Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amazon Merchant

Anybody who wants can sell books on Amazon. Those are the folks who make up those New/Used lists of sellers.

I'm a merchant for my own books. My value added is that the buyer gets a signed copy of the book and I ship with confirmation, so the buyer can track their purchase.

The supplier for the large print edition in the 8.5x11" trim size raised their prices a while back and I didn't think too much of it, until I decided to order a few more copies to have on hand. I found that I was losing money selling at the price I selected to undercut Amazon's price. The book retails at Amazon for $13.95. I sold the book for $11.95 + $3.99 S/H. Seems like I'd be making a profit, eh? Well, not quite.

My cost for a book from my supplier: $9.72 which includes the shipping to me.

Amazon's piece of the action: $3.85.

Customer pays a total of $15.94 and I get $11.86. Once I mail the book to the customer, my total cost is $12.70. And that doesn't include the cost of the envelope, label, etc. Just the book and postage. Something is wrong with this picture.

The result is that I had to up my Merchant price to $12.95. Amazon takes a few cents more, but I can be on the profit side with this price.

This sucks since I would love to give my direct buy customers as good a deal as I can. Unfortunately, my supplier has made it virtually impossible because they raised their printing price.

I'm considering switching suppliers, but I can only go directly to Lightning Source to get a better cost. To take the book to LSI, I have to cut off my original supplier entirely. This is a process that takes months to get through. Then, when I've gotten them to release the book, I still have to pay another $79.50 in setup fees. How long to make that up? I haven't even run the numbers.

I am thinking my best recourse is to send customers a different book from the one they ordered. This is not a bad thing for them. The other book has all the same text and illustrations, but is a smaller trim size, more pages, and some typo corrections the original doesn't have. That book costs me $3.00. As you can see, I could cut the price to the customer and still make a profit. But is it ethical to send the customers a different book than they ordered even if it's better and they wouldn't be missing a thing?


1 comment:

  1. If it's a substitute of the same quality, I'd have no issue with it. Businesses often do the same thing. You could include a note that the original version is no longer available, but that a much nicer, newly edited replacement has been sent and it's signed by the author, if it bothers you to send it without saying anything. I really think it's fine, though.