Disparate Treatment on Amazon for Lulu Books?

As some here will know, I decided to publish my latest book using parallel tracks: Lulu and Amazon's CreateSpace. I wanted to test the two methods (and have reported elsewhere on the results). But now I notice something new going on which perhaps Lulu ought to address.

Because of problems with the Lulu set-up, my CreateSpace version came out ahead of the Lulu version. Now converted from CreateSpace by amazon to its new unified KDP format, that version continues to be available on the Amazon website associated with my name as author. However, the Lulu version, which finally came out after much travail and is now also available on Amazon's website, too, is not listed on my author page.

https://www.amazon.com/Stuart-W.-Mirsky/e/B000APHWEC/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

I am wondering why and if that makes sense?

When I type in the name of my new book, Value and Representation, to search for it on Amazon, only the KDP version comes up as well. I have to do extra work to find the Lulu version on the Amazon site. I was wondering if this is the normal way Amazon  presents our Lulu books or if it's a function of the fact that there is also a KDP version available (Amazon's own brand!) which means the KDP version gets priority in any searches?

Something worth looking into I should think, anyway! 

Comments

  • There are a ton of factors at play here.
    For example, I just did a keyword search for "Value and Representation" on Amazon and the Lulu version came up first, with the KDP version in the third position:

    And that's not even adding in the consideration of cached searches, cookies, and other personalized factors from your browser/Amazon account that might impact how a search is returned.
    I would be very surprised if Amazon did not promote content from KDP over any other, similar content. It's in their best interest to sell the version that nets them the highest return.
    As for the book appearing in your Amazon author profile, this too could be a number of factors. I would guess that Amazon hasn't completed the process of associating the book with your listed information on their site. It takes them a fair amount of time to do so, and its not even a given that they will.
    On the track of our role in how Amazon chooses to display content, I don't think Lulu will be making any strong efforts in that direction. We've been advocates of independent publishing for years and our mission is offering author's 1) an alternative and/or complementary means to sell online; and 2) to offer easy and fast POD purchasing for bulk/one-off ordering.
    Neither of those goals involves helping Amazon sell products. And frankly, it's not in the author's best interest to drive sales through Amazon. Obviously, having a book on Amazon is a must to capture a broader audience and Prime shoppers. But the emphasis on Amazon is not something we are likely to put any real effort in. We make less, you make less, and the product is lower quality. All three of those factors are in direct conflict with our mission.
    On a final note, be wary of running two identical (or very similar) versions of the same product on Amazon. They could easily remove one version to avoid duplication and confusion.


  • Okay thanks for a good answer. I see your points. As you know I, too, would like to see Lulu be a viable option for the general public in buying our books and not just because we get a better return through Lulu. I strongly believe Amazon should not have a virtual monopoly on online book sales which reflects their substantial presence in the online market and their accumulated visibility in the business. But I have never been able to think of a way to use Lulu (or similar non-amazon sites) to reach an audience beyond those we might direct here. And many books sell by word of mouth, not by direct author effort or outreach to friends and family.

    An independent seller also lends more credibility to the book than a site like Lulu which looks too much like a self-publishing venue.

    That said, another question. I am thinking of sending a few copies overseas for review purposes. I gather that can be done through Lulu. How do I figure the added costs? One location I want to send to is to an old professor of mine in Israel. Would that be prohibitively expensive, using Lulu? (I'd rather send the Lulu edition which is now better than the KDP version since I have never been able to upgrade the manuscript file on KDP as I was able to do on Lulu.)

    Also am thinking of doing a hardcover version of this book here on Lulu (KDP doesn't offer that option). Would I have to set it up as a whole new book or is there a mechanism for simply adding that option?

    Thanks.     
  • Agreed that Amazon's monopoly is a problem. Our strategy has been and continues to be not to compete with them directly, but to offer alternatives. That's been a pretty common trend for online companies for the last decade across a range of business models.
    As for international shipping, we'd print a book going to Israel in Europe. Shipping would likely be mail or priority mail, which may be slightly more than a shipment to a US or UK address, but shouldn't be excessive.
    You can always test pricing in the cart and back out without purchasing if it's too much.
  • I don't see how any retailer can be described as a Monopoly when they allow anyone to sell products via them. Amazon will even stock and distribute those products for the sellers who advertise their goods on Amazon, (all for a fee of course.)

    It's also to be expected that books created on KDP are up for sale within 24 hours, whereas books published via Lulu can take up to 8 weeks. KDP is not only owned by Amazon but is also directly connected to it via their software. No middlemen distributors or trade lists, in other words. I don't think they give precedence to KDP published books, it's just the way their software functions.

    BTW: You still have an identical book on your Amazon pages, set at £10 and £36, for the same book!

  • I don't see how any retailer can be described as a Monopoly when they allow anyone to sell products via them. Amazon will even stock and distribute those products for the sellers who advertise their goods on Amazon, (all for a fee of course.)


    Fair point, monopoly may have been the wrong word. Maybe, "stranglehold on ecommerce" is more accurate.
  • Legally, something can only be a monopoly if there's no other choice, but with Amazon there are many many others. So many that I rarely buy from Amazon (or in fact on line!)

    Even just to do with books, swmirsky never mentions all the other well known online (and off line) book retailers.

    And when it comes to all retail, Amazon far from have it their own way, even in just the UK.

    https://www.retaileconomics.co.uk/top-10-retailers-uk-top-10-retailers

  • I don't see how any retailer can be described as a Monopoly when they allow anyone to sell products via them. Amazon will even stock and distribute those products for the sellers who advertise their goods on Amazon, (all for a fee of course.)


    Fair point, monopoly may have been the wrong word. Maybe, "stranglehold on ecommerce" is more accurate.
  • Amazon has a monopoly on public visibility because they are so big, so ubiquitous and have largely commandeered the online book market (though there are large competitors for them in other products). Sites like Lulu do not have the same gravitas or level of public awareness which is why most book sales made online happen through amazon and an increasing number of all book sales are now made online (as Big Box book sellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble shut their doors, the former already history the latter struggling to avoid becoming history). 
  • Amazon has a monopoly on public visibility

    No they don't. Did you not read what I said and also click that link?

     because they are so big, so ubiquitous and have largely commandeered the online book market (though there are large competitors for them in other products).

    No they have not, and not all books are bought on line.

     Sites like Lulu do not have the same gravitas or level of public awareness which is why most book sales made online happen through amazon

    But Lulu is not really a book seller, it's a self-publishing site with the addition of a handy Spotlight, but also free ISBNs and Distribution that will get our books on to the likes of Amazon, so where's the problem? What is your point?

    and an increasing number of all book sales are now made online (as Big Box book sellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble shut their doors, the former already history the latter struggling to avoid becoming history).

    Many shops of all sorts have shut down in the UK. They began to close down not with the advent of on line shopping (but much earlier) but due to supermarkets and massive out of town malls selling everything much much cheaper. (And that was prior to Amazon's existence.) Superstores started to sell books with at least 50% off the RRP. They had a big fight with publishers and distributers about it who believed they had the right to fix prices. Then again, very few of them will stock POD books, on line or in their stores.

    Many places still allow people to buy on line or at their stores, they don't just close down, in fact in the UK many of the large retail companies keep expanding.

    Oh, and many large organisations end up shut down due to how they are run.

  • swmirskyswmirsky Publisher
    edited December 2018
    I know I shouldn't get into this with you again Kevin but I have a little time this morning and, as usual, you say things that are not to the point:

    You wrote, "not all books are bought online" which, of course, has nothing to do with what I said when I wrote:

    ". . .  most book sales made online happen through amazon and an increasing number of all book sales are now made online"

    You also insist that Amazon does not these days monopolize online searches for books. Perhaps in England you are right. That is not so here in America. While there are other online points of sale for books, Amazon is far and away the go-to site in America. It's just silly to insist that because there are other options they are competitive in searches and sales with Amazon at this point.

    You point out that "Lulu is not really a book seller." Correct. We have been arguing on and off whether Lulu could build its platform to be one. As Paul has told us, Lulu has chosen a different path, one that does not put it in direct competition with Amazon vis a vis selling books. Lulu's choice is to be a specialty online publisher catering to various specialized needs (for personal books, targeted distribution efforts, etc.). It offers the advantage to self-publishing authors of greater returns per sale but it cannot and apparently doesn't intend to try to match the scale and scope Amazon has reached, becoming a go-to site for online book purchases.

    You ask me "where is the problem, what is your point?" I thought that was quite clear. On the matter of book selling, I would like to see Lulu, with its superior royalties per book, be a competitive site for reaching book buyers in the general public marketplace rather than just niche markets, but Paul has made clear that is not in the cards. Lulu has chosen to travel a different path. With that he has answered my question on that score. So what's your problem with that?

    You make another point, to wit, that book shops have been closing down for years, long before the advent of Amazon. That's true, but irrelevant (as usual). I was addressing the closing of the so-called Big Box bookstores that previously drove the small bookstores out of business (to which you are apparently alluding). In other words the Big Box stores have discovered, with the advent of online selling pioneered and largely dominated by Amazon (at least in the U.S.A.), the old adage that "what goes around comes around." Now they are on the receiving end of the changes they formerly forced on the older book selling industry.

    What is going on is a kind of revolution, thanks to the Internet, which has enabled commerce to move to the virtual space of the online world. Some so-called bricks and mortar stores are adapting. Others aren't. Sometimes the nature of their business impedes their ability to adapt as is the case with, say, Barnes & Noble which was once dominant in the book selling world in America but is now struggling. Because it relies on real estate for its sales, which is costly to carry and maintain, it has a built in difficulty in competition with Amazon whose real estate needs are smaller relative to the goods they move.

    So anyway, once again we seem to be at loggerheads in these exchanges. But perhaps this time, at least, I have put your apparent concerns about my "misunderstandings" to rest.    
  • I know I shouldn't get into this with you again

    Indeed, I often think the same, but someone needs to reply to you.

     Kevin but I have a little time this morning and, as usual, you say things that are not to the point:

    You really need to read what you type. Perhaps you are not actually typing what your are thinking?

    You wrote, "not all books are bought online" which, of course, has nothing to do with what I said when I wrote:

    I replied to exactly what you said.

    ". . .  most book sales made online happen through amazon

    No they don't.

     and an increasing number of all book sales are now made online"

    I did not dispute that.

    You also insist that Amazon does not these days monopolize online searches for books.

    Nope, I never mentioned online searches, because neither did you. But, search results always have paid for ADVERTS at the top. They are marked by the letters Ad. Here's an example search >>  https://www.bing.com/search?q=terry+pratchett+books&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=terry+pratchett+books&sc=8-21&sk=&cvid=437152DC0D5E4184935713E9630EF8F7   so how many of those hits are Amazon? Count them on one hand. Just as an experiment I also searched for teacups (which are surely on sale at Amazon)  >> https://www.bing.com/search?q=teacups&src=IE-TopResult&FORM=IETR02&conversationid=&pc=EUPP_  much mention of Amazon in those results then?

     Perhaps in England you are right. That is not so here in America.

    Amazon is worldwide, so are many other online retailers, even of just books. Would you like another example search?  https://www.bing.com/search?q=buy+books+on+line?&qs=n&form=QBRE&sp=-1&pq=buy+books+on+line?&sc=8-18&sk=&cvid=4A4494B2321446078AF9ABF398667F83

     While there are other online points of sale for books, Amazon is far and away the go-to site in America.

    You are forgetting ebooks. Apple etc., would argue with you about that.

     It's just silly to insist that because there are other options they are competitive in searches and sales with Amazon at this point.

    I have just shown that in search results, Amazon have nothing like a monopoly. Plus >>   https://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/15-best-online-bookstores-for-cheap-new-and-used-books.html

    You point out that "Lulu is not really a book seller." Correct. We have been arguing on and off whether Lulu could build its platform to be one.

    And you think you are the only one who has? You are a relative newcomer here. It's been suggested on and off for years.

     As Paul has told us, Lulu has chosen a different path, one that does not put it in direct competition with Amazon vis a vis selling books.

    Paul has not said Lulu do not want to go into competition with Amazon as a book seller. The very idea is ludicrous.

     Lulu's choice is to be a specialty online publisher catering to various specialized needs (for personal books, targeted distribution efforts, etc.

    That's nonsense. Lulu are a portal for self-publishers of any type and popularity of books, and via the use of POD. And an ISBN gives global distribution, not targeted. It's actually called Global Distribution.

     It offers the advantage to self-publishing authors of greater returns per sale

    Hardly, because the Cost of POD is very high to start with, so it's not logical to set a high Royalties (to which retailers will then add at least 50%.)

     but it cannot and apparently doesn't intend to try to match the scale and scope Amazon has reached, becoming a go-to site for online book purchases.

    Do you have an idea what it cost to set Amazon up?

    "On May 15, 1997, the company went public. The initial public offering (IPO) was targeted at $18, but by the end of the day, public demand had pushed the share price to more than $24 per share. The company had raised $54 million."  That is just around three years after it was started with $140,000. which is hardly peanuts.

    Also read this, then ask again if Lulu has any intensions of competing with Amazon.  https://www.spinutech.com/blog/digital-marketing/how-much-does-amazon-spend-on-digital-marketing/

    You ask me "where is the problem, what is your point?" I thought that was quite clear.

    No it's not, and you keep posting the same stuff over and over again, ignoring any reply about it. Perhaps I should have asked, what is your NEW point?

     On the matter of book selling, I would like to see Lulu, with its superior royalties per book, be a competitive site for reaching book buyers in the general public marketplace rather than just niche markets,

    You are aware that many people who use Lulu direct potential buyers to their Spotlights? Lulu may not promote the books on here, but its users do.

     but Paul has made clear that is not in the cards.

    So why do you keep on about it then? And moaning that Amazon have a monopoly (which they do not.)

     Lulu has chosen to travel a different path. With that he has answered my question on that score. So what's your problem with that?

    Because you still keep going on about it, as if you can change peoples' minds, and you cannot because what you propose is not Lulu's CEO's policy. Bob likes to buy small sites or even just the software for them.  https://www.precisionhawk.com/media/topic/bob-young/

    You make another point, to wit, that book shops have been closing down for years, long before the advent of Amazon. That's true, but irrelevant (as usual).

    It's far from irrelevant and if you do not understand what that obviously means, I cannot be bothered explaining it to you, except that, it had nothing to do with an Amazon 'monopoly.'

     I was addressing the closing of the so-called Big Box bookstores that previously drove the small bookstores out of business (to which you are apparently alluding). In other words the Big Box stores have discovered, with the advent of online selling pioneered and largely dominated by Amazon (at least in the U.S.A.), the old adage that "what goes around comes around." Now they are on the receiving end of the changes they formerly forced on the older book selling industry.

    Er, what? You never even mentioned Big Box anything closing down, I did, but pointing out that they opened up, not shut down, causing smaller stores to shut down.  Did I not give you this example?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesco   here's another >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asda

    How about these >>  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walmart

    All sell via online or superstores.

    What is going on is a kind of revolution, thanks to the Internet, which has enabled commerce to move to the virtual space of the online world. Some so-called bricks and mortar stores are adapting. Others aren't.

    Indeed, so? But it's hardly a revolution. It started in 1995.

     Sometimes the nature of their business impedes their ability to adapt as is the case with, say, Barnes & Noble which was once dominant in the book selling world in America but is now struggling. Because it relies on real estate for its sales, which is costly to carry and maintain,

    All the examples I gave above sell both on line and in stores, and continue to open even more stores.

     it has a built in difficulty in competition with Amazon whose real estate needs are smaller relative to the goods they move.

    Did you know that Amazon rarely makes a net profit? That's because it constantly invests in massive new warehouses full of robots. Goods do not materialise magically. Many other places do not but instead cream off the profits leaving nothing to invest. They often also insist on uncompetitive high mark-ups: that's why they end up shut down. That and poor management. How much do you think it costs to build one of these >>

     



    So anyway, once again we seem to be at loggerheads in these exchanges. But perhaps this time, at least, I have put your apparent concerns about my "misunderstandings" to rest.

    Hardly, your next post will simply repeat the same things as if no one replies to you. Not even when Lulu staff do.  

  • As an aside re: Amazon:  I read recently that sales of reading devices such as Kindle have been declining for the past few years and that people prefer to read on Smartphones and tablets?  Is this true?  Thanks.
  • I returned my Kindle and bought a 10" Android tablet, but I don't read on that either, I read real books.
  • LarikaLarika Bibliophile

    I read recently that sales of reading devices such as Kindle have been declining for the past few years and that people prefer to read on Smartphones and tablets? Is this true?

    Maybe older people, like me, purchase eBooks because we can enlarge the print whether it be on a kindle or the free kindle we can put on a tablet. I think many use the latter, I do, so perhaps the sale of kindles has declined. I loved buying books but so often the print in them is so small. I often contact authors and ask them if they are going to make an eBook of their novel or non-fiction book.

  • If you hold books right up to your nose the text looks larger.
  • Not a year goes by without someone claiming that sales of this that and the other have fallen. When it comes to Amazon's Kindle Amazon say sales continue to grow. What I disliked about the Kindle Fire is that the first thing one has to do when it first boots up is link it to, or open, an Amazon account. I disliked that linked insistence, so sent it back.
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