For almost 22, years AALBC has exposed readers of all backgrounds to books written by, or about, people of African descent. AALBC has published thousands of articles, book reviews, author profiles, videos, and more. We have a lot to offer readers, authors, publishers, and other booksellers.
AALBC is not just a website, we are active in the real world too. Through our relationships with authors and publishers, AALBC can sell books even Amazon cannot. Our connection with Blue Nile Press allows us to sell the critically acclaimed, Raisins in Milk by David Covin, and list many tiles from the iconic writer John A. Williams. We have partnerships with book clubs, like Go On Girl!. To benefit this National Organization’s scholarship fund, we contribute 50% of earnings from their reading list. Our relationships extend to institutions like The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Ever College, Black Classic Press, and many others. We actively cover and host events that celebrate and promote Black literature. Amazon does not do this work. In fact, Amazon’s dominance of the sale of Black literature makes it more difficult for entities who do this work to survive.
Amazon Exerts Monopolistic Control Over the Book Ecosystem
Online book buyers turn to Amazon first to buy books online — even ditching search engines when looking for information on books. Today, Amazon sells 9 out of 10 books sold on the web. With this much power over the online sale of books, Amazon exerts more control and extracts more wealth out of the book ecosystem than any other entity before it. For many independent authors, Amazon is their publisher (print, eBook, audiobook), printer, marketer, and bookseller.
Understandably, authors and publishers feel it necessary to sell books on Amazon — often exclusively. Of course these booksellers must compete (pay) to be seen on Amazon. This results in higher prices (exclusing the most popular tities) for readers and lower profits for publishers and other booksellers.
Worst of all, this gives Amazon complete control over the discoverability and profitability of books. Meanwhile, Amazon makes increasingly larger profits by inserting themselves as intermediary at every step in the process, without adding commensurate value to the transaction.
Why AALBC is Done with Amazon
Historically, AALBC has sold books in a variety of ways; directly fulfilling orders; sending readers to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Indiebound, and other book sellers; and directing readers to publisher’s sites. Readers overwhelming selected the Amazon option when purchasing books from our site.
Today, AALBC no longer earns enough in commissions to justify sending readers to Amazon’s website. A year ago, Amazon cut the commissions they paid to booksellers who referred books sales in half!
AALBC’s best year in earnings from Amazon was 2009. Let’s say we earned $1,000 in 2009 (actual earnings are not shared, but the proportions are the same). Average annual earnings from Amazon, over the 18 year period we worked with Amazon was $440. Commissions earned from Amazon for the past 12 month period ending August 22, 2019, was $160 — 64% less than our 18 year average and a whopping 84% decrease from our 2009 high!
It has been widely reported the average author makes much less today than a decade ago. Amazon is a major reason for the decline in author earnings. Because it is so difficult to compete against Amazon’s dominance the number of bookstores and book websites have decreased over the past decade. A large number, and variety, of booksellers are crucial to ensuring new authors and classic titles reach readers.
Given all we know, we cannot in good conscience, continue supporting Amazon’s monopoly. As a result, we have removed all of the buy links to Amazon’s website and are selling books directly or directing readers to author websites. We also encourage you to buy your books from independent booksellers.
The reality is completely giving up Amazon’s diminished revenue stream has immediate and adverse financial consequences. It will take time to generate the sales volume directly that we had with Amazon. Fortunately, AALBC has backup and that is you! AALBC has lasted almost 22 years with your support and we will continue to thrive because of it.
Goodbye Amazon. AALBC will no longer sell Audible or Kindle products, and we definitely won’t be renewing our Amazon Prime account.