Amazon Competition Corporate America Public Relations

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:

Hope this helps.



Drew Herdener
Senior Public Relations Manager
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.