Or Books Co-founder Asks: Is Amazon Really Worth It For Small Publishers?

Last week we asked; is Amazon taking aim once again on publishers? Amazon is  reported to be threatening to pull the ‘buy buttons’ once again on publisher’s books if they do not get concessions on deals surrounding the new agency model.
From last week’s story:

“Currently several large publishers are in negotiations with Amazon about the implementation of the agency model for e-books. According to the article in the New York Times, two industry executives have disclosed to the newspaper that Amazon is looking for concessions on the deal, including extending any new deal to three years and an assurance that no other e-book competitor the publishers deal with will undercut the agreed Amazing price.”
While large publishers may bring more weight to negotiations, it is unlikely Amazon will extend any leeway to publishers outside of the big six publishing houses, and certainly there would seem little likelihood of Amazon offering any favours to independent publishers.
OR Books co-founder, Colin Robinson, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post yesterday that left no one in any doubt where Or Books stand regarding independent publishers and the kind of relationship they have with Amazon. In his article entitled ‘Bedtime for Bezos’, Robinson stated the position of the new start-up publisher he co-founded with John Oakes:

“…we have a simple message for publishers being menaced in this way: You are in an abusive relationship. It’s doing little for you that you can’t do better yourselves. It’s time to say “IT’S OVER.

With sales of $24 billion in 2009 (up 26% on the previous year), Amazon didn’t get to where it is today by being touchy-feely. This is a company, after all, founded by Jeff Bezos, a man so devoted to the cold science of calculation that, for evening companionship after a hectic day on 80s Wall Street, he developed a system called “women flow”, a variation of finance’s “deal flow”.
It was hard ball from the start for the Or Books co-founder. They made an early decision not to list their books on Amazon and concede a retailer discount of up to 60%, preferring to use their viral marketing, other online retailers, high street and independent bookstores, as well as their own online bookstore.

“…we looked hard at what Amazon costs a small publisher, and what it provides in return. We decided it wasn’t worth it; that we would be better off on our own.”
For Or Books and many other independent publishers, the real struggle is their concession of such a high discount to Amazon, leaving the independents unable to match the listed Amazon price on their own online bookstores. It may be better to invest the money conceded on a heavy retail discount into direct and acute marketing and advertising of titles. Ultimately, Amazon is simply listing and making books available for purchase, while the independent publisher is actively trying to find customers and create a unique connection with them.
Or Books hit the New York Times bestseller lists with their first book, ‘Going Rouge: Sarah Palin – An American Nightmare’. Their second title to be published is ‘This Time We Went too far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion’ by Norman Finkelstein.

About Or Books
OR Books is a new type of publishing company. It embraces progressive change in politics, culture and the way we do business.

Our list is highly selective: we publish just one or two books a month, combining established authors with new discoveries.

Our editorial standards are fastidious; our design clear and elegant.
We employ exciting promotion with highly creative use of video and the Internet.

To avoid the waste of unsold stock and returns, we produce our books only when they are wanted, either through print-on-demand or as platform-agnostic e-books.

This system allows a rapid publishing turnaround so relevant books can intervene quickly in issues of the day.

Most importantly, we sell direct to you, the customer, shipping promptly when a book is released and/or your order is received.

Our approach jettisons the inefficiencies of conventional publishing to better serve readers, writers and the environment.

It points to a new future for book publishing.

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