Sunday, August 21, 2011

Competing with Yourself...Amazon Marketplace

Today's post is a quick little trick to earn yourself a bit of extra income. If you've read my post on CreateSpace Vs LightningSource you'll remember that one of the advantages about Lightning Source is you can set your discount rate low (20% which is 20% better than the 40% you get from CreateSpace). Now doing so will mean a few things:
  • Amazon probably won't discount your books (something to consider in your decision making)
  • Most resellers won't carry your books (as there is not enough margin)
But this presents an interesting opportunity for you in that you can offer a discount (and even provide a means by which people can receive signed copies...Amazon Marketplace.

Amazon Marketplace is a free program by which anyone (even you the author/publisher) can offer books for sale. They show up on the Amazon page as shown here:

When you offer deep discounts to the distribution chain, many sellers will beat you in price as they will be willing to offer the books at a pretty tight margin. But since you are only offering 20% discount most will list theirs higher than you can offer yours.

For Full Share I put my books in Amazon Maketplace for sale for $11.95. I make four listings:
  • New with signature
  • New without author signature
  • Used with signature
  • Used without author signature
They have an "individual plan" with no monthly fees which I recommend if you are not selling a ton each month. The fees under this plan are:
  • $0.99 closing fee
  • 15% referral fee
  • #1.35 variable closing fee
(If you sell more than 40 items a month you can opt for the Professional plan which has a $39.99 monthly fee and eliminates the $0.99 closing fee).

So for those that don't want to pay the $13.95 full list price for Full Share, they'll look under the "new and used" links and find the following:

  • $11.95 from Ridan Publishing
  • $14.32 from pbshops
  • $16.99 from BooKnackrh
  • $17.00 from bargainbookstores
  • $17.04 from Quick and Easy Marketplace
  • $17.65 from super_star_seller
  • $18.86 from Buye: Buy to Give
  • $19.21 from invise
  • $20.40 from any_book
  • $20.58 from brookebooks
So who do you think they'll choose? Yep - you and a nice perk is that Amazon charges $3.99 for shipping but if you use Media mail it will only cost you $3.01 for shipping (includes $0.19 for tracking) so you'll make $0.98 off of that.

So...let's break it down. If they buy the book from Amazon or one of the other resellers you'll receive:
  • $13.95 - 20% - Lightning Source print fee = 13.95 - $2.79 - (302 * .013 + .90) = $6.37
For any sold through the marketplace you'll receive
  • 11.95 + shipping - $0.99 - $1.35 - 15% - Create Space print fee - shipping cost = $11.95 + $3.99 - $2.34 - $1.79 - (302 * .012 + .85) - $3.01 = $4.33
Which is less - but it allows you to offer a discount for the books (many people won't buy without a discount) and they'll be attracted to the option of getting it signed. Plus, $4.33 a book is nothing to sneeze about - most authors make $0.60 - $1.20 on paperback books so you are still coming out in the plus column.

Of course you'll make the most when they buy direct - and you'll have the advantage of getting their email addresses. But that is for another time - so stay tuned.


John Twipnook said...

Hi Robin, a question about the copies Ridan sells direct. Can't you use a local printer? With a small to medium print run you'd pay less per book than what LS charges, and with no shipping.

Wendy Kehoe said...

Simply brilliant, Robin! Thanks SO much for this! We have a lot of books we printed up (off-set) before our big switch over to Ebooks and never thought about selling them in the marketplace. What a great idea!
Thanks so much,
Wendy Kehoe
You Come Too Publishing

Robin Sullivan said...

@John - you'd think that wouldn't you. But trust me I've put out RFQ (request for quote) for small press runs on over 100 separate occasions with companies that claim that a short run is their "sweet spot" and NONE of them have ever gotten close to the prices I can get from CreateSpace. Usually they are $1.00 to $1.50 more per book! It's crazy I know. So if anyone knows of a printer that they think can do a 200 - 500 run at a reasonable price I'd love to give them a chance to bid - but so far I've found none.

Well....Let me clarify this. In the "old days" I did some small press runs with one company but since then they have significantly increased their price and now they are as described above. There was one other time where I did get a lower price estimate (after dickering with the printer quite a bit) and got it for about $0.25 less but the quality was SO VERY BAD. I actually went to "pickup the books" and of the 350 I ordered I only left the warehouse with about 54 as the others were unacceptable. They re-ran the press run and the interiors (which were the problem initially) were fine but the covers had "white specs" - I ended up donating a bunch of them rather than selling as it wasn't enough to "reject" but not high enough quality where I wanted to sell. But the WORST thing - is that from that "batch" I had multiple reports from readers where the pages "fell out" after gentle reading.

So yeah I'm a bit scared now. But still on the lookout for a good short run press.

Robin Sullivan said...

@Wendy - Because you have so many and they are offset printed you might also consider using Amazon Distribution Services - I don't because the POD prices makes their fees not competitive. I wouldn't do this "instead" of marketplace but if you have a ton of books you might want to turn off your CreateSpace Amazon sales and have Amazon Advantage fullfill the Amazon orders so you can reduce an already large inventory. Something to "look into" - run the numbers and see if it makes sense for you

David Gaughran said...

This is very useful information, thank you Robin. My next title will be the first with a print edition (penciled in for October).

Does anyone know a good website/blog for learning POD basics?

John Twipnook said...

Thanks for the detailed response, Robin. I live in the Shenandoah Valley, if ever I hear of any printers in NOVA I'll tell you.

Hi David, I think Lightning Source and Createspace are the best POD options. You can search Robin's posts on LS in the KB Writer's Cafe and probably find all the info you need.

Wendy Kehoe said...

Hi, Robin,
Thanks again! We actually started with the the Amazon Advantage program (used it for 2 years) and were thrilled to switch over to the time we factored in shipping and PO trips and random small orders, we were just breaking even with Advantage. (Plus we use a lot of our offset books for school visits....)
Don't know if you've looked into Color House Graphics for printing, but we've been happy with them both in price and quality...
Thanks again! I always look forward to reading your posts!
Wendy Kehoe
You Come Too Publishing

Anonymous said...

What a brilliant idea, Robin! Thanks for this - and all the other handy hints and ideas. It would have taken me years to work this out by myself.
(note to self: finish novel, publish novel, use Robin's tips...)
Thanks again,

Unknown said...

They have an "individual plan" with no monthly fees which I recommend if you are not selling a ton each month. this site

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