Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amazon Orders Yet Again

Well, I guess a small publisher is supposed to be glad when a big company orders more of his books, but I'm actually getting to the point of slightly dreading the appearance in my e-mail inbox of "You have an Advantage order." I prefer seeing the messages about payments received through PayPal, or sales through Amazon Marketplace. This morning I saw all three types of message. I read some more about Amazon's Advantage program, and I think I understand it better now. They just keep placing orders as they run out of books, though they still don't seem to ever place orders large enough to ever actually be able to list the book as "in stock." This time they ordered 32 books. I guess that may be their maximum order from a small publisher like me, because that's the largest number they have ordered previously. Anyway, now I am faced with deciding whether to try to fill this order or tell Amazon I don't have enough books available.

Right now, we have nine books bound, shrink-wrapped, and ready to ship. Six others are already packed up and ready to go the post office tomorrow, mostly heading outside of the U.S., to Canada, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. So, in order to fill the new Amazon order, we would need to produce 23 books in a short amount of time, and that's not accounting for other books that would be needed for other orders as they come in. I have a little time, because Amazon's materials say I can take up to seven days before confirming that I will fill the order.

Otherwise, today I printed a sample black-and-white version of the book to see how it looks. It looks quite good; the color photographs look nice, but the book is really just as useful with black-and-white photos. So I'm considering offering that version through my web site at a reduced price, to cut down on the difficulty of dealing with color toner for the laser printers.

Today I had an interesting message from a fellow in California who also decided to publish his own guidebook about a technical topic -- in his case, software. He had some interesting points about what he did and how he did it, including switching to a PDF after he became bogged down with filling orders, going to the post office, and generally dealing with printed copies. (Though he had the books printed somewhere else; he didn't print them himself.) It's very interesting to hear the stories of other people who are going the individual-publisher route, and I learn something new every time I hear one of those stories. I hope I'll hear others.

Right now Clenise has got one printer running smoothly with clean copies flowing out. But it will quite a while before we get 32 books ready to ship. We may not ever fill that order; I'm just not sure right now.

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