Saturday, March 29, 2008

Amazon to force POD publishers to use Booksurge

Whether you are an established published author or aspiring to have your work published in the near future, you need to take note of this week's event. This is another attempt by one of the big boys to get even bigger and it will hurt readers and authors alike. If you haven’t heard, Amazon purchased BookSurge a small POD publisher/printer back in 2005 and is now forcing other POD publishers to use BookSurge to print their books “or else.” The following are excerpts from articles printed this week in Publishers Weekly, The Wall Street Journal and Writers Weekly.

Writers Weekly 3/28/08 Telling POD Publishers - Let BookSurge Print Your Books, or Else...

"Reports have been trickling in from the POD underground that Amazon/BookSurge representatives have been approaching some Lightning Source customers, first by email introduction and then by phone (nobody at BookSurge seems to want to put anything in writing). When Lightning Source customers speak with the BookSurge representative, the reports say, they are basically told they can either have BookSurge start printing their books or the "buy" button on their book pages will be "turned off."

The book information would remain on Amazon, and people could still order the book from resellers (companies that list new and used books in Amazon's Marketplace section), but customers would not be able to buy the book from Amazon directly, nor qualify for the coveted "free shipping" that Amazon offers.

Don't believe it? I didn't believe it either. I am Angela Hoy, the co-owner of POD services company and publisher of I am well-known in the industry for my activism performed through Writers Weekly Whispers and Warnings. Over the years, we have helped writers recover tens of thousands of dollars in fees from deadbeat editors and publishers, helped them negotiate better contract terms, assisted writers in obtaining payment after their copyrights have been violated, and even assisted police in collecting evidence to prosecute criminals who have preyed on writers. I am also the author of 11 non-fiction books.”

“...What can you do? Let Amazon know what you think about this "offer" by Amazon/BookSurge.
The names of their Officers and Directors are here:

Amazon's Investor Relations Team email address appears near the bottom of this page:

Their address is:, Inc.
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226

Next, tell your author friends, your book buyers, your website visitors, your ezine subscribers and everyone else about this situation. was built on books. Books are written by authors. Unfortunately, it appears authors may ultimately be the innocent pawns in this power struggle."

Read entire article in Writers Weekly Links to other related articles are available on the Writers Weekly page.

Publishers Weekly 3/28/08
Amazon to Force POD Publishers to Use BookSurge
by Jim Milliot

“BookSurge, Amazon’s print-on-demand subsidiary, is making an offer that most publishers would like to refuse, but don’t feel they can. According to talks with several pod houses, BookSurge has told them that unless their titles are printed by BookSurge, the buy buttons on Amazon for their titles will be disabled. A detailed explanation of her how the new program was explained to her is provided by co-owner Angela Hoy on her blog.

Over the last year, BookSurge has been trying to cut into the market share of pod leader Lightning Source and is using the selling clout of Amazon to generate more business. “I feel like the flea between two giant elephants,” said the head of one pod publisher about the upcoming battle between Lightning Source and BookSurge/Amazon. He said although the deal with BookSurge will be more expensive, he has no choice but to make the move since most of his authors expect their titles to be for sale on Amazon. He added that his company will also continue to use Lightning Source for printing as well. Amazon's BookSurge mandate extends to traditional publishers as well as to online pod houses.”

Read the entire article in Publishers Weekly

The Wall Street Journal
Amazon Tightens Grip on Printing
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg

" Inc., flexing its muscles as a major book retailer, notified publishers who print books on demand that they will have to use its on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon's Web site.
The move signals that Amazon is intent on using its position as the premier online bookseller to strengthen its presence in other phases of bookselling and manufacturing. Amazon is one of the biggest booksellers in the U.S., with a market share publishing experts estimate to be about 15%. Amazon doesn't comment on sales. "

Entire article is available to subscribers of The%20Wall%20Street%20Journal'>The Wall Street Journal


A. F. Stewart said...

Amazon is just trying to eliminate the competition.

If you want to protest you can sign my petition:

Sheila said...

Microsoft....I mean....AOL....I mean....Amazon (they all start to look alike when you're examining ethics issues) is obviously trying to create a monopoly. Publishing houses should sit up and take notice as well. Soon, Amazon will be competing directly with them! And won't that be a sort of conflict of interest when that happens? I mean, is BN or Borders or BAMM starting a publishing business? No.
But Amazon has grown to cover so many industries that it now sees no boundaries to its outreach, not even those of ethics or conflict of interest.
What Amazon is doing it tantamount to book burning in my opinion. If you don't do what Guido...I mean Amazon...tells you to do, your book will be killed! Or at least severely maimed.
Amazon is not the only game in town. I would love to see someone like Borders or BN pick up PODs online. Let's all start buying for Fictionwise or some other bookseller that will print POD.
As long as Amazon does this I will not buy anything from them. This week I will have our tech guy take down all of the Amazon buttons off of our site.
We vote with our dollar. I vote that Amazon is being unfair. Vote "NO" on Amazon.

Just a Monkey... said...

It's a Big-Fish-Eat-Small-Fish world out there, Marta. I'm afraid we all (writers & readers) are the small ones...

Kim Smith said...

I am with you COS. There is no question that the buyer is the one who drives business. If the buyer quits buying, the business dies.

I will not buy anything else from Amazon either and will be happy to spout my reasons from every blog I own, operate, or participate. If all the writers out there who are going to be affected did likewise, then amazon will be a ghost town and others, like Fictionwise, will be the new Amazon.

Marta Stephens said...

I totally disagree that we're the small fish in this pond. In a democracy, numbers DO count and although the bottom line affect of a boycott my yet to be seen, the message will be loud and clear and wouldn’t that be music in everyone’s ears?

I’m TOTALLY incensed. Just because Amazon is the largest online shop, they aren't the only ones (my book is on several including B&N, BAMM, and numerous other smaller online shops).

I have it from an excellent source that:

“... LightningSource represents one heck of a chunk of the business (they have 60,000 PublishAmerica titles alone) and are streets ahead of BookSurge. They pull some weight as being owned by Ingrams -- the biggest distributor in the world. But Amazon's greed knows no bounds. On an average novel, the new deal would mean they pick up a total of around 78% of cover price, plus other profit-spinning benefits. This could well spell the end for many, if not most, small independents who traditionally work with LS and rely heavily on the Amazon marketplace.”

Seems to me we (readers, authors, publishers) put Amazon in the forefront; we can certainly bring them down and put someone else in their place. If there was ever an opportunity for the number 2 online bookshop to have guts and step forward, it's now.

Unfortunately,Amazon isn’t the only entity pushing POD to one side. Two major author organizations (those of you who are members know who I’m talking about), recently took similar measures to disqualify members whose books are with POD small presses from promotional perks.

Their membership was in a rage. The jury is still out on whether they will act on their threat to drop thier membership.

Actions like these have already affected hundreds, if not thousands of authors and the end doesn’t seem to be in sight. Every author who is with a small press and every small press who uses LightningSource and Ingrams will be touched by Amazon’s move.

If Amazon isn't stopped (i.e.: like Microsoft and AOL were), it will only be a matter of time before our right to choose in other matters will be eliminated too.

Anyone who doesn't see the ramifications of this action needs to wake up and shake off the dust and the cobwebs. When I think of the money I've spent on Amazon over the years and the number of readers that I’ve referred to them, I want to spit.

A. F. Stewart said...

This article explains the whole consequences of what going to happen if Amazon persists.

Julie Ann Shapiro said...

Writers Weekly now has an update.
"Saturday, March 29, 2008: Whiskey Creek Press isna traditional publisher that uses POD technology. We were alerted by one of their authors that they appear to be the latest Amazon/BookSurge "buy" button victim. We checked and it appears numerous Whiskey Creek Press print books are now only available through resellers. The Kindle versions are, of course, still for sale directly through Amazon."

Marta Stephens said...

Received a Google Alert this morning that picked this article in MB4 up along with others who have commented on the Amazon attempt to eliminate the competition. Check out this link for more links to articles including those written by reps from with The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, O'Reilly's Radar, and MSN Money.

Sign a petition against Amazon's action:

Unknown said...

Yeah, right , this is just another case of the big fish trying to swallow up all the little fishes.

well Amazon, you was built on the minds of us and therefore you will go the very same way, It is about high time that for POD's, self-publishers, publishers, etc
a better system it put into effect any way.

There are so many new minds with new real life story that the rest of the people in the world are looking for, so Amazon if you do not want to be a part of what made you the giant that you are ,then so be it, But,remember that will not stop the constant flow of stories arising up.

This thinking revolution that is raising more and more each day has new stories to tell, you sound like the little kid because and bat is his, he makes all the rules instead of following how the rules go. since all the marbles belongs to you, what you say go, Huh?

Just realize that something else will step into your place to take up the slack that you will create, but it will only be momentarily, see you can't stop the mind from achieving it's goal no matter what type of roadblock you got in mind to set up. the mind will out think itself. So do your worst and you will become a forgotten business.

Long Live Publisher & Author Power!! Let's Ban together and create ourselves a better system that we all can use as a distrubution point. This We Can Do. Any Subjections? All is needed is for a forum to get started where we all can throw in ideas.

Marta Stephens said...

Although the Amazon issue has been worrisome to me, I’m not discouraged. I finish the second book in my series in December and have been working with my editor on it since February. Last night, as I worked on the final proofreading/edits, this whole Amazon thing sloshed around in my mind. What will the future hold for us? Have we been a little too comfortable knowing that because our books are on Amazon the whole world knows about them? Have we slacked off on aggressively promoting our works as a result? Well, anyone who knows me – knows me well will tell you that “no” and “can’t” aren’t in my vocabulary. My driving force and one I hope other writers will pick up and go with is this: Sure Amazon’s decision is disappointing to put it lightly, but it's not going to keep me from writing (I have three other novels in the works and several more in mind—hope you all like crime mysteries), sales won’t come to a screeching halt, and Amazon certainly won’t force all publishers to fold. After the dust settles, there will be plenty of publishers using this economically sound method to print and distribute the books you love to write and read. So maybe change is good akin to how a forest requires the occasional fire in order to regenerate its seedlings.

Needless to say, I’ve been sidetracked the past several days and now I desperately need to get “The Black Pearl” off my desk. Anyone up for a launch party next fall? ;)

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