We operate in a strange world. In Christian publishing circles no one wants to say the “A” Word out loud, but the reality is that 85% of books today are sold on Amazon. In fact, as someone in the publishing end of this world, I can honestly admit our whole publishing system has not changed with the times and is in many ways still operating as if Amazon doesn’t exist.
Instead, Christian publishing is set up to support the Christian bookstore market. While we unquestionably want to support the local Christian bookstores, this is not where a large part of our market is shopping anymore. We must begin to get honest about this “disconnect” if we want to change the world with the messages God has given us.
The disconnect is seen everywhere from on the back end where traditional publishing distribution is almost exclusively focused on the bookstore market, to the font end where book proposals from authors require marketing plans that likewise focus on the bookstore markets. So, what is an author to do when the publishers and marketers are focused on 15% of the market, and yet they are expected to meet sales goals that ought to capitalize on targeting the largest market share—Amazon?
We must become Amazon savvy. We need to become experts in this field, understanding keywords, search engine optimization, and how algorithms work. We need to learn all we can about the Amazon shopper, their habits, and what makes them purchase one book over another. We need to understand how Amazon works.
At EABooks we often have authors who are resentful of Amazon for putting their favorite bookstore out of business, or they dislike the political and, yes, un-Christlike business practices of this giant that they tell us they don’t want to play their game. And we get it. I’m certain Jesus didn’t want to play the game the religious leaders of his day were playing, but Jesus was wise. He used his knowledge of how they played the game to his advantage, and he won.
We, too, can win the Amazon game because we have God in the game with us. And as the Bible says, if He is for us, who can be against us? How the game is played is no surprise to our God. Therefore, He can help us move forward with integrity, just as Jesus did with the Pharisees and Sadducees. God knows the moves Amazon will make before they even make them, and thus can help us make the moves we need to make to reach the world for His glory, even using Amazon.
So, let’s say the “A” word out loud. Let’s agree to jump in the game with both feet and play to win. Someone’s life—their eternal life—depends upon it. And with God on our side, we can win.
Question: How has Amazon impacted the way you purchase books? Please share your comments about this important blog.