Vertical Integration

Whoa, now there’s a term you don’t see much anymore. It refers to a manufacturer or business concentrating production of parts, supplies, etc., into wholly owned subsidiaries rather than non-owned suppliers. Not to bite the hand that might someday feed me, but Amazon (like many other corporations) is jumping now while the laissez faire antitrust policies of the Bush administration are still around. What I mean by that is that Amazon is requiring all Print on Demand (POD) publishers to begin the process of converting their digital files so they can be printed by Amazon’s inhouse entity, Booksurge. For those of you not in the publishing or writing business, many small publishers and authors have books published by a variety of POD companies. These books are not preprinted and shipped around the country to bookstores but instead are printed only when an order comes in. This saves paper, reduces risks of printing more than what will sell and is generally more cost-effective for books that sell less than say, 5,000 copies. An intermediate range of offset printing works financially until you get up in the best seller range. OK, enough of the publishing lesson. The issue here is that the business model that has been in place has worked to pick up the slack enabling authors to develop a following and small publishers to make a living. If the POD industry is hobbled too much by Amazon, it could adversely impact authors and publishers alike.