Selling Books from Own Web Site Vs Amazon

Contributed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

This came in as a response to my recent blog post on Amazon at Sharing with Writers. 
 Because it is from an independent publishing expert, Michael N. Marcus, I thought Writers on the Move would like to see his views, especially because I hear so often that small publishers and independent authors are eschewing Amazon.

By Michael N. Marcus

I can't understand why writers want to sell books from their own websites (or from vanity publishers' websites) instead of from Amazon or B&N, etc.
The 20% that the online booksellers keep on a $20 book is $4.

If a self-publisher ships it from the publisher's own inventory, the flat-rate Priority Mail fee is $4.85 (more than what would be paid to Amazon).
The fee for shipping one pound by Media Mail is $2.38 (less than what would be paid to Amazon), but the service is slower than Priority Mail and does not include delivery confirmation. Confirmation adds about 70 cents.

Lightning Source charges from $3.80 to over $40 to drop-ship a book to a publisher's customer. However, the shipping fee is built-into the printing fee for orders placed through online booksellers. (Printing and shipping a 300-page book to an Amazon customer costs $5.40.)

So, Priority Mail costs a little bit more than what Amazon or B&N or other online booksellers would keep, and Media Mail costs a little bit less. The numbers change depending on the cover price and weight of a book.
But when you consider that many millions of potential buyers can find a book by searching on or B&N, but almost no one will find the book on an author's own site without a lot of PR and paid advertising to send them there, relying on the big booksellers should be a no-brainer.

Michael N. Marcus
~president of the Independent Self-Publishers Alliance,
~author of "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press,"
~author of "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)."
~Blogging at

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Bloggers are full time writers, often doing it on the side ... sort of sounds like authors. (Thank God for day jobs!)

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