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The Relentless Promotion of Amazon Is Bad for Everyone


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As a bookseller I get pitches for new books several times a day — which is great, because it tells me sometime positive about the author:  If they have the resources to invest in promoting their book, they've probably also invested the resources into producing a decent book.  Of course this is not always the case, but I've found this to be true more often than not.

 

One thing that has always irked me is when authors/publicists/publishers tell readers to buy book their from Amazon.  In the old days they would say sometime along the lines of, "Available Wherever Books are Sold."

 

Those promoting books were sensitive to the fact that explicitly promoting a single bookseller over all others ran the risk of upsetting other booksellers.  Today, this sensitivity has been completely discarded. Why?

 

Everyone knows Amazon sells books, so why do authors and publishers give the multibillion-dollar company free promotion by telling readers to buy their books from Amazon? In the early days of Amazon, there may have been some level of validation when Amazon offered one’s book for sale — sort of like seeing one’s book on the shelf of a prominent bookstore.

 

Today Amazon provides a platform for the sale of ANY book no matter how poorly written or produced — they even offer bootlegged books and books published in violation of copyright for sale.  A book being available for sale on Amazon has meant nothing for years.

 

I simply ignore books that prominently promote Amazon. Below is marketing copy I received for a book a few moments ago. 

 

support-of-amazon.jpg

 

I'm sharing this image not to disparage the book, author, or promoter, but to share an example of what I mean (I shared this post with the person who sent me this email in the hope that they will understand).  Again, this is not the only example, but it is a book I would have added to the site were it not for the Amazon ad.  

 

Amazon's logo is more prominently displayed on this ad than the author's own website, where the book is available for sale!

 

As a bookseller, I'm not alone in this sentiment.  However, few of us have a platform large enough to make this sentiment widely known.  Imagine if the promoters wrote ORDER NOW ON AALBC.COM (and included our logo).

 

Amazon is not going to stop selling books anytime soon.  However, if authors, publishers, and their promoters continue to give Amazon free promotion, Amazon will become the ONLY bookseller who can sell their books. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding monopoly understands why this is bad for sales, discoverability, and pricing.  

 

Can we help restore a vibrant and diverse bookselling environment by not giving Amazon free promotion? We all, especially readers, stand to benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Mocha Books

A well-written article and valid key points. I've requested that authors promote their website over Amazon several times. I've also decided to cancel my affiliate account. Thank you for bringing this to my attention! 

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On 12/6/2019 at 1:52 PM, Guest Mocha Books said:

I've requested that authors promote their website over Amazon several times

 

I've done this too. 

 

Recently I asked paid advertisers to supply links to their site (or use an AALBC page) rather than using an Amazon link.  Most have agreed to do this. It seems that people get it when you tell them.  This was not the case a few years ago.  The tide seems to be changing. 

 

Sometimes, however, the author's goal is to make one of Amazon's best sellers lists, so directing readers, in this instance, to an alternative store is not possible.  Given that Amazon has a bestsellers list for every category (thousands) some careful planning and pricing by an author can result in a #1 Amazon best selling book. Having a #1 Amazon bestselling book is as prestigious as making the New York Times Best Sellers list in some quarters.

 

The problem with the NY Times list is that it is, naturally, biased against Black books and independently published books, these books typically don't make the shelves of the stores that report to the NY Times.

 

AALBC reports to the Times, but my sales are not enough impact the list (The AALBC bestseller Sulwe, make the list during the period I reported 😀).  Imagine, if book promoters directed readers to buy books from AALBC and other stores that report to the Times.  We could impact the list and build the Black Book Ecosystem at the same time.

 

Then again, imagine if the AALBC Best selling Books List, published since 1998, carried the same clout in our community as Amazon's or the New York Times' lists. Imagine...

 

 

 

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Hi, Troy!

 

  I just read your post and found it insightful and enlightening. I'm new to the site and have been writing for years. In regards to your post, I've just published my 1st book (Between Magic and Dreams) and , having self-published, there are many unknown unknowns I faced. Marketing is a BEAST apparently. Trying to navigate the process while learning it truly ia a massive challenge. Thus we turn to the familiar in hopes of utilizing it for success. Now, in my case, i wasn't thinking about giving Amazon free marketing nor was I ignoring the fact that there are black owned resources that were available. I assume every author wants their 'brain children' to flurish, thus seeking out the most sought after platform is a natural decision. Once I discovered AALBC I jumped right in. I posted in the forum seeking reviews but received no replies... only views. Undeterred, I viewed a few post that caught my interest and dropped a few lines. Your post inspired a bit more, though. In the search for a site to post and sell my book I was looking for a couple things. The 1st was having it be self contained. Meaning the books were sold and sent from ther without me having to set up a credit card service or keep books on hand except for autographed copies. Also, I was looking for a site with reach. When i discovered AALBC I was thrilled! I truly hope to become a contributing member of this site and community in hopes of seeing it grow and growing with it. All in all, I suppose I'm saying that we shoot towards the familiar because we don't know what we don't know. Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope to get that review. LOL! 

 

-BDC

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@B.D.C., that was a very thoughtful message and I appreciate you posting it.  The vast majority of people coming do not share their ideas or opinion.  Perhaps it is the fear of being ridiculed or appearing uninformed. I'm learning something new all the time here.

 

The main reason for my message was to help authors understand that when you pitch your book to a bookseller to carry your book in their store, or website, you can not start the conversation with "Order Now on Amazon."  This should be obvious, but it apparently is not, which I why I wrote the message.  I wanted to help authors and publishers understand a bookseller's perspective.

 

Amazon sells books indiscriminately, they could be bootlegged, retrieved from a dumpster, written by a terrible writer, or poorly produced.  Amazon simply does not care; they are only concerned with revenue.  All other booksellers curate they books they sell. We select books we think are worth reading and will benefit our customers.

 

1 hour ago, B.D.C. said:

Marketing is a BEAST apparently.

 

Marketing is a Beast -- definitely.  If your goal is to make money with your book, marketing should begin before the book is written.  The author should consider who the audience for the book is, how large the audience is, how will they reach the audience, and how much it will cost. Independently published authors rarely do this.  After some analysis you may determine not to write the book.

 

Indie authors produce the book then struggle with figuring out how to sell it.

 

1 hour ago, B.D.C. said:

I posted in the forum seeking reviews but received no replies... only views.

 

Don't discount the "views." People use the site to discover books.  If you email me directly to pitch me a book to review -- only I see the book info.  If you post it here others will see it -- perhaps someone interested in reviewing or reading it.

 

We review very few books that are pitched to us.  Part of the challenge is that having a book reviewed costs money, time, and energy. All the author invests is a book, but the entity doing the reviewing invests far more.  We must be very selective in the books we choose to review -- otherwise we'd be out of business.  This is one reason we offer a fee based book review service.

 

Finally there are a lot of ways for authors to get their book on AALBC. In our FAQ, I mention 8 ways and most are free.

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Troy said:

@Troy I appreciate the quick reply. There is so much I've been learning through this whole experience. I have a great mentor helping me along as well. I may feel a bit silly asking certain questions but each one thoughtfully answered gives me another nugget of experience or knowledge. I will look into getting that fee based review. Thanks again! :)

-BDC

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here is a banner I stumbled upon researching information on another author. I met this author at a “Chitlin Circuit” event, Black Authors and Readers Rock back in October.  Yeah, three Amazon properties are promoted in the banner, but — and this is a big but — the author, Tamiya Davis, also promotes two Black owned booksellers; AALBC and Mahogany Books (who was also at the event)! This is the first time that I've even seen an author actively highlight two Black owned booksellers as a place where one can buy her book, which chronicles her near-death experience, From Fatal to Fierce

 

Now Tamiya never sent me this banner, but it is obvious I'd be more inclined to support author's who do this. I'm sure my friends at Mahogany Books feel the same 🙂

 

Tamiya Davis' book, chronicling her near-death experience, FROM FATAL TO FIERCE is available at AALBC

 

 

@B.D.C., the only silly question is the one not asked.

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