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Author Wants Out of Amazon

Amazon_1Here's an unusual situation, and thanks to The Big Bad Book Blog for highlighting this one: According to this article in the Guardian, an author in the U.K. was horrified to see his book on and wants it removed.  The author is a huge supporter of the independent bookstore channel and doesn't want Amazon to steal sales from the little guys.

That's a noble cause and all, but his comments show he doesn't quite understand how Amazon operates.  He is quoted as follows:

What they (Amazon) are actually doing is getting the independents to do their market research.  When a book gets a certain amount of attention, they will attempt to stock it and cut the independents out. Not with my book!

Huh?  First of all, I've never really noticed Amazon trying to copy anything from brick-and-mortar accounts.  If anything it's the other way around.  Secondly, thanks to its virtual nature, Amazon stocks pretty much every book, so they're not waiting for success at the independent level before taking on inventory of their own.  Again, my experience has been that certain books show early success on Amazon, resulting in stock-up opportunities at the brick-and-mortar accounts.  This author seems to think the opposite happens...


Michael A. Banks

I don't see where Amazon is "getting the independents to do their market research." Amazon certainly works out to be a marketing aid for offline booksellers.

I appreciate the guy's sentiment; I have friends who operate independent bookstores. But this author is not going to become a rallying point. Nor, I suspect will his stand make him popular with publishers. He's shooting himself in both feet.

Speaking of copying or adapting sales and marketing techniques, I wonder if Amazon will try selling autographed copies of books by big-name authors? Or have they tried that already and I missed it?

The logistics would be sticky and the cost high, but it could be done. Probably not enough of a market to make it worthwhile.

Joe Wikert

Hi Mike. Interesting idea on the autographed copies. Logistically it could be done, of course, but it would add to Amazon's costs since they would have to manage that inventory differently. Or were you thinking of some novel (and cheap!) way to get the autographed copies to Amazon?

Michael A. Banks

You know, there is a novel and cheap way to distribute autgraphs. When I was 12 years old I wrote to Ray Bradbury to ask if I could send a book for him to autograph. I thought it would presumptuous to just dump the book on him, and if he turned out to be a curmudgeon, I'd lost my book.

He wrote back (using the SASE I sent with my letter) and included a stick-on label, signed, "To Mike: Ray Bradbury." A treasure!

And he turned out to be anything but a curmudgeon when I met him 25 years later.

Anyway, a low-cost technique, though some collector purists might not like the idea.

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