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Monday, January 2, 2012

Amazon And Lightning Source are at it again- I'm really sick of this BULLSHIT

I was looking at some of my books on Amazon and my recent titles like All About Nikki-The Fabulous First Season and Commencement and their order status was no longer “In Stock” Instead it read “Ships in 1 to 4 weeks”.

Then I read an article and found out Amazon and Lightning Source are at it again.

In 2008, Amazon threatened to turn off buy buttons on books to get self-publishers to print their books through their wonderful service Createspace. It backfired.

Amazon thinks that by increasing the ship times for books that sales will decline and publishers will run to CreateSpace.

No, it’ll just lead to more pissed off people.

Here’s a thought Jeff Bezos or whoever founded CreateSpace: How about you stop trying to ram CreateSpace down people’s throats? How about trying promoting your services? How about offering higher royalties than Lightning source? How about you lower your retail discounts so writers have an incentive to use them? How about you offer Kindle conversions to the mix of CreateSpace services instead of forcing me to go to for publishing eBooks? How about you work things out with Mark Coker at Smashwords so he can get his Smashwords catalog? on the Kindle. How about everyone at Amazon stop trying to form a monopoly on book publishing?

As a publisher I’m really getting tired of this crap with Amazon. I’m changing all the links of my titles to Barnes & Noble because the “Ships in 1 to 4 weeks” status on Amazon is costing me money.

When big businesses screw with distribution it can cripple an industry. Having seen the damage done by distribution issues in the comic book industry in the 1990’s I’m telling Amazon and Lightning Source to  check themselves before they wind up in the hole Marvel and DC’s print divisions has been stranded in for the past nineteen to twenty years.

The comic book industry was red hot until people screwing with the distribution. Soon retailers were stuck with loads of inventory. And guess what retailers like drugstores, newsstands and Mom & pop shops did when they were stuck with loads of comic books they couldn’t move? They stopped ORDERING COMICS and ordered OTHER STUFF that would MOVE.

The distribution issues in the comic book industry led to the video game industry gaining market share becoming a powerhouse among tweens and teens. The comic book industry literally handed the video game industry the keys to the kingdom.

Amazon is about to do the same thing with this feud with Lightning Source.

Here’s a basic tenet of business: If customers can’t find the product, then they don’t buy it. This trickles up as well as it does down.

If I can’t get books to list as In Stock, I stop publishing new paperbacks with Lighting Source. That costs them money. ($110) That costs Bowker Money. ($150 for ISBN and Barcode) and it costs other people like freelance artists($300-$500) Page layout specialists ($500-$750) and shippers like UPS and Fed Ex all the money they make shipping these books across the country.

Moreover, I terminate my contracts on old titles ($12 a year for each)

Does this mean I go to CreateSpace? No. I can’t afford to re-publish with another printer. As a struggling small publisher who publishes books out of his personal savings it means I close up shop. I’m not to the point where I’m making enough money on my catalog to pay for their Pro plan four times on top of the Lighting Source fees I’ve already invested in. My books go out of print and I move onto PC repair full time.

Amazon really needs to watch itself before it joins Borders on the bookstore scrap heap. Just because Amazon thinks it’s the 800 lb gorilla in the room now when it comes to books, doesn’t mean that it can’t be the next Gap, Best Buy, Sears or Kmart. All it takes is one bad season to alienate customers. No business is too big to fail.

Amazon needs to realize when it comes to books, most of its profits don’t come from the New York Times Best-seller list. No, most of their book sales actually come from those niche small press and self-published titles people can’t find at their local bookstores. The same books they’re listing as “Ships in 1 to 4 weeks” for the past few months. Make those books hard to get and it’ll be like giving Barnes & Noble and small independent bookstores the keys to the kingdom in the new book market that’s coming out of the ruins of the publishing collapse of 2008.

Amazon needs to realize that shoving CreateSpace down authors and publishers throats isn’t a good way to sell the service, nor is it a way to foster goodwill with them. In fact, it’s the fastest way to keep authors and publishers from trying it.

Now I’ve tried CreateSpace for Isis: Trial of the Goddess. The interface was easier to use than Lightning Source (Pain in the Ass) and Lulu (impossible to use on a slow connection) and the prices were OK. I also liked that I don’t have to pay maintenance fees and that distribution is only $39.

But what I didn’t like was the high retail prices per copy. Nor did I like the small royalties ($2.and change). And I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t have a private account like Lulu where I could print and ship single personal copies without an ISBN. Now I realize Amazon wants to pull a profit on this venture, but someone at CreateSpace has no understanding of how the publishing business works. Books have always been a volume business. Which means you have to sell thousands of anything to make any serious money.

And in an industry where 90 percent of titles fail in an industry still recovering from a collapse it’s not a good idea to drive down small publishers and self-publishers sales with shipping schemes for short-term profits on a POD venture that may go belly-up itself in five years. If eBooks continue on in their popularity the POD press may soon go the way of the VCR.

If Amazon wants CreateSpace to compete with other POD printers then it needs to realize it needs to sell its strong points to self-published authors instead of getting into disputes with Lightning Source and using with small publishers and self-publishers as pawns. There’s money to be made for everyone. But if all the sides are greedy, customers will take their money elsewhere and find new products like a majority of comic fans did back in the 1990’s.

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