Decoupling from Amazon

As a follow-on to the Goodreads announcement, and amid Amazon’s general cutting of affiliates, screwing of business partners, etc. to become more of a single destination, thought I might mention this. When you get fed up enough, it is possible to leave the Amazon fold. I mostly made my break with the Seattle-based low-margin Internet retailer last Spring, following them screwing me over while I was picking up a kid in China. Despite me being a primarily ebook/POD publisher, with limited availability in retail stores, since October, Amazon has been less than half my revenues; and though there was a nice three-week Xmas bump; by April, they’ll be less than a quarter (or sooner if I am once again “punished.”)

By dropping out, I mean I’ve pulled all my works from CreateSpace Enterprise, formerly Booksurge, and despite amazing productivity gains resulting in me more than doubling the amount of new content Olympia offers each month, have placed almost no new titles of any stripes with Amazon in quite a while (exception being Gertrude Beasley, ‘cuz man, that book was angry.)

Direct sales, Apple, Google, Kobo, LSI, etc. have been more than enough to offset any harm Amazon has done to my business. And I’m so much happier. And poised to grow well into the future. The joke is, Amazon’s decisions to censor and harass me and folks like me will, in the long run, cost them around 80% of the future ebook market.

I don’t just mean censorship of Olympia. That’s–yeah. Again, Amazon’s customers are adults with life experience; their minions in charge of censorship are 20-somethings with overpriced degrees and nothing to offer society. Deny those patrons or defraud them, continually insult their intelligence, they will shop elsewhere. The men anyway, and I only really sell to men. At some point, perhaps when Amazon expands its audio/video offerings with their de rigueur bullying of content providers, it’s quite possible a well-heeled litigant, an *AA type, may be interested to know just how much Amazon has been curating content, given that, everyone else in the technology industry has a much-different read on Sec. 512 of the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act than does Amazon. Several of these firms even protested attempts to change the law. Amazon just kinda ignores it.

Whatevs. Like I say. Adult customers, some of whom are quite ticked off at Amazon’s censorship and the fact that personal content (including purchased books from others) goes into “Docs” on the Kindle Fire, while only Amazon content is worthy of a “Books” destination, are being quite good to me. And for anything else on the courtroom front, I got a bunch of emails in a nice timeline conformant with evidentiary guidelines as indicated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Over 100 works censored (and growing) while Amazon continues to encourage and materially benefit from infringement, often of registered works. I only ask that the .pdfs I submit be dubbed Plaintiff’s Exhibit XXX.

But it was Amazon’s censorship of works from Black Mask that are really gonna doom them again viz Itunes U. Take, for example, a university professor who wants to do a course on film noir. I know dozens. They’re more adjuncts. Free desk copies, people. I always tell ‘em not to order too many books for the bookstore. Class might have 50 students to sign up, but we’ll be lucky to sell 15 copies of The Killing.

One of these adjuncts, likely a younger one, will have a great deal of fun putting together an entire syllabus/notes/clips thing on film noir. Sell it for maybe $50 in the iBookstore. They can do fair use excerpts, or else a lot of Detour, or maybe watch the films in class. Books, give ‘em away. Or link to where they’re going to be elsewhere available (free of charge) in the iBookstore.

But no professor can do that with my film noir texts on Amazon’s forthcoming Itunes U Competitor, because Amazon has removed so many of my film noir texts. I don’t really know why. There may have been someone at Random House. Actually, wait. I think I do know why, and it’s really all Amazon’s fault.

It was back when that whole Booklocker/CreateSpace/Booksurge thing went down. I took the Booksurge deal for Olympia, which was good while LSI adapted. But the crack tech minds at Booksurge couldn’t handle multiple imprints. So, given the dire threats to my business, I put Black Mask and Silk Pagoda into CreateSpace regular, taking advantage of free pro setups, and garnering dozens of pro setups for future use.

In the process, I learned that CreateSpace Pro was a much better deal than Booksurge (later CreateSpace Enterprise). About the only thing the latter division offered was lower print costs than LSI if you were gonna dropship 15-25 books to a university store. Downside to this was, the quality out of CreateSpace Enterprise is absolute crap, with most of my carton’s spines coming out mangled. My rep blamed this on non-standard sizing, (5×8, hmmph), and I went back to telling people to order from LSI.

So, I put a bunch of books into CreateSpace Pro. And got censored. Harassed. Removed from sale inexplicably. Heard demands from my rep that I use another ISBN that was registered to my company, as that first ISBN was registered to my company. It just went on. Even books that have been in place four years now–still a chance they vanish.

They finally got around to abolishing the Pro Plan this month, as given the numbers, they were losing $ on every copy sold.

Meanwhile, people still want my books, even in 5x8s if the spines ain’t mangled. I’m real good at niche marketing. For academic stuff, Apple’s got a goldmine up its sleeve and a long history of capitalizing on the education market, while Google could, tomorrow, start dropshipping LSI/Ingram titles.

Be interesting to see Amazon’s earnings tomorrow. You gotta think the firm’s cash holdings will at least be on the increase after Xmas, for the first time in many quarters, but who really knows?

About dmoynihan

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