Remember when Walmart moved into small towns all across the country, promising more jobs while putting mom and pop businesses out of business? Then, Walmart closed down numerous stores, leaving huge, empty buildings, and fewer shopping options for those small towns since the mom and pop stores were gone. Sure, there are plenty of Walmarts left but countless local retailers (and jobs) were eliminated in Walmart’s quest to become the retail giant of the U.S.
Now, remember back to the year when Amazon launched, giving small publishers and authors a platform for selling their books worldwide? Remember how cool that was?! Literally ANYBODY could write a book, have it printed, and put it up for sale on Amazon!
Then, Amazon got a bit too big for its britches, and started doing unethical things to authors and publishers, including:
1. Pricing books way too high or too low
2. Listing books with bizarre and incorrect availability times, including:
out of stock
ships in 2-3 weeks
ships in 1-3 months
ships in 2-4 months
The problem was, they’d list books by the exact same publisher at a variety of availability times even though the supplier was the exact same for all of those books. And, trying to get Amazon to fix the errors was like trying to convince your toddler to eat all their broccoli. Wasn’t gonna happen! Only if you got a really helpful customer service rep would it get fixed. Most authors and publishers received stock email answers that basically said, “Too bad. So sad.” Worse, Amazon would blame the publisher or the distributor for their own website errors. That is still happening today.
3. Sending customers emails saying they couldn’t get the books (when they absolutely COULD), and asking those customers if they wanted to cancel their orders.
4. Threatening to remove the “buy buttons” from publishers who refused to pay Amazon to print their books. (BookLocker sued Amazon over that, and won.)
5. Aggressively pushing sales of Kindles and, subsequently, ebooks, which they hoped would eliminate the need to warehouse and ship books. However, ebook reading devices just aren’t selling like they used to. Print book sales continue to increase while ebook sales continue to fall – year after year. Amazon’s Kindle push was, ultimately, a failure (they didn’t eliminate print books). But, they keep trying!
There are other unsavory actions Amazon has committed over the years as well, which affected publishers’ and authors’ profits.
Like Walmart, Amazon put numerous smaller bookstores and even chains out of business, and eventually started outselling all bookstore chains combined. The fact is, if your book wasn’t on Amazon, it wasn’t likely to sell many, if any, copies. Amazon was the go-to store if someone wanted to buy a book. But, since Amazon is now cutting back on buying and stocking print books, that will eventually no longer be the case.
Like any tight business, Amazon knows where they’re losing money. Warehousing books that simply aren’t selling, or aren’t likely to sell, is a really bad idea. And, while Amazon was responsible for making every book available to almost anyone all over the globe, their actions were also responsible for the astronomical increase in the number of books published each year. How many? Approximately one million new books are published each year now.
Amazon’s warehouses are already (and have been) stocked to the rafters with food products, cosmetics, colored toilet paper, made-in-China condoms (hmmm…), yodeling pickles, inflatable party sheep, a 55-gallon drum of lube (yes, really, and for only $1800!!), countless other products, and even morally questionable ones, like:
- “Daddy’s Little Slut” t-shirts for little girls (removed by Amazon after customer complaints)
- A guidebook for pedophiles – Amazon didn’t just sell it, they PUBLISHED IT! (It was finally removed by Amazon after an uproar.)
- Thousands of unsafe or banned products
Amazon simple doesn’t have enough shelf space for every book published…nor many other products as well. It makes more sense for Amazon to either refer sales to third parties (which they do for lots of print books and other products now), or to wait to order that product from their supplier – only after the customer orders from Amazon.
Some authors and publishers are lamenting the fact that Amazon has abandoned the very market that helped them get their start. And, while that is true, if it was your company, what would you do? Would you, through sheer loyalty to your original suppliers, spend multi-millions to build even more warehouses, pay people to work there, and pay the monthly expenses associated with such a monstrosity, not knowing if the books will sell or not? Or, would you simply tell people who write and publish books to hold onto them until someone orders a copy from Amazon? I’m betting most of you would choose the latter.
This may sound like I’m on Amazon’s side and, I can tell you, I am definitely NOT. However, I can understand why they’re now purchasing and stocking fewer books. And, I predict the number of books they purchase and stock will continue to dwindle. Amazon is far more interested in earning a few pennies on a third-party sale (letting someone else do the stocking and shipping) than they are in stocking and shipping books themselves.
Here’s what I think – Amazon has taken yet another step in its ridiculous and tiring push to get people to buy ebooks instead of print books. They assume some people will want the ebook version now instead of the print version weeks later. The longer it takes to get a print book, the greater the chance that Joe Shopper will opt for the ebook edition. (Heck, one week delivery didn’t work, right? Let’s push it to 3 to 4 months and see how that works!) It’s a pretty stupid move because, each year, the industry reports that ebook sales continue to drop while print book sales are on the rise.
Need more proof that Amazon is pushing people to buy ebook editions? Use the “Advanced Search” option on Amazon to search for a publisher – any publisher. Let’s use CreateSpace as an example (CreateSpace was the old name for Amazon’s own publishing division, which is now called KDP). See what pops up front and center? EBOOK EDITIONS ONLY! What happens if we type KDP into the publisher box under advanced search? SAME THING! You can only see a list of the ebook editions. Now, if you click on one of those, then the ebook AND print book editions pop up but why would Amazon only show the ebooks in the initial preview list? Uh huh. Lower print visibility might lead to lower print sales and higher ebook sales!
SO, WHAT ARE PUBLISHERS AND AUTHORS TO DO?
It’s simple, really. Start encouraging your buyers to buy your books elsewhere by providing the with direct links to your book at those stores! And, EXPLAIN to them why they should avoid Amazon when purchasing books!! The momentum may take awhile to build but, at some point, when people know they can get a book in a couple of days from BarnesandNoble.com or Walmart.com, but must wait weeks for one from Amazon, they’re going to stop buying print books from Amazon. I know that sounds virtually impossible in today’s market but it will happen if Amazon continues to make receiving print books in a timely manner extremely difficult.
Walmart.com is currently stocking our new BookLocker.com books, and offering free shipping. Trust me – Walmart is watching Amazon’s every move and they’re jumping in to entice buyers! The prices are higher (because of the free shipping) but, if someone really wants your book, they’re going to buy it (especially if the shipping is free), even if the price is higher than you listed it for on your website. Of course, if your publisher has an online bookstore where books really ARE priced correctly (BookLocker DOES and our authors earn higher royalties when their readers shop there!), you should give your buyers the link to that as well. And, give them the link to your book at Barnes and Noble, too.
To really discourage people from going to Amazon, you might want to fashion your marketing messages and links on your website, in your newsletter/blog, and on social media this way (and make each line of text link to the specific page on that site where your book appears) –
Available for purchase TODAY at:
The Publisher, Booklocker.com – USE DISCOUNT CODE 10PercentOff TO GET 10% OFF YOUR ENTIRE ORDER!
BarnesandNoble.com – FREE SHIPPING FOR ORDERS OF $35 OR MORE!
Walmart.com – FREE SHIPPING!
Amazon.com – Amazon’s delivery times for books are ridiculous now. Get much faster delivery by shopping at one of the stores above!
Notice I did not provide a link to Amazon because I don’t WANT my customers to go there and see incorrect availability (lies), nor listings from third-party sellers. And, I don’t want Amazon to screw up, and notify my customer days or weeks later that they can’t obtain the book (which is a big, fat lie). That never happens at BookLocker, BarnesandNoble.com, or Walmart.com.
We have been warning authors for years to NOT put all their eggs in Amazon’s basket. And, now the chicken has come home to roost! Some authors have even been banned by Amazon (click HERE and HERE for just the tip of the iceberg). When you entrust one company with almost all of your sales, you risk getting put out of business with the click of a button. And, at Amazon at least, we believe things will only get worse for authors from here on out.
Think letting Amazon publish your book will make things rosy? Not exactly!
Authors who publish their books through Amazon may find that other bookstores and libraries won’t buy their books. You can read numerous complaints about Amazon’s publishing division, and find links to even more lists of complaints, RIGHT HERE.
And, think people might get your book faster if you let Amazon publish your book? Read this:
According to THIS ARTICLE, Amazon’s KDP division is located overseas. With multi-millions of books for sale, do you REALLY think Amazon’s low-level employees who are answering emails really care about YOU? One author in a sea of millions? It’s much easier for them to copy and paste a stock answer to you (meaning they’ve done their “job”) than to actually go to the effort of helping you. One author who was scheduled to be on a TV show got NOWHERE getting Amazon to correct the availability of her book. Nope, they didn’t care about that type of visibility at all.
If your friends, family, fans, and potential readers really want your book, and want it now, most WILL avoid Amazon if you warn them up front that they may encounter obstacles, and why. While Amazon may not care about you or your book, your family, friends, and fans definitely do and they WILL buy your book from another store if you ask them to, and if you give them the direct links to make it easy for them to do so.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela lives on a 52' Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch (sailboat) with her family and pets. Keep up with her family's adventurous liveaboard lifestyle at GotNoTanLines.com
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
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ANGELA ON LINKEDIN
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
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