At first I thought it might be an April Fool’s joke, but it turns out that Amazon.com really is asking print-on-demand publishers to use their BookSurge POD facilities in order to sell their print-on-demand products at Amazon.com.
Until this, print-on-demand publishers were using their own facilities or able to outsource their printing needs for whatever cost was effective for them. Now, in order to sell on the world’s largest Internet bookstore, POD publishers must agree to use the Amazon facilities at Amazon’s prices.
Amazon says POD publishers are free to continue to use their own facilities to print their books, but they must provide a minimum number of books to Amazon to warehouse if they do it that way. POD publishers outside of BookSurge are also free to use Amazon’s printing only for PODs sold on Amazon.com, but use their own for PODs sold anywhere else.
What will the fallout of all this be? A few uninformed guesses/predictions that I do hope are wrong:
1. Print-on-demand services will up their printing prices for the inconvenience of having to split their production methods in order to sell products on Amazon.com.
2. BookSurge will build a larger POD customer base because it can afford to charge POD authors less than other publishers to sell an author’s POD work at Amazon.com.
3. Within five years, someone younger, fresher, and with innovative new ideas will find a way to break Amazon’s stranglehold, selling POD books faster, cheaper, and to a wider audience.
Well, No. 3 could just be fanciful optimism on my part.