this-time-cover.jpgColin Robinson has an article at the Huffington Post about his new startup, OR Books, which published Going Rouge. Robinson points out that Amazon wants a discount of 55 to 60% and if the publisher tries to match that price Amazon will use the publisher’s lower price as the basis of their discount, so it is impossible for the publisher to compete with direct sales to its customers. Robinson then says that Amazon doesn’t do much for the discount; just makes the books available rather than marketing them.

But at OR Books, our calculation is that, for the amount of money we would have to give Amazon, we can do a better job finding customers ourselves. We know who our audience is, we share their interests, we visit the same websites and read the same writers. We empathize with them in a way that is impossible for the Bezos behemoth. will never, remotely, be a destination site in the manner of But by investing our money in clever advertising and extensive online mailing, in imaginative viral video and lively author events, we are heading out into the world to the places where our potential readers already congregate.

I note that on OR’s site their ebooks are priced at $10, half the price of the paper edition. The article makes no mention of what Robinson thinks about the Apple store.


  1. $10 on their site DRM Free in multiple formats looks good (I’d think one of those formats would be Mobi/prc which would work for Kindle owners). Or you can get Print and Ebook together for a discount.

    The Palin book is also available with DRM from other sellers with a $22.99 list price.

  2. I had to make this same calculation several years ago. I’d started selling direct only–and this was at a time when web pundits were still talking about disintermediation. Ultimately, I decided that Amazon, Fictionwise/BN and the others provide a valuable service for their cut…they allow customers to find books by different authors, provide review forums, and reach a huge audience of readers who (for better or worse) don’t troll small publisher websites looking for books by less-known authors. So, I went with distribution and received a non-trivial bump-up in total sales.

    OR, of course, has a different market and may not need the services Amazon and the other distributors provide.

    Rob Preece

  3. You can berate me, tell me I’m nuts, etc., but I suspect I’m representative of a lot of Kindle owners – if I hear about a book, even free, on some obscure website, it’s rare that I even bother to look. I shop Amazon because it’s convenient, it’s easy, I don’t have to be registering this and that and giving credit card info out here and there. Unlike others, I LIKE Amazon. The only reason I was willing to invest in an ereader again at all is because the Kindle is from Amazon and I’m willing to gamble Amazon will continue to support it.

    In February I became an indie author, and to me it’s an extraordinary thing that Amazon is willing to give people like me access to such a fantastic distribution channel for free. Yes, they get a cut of sales, but the cost of setting up so that those sales are possible is absolutely nothing.

    So Amazon has a considerable well of customer loyalty from me to start with, and I really don’t want to be bothered going to a whole bunch of websites so that some publisher can get a greater share of ebook revenue to finish with. In the case of companies like OR Books, I just don’t care. With the big publishers, Macmillan has inspired real animus.

  4. I would appreciate to buy for example “Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet” from Why? Because for books there is no shipping to pay. If I buy from OR I have to pay Royal Airmail !!!