Saturday, April 05, 2008

Amazon and PODs


The buzz is flying furiously. No, the bees aren't out again yet, not here, anyway, but POD publishers and authors are being stung by Amazon's new policy.

If you didn't know, Amazon bought Booksurge, a POD company, back in 2005. Although Booksurge was not one of the better names in the industry, with inferior printing being charged by some of the authors, Amazon's name helped to make it one of the better known companies, and they say the quality has improved.

Now, Amazon has taken a new direction with their POD plant by insisting that all POD books must be set up through Booksurge in order to have "Buy it" buttons on Amazon listings, or they must go through Amazon's Advantage program.

What does that mean to authors and other POD companies? It means extra setup fees. Authors going it their own instead of through traditional publishing companies already pay fees to whatever company they find that best suits their needs. This policy means they will also need to pay set up through Booksurge, unless, of course, they simply decide to abandon their chosen company and work only with Amazon's company. It means Amazon is trying to pull a monopoly on the POD business.

Now, they say they are trying to make the shopping experience better for the customer because they can provide faster "one box" shipping if they print the books themselves and lower transportation costs by not needing to ship the books in. Here's their statement:

There are several problems with this statement:

1) Even when a customer orders several items using their free super saver all together shipping (one box, supposedly), it often comes in separate packages, even when the customer has stated no shipping rush and if they come one day apart. My last order included 3 items, super saver shipping, no POD books, and all 3 things came separately.

2) If publishers use their Advantage program, which means selling on consignment for a large discount, they have to ship their books to Amazon's distribution services, anyway.

3) When LSI (the printer for most all POD companies) prints books for the companies that are sold from Amazon, they ship them directly from their own distribution center using Amazon boxes and Amazon sales slips. There are no additional transportation fees and there is no additional waiting time.

So what does it really mean? Authors and companies using POD and not using Booksurge are getting screwed for no reason except Amazon first makes money printing the books and then makes money selling them.

I will no longer be buying from Amazon until this policy reverts, and my 'buy it from Amazon' links will be removed from everywhere I advertise my own books.

This is a blow against indies and individual choice in favor of big business monopoly and I won't support that.

You can order my books, as well as any book with an ISBN,  through any independent bookstore. Find your local store at Booksense. A link is to the left.

Angela Hoy at Writer's Weekly

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