Saturday, 12 January 2013

All in All, Another Brick in the Wall…

How does a publisher fight against the inequalities of favourism levied toward the big publishers on Amazon’s platform. It seems to me that the marketing opportunities available to the larger publishers present a very uneven playing field. For example, MIRA books are able to place free chapter samples of its authors: and benefit greatly from providing free content for readers to download. Its something we would love to do yet the only route to providing free content for smaller publishers is to use Amazon’s Kindle Select programme, and then you only have the option to do this five times over a period of 100 days. What sucks about Select is that you have to make your books exclusively available for a period of at least 100 days to Amazon. Even though Amazon is the market leader I have no desire to give them an even greater advantage over Waterstones, Kobo, Apple,Barnes & Noble and all the other platforms which sell our eBooks. Amazon’s desire for exclusivity is nothing more than a spoiler aimed at hurting its competitors and from a business point of view understandable but from a publisher and author point of view restrictive. However, the larger publishers don’t have to worry about the drawbacks of Select as they have a managed publisher account. So how do you get one of those if you are a small publisher? The answer is you don’t, you have to wait for Amazon to contact you…so, don’t hold your breath.

Publishers with managed accounts can post free books, sample chapter books and a host of other marketing ploys which give them the edge and always will do. The rest of us have to be tied into restrictive promotional tools which hand tie them and their authors. The advantages already enjoyed by larger publishers are brought about through their financial clout and it would be foolish of me to believe they haven’t earned their position of favouritism. They have.

The big publishers have huge marketing budgets and can populate online and traditional media with marketing campaigns for their books and run large print runs to ensure you are tripping over the latest blockbuster the next time you visit Waterstones. Ebooks provided an area we could take them on at least at a more even level, based on how good a book is, how gripping a story is, how excellent an author writes. We shouldn’t however fool ourselves into believing this will last much longer. I think 2013 will see a distancing of the the gap between small publishers and large with eBooks. It will be a year where small publishers will have to look at the market and see what they can use to ensure that the gap doesn’t become so large that we cannot compete at all. So Amazon, please find a way of helping small publishers maintain the competition, as it is healthy for the industry, beneficial for readers to discover fresh new talent and great for small business and an economy that has shrinking opportunities outside of the Internet.

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