Arm Wrestling Amazon for Authors

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle (Photo credit: agirregabiria)

Would you arm wrestle a two-ton gorilla? What if your life depended on it?

Mike Shatzkin tackles the two-ton gorilla in the publishing room in his post “Competing with Amazon is not an easy thing to do”.

According to Shatzkin, traditional publishing has no other choice but to belly up to the bar, prop their elbow on the sticky surface and palm-to-palm it with the furry behemoth. Daunting but unavoidable. Shatzkin identifies the foundation of Amazon‘s power play:

  1. Amazon is, by far, the most book-industry-focused company that is actually active in endeavors much larger than the book business…
  2. Amazon executes. Their hardware and software and platforms and content delivery all work just about perfectly…
  3. Amazon is the runaway market leader in the only two segments of the book business that are growing — ebooks and the online purchasing of print — and they are cleverly leveraging the leadership position they have to make challenging them even more difficult in the future… (The Shatzkin Files)

Amazon sounds more like a three-ton gorilla! Shatzkin acknowledges that competing with Amazon won’t be easy, and his perspective may oversimplify the equation for the sake of painting a clear picture, but — let’s face it — the picture’s clearer every day!

There is really only one way for publishers to compete with Amazon for authors in the future and that’s to find book customers Amazon doesn’t have, either by working through other retailers or by creating direct publisher-to-customer contact. The percentage of sales which go to Amazon is the single most important barometer of a book publishing company’s future. Of course, every publisher wants to make their Amazon sales grow. Their challenge is to make other sales grow faster. (The Shatzkin Files)

And with Amazon’s newest venture, the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, that proposition is growing even more challenging than it already was.