TechCrunch reports Amazon announced this week that they will only sell print-on-demand books from their BookSurge service. Prior to this point, anyone who paid to register an ISBN with their publishing project would have access to bookstores like Barnes & Nobles, Borders and even Amazon.
While this will impact the reach of retail publications, I doubt it will affect the specialty markets such as associations. Amazon’s BookSurge service is more expensive than others with fewer size and binding options so it has limited reach. Once a “self-publisher” pays to register an ISBN for their publication, it will be listed in Books in Print for all to see. Yes, there is still significant marketing required to generate sales – no matter who prints the book.
I hope that Amazon will see the downside of this decision and quickly return to the open system that has made them so popular.
UPDATE: The Amazon announcement was more detailed than originally reported. To paraphrase these details, Amazon wants to be able to print the books sold through Amazon so they have control over delivery. This does not mean that other POD companies have to print the copies sold at their sites through Amazon. Amazon has a service – Amazon Prime – where customers pay an annual fee for unlimited shipping on all orders. Apparently concerns about rising costs on this service was one of the reasons for this announcement. Several competitors are still skeptical of Amazon’s motives.