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So How Hard Should VIPub Authors Worry? May 7, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, e-books, Free, ideas, money, VIPub, writing.
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The buzz about Amazon charging VIPub (Vertically Integrated Publishing) authors to sell their books rises again. Being the 800 lb gorilla with its nose under the publishing tent, Amazon can pretty well do whatever it wants.

So, more than taking 30% off the top already, what would Amazon gain? The upside doesn’t seem too great to me for Amazon to begin charging a posting fee in addition to the sales fee they already receive. The cost of keeping an ebook on a server is pretty small. Even multiplied by millions, books don’t take up much space. (All my books over the years–and it is in the hundreds–wouldn’t fill a single CD. In fact, most of that CD would be empty. Don’t even go there talking about a DVD.) The storage intensive products are videos for Amazon, and they seem intent on bumping heads with Netflix for streaming and even offering a challenge to the cable companies, looking for their own original content.

Songs, videos, those suck up the bandwidth. And how. I’ve seen guesstimates that 80% of bandwidth is vacuumed up by Netflix in the evenings.

Moving ebooks is small potatoes, so why charge? Bookkeeping is automated for Amazon. Humans don’t even need to enter the virtual domain once it is put into action.

But what if Amazon did charge? It would hit me worse than most since I’ve got over 50 titles up. Even a fee of a $1/mo/title would cut into my revenues big time. This would force me to do two things. The first would be removing all the short fiction since that is only there as a gateway to my novels where the $$ is. The second?

Really pushing hard on my own online store. I had to move it today to a new host. $50/yr to sell unlimited stuff. Plus whatever I pay to register the domain name every year (a few dollars more). No 30% cut to Amazon. And not as much traffic, either. So a fusion of short story/novel sales on my store coupled with select titles posted with Amazon would be ideal. What would go onto Amazon likely would be the first novel in a trilogy with links to my store for the complete set. In this way, any fee Amazon charged to post the title would become advertising expense.

Another possibility is that Amazon would charge the fee only for those titles not enrolled in their Select program. This would give them exclusivity on a title without them paying a dime for the privilege. I have had limited success with the Kindle Select, but others rave about it. If Amazon did this, posting the first book in a trilogy exclusively might work for VIPub authors with their own stores, too. Put Book#1 up on Amazon Select–cannot sell this on my store–but also sell an omnibus of all 3 books at a price below what the remaining 2 titles would go for individually. In essence, give #1 for free with the purchase of #2 and #3. The bulk of the money still goes to you, the author, using Amazon as a billboard.

Would other online booksellers pop up? You bet. This would drain revenue in the long run from Amazon. Not as much as video or music, maybe, but some. They are in the biz to add to their revenue without spending any money, if they can. Why encourage competition when you can crush it?

There must be other ways to thread this needle, but whatever happens the ball is in Amazon’s court. Will they take it and stop the game or return it so we figure how to put some spin on it?

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