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The time is ripe for a REAL competitor to Amazon

If  you’re in the publishing industry – even as a self-publisher – you’d be foolish to ignore the coming wave of eBooks. But it’s far too soon to speak of the demise of printed books. Nevertheless, this is an interesting piece from the Irish Times about shifts in the industry.

up market

Personally, I agree with Donna Tartt, Stephen King, and Malcolm Gladwell that Amazon does more to harm authors – and books – than it does to preserve the integrity of the publishing arena. Jeff Bezos makes no secret of the fact that he is in it for the money, and he’s counting on people to keep buying based on price and convenience. I wouldn’t argue that point, but here are two other things to consider:

(1) The consumer market is broad. In spite of all the damage it has done (and continues to do) to our economy and the American middle class, Walmart continues to attract loyal customers who wouldn’t dream of shopping elsewhere – largely because of the store’s willingness to be the “low price leader.” But when it comes to marketing most goods and services, being the low-price leader is not usually a good way to compete. Walmart succeeds because they have such a large market share. But guess who’s still in business, too? Lord & Taylor, Sachs, Nordstrom and lots of other up-market retailers. Likewise, there are consumers out there who are willing to pay more to support authors who are producing high-quality books!

(2) Circumstances are ripe for another smaller player (or several others) to come in and take a significant share of the online book market. Whether you’re a beer drinker or not, chances are you’ve heard of the Samuel Adams brand. Did you know that Sam Adams has just 1 PERCENT of the beer market? As I continue to speak and work and consult in the self-publishing field, I’m shifting my purchases and promotions to Powell’s Books and Barnes & Noble as my own small way of working to level the playing field even slightly. We DON’T HAVE TO give all our business to Amazon. We’ve just become conditioned to do so.

That said, Amazon is right now still a huge player, and self-publishers who ignore it may do so to their peril. But tread lightly, and not without being fully informed! READ all the fine print before listing your book with Amazon or signing up for KDP Select. And have a fallback plan; don’t put all your publishing eggs in the Amazon basket. This is a case where the fox most definitely rules the proverbial chicken coop.

Here’s to a being an informed self-publisher and consumer!

Laura

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