Bookseller Become Publisher

A colleague of mine commented on the recent announcements from both Kobo and Amazon morphing into publishers, ‘What if Amazon gives preference to its own titles over other publishers’ titles in its distribution arm.’

In my opinion, given Amazon’s enormous marketing capability, and corporate culture of obfuscating facts, the potential to monopolize the entire beast of publishing, not just the long tail, is something to monitor.

Kobo, it should be noted, is the silent but powerful dark horse in all this. Amazon’s reach is limited to Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and the UK. Eight countries. Kobo is available in 26 countries, and their eReaders are gaining distribution, which are now available in three countries. The beauty of Kobo is that it’s not a platform. Kobo is an eBook marketplace that happens to develop several eReaders of its own. And now Kobo is also a publisher.

There are other concerns for the small publisher in all of this as well. Amazon owns CreateSpace, a POD facility Amazon snatched up several years ago. Earlier this year many small publishers using Lightning Source (and thereby Ingram for wholesale distribution), and the short discount system, found their titles appearing on Amazon as Not In Stock (available in X days/weeks). This precipitated several effects, of which the two most important were:

  1. Many small publishers dumped LSI and moved to CreateSpace so that their books would be listed as available for immediate shipping, although they had to abandon the short discount of 20%.
  2. Those who remained with LSI had to bump their short discount to the regular discount of 55% in order for their titles to appear as being available for immediate shipment, although availability seems to vary.

Bully tactics, plain and simple. Use our POD services or we’ll make it unattractive for customers to purchase your book from us.

There’s an old saying: don’t put your eggs in one basket. I think it very much applies to this swiftly changing publishing industry.