Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Amazon putting coal in small publisher's stockings? by Terry Burns

Some authors’ books which last week were listed as available (ship in 1-2 days) are now listed as 5-8 weeks or 6-9 weeks or some 1-2 weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any discernable logic about what is marked with what availability. It doesn’t take a genius to see what marking a book as ‘available in 5-8 weeks’ means at this time of the year. So, what’s the deal?

Many of these books marked with such a delivery time are available right now, and if an order is placed at Amazon, it will indeed ship right away, but how is the public to know that? And if someone is ordering a book as a Christmas present how would they have any faith that they would receive it in time with the delivery date marked like that?

Amazon is the big gorilla in book sales expected by some to sell over 80% of the books in the market. What’s the old story about “where does a 500 pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants to. Is that what’s going on here?

Actually, I can’t think of any reason Amazon would want people to think books they could be selling would not be in stock until after Christmas. Selling those books is what they do. Another small publisher told me when he saw that on some of his titles he quickly ordered a copy through them and it updated immediately. That’s the kind of thing that makes it look like a software glitch, not something they are doing on purpose.

As we get closer, you can expect me to talk about Christmas not being about gifts, but rather to remember whose birthday we celebrate. I very much believe that, and bristle every time someone tells me “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” But even if we put our priorities in the right place we do have to take care of business too.

Retailers make or break their year on Christmas sales and it is important to booksellers, publishers and authors as well. In today’s economy with money very tight we don’t need software problems throwing roadblocks in the way of making the most of the season. I’m told that they are working hard to correct the problem and I hope it gets resolved very soon.


Timothy Fish said...

I can see why might want to do that, but you could be right, it may be a software glitch.

A few years ago, latched on to the idea that if publishers would give them electronic copies of their books, when an order came in they could deliver it more quickly without having to wait for the distributor to ship it to them. bought a print on demand technology and then came Kindle, which is just an extension of that idea. If I as a publisher see my availability drop and my competitors have instant availability, that gives me quite an insentive to move more of my books over to POD technology.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Amazon does some squirrely things, don't they? Hope they get this one fixed soon.

Someone joked this morning that they felt gypped out of a day off of work, since Christmas was on a Sunday this year. I told them, "I'll talk to Jesus about it."

I like it when Christmas falls on Sunday!

Linda Glaz said...

Hmmm, it were sure be interesting to know why this is happening. I have such a conspiracy theorist mind that I'm always wondering. Hmmmmmmmm..............

Jeanette Levellie said...

I thought the same thing, Linda, but decided to be diplomatic in my comment this time. HA!