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Friday, 26 February 2010

More about Amazon's grip on the book world

I went into one of my local bookshops last week to talk about them stocking my book, and ended up in a very interesting conversation about distributors. My local bookseller had had an argument with one of his distributors because the price they were selling him certain books at was undercut by Amazon. His view (unsurprisingly) was that he would not buy the book from the distributor if his customers could purchase it more cheaply from Amazon than he could buy it from the distributor at cost. Hence these particular books will not appear on his shelves, and the relationship between bookseller and distributor has broken down. Macmillan's distributor is not in this category right now, but it seems as though certain books may never appear in a bookshop but only online, as sellers would make a loss if they stocked them.
There is also an interesting article on Anita Davison's blog about the new Amazon digital text facility that allows anyone to upload a book to the kindle. You can find this on
Personally, the editing process has been of immense value to me - and I shudder to think of all those un-edited books available to buy online.....

I have to say, I myself do not think of Amazon only as the bad guy because I use it myself to get those obscure reference books not stocked by my local shop. In a small village like Windermere with an ailing Smith's and only one small bookshop full of tourist fodder and maps of the Lake District, this is often the case. And in a way, if non-fiction books that may not have a big market could be available on Kindle - that would be great, and I hope this is where its strength will lie. Those obscure titles by enthusiasts such as "The Westmorland Slate Mining Disaster" etc, that we novelists find so useful!


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  2. Sorry, I'm all thumbs tonight- but thank you for your comment on my blog and many congratulations on your new release. It looks fascinating and set in the era I love

  3. You know, there is nothing more democratic than free enterprise. There is a simple solution to any commercial problem.. don't buy from the offending site. I myself don't understand all this antagonism to Amazon.. no one puts a gun to anyone's head to make them buy from this seller or that.

    Just my 2 kilobytes worth.

  4. I think everyone has to shop around these days even buyers and sellers. Like everything in life it's swings and roundabouts, gone are the days of RRP. It's all down to whatever anyone can sell it at, especially with the supermarket are now in on the act.

    Good luck with your book,Deborah

  5. Thanks for stopping by Anita.
    Yes, I agree with you Nan, we all have different tastes and so it is good to have the option to buy from a place which has a vast stock, far more than the average store.And you're right, we all have consumer choice. And as you point out, Jarmara, it's a cut-throat business buying and selling anything. But at the same time I can't help but feel for the writer whose books are sidelined from browsing bookshops by Amazon's pressure to lower prices. Naturally, the individual bookseller must make a choice over what he will stock, hence few shops stocking poetry (uncommercial)and the shelves groaning with victim lit. But I would be disappointed if the stock in our regular bookshops became limited any further. Guess I just love browsing in bookshops!

  6. An added problem is the demise (or falling off) of the book token. My best browsing-in-bookshops times have been spent when armed with a token to spend. Now, I receive (and I'm afraid, give) Amazon tokens instead. And Amazon make it so incredibly easy, especially with sending gifts. But I do hope the small bookshop will survive. Nothing can quie take its place.