Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What does Amazon.com Provide Independent Publishers?

Part Three of the Amazon Questions.

Last week I broke down the cost of using POD printing through Amazon.com to try and decide if I could afford to use two POD printers. The answer was yes. The overall cost would only go up by $50.00 if I used Amazon and continued using LSI. Now the question is, what does Amazon provide Independent Publishers that makes it worth the extra $50.00?

Amazon.com helped launch the publishing revolution. With their built-in search engine that allows consumers to find any niche book they can dream of easily and quickly, Amazon helped micro and self-publishers directly compete with bigger publishing houses. Combined with Print-On-Demand technology, a revolution in book publishing was born.

Can a small press survive without the Amazon.com marketing muscle?

Shopping on Amazon.com has become a part of our American culture. You can buy everything from clothes, lawn furniture, electronics, and books. I have been asked many times if our book is available from Amazon, and so far I've been able to say yes. Buyers know they can easily get Laura's book for a good price, delivered quickly to their door. What happens if I say no. Will I lose the sale? Where else will they go for Laura's book?

Consumers want to use Amazon much like Bookstores want to use book distributors. A bookstore only wants ONE catalogue to find books for their shop and doesn't want to wade through the thousands of publishers websites and catalogues to order books. A book buyer would rather search one store, Amazon.com, and find books on their chosen topic rather than wander the internet hunting for that one book that will satisfy their need. And even if Google can provide better book search results for their topic, the consumer would rather pay one shipping fee from one source. Publishers can not compete with the convenience of Amazon.com and it just might be worth that extra $50.00 to continue providing that convenience to our customers.

So why bother using Lightning Source/Ingram at all? Is getting into the Ingram catalogue so important? If you want your book in other bookstores and on other websites, such as Powells.com, then you need Ingram. This will also help get your book into libraries. Not every book needs to be in the Ingram catalogue so the choice should be made book by book. If you have a very niche book, for example, a book about the different types of aquarium lights, then you might want to skip Ingram completely and focus all of your energy on Amazon. But if your market is wider than just fish tank aficionados, having a broader base from which to sell those books may be important.

To answer the question: Amazon provides marketing muscle I may not be able to duplicate on my own, as well as customer convenience through its order fulfillment process. I think that is worth $50.00.

Next, I'll do more math and tactical planning to see if I could duplicate Amazon.com's marketing and fulfillment. Will it be as hard as I assume?

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