Thursday, April 24, 2008

industry news

I thought it was worth sharing the news that Amazon.com is up 37% in its first quarter earnings this year, and up a total of 30 percent from a year ago. In today's Publisher's Marketplace, it was reported that this concerns investors, because it raises questions about the company's margins. But, they state: "Publishers only care about what the e-tailer is selling, not how much they are making."

Given the fact that we've been criticized for linking to Amazon.com in previous comments to our posts (a practice I've since changed---I'm now linking to Powell's), I feel compelled to talk about the fact that most of our business is done through Amazon. That's because many of our readers are web-savvy women who get their news online, read various blogs, or blog themselves.

I have mixed feelings about Amazon. They're a Goliath in a country where Goliaths are well-loved. And we rely on them because we have an amazing backlist, and even indie presses don't carry our older books indefinitely. It would be incredibly hard for us, in the position we're in, to make a cause out of people only buying from their local stores---although I'm hugely supportive of that idea. I just also know that it's not always realistic.

I'm curious to know what your feelings about Amazon are---in the face of such huge profits. I wonder if I'm too much of a non-idealist to be worked up about it, or if I have a different perspective on the whole thing as an industry-insider. Like the article says, publishers want to sell books. As an editor I'm guilty of wanting this for Seal as much as for my authors. And more than anything in the world I want more people to be reading books, no matter how they get their hands on them.

---Brooke

4 comments:

ViolaceousEuphonia said...

You don't have a simple way to contact Seal Press by email on your site, so this will have to do. I was really looking forward to Amanda Marcotte's new book; I've read Pandagon for years and loved it. However, now that I've seen scans of the illustrations of the book (a blonde white woman fighting off savage people of color) I can not in good conscience buy the book. Should there ever be a reprint without the racist imagery, the situation might change. I'm also reluctant to buy anything from Seal Press, given their latest dust-ups with women of color. It was extremely unprofessional to go to a woman's personal blog and openly insult her.

Feminism cannot be just for white women.

helen_boyd said...

What's useful about amazon.com for me is that many people who want to read my books are too embarrassed to buy them in person, especially since where they might be in a brick & mortar is highly iffy - and would require them to ask a salesperson for the one copy they DO have. (My books have been found in memoir, Women's Studies, LGBT books, etc.)

Joan Price said...

I have mixed feelings about Amazon, too. I love independent bookstores like Copperfields in my home town of Sebastopol, Book Passage in Corte Madera, and others I enjoy on my travels. I shop there often and appreciate their support of authors.

I also like the convenience and the prices of shopping Amazon, and I appreciate that my book is easily available to people who might not feel comfortable looking through it in a bookstore!

Sometimes I give a speech about senior sex and although I have my book for sale, only a few people purchase. Then I check Amazon a few hours later and find that my ranking has spiked. Obviously, people say, "Hmm, that book sounds terrific -- I'll order it when I get home." Of course I'd prefer that they support the author by purchasing my book from me, but I'm grateful that they do purchase it, even if at a discount elsewhere.

Joan Price
author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (http://www.joanprice.com/BetterThanExpected.htm)
Join us -- we're talking about ageless sexuality at http://www.betterthanieverexpected.blogspot.com

PastaQueen said...

I know this post is a month old, but I'm just catching up. I link to Amazon on my blog because they have an affiliate program and I can make anywhere from 6-7.5% off of what I sell from my links (depending on how many items I sell in a month). That's why I link to them and not Powells or Barnes and Noble or Booksense. They give me an incentive to do so.