Author Topic: Amazon as your competitor  (Read 2914 times)  

Offline Nic

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2018, 07:51:45 PM »
Still, competing doesn't mean you have to be cut-throat. Collaboration can lift all the collaborators in that 2+2=5 kind of way, with shared costs equaling greater returns.

Yes, that automatic assumption keeps stumping me. It must be some cultural difference.

Online sela

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2018, 08:07:24 PM »
In which case you are quite lucky. Not everyone is, and going by who and what I see in their emails, and by who moans about availability here, it is an exception rather than a rule.

As I said directly above, that doesn't change the finite quality of the market we are talking about. Replace books read with hamburgers eaten and it becomes instantly clear. Both aren't that different regarding the basic economic market behaviour.

I completely agree. We are now competing with A Pubs and for those of us who are in wide distribution, we are competing with the added visibility of KU books. None of us know precisely how much of an extra push A Pub books get, or exactly how KU works, or how Amazon does anything, pretty much.

So yeah. We are competing. We compete in narrow niches though. I don't compete with authors in other genres. In fact, I often cooperate with authors in my own genre in terms of cross-promo. I always push my fellow authors who write books that are similar to mine, both because I know my readers are voracious and I can't keep them fed and because I like my books to be associated with those of other authors who are writing books like mine. It's good for the also-boughts. I try to avoid releasing books on days when the really big name authors release because I know they suck up all the oxygen.

I don't have to be ruthless or nasty. In fact, I see those who are doing better than me as motivational. I strive to do better. I look at how they do business and how they approach things and see what I can learn from them.

Competition isn't a bad thing per se. It's a fact of life in business. And this is a business!
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 08:09:01 PM by sela »

Offline jb1111

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2018, 08:31:07 PM »
Interesting article, however I think that whatever Amazon is doing in book publishing may be a bit different than what the company is doing with other products.

They don't have their own book 'brand' or imprint -- at least none that I've seen.  They may have done some things that make it more difficult for some writers, like what is happening with KU and AMS or whatever, but still, it's a good deal for indie publishers. You write a book and come up with a cover -- they provide the worldwide venue, along with bookkeeping (tracking your sales data for you) and allowing for some flexibility in your marketing.

Without Amazon, there would be no indie publishing to speak of. The other companies followed suit after Amazon blazed the trail.

As for other authors, I see them as competitors to a certain extent -- if they are in my genre. But the biggest competitor really is one's self.

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #28 on: June 11, 2018, 08:34:11 PM »
Interesting article, however I think that whatever Amazon is doing in book publishing may be a bit different than what the company is doing with other products.

They don't have their own book 'brand' or imprint -- at least none that I've seen.

Say what?

They have quite a few of their own imprints. Lake Union, for one.

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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2018, 08:43:22 PM »
And Montlake... 

A number of KB members are published by Amazon's imprints.

For the list of  imprints:

https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 08:45:29 PM by Betsy the Quilter »
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Offline jb1111

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2018, 12:45:52 AM »
Say what?

They have quite a few of their own imprints. Lake Union, for one.

OK, so I stand corrected. Point taken.

Does that make the company your competition, though?

Edit to Add:
Technically, I suppose they are, and their authors are probably competition for some here. But not for every author in every genre, unless a huge percentage of readers cross genres. From a personal perspective, I see more positive right now in being on Amazon than negative from their imprints, or their tactics (especially as I'm not on KU).
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 12:56:58 AM by jb1111 »

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #31 on: June 12, 2018, 01:28:58 AM »
It's true Amazon favor their brands over others, which means having them gain so much power over the consumer market will have a negative knock-on effect to suppliers inside and outside of their ecosystem.

I suspect they're finding the book markets a bit harder to take control of because there is a degree of artistic endeavor. It's only a degree though, a lot of books are commodity in that the reader is wanting a familiar experience, so they actively look for the same story. That reader is a high consumer, which means they generally don't want to (or can't afford to) pay much for their reading habit. In theory, if Amazon swept enough of those readers into a subscription pool, then by volume alone they could be profitable, but that assumes the payouts to authors are legit, which is how we end up with their current process of randomly cutting page reads. The subscription logic only works if the fee and payment calculations are valid, otherwise I'm sure it's not profitable.

However, that type of reader is only one type and, although they probably consume the highest number of books, they pay the least for them, which makes them a low margin business. There is another market where the reader chooses their books based on a different set of criteria. They're not necessarily looking for a copycat storyline and may well pay more to get what they're looking for. Overall, those readers might read less books, but the margin on every book sold is a lot higher than what the subscription book earns. This is why declaring Amazon own 80% of the book market makes no sense -- for example: owning 80% of a 1% profit margin business isn't worth as much as owning 20% of a 80% profit margin business.

When you start assessing whether Amazon are a competitor, you need to work out what market you're talking about. In the subscription model, I'd say Amazon aren't much of a competitor for anyone in KU for a variety of reasons, but most obviously the sheer volume of churn means there is plenty of room for everyone inside it. The content mills publishing 20, 50, 100, 1,000 books a month are probably the greatest threat to that model and Amazon come second, but that's only because they keep screwing with author payments.

Take a look at the higher margin market and you have so many competitors it's hard to see Amazon imprints as the worst of it. By making a borrow = a sale, Amazon pitch the higher margin market against the subscription market, effectively burying our books on their site. I think that does more damage than Amazon imprints ever could. In that one action, they pitch us up against the content mills as well. Analyze that fight and we don't win, which makes Amazon a secondary site not worth marketing. The other competitors in the high margin market are the TPs and other sale only indies. On the other platforms (not Amazon), its a fair fight that comes down to visibility, pricing, packaging, quality, loyalty, in other words, nothing outside of typical good product design, packaging, management and marketing.

The noise in this business is mostly around the subscription model and how Amazon abuse it to dominate their own site, but they've done such a thorough job of screwing anyone not in KU that they have become irrelevant to authors not in KU. I believe they are now tearing apart authors in KU desperately trying to make their subscription model profitable, because that's what the page cuts will be about.

My interpretation of Amazon's page cuts is they have tantamount confessed that KU doesn't work (which means it does not make profit because that's all they care about) and they don't know how to fix it. Now they've unleashed some mad logic that will result in a solid reduction in page reads to get their escalating costs under apparent control. It's a sloppy solution to say the least, but what I've come to expect from Amazon. They're not the best run outfit by a long distance.

Online Mercia McMahon

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #32 on: June 12, 2018, 04:13:18 AM »
A few years back I got very negative feedback when a website not written in the active voice choose to promote a website article I wrote on how Amazon used its free before its published book promotion to let its own books dominate the bestseller lists. Since then non-Prime can buy the books for 99p. I have also contended that Kindle Unlimited will never disappear as its primary purpose is the rank per borrow boost to legitimate the high ranking of Amazon's own books.

This does not stop me reading the Kindle First free books (although they often sit unread for months or years). I have had a couple of gems in  600 Days of Edward and Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World. I just wish the Amazon Crossing translators were not so poor, although Never Stop Walking was very well translated so maybe things are on the up in that department.


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Online GeneDoucette

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #33 on: June 12, 2018, 04:21:47 AM »
It's worth pointing out that as indies, we're really only looking at--and getting feedback from--a part of the marketplace. It's a larger part of the marketplace than most of the official numbers would suggest, but it's certainly not the majority. Traditional publishing is still a real thing, and it's still bigger than the indies. We're not looking at the whole picture.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #34 on: June 12, 2018, 06:35:45 AM »
It's worth pointing out that as indies, we're really only looking at--and getting feedback from--a part of the marketplace. It's a larger part of the marketplace than most of the official numbers would suggest, but it's certainly not the majority. Traditional publishing is still a real thing, and it's still bigger than the indies. We're not looking at the whole picture.

One of the things large houses are doing is going out and creating new markets. One of the big things right now are the drug store chains. They are working with the large chains to provide regionalized book selections for their demographics. While indies are "thinking bigger" insofar as high volume/low margin, many large publishers are thinking "smaller:" lower volume but higher margins. Drug stores have incredible small "shelf space" for books, but they are stocking books specific to their demographics. CVS is looking at publishers and saying "What do you have in inspirational women's lit" or "what is in your catalog for Hispanic readers?" or "What are you offering in men's adventure?"

That type of thinking is part what the article was talking about. Taking changes. Being nimble. Creating new opportunities that may have a smaller initial ROI but offer long-term stability.

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Offline notjohn

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #35 on: June 12, 2018, 07:49:19 AM »
I think one interesting dynamic is Amazon is treating authors as both customers and merchants. They're moving Also Boughts and Also Viewed to the bottom of the page and moved rows of ads to the top. They obviously believe they can make good money off of AMS. This will reward authors who spend thousands on AMS ads every month over those who can't afford to do so.

I think it's much more likely to reward Amazon!

For an example of Amazon's putting its thumb on the scales, think of how it ranks those freebies it offers Prime subscribers every month -- our choice of five books, all published by an Amazon imprint. There are a hundred million of us. If one-tenth of us take the bait (I sometimes do), that's ten million freebies a month, or an average of two million per book. But guess what? These are reckoned as sales!

Guess which five Kindle editions are most likely to show up on Amazon's best-seller list each month?
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Offline ZanaHart

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #36 on: June 12, 2018, 07:51:00 AM »
...A number of KB members are published by Amazon's imprints.

For the list of  imprints:

https://amazonpublishing.amazon.com

Holy COW! That page opened my eyes.

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Offline RedFoxUF

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #37 on: June 12, 2018, 08:17:54 AM »
Great thread. I reached this conclusion sometime last year. Amazon is not forever. For a while they were a benevolent dictator while they gathered up market share. Now that they own the market...all bets are off.

There are anti-trust rumblings from several places (the media, congress reps) about Amazon, so seeing even more businesses struggle with the manipulation of product discovery just means those rumblings will get louder. Eventually they will reach a tipping point. I'm not sure how long it will take, and certainly the political climate affects the timing, but I fully expect some kind of government legal action in the next 5 years or so.

The wise author will be well diversified before that point imo.

Online Marian

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #38 on: June 12, 2018, 11:19:07 AM »
I think it's much more likely to reward Amazon!

For an example of Amazon's putting its thumb on the scales, think of how it ranks those freebies it offers Prime subscribers every month -- our choice of five books, all published by an Amazon imprint. There are a hundred million of us. If one-tenth of us take the bait (I sometimes do), that's ten million freebies a month, or an average of two million per book. But guess what? These are reckoned as sales!

Guess which five Kindle editions are most likely to show up on Amazon's best-seller list each month?

Exactly!

Offline MissingAlaska

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2018, 12:13:40 PM »
But I agree we do compete with other authors but luckily, readers read faster than most of us (outside of Amanda!) can write and publish.

I have to agree. Rather than competing with each other, I see the situation as conscientious, professional authors (who don't write enough books to satisfy demand) competing poorly against 1) an ecosystem that squeezes every nickel and dime, and, 2) scammers.

I hear from readers all the time that they can't find GOOD books in their preferred genres. They go to Amazon and get lost amidst page-stuffed dreck, books in the wrong categories, poorly edited vanity books, and other get-rich-quick-schemes. Too often, readers get burned by slick covers and inflated reviews only to find crap within the pages.  As a result, many limit their searches to only books by trade publishers. Others stick to paperback copies from their local bookstore (hence the resurgence of small local retailers making personal recommendations).

As Indies, maybe we fight this by recommending GOOD books to our readers. Maybe each of us needs to post carefully-curated personal-favorites lists of indie novels on our websites (or, if allowed, at the back of our books)? This could be our own personal also-boughts (If you like my book, why don't you try this one...).  If an author loves another indie's book, why not share that love? Such recommendations would help visibility for everyone.

Admittedly, our lists have to be honest. They have to be based on the love of a good book versus the love of the almighty dollar (e.g. no review trading, no posting books you've never read just to trade links).

Maybe that is the way for all of us to finally break the shackles of KU/Bookbub/Facebook/AMS and go wide -- enabling a healthier ecosystem for readers and writers alike?


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Offline kw3000

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2018, 12:23:56 PM »
Great thread. I reached this conclusion sometime last year. Amazon is not forever. For a while they were a benevolent dictator while they gathered up market share. Now that they own the market...all bets are off.

There are anti-trust rumblings from several places (the media, congress reps) about Amazon, so seeing even more businesses struggle with the manipulation of product discovery just means those rumblings will get louder. Eventually they will reach a tipping point. I'm not sure how long it will take, and certainly the political climate affects the timing, but I fully expect some kind of government legal action in the next 5 years or so.

The wise author will be well diversified before that point imo.

This would play against the revolving door between corporations and those tasked with regulating them. Government comprises mainly of lawyers. How likely are any of them to threaten a company keeping a seat warm for them in their legal department once their term in the public service is up, a position that includes a high six or seven figure salary and stock options to boot?

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Offline ZanaHart

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #41 on: June 12, 2018, 12:32:39 PM »
As Indies, maybe we fight this by recommending GOOD books to our readers. Maybe each of us needs to post carefully-curated personal-favorites lists of indie novels on our websites (or, if allowed, at the back of our books)? This could be our own personal also-boughts (If you like my book, why don't you try this one...).  If an author loves another indie's book, why not share that love?

This is what I'm planning to do, with a mention but not a link in the back of each of my books to go to the easy-to-type homepage of my author site. There I've started two sections of other books, one each in my two genres. This comes naturally to me, with a background as a librarian in public libraries. Nothing up yet, waiting till I have more substance. And I will use Amazon affiliate links.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 12:35:08 PM by ZanaHart »

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #42 on: June 13, 2018, 01:58:54 AM »
I think it's much more likely to reward Amazon!

For an example of Amazon's putting its thumb on the scales, think of how it ranks those freebies it offers Prime subscribers every month -- our choice of five books, all published by an Amazon imprint. There are a hundred million of us. If one-tenth of us take the bait (I sometimes do), that's ten million freebies a month, or an average of two million per book. But guess what? These are reckoned as sales!

Guess which five Kindle editions are most likely to show up on Amazon's best-seller list each month?

When you leave KU you see just how badly Amazon is willing to hurt you. Ranks plummet. I have a series that has made me a lot of money, has five-star reviews across the board and when it was in KU was flying high. I took it out recently and now the books are down in the mud.

Waaaaay down. The sales haven't changed at all (actually they increased because KU isn't available).

I'm sure one day someone inside Amazon will leak that there was an algorithmic punishment for leaving KU.

Going wide is taking a deep breath and understanding you'll have months of lower earnings because you've stepped out of Amazon's false sun.

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #43 on: June 13, 2018, 04:43:53 AM »
When you leave KU you see just how badly Amazon is willing to hurt you. Ranks plummet. I have a series that has made me a lot of money, has five-star reviews across the board and when it was in KU was flying high. I took it out recently and now the books are down in the mud.

Waaaaay down. The sales haven't changed at all (actually they increased because KU isn't available).

I'm sure one day someone inside Amazon will leak that there was an algorithmic punishment for leaving KU.

Going wide is taking a deep breath and understanding you'll have months of lower earnings because you've stepped out of Amazon's false sun.

KU is basically the ultimate YMMV scenario. If you do well in KU, will you do better out of KU or worse? If you're not doing well in KU, will you do better out of KU or worse? We can dig up examples of all four outcomes from users on KBoards.

KU wasn't doing much for me. Admittedly, I was only trying it out with novellas, but it still wasn't doing a lot. When it came time to release my first full length self-published novel, I went wide straight off, and in a month Apple had put it on their top new releases list. KU was never a serious consideration after that.

Offline C Winters

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Re: Amazon as your competitor
« Reply #44 on: June 13, 2018, 06:09:56 AM »
I took a look at ebooks on Amazon and noticed that the "What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?" had changed page positions with Also Boughts. The result was a page with 5 tiny books under the "after viewing this item" and then two big heavy features of Sponsored Products before the Also Boughts all the way down at the very bottom of the page after the reviews.

Seems like Amazon want to phase out Also Boughts and just replace them with Sponsored Products AKA cash from the authors pocket into Amazon's for a service we used to get for free. How disgusting. Authors shouldn't have to pay Amazon more money for a borrow or sale - they already got their cut!!! Authors buying AMS ads stupidly are killing us. When will they wake up??