What is the appeal, the suits at HarperCollins asked. Why do people turn to Amazon to buy our books?
Convenience, someone piped up. It's easy. You point to this buy button here and the next thing you know, the book is at your door and you're reading.
So readers want convenience, is it? They want to buy with a click? We got your direct buying right here, book lovers. And we're not Amazon, squeezing the vendor until they're squeezed dry.
You might wonder why it took so long, but HarperCollins is now allowing readers to buy their books direct from them. In the past, there may have been some concern for the bookshops and losing sales and causing hurt feelings that would lead to a decline in HarperCollins titles in stock. It took time for the executives to crunch the numbers and figure out that a direct sales feature was more likely to ding Amazon than a book store. If someone wants instant gratification of their reading desires, they aren't going to a book store anyway. If they like shopping in a brick and mortar location, they aren't likely buying from Amazon, finding their instant gratification with the small amount of effort involved in going to a store and browsing. As for those who think shops are showcases for their benefit, they thumb the books and it's off to Amazon, so it's Amazon gaining either way.
There is a problem in getting the online shopping discovered. Readers know Amazon and how to get there. They don't know that HarperCollins is selling books from a website. Chances are, the average reader doesn't know HarperCollins from Random House when it comes to selecting their reading material.
The readers, however, might recognize an author's name. They might even be following the author via a website. It follows, then, that HarperCollins can reach its market through its authors, as long as the authors do the marketing.
HarperCollins authors can pick up a bonus if they include the HarperCollins buy button on their website where they are naturally touting their books. It's not asking much by way of extra effort. Authors have to promote themselves these days, with the decrease in marketing dollars coming from the publisher. The website is there. The author is updating it to add their new book. Why not paste in a little extra code and pick up an extra 10%?
The incentive for the authors is clear, and the benefit for HarperCollins is obvious. Books not sold through Amazon mean there is no cut for Amazon. The publisher is already shipping books, and the additional expenses of shipping individual books is outweighed by the potential increased profit that is Amazon's former piece of the action.
Sell enough books directly to consumers or through traditional channels and Amazon's grip is loosened. When it's time to negotiate a new vendor contract, HarperCollins hopes to have a somewhat stronger position.