A few years ago, this company began to expand by buying other companies. One of the companies purchased was a small print-on-demand (POD) company. No one thought much about it at the time, since the company was small and didn't seem to have a good customer service record. Fast forward to this month...
It appears that people who try to sell POD on said river's site now need to use only that company, or lose their coveted "Buy now" button, and free shipping with it.
Why am I talking in ciphers? I guess I don't want to give any glory to them, but enough of that; let's talk straight:
Amazon's POD subsidiary BookSurge is telling people that if they don't switch their POD to them, the "Buy Now" button will be turned off. So what, you say? Well, let's allow someone else to tell you who is an expert:
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.
Hmmm, can you say anti-trust?
While I am no big fan of self-published books—I believe in peer review and not because I work for a publisher!—I also believe it has its place for books that have a print run of 30-50 for families or community organizations, churches, etc. This move by amazon has some serious repercussions for the POD world, and also for the book world, whether you are an author or reader.
Do take the time to read the whole article and feel free to comment here. I don't censor comments except for profanity. You can disagree with me and sing the praise of amazon if you want, but remember that every penny you spend there is an endorsement of this new policy.
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