Lefty political/sustainable living small press Chelsea Green had a book they needed to get into the hands of readers pronto. After all, a book about what Obama will do as president starts becoming stale as soon as he is president, and moot if it turns out he won't be.
So no doubt it seemed like a great idea to get copies out immediately, even before their traditional print run could hit the shelves. The decided to use Booksurge, meaning these advance POD copies can be bought only through Amazon.
The staff at Chelsea Green were apparently surprised to be bitten on the ass by 1) book stores who are losing those sales and 2) people who are sick of Amazon have yet another exclusive monopolistic deal even when it is only for the early copies.
In an open internet letter Margo Baldwin scolds us:
"I think a little perspective is in order ... Chelsea Green and the author, Robert Kuttner, are taking an enormous risk in publishing this book ... I know it’s de rigueur to consider Amazon enemy #1, but it just ain’t so ... It’s also important for booksellers to realize that the small publisher has just as monumental a task as the small bookstore ... Our intention is to create demand that will result in selling through all copies in the marketplace ... Of course if all of you cancel your orders it will mean that a really good and important book on Obama will be effectively boycotted ... As I have written before, the world is changing fast, but the book business seems wedded to very traditional ways of publishing and selling ... a book that is too timely and important to be left out of the national political conversation this fall."
Allow me to translate: you people are being hysterical ... [soundtrack of mournful violin music] ... your point of view is ignorant ... [more violins] ... we had no idea people would be upset ... you'll be sorry ... you are troglodytes ... [violins].
I think Chelsea Green needs to wake up and smell the democracy. Any publisher keeping up to date with just how the world is changing (including the Amazon POD monopoly game and current associated litigation) shouldn't even be surprised, let alone dismayed, let alone scolding us like naughty and delusional children with the old 'cut off your nose to spite you face' litany.
Did they consider, even for a moment, the problem is not with POD, but with the choice of a POD printer that is essentially 'in house' to Amazon? Did they wonder whether, if POD companies were Presidential candidates, Booksurge would be Obama?
It seems not.