April 16, 2008

Amazon/Booksurge Ultimatum: Who's Going to Make the Next Move?

While we've all been trying to guess Amazon's next move (and that of the Washington State Attorney General), we've been posting updates and links to new articles and discussions regarding the Amazon/Booksurge Ultimatum HERE.

In the meantime, we wanted to share two tidbits from Booksurge customers that were sent to us this week.

FIRST, we received a copy of a complaint an author submitted to the Washington State Attorney General that states:

1. Bookstores wanted to order copies of the author's book but could not because "BookSurge did not have the proper arrangements (as claimed) with book wholesalers."

2. Despite claims that the book would be available within two business days, "...people who ordered the book on had to wait 6 weeks for delivery and some were told the book was out of stock." (We investigated this a couple of weeks ago and there are many Booksurge books listed as out of stock or with delayed delivery times.)

The author was considering using AuthorHouse for a new book but is hesitant because the author believes AuthorHouse may be working with Booksurge now as well. The author does not want their name revealed because they believe Amazon will remove their book from the website entirely.

SECOND, we received the email below, which we have been given permission to publish. Did you know your book gets better placement on Amazon's foreign sites if your publisher uses Lightning Source instead of Booksurge? Read on!

Hi Angela,

This may not be significant to many but it was enough for us to switch to Lightning Source (LSI). Titles printed by Booksurge are only available on in the USA and UK. They do NOT appear on the Canadian, French, German or Japanese Amazon sites.

The last three, well... ok. But Canada?!?

Our experience (in 2006) was that Booksurge quietly dropped the notion that titles printed through them would find their way on all Amazon sites (which is something that the FAQ intimated and the reason we switched from Amazon Advantage). Our title only appeared in Amazon USA and UK (no Canada -- annoying, to say the least, for a Canadian publisher!).

Just to make sure that they didn't see the error of their ways, I went to the Booksurge bookstore and picked a fairly recent title -- "Elements of Poker", published Dec. 2007, time enough for it to work its way through the system -- and looked for it on all Amazon sites. Well, guess what: USA only -- not even Britain! See for yourself:


Amazon sites:

USA - has a 'Buy new' link

UK - 'used and new' only (available through resellers only)

Canada - 'used and new' only (available through resellers only)

France - 'used and new' only (available through resellers only)

Germany - 'used and new' only (available through resellers only)

Japan - not clear -- says 'used and new', but also 'Ships from and sold
by ("Usually ships within 3 to 5 weeks.")

It gets weirder. A 2008 title published (PUBLISHED! not printed) by
Booksurge appears with 'Buy new' on US site, with 'Used and new' on UK
site, and with 'Currently unavailable' on all the others. Another one,
printed by Booksurge is available new on US and CDN sites, but 'used and new'
in UK. Go figure.

Finally, we had a minor problem with Booksurge in that our book was
written by two co-authors, but Booksurge's system had no provision for
more than one. When I pointed out that Amazon's own system can obviously
handle this, they told me that their database is structured differently
and that they may -- MAY! -- align it with Amazon's over time... maybe.
How nice of them! (We switched to Lightning Source the following year.)

Thanks for fighting the good fight!

Ariel Frailich
Ginseng Press

The Chinese Almanac by Thomas Zhang and Ariel Frailich

(The 2006 edition was printed by BookSurge; the 2007 and 2008 editions by Lightning Source. The latter are more widely available, of course.)

To see the latest updates on the Amazon/Booksurge Ultimatum, keep checking back HERE.


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