Edna Purviance's bio

Currently working on Edna Purviance's family biography. Draft is done. Photo: Leading Ladies © used by ednapurviance.org

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Attention POD booksellers with Amazon

If you use Amazon, this concerns anyone who creates or buys limited run books on any subject matter, whether with a traditional publisher or self-published.

I know writers who have already, or planning to have books created by POD (Print on Demand). It is actually a cost savings for many publishers these days, who can create a small run book that otherwise would cost too much to produce. There are many of these printers available, who offer their books to sell through Amazon. But that appears to be changing right now, as Amazon would rather make the whole pie, instead of having a slice.

There is a 'buzz' in the Print on Demand world about how Amazon's owned BookSurge has been 'quietly' trying to get writers with POD books (printed by other companies) and currently selling on Amazon, to sign up with Amazon's BookSurge instead, or see their 'buy now' button "turned off" their Amazon book page.

The following are links and comments of the latest reports.

June 3, 2008 - Guardian UK - Amazon kindles hope after e-readers interest explodes (note: The Kindle is a US product, that the article mentions Amazon has no plans of starting in other countries, at this time.)

May 19, 2008 - Amazon is being sued by BookLocker - The Complaint

April 8, 2008 - Washington State Attorney General Statement
more>

April 7, 2008 - YouWriteOn.com in the UK has called for a boycott of Amazon - post by Graeme Neill in The Book Sellers.

"This will inevitably lead to less choice, less opportunities, and less royalties for p.o.d. writers," said Edward Smith, manager of YouWriteOn.Com. "It is also a red flag to the publishing industry in terms of how Amazon may use their influence on books from mainstream commercial publishing houses in the future." - from Edward Smith, YouWriteOn, posted by Graeme Neill, The Book Sellers
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April 3, 2008 - Amazon threatening UK publishers for offering discounts on their books.
From Publishing News: Amazon threat on direct selling
Plus: UK fears over Amazon.com print on demand. Roger Tagholm reports "AMAZON HAS THREATENED publishers who sell direct at discount on their own websites with punitive action. PN understands that it has said that if the publisher continues, Amazon will take the selling price as the RRP and apply its terms of trading to that price. In other words, if Amazon receives a 50% discount from Penguin, for example, but Penguin is selling a £20 book for £15 on its website, Amazon will only give Penguin £7.50, rather than £10." - more>


April 1, 2008 - Booktrade - "Amazon's move could be an attempt to castrate the small guy in favour of the big guys. Whether you are a large or small publisher or an author with a vested interest, you cannot simply ignore what is happening."

For the buyers who think all their books are shipped by Amazon?
April 2, 2008 -
"Ingram and Lightning Source Statement - "Yes, June, the Amazon 'Interested parties' statement released on Monday is very much a sales pitch aimed at their customers. What it fails to mention is that for quite some time Lightning Source Inc have been 'drop-shipping' the POD books ordered on Amazon. So when customers get those nice cardboard cartoned books, with the amazon logo emblazoned on it, delivered directly to their doorstep - it has all all been done by LSI." - from Podding Along Nicely, June Austin
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April 4, 2008 - Save the Great Names of Publishing
"Conglomerates buying up famous imprints should remember that if the names stop mattering, the quality of the books may stop mattering too" - Nicholas Clee, the blogbooks, Guardian UK.

Chaplin's publisher, Bodley Head was taken over by Random House. They are getting ready to "relaunch as an adult non-fiction imprint" under Random House.
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The following is about Amazon/BookSurge.

UPDATE: April 2, 2008 - from Angela Hoycom WriterWeekly
If you are a book author (or just buy books), with any publishing company, and have not been informed yet, this is an important post you should read... Please go to this link, to read the FULL POST!

Here are a few passages from it:
"Tuesday, April 1st, was the rumored deadline Amazon.com gave to some POD publishers to sign an agreement allowing their printing division, BookSurge, to print each publisher's book to be sold through Amazon, or risk having their "buy" buttons turned off on the Amazon.com website." (Two POD publishers who signed the contract are AuthorHouse/iUniverse and Lulu.)

"Publishers, authors, and even book buyers were outraged by this apparent power-grab by Amazon. Attorneys and government officials are still studying the legality of their actions. How could they demand such a thing and what publisher in their right mind would agree to their ridiculous terms? While a band of POD publishers stayed together, refusing to sway to Amazon's demands, some did not."


Angela notes: "We are in possession of the Amazon contract and, while I'm sure AuthorHouse/iUniverse and Lulu negotiated special terms for themselves, I can tell you that the confidentiality clause in that contract is the tightest I've ever seen. Don't expect anybody at those firms to ever talk about what they had to give Amazon to keep their "buy" buttons turned on. It's been reported that some other publishers signed the contract as well and that others are still considering it, believing they have no choice."

Also: "Many guffaw the idea that, after taking over POD titles, Amazon might dare to go after traditional publishers, too. What most don't understand is that it's already happening. Booksurge is already printing POD versions of back-list, out-of-print and large-print books for HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Springer, Gale, Oxford University Press, and others.

Last week, the University of Pennsylvania Press contacted us, reporting they'd received the Amazon ultimatum, too. She said, "I work at a medium-sized university press, where most of our titles are conventionally printed via offset. However, Amazon called our director about two weeks ago, telling him that soon we would be required to use Booksurge."

Amazon going for huge discounts with the 'BookSurge printed books, but for you buyers, it is no deal. One company wrote:

"The majority of books (BookSurge) produced were defective: pages falling out, discolored covers, white splotches on the covers, etc. Of the 135 books I purchased, over 100 were defective. It was a huge embarrassment and headache for our organization."

As for the discounts, it could hurt every author, in the long run:
"According to The Robinson-Patman Act of 1936 (or Anti-Price Discrimination Act), if Amazon forces publishers to offer them a 48% discount, this action may, by default, force publishers to offer all bookstores a 48% discount. Many small publishers simply can't afford to do this. If they sign the Amazon contract and, thus, then have to offer all bookstores a 48% discount, they may go out of business."

She reports a bit of good news:
"Despite all of this, the good news is Amazon has not removed anymore "buy" buttons from POD publishers' books pages. Maybe, just maybe, after such a large public outcry, and perhaps after some consultations with their attorneys, they're realizing that this wasn't such a great idea after all."
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WritersWeekly checked into this rumor recently because they did not believe it, and got this response back from a representative of Amazon/BookSurge, John Clifford, on March 26, 2008. The following is from Angela Hoy's WritersWeekly site):

"Mr. Clifford finally admitted that books not converted to BookSurge would have the "buy" button turned off on Amazon.com, just as we'd heard from several other POD publishers who had similar conversations with Amazon/BookSurge representatives.

Another comment Mr. Clifford made was that their eventual desire (Amazon/BookSurge) is to have no books from other POD publishers available on Amazon.com.

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!" - from Angela Hoy Writersweekly

From the same site this note:
"As of Thursday (March 27, 2008), the "buy" buttons for the vast majority of PublishAmerica books were removed from Amazon.com. The books can now only be purchased by resellers."

And on Saturday, March 29th, from Writersweekly: "Whiskey Creek Press
is a traditional publisher that uses POD technology. We were alerted by one of their authors that they appear to be the latest Amazon/BookSurge "buy" button victim. We checked and it appears numerous Whiskey Creek Press print books are now only available through resellers. The Kindle versions are, of course, still for sale directly through Amazon." - from Angela Hoy Writersweekly

And from PublishersWeekly:
"Amazon's BookSurge mandate extends to traditional publishers as well as to online pod houses." - PublishersWeekly

Also, from the Wall Street Journal Website 'Amazon Tightens Grip' (March 28, 2008):
"Amazon's decision means that any of those publishers who want their books sold on the giant Web site will have to use BookSurge. Not only will that squeeze rivals like Lightning Source, it will reduce publishers' bargaining power.

Publishers will "have to abide by Amazon's pricing," said Bob Young, CEO of Lulu Inc, a print-on-demand publisher based in Raleigh, N.C. Mr. Young said he believed BookSurge's prices to be "slightly higher" than other printers. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment on that issue." - Wall Street Journal


More from WritersWeekly>
More from PublishersWeekly>

You can look up the full March 28th, 2008 The Wall Street Journal article under the title "Amazon Tightens Grip on Printing" by Jeffery A. Trachtenberg.

And for more reading, here is an article from Computerworld, March 28th, "Amazon Changes rules for print-on-demand publishers."

"Smith added that authors and publishers of POD books who choose not to have their books printed by BookSurge could still have their books sold directly through Amazon by participating in the company's Advantage Program, which costs $29.95 per year plus 55% of the list price of each book." - Computerworld

If you are a writer in the process of having a book printed on demand, that offers Amazon as a bookseller for your POD book, you should look into this now before pressing forward. There are articles on the web about it, but since we don't offer our book through any site, except through Leading Ladies, I just learned about this very troubling development.
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2 comments:

Edna's Place said...

I read one blogger who suggests this is just making books more in line with electronic music files. If you have done professional printing at all, you know it is far easier to screw up printing a book, than transferring a music file.

And after reading more about BookSurge, we could not have produced the same book we did with them, let alone afford it, with the start up cost they have. And not thrilled to read other problems, as well.

And while their is no real perfect 'green' option in creating books, the electronic readers are not that 'green' either. For one thing, all the power they take just to run. You don't have to plug your regular book in to read it.

Their maybe a day when people will only read their books on machines, if they can afford the power to run them. But a book stored on a electronic file, isn't the same as seeing it on a shelve.

And electronic 'books' are not forever as people like you to think, do get 'lost' too. One way, electronic 'books' you buy now, could be easily 'unreadable' in a few years, as things keep changing.

Just like HD DVD's going bye-bye right now, as Blu-ray takes over...

T. M. said...

I just left CreateSpace because of their shoddy performance in terms of payment and the fact that Amazon is not using them to sell books. My "buy" buttons are still up on Amazon because they know the only way they will get them is through LSI. I am not paying Amazon $30 to lose money for me. Meanwhile I continue to use Lulu, LSI, and whoever else will supply me with good quality books on demand to sell through my own site. I do not have to use Amazon for anything if I don't want to, and Amazon knows it. The way to deal with a bully is not to do business with him. Period.