Monday, March 31, 2008

Amazon Taking Over The World, and What I Learned As A BookSeller

Amazon has the publishing world up in arms with BookSurge. If you don't know what I am talking about please take a second to Google it because I don't have a lot of interest in rehashing everything I have learned and applying proper credit.
That being said...
A lot of people are thinking Amazon is wicked evil for taking over the POD (print on demand) feature off some publishers books and making them only available through BookSurge, an Amazon subsidiary. A lot of people forgot that Barnes & Noble tried to do this years ago and were turned down due to the whole monopoly issue-antitrust-whatever. I think this has changed for one reason. You are going to soon be able to buy a Print On Demand printing machine for the low low cost of 50k give or take, which will sure as we are only paying 50 bucks for a microwave now, going to get cheaper.
Technology, you just can't stop it. You can't really boycott Amazon unless you want to disappear. You can however use their traffic to get people to your site, which is all most of those publishers who sell POD books are actually doing. I did this as a bookseller. For example, if you buy a book from a seller names WhiskeyJunction_Com-you can pretty much put together that its a publisher whose link you might want to check out, no? So you get 50% of your gross taken when someone buys from Amazon, but you can track and now as a publisher, that many people found you through Amazon, and you didn't have to pay a thing for the traffic. (Thanks Amazon?) Which anyone running a business knows is priceless. You would be stupid not to take advantage of Amazon for anything they offer.
I learned this as a small book seller trying to pay the bills while I wrote my own books.

Another horrid thing about Amazon is one-cent-books (OCB's). Home-sellers, that is anyone who can secure books from anywhere and sell them out of their home, can turn a profit on Amazon while avoiding their fees by selling books for one cent. Since media mail (USPS) shipping (and often first class) are 2.13, Amazon charges 3.99 to ship and credits it to your account. With the sale price of one cent--they can't get a percentage from one cent as its less than a cent. So you see a ton of home-sellers with really bad shipping, damaged product, and customer service records making a killing and cutting out Independent Books Stores, because no one else can afford to sell books for one cent, new or used, and still sleep at night with the amount of books it takes to move to turn a profit. If you sell 800 books a day for one cent, and make 35 cents a piece off the shipping, you are doing pretty damn good. So what if 100 of those books has a complaint, your still averaging a great turnover with the majority of your customers not complaining.
This must stop, and I am sure Amazon is sick of losing their percentages due to this little snafu.
Also if you are only paying one cent for a book, why not hop on over to one of the FREE paperback trading sites? How is it legal we cannot "trade" music, but we can trade books? Many writers and reading groups trade books, without giving a thought to the fact that the industry they love is suffering because of it. I am not talking Grisham here of course, who was at one time selling books out of his trunk to survive mind you, but up and comers who might never make it because the profits are not there. All of these things should have monthly fees installed to get some money back to the people who own the rights. It only makes sense if you have a reading group, organize, get fees, and keep the good books coming by at least buying new books, or books from libraries only.
Amazon's Kindle makes it impossible (for now) to trade and share your ebooks, without giving someone your Kindle machine and password. While great publishers like Ellora's Cave, might not be able to afford their own technology, I believe they can share the Kindle technology for a fee. And why shouldn't Amazon get a fee?
Getting free books from your friends and strangers online sounds like a great idea, but in all actuality, your only screwing yourself out of great books that haven't even been written yet.
I believe even if we have to ride the coat tails of the evil wicked empire that might be Amazon in the future, it is a necessary step in the right direction.
Look for Amazon to start suing the living poop out of swapping sites to trade books they printed at BookSurge, and every other publisher hoppin on board with that.
Making literature worth something is never a bad thing, and you will see more authors self publishing and keeping up with the big dogs in profit as well as popularity.
Isn't that what America is all about?


Tara S Nichols said...

I followed your post on my blogspot back to here, read your page and liked what you had to say. I like honesty. It isn't valued enough.
I also wish to send you my sympathy for losing your home in a fire. What a frightful occurrence but I am happy to hear you did what my husband suggested I do as well and back up my files on email. Smart.
I hope this finds you well and I wish you well.
-Tara S Nichols

Blonde Zilla said...

Thanks so much hun, all the best to you and yours.
I know Yahoo email came in handy. Yeah its great to back up to disks and slave drives, but what if everything is gone...
Me thinks me is very smartypants for sending them to myself in email. I was actually just doing it at first for copyright reasons LOL