“Amazon has well passed any expectations of its ability to change distribution and marketing.”
– Eric Schmidt
Amazon has been in the world news lately for its public dispute with big name publisher Hatchette, the home of authors such as James Patterson and J.K. Rowling. The business war between the two companies has grown into more than a simple disagreement over E-Book prices. No, this is also a sign that Amazon has become a super power in the world of literature. They’re using their massive leverage to put pressure on Hatchette to give in to their demands while also showing other authors and publishers that they’re now in control.
If this public battle has James Patterson, the number one best-selling author in the world today, flustered enough to address Amazon on a platform as wide and prestigious as the BookExpo America, you know black independent publishers are steadily watching these events unfold. If they’re strong arming one of the top five publishing companies, how are they going to treat the small black publishing presses in the future? From the looks of it, I doubt E-Book prices are changing any time soon…….
While many journalists have vividly and accurately given incite on this issue, many have missed the mark in explaining to the inquiring public how Amazon became so powerful. They’re taking a page out of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller’s playbook and becoming a modern day monopoly right before our eyes! As an up-and-coming entrepreneur myself, it’s amazing to see this unfold. But, as an author, I’m on the fence as well as for what this means for the future of my novels.
So, after careful research, allow for me to tell you the two ways Amazon took control of the book industry. African-American entrepreneurs and business owners, please take note. We can learn something from Amazon’s business model. Authors and publishers, corporate or independent, let’s brainstorm on a way to create our own leverage and smuggle power away from Amazon. Do we need to get the government involved like how they did with Rockefeller? Can we get the government involved?
1) Amazon Made Getting Books Convenient
“To me, speed is really about convenience.”
With the creation of Kindle, Amazon made getting full-length novels quick and easy. And let’s not forget they made it cheap. Some Kindle books go for .99 in the online store. With the click of a button, it’s delivered to your iPad or Kindle Cloud Reader. While this is the most cited example, let’s not forget that Amazon also made getting print books quick and cheap as well.
In the store, you have the option of getting a new or used copy of a print book. A used copy is normally a considerably smaller price than the price of a brand new book. If it’s Monday and you decide that you want to save time and get it quickly, you can pay
some extra money and get your desired novel or textbook on the first flight to your mail box. Usually, you’ll get it a day later. UPS and Fedex have a problem with coming on time sometimes though. But, Amazon has something in store for that hassle in the near future……
Bottom line, you want your business to be known for great customer service. One part of customer service is delivering a quality product on time. Folks now days are lazy. If they have the power to get something cheap without moving an inch, they’ll go for it over going to a physical brick-and-mortar store. A company that doesn’t understand that will go into extinction. Amazon will probably take you out too!
2) Amazon Controls Distribution
“The greatest secret of success (in business) is to find a need and fill it.”
– Robert Schuller
In my personal opinion, distribution is the most important part of business. Distribution deals directly with how you’re getting the product out to the customer. The internet has made interacting with potential customers and distributing products ridiculously easy. Because of this, Amazon became one of the number one internet hubs for distributing products.
Amazon is flexing its power over Hatchette by making it incredibly difficult to get a book that’s been published by them. Their new releases “conveniently” don’t have a pre-order button. Amazon is making moves to show Hatchette that they better fall in line or reap the outcome of their actions. And the outcome is major money lost because of the fact that they’re losing that covenant online and E-Book money.
Wal-Mart and Amazon are seemingly teaming up to break down book store chains such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Many cities don’t even have a bookstore any more. In my city of Macon, GA, there’s only one traditional bookstore. The only other place you can get a new release from your favorite author is by going to your local Wal-Mart (mainly the one nearest to Best Buy for my folks from Macon) or visiting Amazon.
Amazon is watching and enjoying traditional bookstores slowly die. Meanwhile, they’re working on ways to completely control distribution. How are they doing this? Well, by venturing into robotics. Yup, Google and Amazon are making the Terminator franchise creators look like prophets!
Amazon is looking to create robots to drop the products in their inventory right on your doorstep. Are UPS and FedEx on the way out? I won’t say that definitively. But, if their robotics projects go as planned, it’ll give Amazon more power and assertion over the book world. We may even see traditional book distributors go out of business!
Remember: Distribution is incredibly important. Amazon is showing us this right before our eyes. If you don’t have your own mini online store set-up, it’s a good chance that you’re losing out big money to Amazon. I was incredibly excited to see that New York Times best-selling author Wahida Clark is venturing into book distribution. She actually announced the news when I interviewed her a few weeks ago.
This is something we all need to venture into in the near future. Personally, I don’t like other people determining my fate or telling me what to do with my own product. Maybe that’s my millennial mindset creeping out. Or maybe it’s good business sense. I’m just saying! I hope Hatchett wins this dispute for all the authors and publishers in this industry. I’m going to be following this story like I’m watching the NBA Finals!
Do you have any questions, comments or concerns? Was I right or wrong on this issue? I would love to hear from you! Contact me directly at:
Check out a preview of my forthcoming Young Adult novel The Diary of Aaliyah Anderson on Wattpad!