Focus on Independent Publishers: PMA Executive Director Terry Nathan talks about challenges facing this segment, including Amazon’s new POD policy.
When Amazon.com issued a statement at the end of March to announce a new policy requiring all print-on-demand (POD) titles sold on its Web site to be printed through its BookSurge subsidiary, the industry reacted quickly.
PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association, like several other industry trade associations, issued a statement last month condemning the action as one that hurts publishers by creating a monopoly for POD. The group represents more than 4,000 independent publishers.
PMA Executive Director Terry Nathan spoke with Book Business Extra about Amazon’s new policy, as well as other challenges facing independent publishers.
Book Business Extra: How much of a concern is Amazon’s new POD policy?
Nathan: … It’s more of a concern that Amazon is kind of strong-arming people into using it as the only POD option. … I read Amazon’s [press] release [dated March 31], and I can see their points in terms of wanting … the one-day turnaround for their customers. It does make sense, but it’s not right for them to only allow one POD company to provide books into that part of their system.
Extra: How will this affect independent publishers?
Nathan: … I don’t know if it’s going to affect them. They still have the ability to get into [Amazon’s] system. The people that are really going to be hurt by [it] are going to be [printers that specialize in POD, such as] the iUniverses and Lightning Sources. …
Extra: How important has the growth of POD been for this segment of the industry?
Nathan: The quality of POD has been improving, but I’m still a little hesitant to direct somebody [to POD who] would come to me asking, “What’s the best way to get my book printed?” A lot of POD books are still sub-par. … They’re leaving a bit to be desired. They’re a lot better than they were five years ago. POD is a wonderful technology, and if used correctly, I think it’s great for a lot of people that have backlist titles. It’s a perfect use of technology. It allows a lot of these books to stay alive [that] would have [otherwise] gone out of print.