is currently the dominant printer for on-demand titles, and they appear to be quite efficient at their task. They ship on-demand titles shortly after they are ordered through Amazon directly to the customer. It's a nice business for Ingram, since they get a percentage of the sales and a printing fee for every on-demand book they ship. Amazon would be foolish not to covet that business.
What's the rub? Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the "long tail" of publishing -- the enormous number of titles that sell in low volumes but which, in aggregate, make a lot of money for the aggregator. Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it's uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount -- or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books -- to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.
We suspect this maneuver by Amazon is far more about profit margin than it is about customer service or fossil fuels. The potential big losers (other than Ingram) if Amazon does impose greater discounts on the industry, are authors -- since many are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher's gross revenues -- and publishers.
We're reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon's bold move. If you have any information on this matter that you think could be helpful to us, please call us at (contact information deleted but you can contact Author's Guild) Feel free to post or forward this message in its entirety.
Lightning Source thanked me for my loyalty and said they're keeping an eye on things. There's a Lightning Source statement online now - I think you can access it via the www.writersweekly.com newsletter. They have a whole site now dedicated to the Amazon/POD thing with links to lots of articles and blog posts.
Lightning Source does a good job of taking care of their customers - and they produce beautiful books. An author who has written a lot of traditionally published novels got my novel and wrote me to say how beautiful a product I was selling (she also said she was hooked in the story, yay!)
Lightning Source belongs to Ingrams, so those who print with LS have distribution built in that people who go with other printing places have to pay extra for. They've treated me very well so far and I plan to stick with them.
And I agree that the Long Tail probably has a lot to do with this move on Amazon's part. And I can't say that I blame Amazon for trying. Add Print on Demand control to Long Tail control and that has the potential for a nice amount of revenue.
I just hope there are competitors out there that can keep Amazon from achieving a monopoly. Supporting said competitors may be the only way consumers can help.
I have to say I'm quite a bit concerned by this, especially for the authors. I know the golden rule that money only flows towards the author (damned if I can remember the name of it, though), but it seems like this violates that rule.
Are authors going to be forced to pay money to have their own books published through this system?
What this is talking about is that many small publishers--royalty paying publishers--use PoD technology. While individually most of the novels from PoD Publishers don't sell a lot--in aggregate the sales are very substantial. These are generally books not carried in brick & mortar stores so the only place they are available to the majority of people is on-line, mainly Amazon.
This is referred to as a "long tail."
By managing to dominate the entire process, Amazon will greatly increase their profits while potentially severly hurting all small publishers and the authors they publish.
Why would this hurt publishers and authors? Because Booksurge has a reputation for being more expensive, producing poor quality and having poor customer service combined with an arrogant attitude.
It is a complex situation and I'm not sure I explained it well.
Competetion is good...but control is also good. When Standard Oil controlled the supply and distribution of oil, they squeezed out a lot of other players...but oil remained cheap during its run.
I suppose with print-on-demand, we readers would want well-printed and well-designed books that are inexpensively priced. Anybody got anything else?
The printer doesn't do the design. The publisher does.
Booksurge has a reputation of providing POORER quality. Try googling them for thousands of complaints of poor quality, books that are printed off-center with pages falling out.
Booksurge's price's are also higher according to the publishers I've spoken with.
So where does the well-designed, well-printed, less-expensive come from?
And Standard Oil's practices were also monopolistic and illegal. We'll see whether Amazon's idea is as well if it goes to court, as I would very much expect. Can we all say in chorus-- Restraint of Trade? that is if they don't back down. They apparently have not taken down more "sell" buttons. One can only hope this is a sign of backing down.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 08, 2008).]
Well, Standard Oil's practices weren't illegal until somebody in Congress passed laws about it---after the fact. And any regulation of resources will produce spot shortages and high prices.
If Amazon puts out cruddy and expensive product, even if it holds a monopoly on it, it'll fail at it.
As for profits...well, I'm not sure Amazon has ever made any, on anything...I know of years of huge losses, which must've produced debt to be worked off (or renegotiated)...what's their current status?
And if anybody needs a printed book that bad...well, find a local printer who'll do the job, where you can keep an eye on quality and price.
Not so. You arrange for a book to be printed, you can arrange to be a publisher as well. Call yourself "Jeanne T Press." (Business details to be worked out as you go.)
Posts: 8809 | Registered: Aug 2005
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That is exactly so, Robert. This was aimed at actual small publishers whether you like it or not. These small publishers are making money and Amazon wants a larger slice of the pie.
And WHY would I PRETEND to be a publisher?
There is more to being a publisher than CALLING yourself one, Robert. There are little details such as editing, design and marketing that take time, skill and employees to do it. Business details worked out as you go is a piss-poor way of doing business and a sure way to lose money. No thanks.
You aren't interested in traditional publishing issues anymore as you say every time you post. Fine. No one is going to try to talk you into it. This is about a real world publishing issue that has more than a few people seriously concerned so you are not interested in it.
[This message has been edited by JeanneT (edited April 10, 2008).]
I am no longer interested in the traditional SF ideas of submitting to SF magazines and SF publishers, if that's what you mean. I can, of course, publish myself if I so choose, and work out the business detail as I go along...or find some other category of publishing in which to write and submit.
As for small publishing...well, just yesterday, I cut a check to order a couple of books from one small publisher. Apparently it has no existence other than to publish an online comic (done by a professional with a separate newspaper strip, but this particular line is one is online only). What kind of corporate organization it has, I don't know. One volume from this small publisher is available from Amazon---I just checked.
So don't be telling me that this is a blow against small publishing. Their books are reaching their intended markets. Amazon will carry the books---if it's worth it to them to do so---and if it isn't, there are other ways to reach people.