Amazon Associates and Amazon Advantage

Amazon today represents a huge proportion of the retail book market accessible to self publishers. Large trade publishers deal directly with Amazon, and smaller trades often let their distributor or wholesaler handle all of the Amazon sales. The print-on-demand portion of our list is printed by Lightning Source, which means those titles are supplied to Amazon both directly and through Ingram Distribution as part of the standard Lightning Source deal. However, we also have a couple offset printed books still in print that lost Ingram stocking years ago due to insufficient sales levels, and for which we never signed on with another wholesaler or distributor. We are still able to sell those books through Amazon two different ways, through Amazon Advantage and Marketplace, and promote them through Amazon Associates.

Amazon Advantage is the "publishers only" program Amazon offers to small and medium size publishers who don't have an exclusive distribution agreement that prevents them for selling any books directly to retailers. It's not a bad deal, as far as the book industry goes. Amazon pays the publisher 45% of the cover price of the book (known as a 55% discount), but the publisher pays for shipping the books. Amazon does their best to keep books in stock, but they order in accordance with the track record of the title. As a new self publisher, their first order from you may be a single copy, and when it sells, the title will show on Amazon as "2 - 3 weeks shipping" or worse. They'll quickly send you a request for a replacement, maybe for two or three if they have an order on hand for another copy, but mail is slow, and their receiving and stocking speed depends on temporal factors, like holidays and selling seasons. It can take many months of steady sales before Amazon Advantage figures out the ideal number of your books to stock and orders in accordance, and even then, any bump in sales will drive your title temporarily out-of-stock again. However, compared to the bad old days when self publishers were mainly relegated to selling books direct or accepting a 70% discount deal from a "Master Distributor," Amazon Advantage is a giant step in the right direction.

Amazon Associates is Amazon's affiliate program that pays you commission for items you promote that are sold on their website. With the notable exception of a friend's e-book, we only use Associates to promote our titles. We've been an Amazon Associate since 1997, the longest running relationship we've had in the publishing business, and although our primary reason for participating is to promote our books on the Amazon website, it also ads more than $100 a month to our bottom line in paid commission. You don't need to participate in Amazon Advantage to join Amazon Associates, you don't even need to be in the publishing business, to become an Associate, but it's one of the best tools on the Internet for increasing the visibility of your titles in the world's biggest bookstore.

Amazon Marketplace is accessible to anybody, you don't even have to be in the business, and allows you to sell pretty much any item stocked by Amazon, used or new, in return for paying Amazon a commission or a monthly fee. Amazon also takes a cut of the shipping and handling cost for standard Marketplace books, but leaves you enough to cover Media Mail shipping in most cases. This means, as soon as your book is listed by Amazon, it need never be unavailable, because you can always offer it for sale, direct from the publisher, through Marketplace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't anyone aware that Amazon is double dealing? I mean, how can they be an author's selling agent and at the same time advertise to OUR customers that they can sell it new or used at a fraction of the cost. Consequently, people buy the new and used ones rather than the one the author gets paid for. Where they get the books from is anyone's guess, but Amazon is making money on OUR books, if not through their advantage program, then through their affiliate program. They get paid either way, Authors don't. There are 48 resellers of my books selling copies as new or used (some advertising cases available), right along with the site that pays me royalties. I'm not making any money on my book, even thought it was at one time an Amazon bestseller. Now, the only books that have sold in the past 6 months have not earned me a cent. Is this fair? It's like Napster: not paying the author for books that are sold. The only peole who make money are the resellers and Amazon. This practice of A\mazon's should be stopped and made illegal.