Becka's Babble

Ramblings of a Romance Writer

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Amazon's "Goliath" Tells Small Press "Davids" to Assimilate or Step Off is perhaps one of the last existing and most successful "dot coms" from back in the day. It has grown to become a corporate giant on the web, carrying just about every book under the sun.

A few years ago, Amazon bought MobiPocket, which is an online e-bookstore that sells a certain type of electronic books. Before this purchase, you could buy Adobe PDFs and other forms of eBooks on Amazon's website. But Amazon removed ALL other eBook formats in favor of their one and only MobiPocket. Now, you cannot buy an eBook on Amazon unless it's MobiPocket or Kindle, for their proprietary eBook reader (whose files cannot be read on any other device).

Now, Amazon is doing this again, however, with print books.

Recently, they bought a POD (print on demand) publisher named BookSurge. I have no personal experience with BookSurge, but I've heard scuttle that their POD offerings aren't as streamlined as Lightning Source's books, the POD extension of Ingrams, the largest book distributor in the world.

Well, Amazon is now telling small press publishers (of which I am published) to switch their POD services to BookSurge or face a virtual "blackballing" by having your "buy" links removed from your authors' listings. Whiskey Creek Press has already had their listings tampered with by "Goliath" Amazon. I'm not sure what POD service they use, but it seems as if it's only a matter of time before they sink their teeth into my publishers, Samhain Publishing and Champagne Books.

Both of these publishers use Lightning Source through Ingrams. We are unsure what Amazon will do with these listings, but it seems grim. Many authors are crying foul, that Amazon is trying to monopolize the eBook/Print industry from small press publishers. And of course, there's a fee for converting your POD books to BookSurge, the cheapest I've heard about is $299 per book. This is all hearsay, as I haven't read any reports to support this, but it's rumor floating around the blogosphere at the moment.

If Amazon succeeds in their iron fist tactics of "print through OUR POD publisher or be gone!", then a lot of small presses won't have the opportunity for growth that they had in the past. Samhain, for one, grew by leaps and bounds once they listed their print offerings on Amazon. New companies might not have such an opportunity in the future, especially if it costs an arm and a leg to convert the eBook files to BookSurge's print program, capital the smaller presses just don't have.

The short story is this: You might not be able to buy any more of my print books through, aside from what's available in their MobiPocket and Kindle store. Other booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Borders are uneffected by this, so you can still purchase there. However, since Border's online site is driven by Amazon, who knows if they'll blacklist the "other" POD books as well.

This could be a devastating blow to electronic publishers everywhere trying to get their foot in the door with print. It was electronic publishing that turned the print world on its ear with hotter romances and paranormal romances. Now, everyone is jumping on the erotic paranormal bandwagon, even big name New York publishers. If electronic publishing isn't allowed to flex their proverbial muscles on Amazon any longer, will the potential they had to drive the market be lost?

Only time will tell.



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