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Does Amazon’s Shipping News Hold Water?

Paula Guran has been watching the tensions surrounding Amazon.com‘s hardball tactics to make Booksurge, its print-on-demand program, the market leader, and she’s got a simple question about their rationale: “Why no one is questioning the premise?” She quotes Amazon’s public statement of explanation:

“”If the POD printing machines reside inside our own fulfillment centers, we can more quickly ship the POD book to customers… we can quickly print and bind the POD item… and ship… quickly. If the POD item were to be printed at a third party, we’d have to wait for it to be transhipped to our fulfillment center before it could be [shipped] … POD items printed inside our own fulfillment centers can make our Amazon Prime cutoff times. POD items printed outside cannot…. we can provide a better, more timely customer experience if the POD titles are printed inside our own fulfillment centers.”

“Gives the impression that if a book is printed POD, that Amazon orders it from the publisher only after the customer orders the book, doesn’t it?” Guran asks. “That’s not true. Amazon stocks POD titles. They order them through Ingram/LSI just as any retailer does. They sit in their warehouses ready to ship whether it is one book or 100 depending on demand. Yes, some publishers supply them individually through the Advantage program. I don’t know how it is now, but it used to be that you got started with Amazon that way if you published only one or two books… But after you have a number of titles (and some publishers have thousands) you can’t really deal with Advantage.”

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