Today, I am removing Carla Rising from global print-on-demand production/distribution.
It is fairly clear that a remarkable industry-wide 180-day (6 months) return policy for print-on-demand (POD) books invites speculation, if not corruption – transferring risk from online book retail/distribution/printing businesses, such as Amazon, onto the publisher / product investor. Vulnerable US publishers, under this emerging model, are also getting the least amount of information in order to deal with the problem, either in advance of publication or during a book’s sales life.
For Carla Rising, book returns were a whopping 20 percent of sales from January 2016 through most of 2017. (This contrasts with almost zero percent from the traditional distributor, dealing largely with independent retail bookstores.) This should raise alarm bells for anyone operating and using print-on-demand, and really calls out for more oversight on behalf of publishers and writers.
The problem is only compounded by the e-book, in my view. While I appreciate the challenges of knowing everything — of being entirely “in control” — regarding product distribution in the new online marketplace, I do not see how this is actually the case (or even possible) for publishers and authors, at this point.
As has generally been the case – as we learn from history – today’s advanced technology simply allows its owners to remove control of the work from its producers, from “content providers,” in today’s parlance. Book production and distribution technology, in other words, gives writers and publishers less promise (not more) of fair return on their work than ever before.
The developing technology may be “great” for new-generation distributors and consumers, even readers — in terms of accessibility, driving prices down, etc. It really isn’t fair or sustainable, however, to content producers and their publishers — many of whom were/are doing tolerably well with traditional distributors and book retailers, especially the now-disappearing US independent stores.
Further, it is clear that the terms offered by POD service providers and online retailers are hastening the dismemberment of those traditional institutions, with (in my view) devastating effect on American — and even global — culture.
So, today, I told Ingram Content Group to immediately remove Carla Rising products from online distribution. At least temporarily, the product is still in traditional distribution from this very good US distributor.
Unfortunately, I have no immediate means of making new copies of the book available elsewhere, notably the UK and EU.
Thanks for your understanding. As I wrote to Ingram Content Group, “I hope things look better for us to work together in the future.”