Just when you think selling books couldn’t get any harder, along comes the wonderful news that Amazon is using its hefty muscle to force POD publishers to use BookSurge (which it owns) to print their print-on-demand (POD) books else risk having the Buy button for their authors’ books turned off. Sure, you can still purchase said books through Amazon Marketplace, but not new through Amazon itself, along with all the benefits that includes like free shipping and one-click shopping. As one person put it, that’s like saying “if I want Wal-Mart to sell my toys, I have to use Wal-Mart’s toy-making company.” WritersWeekly wrote up a comprehensive article on this issue, which I recommend reading in order to understand why this situation is terrible for authors like me and the future of book publishing.
Most POD publishers use Lightning Source, which is owned by Ingram — the large book distributor, through which my book is distributed to bookstores all over. Without access to Ingram, you, my readers, could not purchase Lifeliner through your local bookstore. So you could see that switching to BookSurge would mean double-printing: one printing for Amazon, one for Ingram for bookstores. That’s daft. How on earth can publishers and authors make any money doing that?
This story seems to have hit the fan today, although apparently it’s been brewing for awhile. I checked and so far the Buy button is still active for Lifeliner on Amazon, but as others have pointed out, there are plenty of other online retailers — in Canada Chapters.ca, and in the US BarnesandNoble.com — in case iUniverse joins PublishAmerica on Amazon’s hit list.