Amazon – POD Monopoly?


I was going to do a post on anthologies today, but I just found out about Amazon’s bid for complete coverage in the POD world. There are a couple large Print On Demand (POD) printers – BookSurge (now owned by Amazon), LightningSource (owned by Ingram book distributor), and a few medium sized ones. Print on Demand allows for lower costs for small publishers as well as self-publishing authors.

Now, however, Amazon is using its leverage as a retail giant to force publishers to use BookSurge. The result if they don’t? Amazon will turn off the "Buy" button on their book listings. This means that potential customers can see the book on Amazon, but can’t buy it. But, if the author/publisher switches over to BookSurge–viola!–the "Buy" button returns. Read about it in detail at Angel Hoy’s Writers Weekly.

According to Publisher’s Weekly:

Neither Amazon nor BookSurge returned calls, although spokesperson Tammy Hovey told the Wall Street Journal the move is a “strategic decision. What we’re looking to do is have a print-on-demand business that better serves our customers and authors. When we work with some other publishers, it’s not truly a print-on-demand business.” 

What? You’re serious? So, you want to have an apparel business and if the designers don’t use your manufacturing company, you can’t truly be an apparel business? That must be one of the most asinine comments I’ve ever seen.

Amazon, you’ve totally screwed up this time. Your company was built on the words of authors. Books got you where you are today. And now, you’re holding POD books hostage until the authors/publishers pay the BookSurge ransom. Shame on you!

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  • Reply
    March 28, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Wow… that’s horribly genius of Amazon.

    It will be very interesting how the publishers react to this policy…

  • Reply
    BT Cassidy
    March 29, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I wondered how long it would take for Amazon to do this : ( I’ve been considering a POD release for my current novel, it’d fit in well with my idea to tour it with spoken word shows. Amazon was going to be the backbone of my online sales… not now I guess.

    It’s a bummer when service is surrendered for service to the almighty (dollar).

  • Reply
    Carolyn B.
    March 30, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I’m with you — this really sucks! It troubles me that Amazon is leveraging its power this way.

  • Reply
    Frank Kanu
    April 2, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Is this the beginning of the end for Amazon?

    For me Amazon was always about the better choice. Limiting what I can buy or sell will drive me to other online retailers.

    Too often, when companies get really big they care too much about the big bucks made fast and not the desires of past, present and future customers. A shame really.

    One has to be afraid that when Amazon pulls this thru the amount of self published books will go down.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Yeah, I heard about this a few days ago and I was like, “WTF?” Although I find booksurge is a pretty good choice for POD publishing, I don’t know that they are the “best”, nor do I believe in forcing everyone to use a specific company to be listed. It’s a bunch of BS. Very sad.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I was so waiting for you to say “April Fools!” I just can’t see huge publishers caving in to this.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2008 at 6:04 am

    From a reader’s point of view… my first stop when looking for books is Amazon. If I see something I like without a buy button, my next stop is Powell’s… and then I go hunting everywhere. Sadly, I am probably more tenacious than most.

  • Reply
    Steve Thorn
    April 7, 2008 at 9:04 am

    Strange marketing strategy. Does this mean that other POD publshing houses are actually putting a hurt on BookSurge? And also, does this mean that POD is actually becoming a viable business for authors if Amazon wants to acknowledge them enough to steer them into their business model? Hmmmm.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Who says size isn’t everything?

  • Reply
    Phil Davis
    April 14, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve spoken to one of the major PODs and while they do not like this move by Amazon, they are adjusting. They don’t really have a choice. If anyone is wondering, this move by Amazon does not affect self-publishers, the people who run their own publishing companies. They will still be able to use the Amazon Advantage program as always. But this type of “capitalism” doesn’t really sit well with most of us. It’s like with Adobe put a “print to FedExKinko’s” button on their new version. The printing industry went bizerk and Adobe had to backtrack. I doubt Amazon will backtrack, but I do think this move opens the door for another company to come in and become a major competitor to Amazon. I hope this happens.

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