Amazon responds to print on demand (POD) changes

Day 106 - I am a librarian
photo credit: cindiann

About 5pm Eastern late night, I received a note via my contact page from Amazon’s Drew Herdener. I appreciate that Drew (ie: his assistant) went to the trouble to chase this post down, much less to respond (Business is) Personal-ly:) Of course, an identical note was sent to others, including Writer’s Weekly, who broke this story last week.

Given your interest in Amazon Print On Demand, I want to make sure that you had an opportunity to read a letter we published today about what we’re changing and why. Here’s a link to the letter:

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-printondemand.

Hope this helps.

Thanks,

Drew

Drew Herdener
Senior Public Relations Manager
Amazon.com
Office: 206-266-1913
Cell: 206-459-6761

It appears to speak for itself. It is a little late now, but let’s go there anyway. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to contact all your publishers and authors BEFORE this flap? That way, you could explain what is about to happen, rather than creating a firestorm and having to respond in defense of actions that I suspect were not made on a whim. Get them in on the plan, get some feedback, find a win-win, and so on.

No matter what the response is now, backpedaling or not, you’ve managed to tick off authors, publishers and more, much less generate a pile of bad public relations (hey, but we are talking about you, so I guess that’s good).

I can appreciate the efficiency argument and the desire to simplify what can be simplified, however I think it’s important to note two things:

  • Independent authors and POD publishers are your customers too.
  • The long tail that these authors and publishers provide for Amazon is one of the key differentiating factors between you and the local bookstore that can’t afford to carry 3 million titles.

Every major bookstore has access to the Ingram catalog. What they can’t do nearly as well as Amazon does, is make the long tail (provided by independent authors publishing via POD houses) as available as you do. But…when the long tail gets stepped on and leaves Amazon, how will you differentiate?

I’m not sure that smart (and appreciated) emails noting that other people like myself who bought book A tended to buy book B is going to be enough. Any programmer can make that happen for a bookstore with a database.

Maybe iTunes should start selling books. They’ve already beaten Amazon at the music game.

Amazon launches their weapon of mass destruction, steps on the long tail of independent authors

No Known Restrictions: President Woodrow Wilson Addresses Congress, 1917 (LOC)
photo credit: pingnews.com

People continue to have this idea that companies like Wal-Mart, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Starbucks and Microsoft are bulletproof.

Folks, it just isn’t so. You might also have thought that UCLA was bulletproof Thursday night against Western Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, except that no one told WKU about it. Top-seeded UCLA pulled it out in the last 4 minutes, after leading 12th seeded WKU by only 4 points with 5 minutes remaining.

David and Goliath plays out every day, if David is clever enough.

These big companies that small business owners love to complain about are great at building giant customer lists and then turning right around and crapping in their corn flakes. They do it everyday. All you have to do is look around (one of the reasons I mentioned the Google Alerts thing yesterday).

It’s Amazon’s turn. They just got punched in the word of mouth.

What am I talking about?

The Amazon print on demand (POD) story at WritersWeekly.com.

And the Wall Street Journal, TechDirt, Washington Post, TechCrunch, Computerworld and Publisher’s Weekly. And so on.

Before you think that this only affects big print on demand publishers, don’t forget that little (and some not so little) independent authors sometimes see the bulk of their sales via Amazon and POD.

If there are fewer authors able to sell on Amazon (because of their demands), what happens? Does the record industry try to do this next? They’ve already lost control, but there is leverage out there if they want to use it (movies, for one).

What about your ISP? Perhaps they will require that all websites updated from your DSL account must be hosted with their web hosting services. They can easily control this.

The upside is that the market always has a way of sorting this stuff out. Somewhere out there, there’s a little print on demand house just rubbing their hands together.

Oh yeah, and I just realized that my Google Alerts are not covering enough bases.