Who fulfils the order when someone buys one of my books?
For my sins, I edit books for my local history society and prepare them for publication. But, having published quite a few, I would like to understand how internet book-sellers fulfil orders for these books – and how they make a profit. I live in the UK so will explain the question in UK terms.
We are registered with Nielsen (in the UK) as a publisher and have bought 20 ISBNs from them. We have been progressively using these ISBNs for our numerous local history books. When we publish, we select Lulu’s “global reach” option and our books in due course become visible at Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. The information on those websites appears to come directly from Lulu and – I assume – it is Lulu that fulfils and despatches any subsequent orders made via those websites. This whole process has been very successful for us.
My question concerns the smaller players (e.g. Waterstone’s in the UK). Our books are also visible on the Waterstone’s website and at the sales price we have set. But the book blurb is missing and Waterstone’s are quoting a ridiculous delivery time of three weeks. If someone were to buy one of our books from Waterstone’s (it hasn't happened yet!), how would Waterstone’s fulfil the order? And why would they need three weeks? As far as I can tell, Waterstone's (and presumably numerous other internet book sellers) have no interface with Lulu (otherwise they wouldn'tbe missing our book blurb). So, who is it that fulfils an order placed with Waterstone's - and how do they make any profit?