U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Beware of Amazon.com

Re: Beware of Amazon.com

On Fri, 7 Sep 2007, Nick Zentena wrote:


Those are offered on Amazon but none of those sellers are Amazon. It's small
bookshops using Amazon instead of Abe.
Thanks to Thom, Don, Nick, Ken, Robert, Leigh et al, for the explanations re Amazon, leading me to conclude that either the aggregate of info on this list is awesome, or I am an ignorant heathen, or, like the cookie assortment, "some of each."

BUT in fact what looks like mere ignorance may actually be worse -- memory loss !!! (Take THAT !, you young punks !) At the time I did remember "Stanford," but couldn't recall the name today, especially when trying to find two addresses I knew I had around here somewhere and get to the post office before it closed, while remembering to turn off the light under my experimental jam (actual jam, like you put on bread, but definitely an experiment -- with ginger, cinnamon sticks, a pear, a peach, white grapes, et al, this being the time of year I panic about not having enough jam to get through til spring).

My friend (and you know who you are... I have forgotten) did NOT buy the $150 book on Amazon, but I don't remember the rest. I could have copied my Reilly book for that matter... it's not very thick. Maybe I did....

However, the episode with Amazon today had to be Amazon... the book is brand new, just published, nobody could have a copy of their own yet, and since Midmarch (the publisher) has an entire order just printed (a couple of thousand, I suppose), and whoever knows about this particular book would almost certainly know (a) that it's just out, and (b) the cover price is $25... so that $150 price would not fly in any configuration. I mean it's got to be out of print for that to work.

I don't know the ISBN number, and it's too late in NYC to call to ask, but I'll get it tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the fact remains that when a new book comes out, folks turn reflexively to Amazon. When I announced my own book ("[Read My T-shirt] for President..." etc., last fall, there were instant exclamations that "I couldn't find it on Amazon," the implications being, it's not a real book, it's not really published, there's got to be something wrong, etc. etc. etc.

For a mainstream book by a large publisher, the economics of selling through Amazon are probably workable: The book is printed cheaply in China, Amazon will buy several hundred at a time, so the cost to ship per book is negligible, etc, and I also figure that Amazon does not demand 60% off the cover price of a book it will sell by the hundreds.

But for a specialty book, as for instance "Club without Walls," it's most likely ordered one at a time. Amazon's rule is that it must be shipped within 24 hours, which is going to cost the publisher at least $6, more likely $7 ... plus of course the 60% discount from the cover price... so unless the book is priced at over $40, the publisher will clear only $10, which has to cover cost to print AND a royalty to the author (however pitifully small).

At bookstores that are NOT Amazon, the commission is usually 40% OR LESS ! On the 3rd hand, in my experience of small-press publishing, it can be very difficult to collect for your sold books from brick and mortar stores. They NEED the large publishers... they don't *need* you.

I'm not sure which book this is so can't check but it's likely the same

It's not just the potentially high prices for non-Amazon sellers on Amazon. If you aren't carefull you risk high shipping. Just assuming it's coming from Amazon when in fact it isn't. But then even Abe books can have some strange pricing.
It's possible that, like newspapers, paper books are a "sunset industry." (And maybe, like baseball cards, some day they'll be precious artifacts?) In the meantime I guess we're supposed to learn to love e-books (yecchh!).

On the bright side, however, most printing presses today are well and truly digitized, which does cut the cost of printing. Something like 200 pages with color photographs in my new book cost about what the same number of pages of black & white text, no photographs, cost 15 years ago (both in the US).