Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monopoly Money

Once upon a time, there was a young man who wanted to sell books. He created a website and negotiated deals with the big publishers to put their books in his warehouse. It took him a few years, but he built up his business to the point where he was the first place people thought of going when they wanted a book.
Meanwhile, more than one national chain of book stores went out of business.
At some point, this young man realized changes had occurred in the book market. People also bought electronic books. The big publishers were resisting going electronic, considering it a fad, but lots of small publishing companies had sprung up. Some authors were their own publishers. These small companies and individuals not only embraced e-publishing, they were also able to create paper books by using POD printing.
The young man thought, “People are spending money on e-books and POD books. If individual authors can set these things up, then I can, too.” So he became not only a book seller, but a not-so-small publisher of e-books and POD books. His company grew even bigger.
The big publishers finally, reluctantly produced e-books, but they charged virtually the same amount for the ebook version as they did for the paper version, despite the much lower cost of production. When the young man saw that, he demanded that they lower their e-book prices. Or else! Some did, but one did not, and he punished them terribly, by not selling pre-orders for them, and by letting their orders languish for weeks before they were sent out to the customers.
Some authors and small presses thought, “I’m all for lower prices on e-books, but this guy is throwing his weight around.”
One day, the young man thought; Since he had the capabilities to POD print, a warehouse, and people to mail books to customers, it only made sense that he do all the POD printing. He ‘negotiated’ with the various POD companies, making arrangements for them to ship their printing jobs to him (and pay him) to print.
Upon hearing of this, some who had been ready to use his POD/e-book services thought, “Whoa! Now he’s trying to put POD companies out of business? He wants exclusive rights to sell your e-book for at least 3 months? This guy is not only a bully, he wants a monopoly!”
In a round-about way, I’m trying to explain the reason why I (and MoonPhaze Publishing) will not be working with Amazon. Even though not being listed on their site is likely to make it harder to sell our own books, we cannot condone their practices.
Since we don’t know which POD publishers are still independent, or how long they can hold out, we’ll have to have a number of books printed and store those we haven’t yet sold. And we need to get a move on, because we have a book due out in January.
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