Friday, March 28, 2008

Digital Demand Games

The news today that was widely covered and reported in the Wall Street Journal is that Amazon has announced that it will only sell print-on-demand books printed by its own print-on-demand service BookSurge.

Next it will only be selling ebooks on its Kindle and in its own Mobibook format. This will be followed by its decision to only sell audiobooks either published by its producer Brilliance or that are formatted and protected by its new acquisition Audible.

The Gorrilla is starting to flex its muscle.

Over the last few years the print on demand business has boomed and at its head is Lighting Source who are owned by Ingram. This short cycle print and distribute model has appealed to many where the sales are volatile, vanity or pure ‘long tail’. Services such as Lulu and otherss have catered to publishers looking to reduce overhead on inventory. So what will this aggressive and exclusive stance mean to the trade?

To many publishers who use the pod services merely to do short print runs and not true on demand prints this will not matter. But for the vanity and on demand sellers it will as their benefit is in the sales channel as much as it is in the no inventory overhead.

The real important issue is that Amazon need all their various publishing companies to fully compliment each other. Booksurge has grown but in comparison to others it’s still small so they have beefed it up. Some however may take amore Machiavellian view and recognise that he who holds the pod file also holds the metadata to create widgets and ultimately digital ebooks. Perhaps the Kindle also requires a boost and why not keep it in the family?