Robot 6

Amazon fallout: Talking to publishers about being unavailable from the site

amazon-logoAs reported earlier this week, Amazon.com removed the “buy” button from all of the graphic novels it lists that are distributed by Diamond Book Distributors, including books from Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, SLG Publishing, AdHouse Books, Avatar and many other publishers, most likely as a result of last weekend’s price glitch. As of this morning, a few titles seem to be listed again — like Zombies Calling from SLG, for instance — but the majority are still only available from resellers.

Yesterday I reached out to a few publishers to see how this was affecting them and to see if they’d heard an update on when the issue would be resolved. I heard back from two of them, and below are their responses. I’ll follow up with any additional ones that may come in later, or with any response from Diamond, who I also emailed yesterday.

Dan Vado, Publisher, SLG Publishing

JK: If I’m not mistaken, you’re in a different boat than a lot of the other impacted publishers, as you sell your books directly to Amazon vs. going through Diamond. So how did you guys end up being caught up in all this?

Dan: Diamond uploads data to Amazon for everything it carries, our stuff included. Even though we are Amazon’s primary source for our books, they might still buy occasional books from Diamond. We also cannot list our books on Amazon way in advance while Diamond can.

JK: How much of an impact does this have on your business?

Dan: In the first quarter of 2010 Amazon has far and away outstripped Diamond on sales of our backlist titles (backlist, Diamond obviously sells more of our new releases). Right now I have negative sales to Diamond due to bookstore returns, but Amazon sales are consistent and non-returnable. Not being able to sell to through Amazon is a real killer as that channel is slowly becoming not only as important to us as the other sources, but in some ways more important.

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer

JK: Do you think any sales you missed will be made up once they are relisted, or do you feel these lost opportunities to sell your product will never quite be made up?

Dan: I don’t think so. A lot of sales will go to third party vendors. Those sales often are used books which have already been bought and paid for from us some time ago. On top of that a lot of third party people list books they do not have in stock at tremendous discounts. Or, in another example, some joker has listed Animal Crackers, the Gene Yang collection, at $72. Not sure why, but I do know it is impossible for them to have the book since it just left our warehouse on Monday. Not every third party vendor is on the up and up or on top of their game. Someone may have seen an opportunity to create a false sense of value in these books. I don’t know. But long term, if this does not get fixed soon I think the sales lost will be lost forever.

JK: Have you received word from Amazon as to when your books will be available again?

Dan: No, neither Amazon through the Advantage program nor Diamond has said anything. They have yet to even acknowledge a problem to their publishers.

JK: Do you see any changes to your current business model as a result of this?

Dan: Depending on how this shakes out, we may have to reconsider Diamond as our distributor to the book trade. I mean this should not even be an issue for us.

For that matter, depending on how this shakes out, this could sink Diamond, or at least Diamond Books, altogether.

*****

Chris Pitzer, Publisher, AdHouse Books

Afrodisiac

Afrodisiac

JK: Amazon removed the “buy” button from your books, so currently anyone going to the site can only buy them through a reseller. How much of an impact does this have on your business?

Chris: I guess it depends on how long the buy button might be removed? I know customers like their Amazon. So, I hope it doesn’t last too long.

JK: Do you think any sales you missed will be made up once they are relisted, or do you feel these lost opportunities to sell your product will never quite be made up?

Chris: Well, the one instance that comes to mind is Afrodisiac. As our “newest” book, we’ve been hitting the press hard and the results have been really good. So, it kind of stings to have a buying option taken away at this time. If customers are savvy, hopefully they’ll think to check with their local comic shop if Amazon isn’t an option.

JK: Have you received word from Diamond or Amazon as to when your books will be available again?

Chris: Nothing yet.

JK: Do you see any changes to your current business model as a result of this?

Chris: Well, I guess that depends on how long this lasts. If the option of selling through Diamond to Amazon goes away, then yeah, we’ll have to make adjustments. I’d be surprised if that happens, but you never know.

My thanks to both Dan and Chris for their responses!

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Comments

35 Comments

that sucks

Now where will I get half off on those expensive Marvel omnibi?

instocktrades.com

that is the bad part of Dimond almost bieng the only game in town to distribute comics for when something happens to cause the whole thing to shut down. it winds up screwing companies that are not as big as Marvel and Dc and rely on most of their funds from selling their stuff. hope the problem gets fixed soon.

This, more than anything I’ve read, made me feel bad about my $25 Amazon voucher and my 1-2 discounted B&N omnibi, particularly since I’m interested in both of the works mentioned prominently in the article. Of course, Afrodisiac is “Not available in stores” according to Borders.com (and that’s definitely the case for my sub-par “local” LCS options), so I’m reduced to, well, waiting until Amazon starts selling it again. Which is like rewarding the bad guy.

It was my birthday this week, and I had planned to spend some of that extra birthday cash on Afrodisiac. Since I couldn’t get it from Amazon, I went with the next book on my wantlist, the latest Fables.

I still plan on getting Afrodisiac, but my purchase has been delayed a bit because of this.

Carl, you can always order AFRODISIAC from another vendor. Instocktrades.com, for example:

http://www.instocktrades.com/product.aspx?id=50m&pid=12522

No need to wait for Amazon.

Yeah, Instocktrades is great, I’ve always head excellent service with them in the past.

Rich, having been unemployed for a while (and with a supposed job offer abruptly postponed for an unknown amount of time), I honestly shouldn’t be buying anything, but I particularly can’t buy $50 of stuff just to qualify for free shipping, not right now! And in general, I feel like my purchases won’t be as carefully considered if I’m pressured to make that large of an order. (I’m sure many of you would snicker at the notion that that’s a large order, but you guys probably have jobs too).

Seriously, instocktrades.com is often a better option than Amazon. If you guys really want Afrodisiac, order from them. Don’t wait for Amazon.

Afrodisiac can be purchased directly from AdHouse Books and you’re putting money DIRECTLY in the publishers pocket. Totally a good idea.

http://adhousebooks.com/

Instocktrades usually is a dollar or so less than amazon but the problem is the $50 free shipping threshold encourages buying more than I initially intend every time. If instock had a $25 or even $30 threshold, I would never shop on amazon.

Why not try Discount Comic Book Services at:
http://www.dcbservice.com/
They have great deals on current comics, trades, and other stuff. Lots of their deals are 35-45% off, and sometimes you can get 50% on specials. i have bought a few comics on promo deals at 75% off, but this is very rare. They carry a large supply of stuff. For current comics, you have to preorder as if you were buying from Diamond, but if you know what you want, it’s not a big deal.
Danjack

I will also put in a plug for instocktrades.com

They have a better selection than Amazon, for trades and hardcovers, and better customer service. And the prices are about the same. Less convenient for those of us with Amazon Prime, but I still buy plenty through instock trades.

My recommendation if you got the Amazon $25.00 certificate, wait for the glitch to get fixed, pick up Afrodisiac and Street Angel, then whatever grabs your fancy. You won’t regret picking up either book.

Im waitin on my copy of Afrodisiac from instocktrades, which I ordered after ifanboy gave the book so much praise.

I had just put something on my blog about my experience with this when I came across this story. I thought I had maybe been tripping when looking for the ‘buy’ button for some books, courtesy of my new $25 credit. Hopefully it is fixed soon so I can get both Absolute Planetary books purchased.

I_Captain Blanco

March 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Josh, you should still be able to get the Planetary books, as the DC stuff is still available to buy through Amazon.

[I just checked, and both books still say "Available for pre-order."]

Everyone’s absolutely right when they say there are far better options to buy Hardcovers & Trades than Amazon.

Understandably, the folks who are comic sellers first and foremost normally package their books much better than Amazon. (I’ve had a lot of dings, dents and outright damages from Amazon– as if they don’t put the same significance on properly shipping “funny books”– no matter what their price.)

On such online seller that you should definitely check out is Dreamland Comics:

http://www.dreamlandcomics.com

I order ALL my Hardcovers and Trades from them! They currently carry many of the smaller publishers at 35% to 40% OFF. They sell the vast majority of their Graphic Novels at a minimum 35% Off and are running a special where you can use the coupon “SAVE”– and take another 5% Off Hardcovers and Trades! Free shipping for all orders over $50 too!

(They’ve posted about this deal over at BleedingCool.com as well.)

Instock Trades is also a great service (I have used them in the past and they were always spot on)– but their smaller publisher discount can be QUITE LOW– sometimes only 25% Off– while the Dreamland Comics discount for smaller publishers is consistently BIGGER & BETTER… Lowering my overall weekly bill significantly.

Two great services. Two great alternatives to Amazon. Hopefully some of you will take advantage.

Just so you know– I am not affiliated with either service. I am not receiving any special perks or compensation of any kind for posting this. I am just a very satisfied fan of Dreamland Comics excellent prices and service!

I also wanted to bring up another great alternative seller for those stuck by the Amazon glitch/selling retreat.

Check ‘em out! ☺

Another vote for Instocktrades or DCBS as an alternative to Amazon, I switched to them from Dreamland where I encountered missing books almost every month. Friendly folks, but not the most detail oriented.

I got caught up in this. Ordered “Incognito” at what appears to be Amazon’s regular price and Vol. 2 of IDW’s Complete Bloom County for $14.99. My order was canceled because of the “pricing error.” When I complained, Amazon initially told me they would honor the $14.99 price for the Bloom County collection (and there should have been no issue with “Incognito” anyway). Then I received word (again!) that the order was canceled, BUT they were giving me a $25 gift certificate to compensate for the inconvenience. So instead of taking ANY of MY money, they chose instead to let me buy two other graphic novels on their tab! Seems like twisted logic to me.

Count me in as another vote for the InStockTrades/DCBS empire in terms of online comics buying. Great prices, and almost comically good customer service.

I’ve said before that publishers should be wary in dealing with discounters like Amazon. Of course more book sales are made through Amazon than through regular comic shops.

If I could stay in business while discounting books 35% – 45%, I’d sell more books too.

I’ve been supporting the comic industry for 20 years, but a company that could care less about comics gets all the breaks.

Life’s not fair but what goes around does tend to come around. As companies start to produce more digital comics, expect to see more “bootleg” downloads and fewer people paying for these books as they become easier to get for free.

Ron

William Robert Webb/Tetsuo

March 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm

This was most obviously Diamond’s fault not Amazon’s. The fact a similar glitch happened on Barnes and Nobles website a couple of days later show that it would have to a pretty big coincidence if they happened independently. With the only connection being Diamond the blame points squarely to them. This just goes to show how dangerous Diamond’s monopoly on comics distribution.

i second the Dreamland Comics recommendation. They do have some of the lowest prices i have ever seen on independent books.

i’ve never experienced the shortages you mentioned. i’ve turned a couple of friends onto them and they’re really happy with Dreamland’s service too. Definitely better sellers than the big >A< and if you buy primarily books like me you can't beat the free shipping. (With the way the publisher's are popping these puppies out every week, i normally reach a $50 bill by the time i'm on the third page of listings– even with the 40% off.)

>This just goes to show how dangerous Diamond’s monopoly on comics distribution.

Diamond’s de facto monopoly in the direct market is always a fun topic, but I don’t see how it’s connected with this event.

1. Diamond Book Distributors does not have a monopoly on comic book distribution to book channels. (DC uses Random House, for example.)

2. It’s normal for publishers to have only one book market distributor.

3. Had this glitch happened to any other distributor of DBD’s size, the results would probably have been quite similar. (And this kind of mass pricing glitch on Amazon has happened in the past, with a certain music label.)

I will never understand why, when publishers like AdHouse and Fantagraphics sell direct, people don’t just buy from them.

Another vote for
http://www.instocktrades.com/

Been ordering from them for a few years and have NEVER had a problem.

I would suggest InStockTrades as well. They just placed a nice order for Afrodisiac, and should be receiving them towards the end of this week.

Also, it looks like some of our Amazon listings are back online.

Kinda amusing that all of you (with one exception) just ignore the problem of the $50 order threshhold, but I certainly don’t begrudge you if you’re in the financial position to ignore it! I am a bit amused by the suggestion that I should buy directly from the publisher; if I did so all the time, I’d be able to afford less books overall, which wouldn’t benefit them too much (at least with AdHouse, you pay full sticker price plus S&H). Once again, if you can do so without having to limit your purchasing as a result, more power to you.

In response to Carl… yes, we charge full price, plus S&H 95% of the time. We do that because we DO want you to support your LCS, or online options if possible. I said 95% since just a few months ago, we had one helluva sale. Also, I know it’s not much to offer, but we throw in a few freebies with each purchase when possible. (ie: if said freebie fits in the packaging.)

And, I’m all about getting a deal. I love using coupons and I currently have a wish list on Amazon for when I might need an extra book to take advantage of a good deal.

Instocktrades.com is a great second option, but as a first option they really kind of suck. The graphic interface and search function are not that helpful for finding comics and graphic novels and Amazon is much easier to use and browse. Not to mention having Amazon Prime and getting free shipping. As far as availability I went to buy something on Amazon this weekend and realized the problems, went to InStock and they did not carry or have the item listed at all and it is an X-Men comic. You would think that would be easy to find.

Websites, while convenient and affordable, generally do not pay sales taxes.

Amazon recently delisted their Colorado associates after Colorado state ruled that those associates were local agents for Amazon, that Amazon had a physical presence in the state, and thus must pay state and local taxes.

I only shop online when searching for rare or out-of-print items. I still have to pay sales tax, as New York State requires every income tax return pay estimated sales tax from online purchases.

Well, order it from Last Gasp if you can’t get it from diamond or amazon.

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