Amazon Past Prime: Why Major Retailers & Publishers are Going it Alone

Amazon,  Is This Beginning of Amazon's Meltdown?, on-line business, publishing, Kristen Lamb, Penguin Random House

Is Amazon past prime? I really can’t speak for all business fads, just ones American. Americans do love…business. What do we love more than business? Duh. A great business fad.

Hey, we DID invent the forty-hour work week just so we could ignore it *hair flip*.

As I mentioned in my December post Penguin SOLD: Publishing, Change & Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Oh MY! everything fluctuates. Markets don’t get a pass. The world changes, technology shifts, and business that want to survive are wise to remember this.

Businesses exist to serve the customer…which is why Blockbuster is no longer around #ByeFelicia.

Which brings me to an interesting point. In the Amazon paradigm, who exactly is the customer? Did Bezos, in his frenzy to build an empire, forget that he actually had multiple customer vectors? Or, did he believe he could build something ‘too big to fail’?

Let’s talk about this, shall we?

The Amazon Paradigm

Amazon,  Is This Beginning of Amazon's Meltdown?, on-line business, publishing, Kristen Lamb, Penguin Random House

If you want the 411 on exactly HOW Bezos built a company that very literally changed the world, please feel free to go check out this post. Because, in the beginning, Amazon really didn’t, per se, sell anything,

Initially, Bezos sought to master gathering, sorting, collating, then being able to effectively utilize information. If anyone understood the old axiom, Knowledge is power? It would be Jeff.

See, Bezos was around for Web 1.0 and understood the longterm goal to create…well, what we have now. HE wanted to be Web 2.0’s Baby Daddy…and well, he was, er is.

Thanks, Jeff. LOVE my socks.

In the early aughts, Bezos knew where the trends were heading. That Big Box stores were going to become obsolete, which was why Amazon dedicated every resource into not simply dominating the online shopping paradigm, but essentially creating it.

Amazon did what Web 1.0 failed to do. They made buying goods and services on-line so seamless, easy, safe, and affordable that they moved this buying behavior from nerd-early-adopter over to the mainstream.

Not only that, but SO many consumers began shopping online, that it was a) business suicide not to have a virtual store but also ironically b) virtual suicide for retailers to try and compete and open their OWN on-line store.

Just ask Borders. Wait, you can’t.

Amazon literally changed the commercial landscape in such a way that made pretty much every form of business with a physical product dependent on Amazon (and where Amazon got a share of their profits).

Sell t-shirts, yarn, vitamins, dog food, plumbing supplies, toupees, electronics, hair gel, camping equipment?


Well, we’ll need a small piece of those book sales if you want to stick around.

Big Box, Big Vacuum

Amazon,  Is This Beginning of Amazon's Meltdown?, on-line business, publishing, Kristen Lamb, Penguin Random House

We’re now in 2020 and business is changing yet again and guess what, my lovelies? While writing is first and foremost an art and a craft, it is also a business.

It’s also our job to understand the business of our business…which is why I write these lovely tidbits for y’all and try to make them fun enough so you don’t want to stick your head in a blender.

It’s a good thing for authors—TRUST ME—that the Big Box bookstores went away. I wore a red dress to Border’s funeral and brought it out again for Barnes & Noble’s. The Big Box bookstore killed the small indie stores and almost obliterated the author middle class.

***If you long to know why the good old days really weren’t good at all and WHY I am a big fat meanie about B&N? Check out The Hard Truth About Publishing—What Writers & Readers NEED to Know.

All this said, Amazon did a superlative job. Mission accomplished. They restructured modern business, remolded consumer behavior, and even created this leviathan industry to support a logistical operation unlike anything witnessed in human history.

Big Trouble in Little Made in China

According to the January 2, 2020 Forbes article Is This The Beginning Of Amazon’s Meltdown?...

Last November, the world’s largest sporting goods company, Nike, announced it was leaving Amazon. It would yank all its products from and sell them exclusively on its online store.

Stephen McBride, The editor of RiskHedge Report

Since then, other major and respected retailers have also defected including, but not limited to Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Vans, Patagonia, North Face and even Ikea. They’ve opted to selling their own wares on their own sites instead of partnering with Amazon.


They no longer HAVE to.

Remember, when I started this post I mentioned that everything has cycles, including business. Amazon paved the way for e-commerce, but it was absurd to believe they’d ever keep a lock on it. The entire point of entrepreneurship is to look at what isn’t being offered and then fill that vacuum.

These days, there are companies that—with the major advances in technology—can make businesses competitive without having to bend the knee to Amazon.

Shopify, Wix, Squarespace allow businesses of all sizes to create a small on-line store (even an author who wants to sell books and merch 😉 . ).

These days advertising and marketing is all done via our online brand/platform (and I will blog specifically WHAT a platform for an author is, so hang tight on that).

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blogs have made it where anyone can cultivate and then reach their audience.

Feel free to check out the Forbes article, but essentially everything Amazon can do? There is a small service, app, etc., that, for a small fee, will offer the same benefits—delivery, order fulfillment, online shop, refunds, online payments, etc.— without the blood-allegiance to ZON.

Amazon and Publishing

Amazon Publishing, war, strategy

Why should writers care about all this? I am so happy y’all asked. So I KNOW not everyone has been following this blog since the Publishing Dark Ages (I have literally been blogging since Borders was alive).

I can’t find the specific post, but I know as early as 2011/2012 I was ripping my hair out with the Big Six because Amazon was doing some pretty shady s#@! to the major publishers (like making the BUY buttons vanish).

Anyway, I preached how the old school publishers DID NOT NEED AMAZON. They were selling books and learning to code early e-books…not trying to deliver earth-moving equipment for God sakes.

Not that hard to figure out.

It was NUTS for NYC to grow dependent on Amazon for almost all on-line business. B&N already had a lock on almost all their brick-and-mortar business, so the brilliant plan was to hand their digital gonads to Amazon?

***Karen needed to see a manager.

Oy vey.

I recommended they go hire some nerds to code their paper books into ebooks and launch their own websites to sell direct. Do their own order fulfillment for paper AND digital. P.O.D. (print on demand) was already around.

The major weakness Amazon had, as I saw it, was that Amazon didn’t have a passion and a love for the written word. They also didn’t value authors. NYC did.

***Okay, more than Amazon.

I also postulated that, as the market continued to become increasingly glutted with atrocious and unvetted books, that readers would be even MORE desperate for a publisher to get into the book SELLING business.

To please, please, please STOP propping up Barnes & Noble at the expense of their own best interests and the best interests of authors and readers.

….and that went pretty much nowhere. Sighs.

Amazon Grew and Times Changed

Well, back in December, there was that single and very vague article about Penguin Random House selling off major shares and *crickets*. No further analysis. I COMBED the internet for anything.

*more crickets*

Last night, however, I happened to be listening to one of my favorite podcasts The Art of Manliness (don’t judge me). The author, John Tierney mentioned his non-fiction book The Power of Bad was for sale and that you could find it on the website his publisher Penguin Random House set up for him.

Tierney might as well have announced he had credible pictures of Sasquatch riding Nessie full speed while mermaids waterskied behind them in formation.

I HAD to go look and HOLY SCHNIKIES!!! It was TOTES LEGIT! A publisher literally cared about an author. What was next? Cats and dogs living together?


Penguin Random House…the site is lovely. And this is a perfect illustration of businesses defecting from Amazon because they no longer NEED them. This is a laudable example of what I’ve been begging the publishing industry to do.

RESTORE gatekeeping. Writers are wearing out. Authors cannot keep going it alone and still offer quality to readers. We NEED advocates. For the love of chocolate…


In a world where algorithms can be juked and manipulated, where best-selling titles can be bought, and too many storytellers have succumbed to the swarm of creatively bankrupt marketers posing as authors who wouldn’t know a subplot if it shot them in the face…

YES, Penguin Random House, you do come to the table with over a century of credibility. To be perfectly blunt, we authors are feeling rough. We need to feel good about ourselves again some way other than comparing royalty payments and rankings.

Most importantly? Readers need us working as partners…equitable partners. We’ve proven we CAN go it alone. We can, but a lot of us are tired. Y’all do your awesomeness and we’ll do ours. Teamwork? Could we try that again perhaps? For the sake of the kids readers?

Cool? Cool.

What’s Ahead?

Anyway, I poked around the PRH site this morning and, from what I can see so far, this site is largely what I had in mind when I was urging the publishers to become more forward-thinking back in 2012.

Of course, back when I wrote that post I was also fighting the NY snobbery of a) authors don’t need to be on social media b) all writers needed was a good book c) readers would only ever want paper d) readers would only ever want to browse bookstores and would never want to shop on-line….

*screams into pillow*

Alas, we’ve discovered that humans are greedy buggers (or, rather, been reminded). We want it all. Yes, we want digital, and paper, and audio, and probably want our favorite books acted out in hand-puppets…especially when we’re sick and being clingy.

The new Penguin Random House site is stunning. I love the video…namely because it’s positive and they address authors not ONLY like actual human beings, but like business partners and investments.

Wow, we write the books. Who’da thunk? We’re valuable. Yay us! Is it a good move? Dunno. Will they do right by us and readers? Time will tell. Have I read the whole thing wrong?

I gave up doing bath salts as a New Year’s Resolution sooooo…..

Seems legit so far.

Will Others Follow?

I don’t know and really have only brushed the surface of this topic. This is cutting edge information and let me remind y’all that we’re teetering on the precipice of massive marketplace disruption.

It hasn’t happened yet. Not in its full glory. But that’s what y’all love about my blog. Knowing when to hide before the sh-parkles hit the fan.

All this said, I published my Penguin piece around Christmas, and, if you look at the bottom of the new Penguin website, the copyright is 2020. Also, if you hit the Careers tab, there are a ton of jobs that haven’t been filled.

***Maybe a few of y’all can apply? Who knows?

So for all the writers out there, remember I told you to be patient? Work on your craft, learn, read, practice, build your platform and the business would eventually sort itself out. I PROMISED you that gatekeeping would be restored. And? From the looks of things…

It is good to be right 😉 .

Ouch! GOD! Cramp patting own back! OWWWW!

What Are Your Thoughts on Amazon?

Just cuz it’s funny….

I just got back from vacation and am doing MUCH better and seemingly over the pneumonia so will be loading new classes this week. In the MEANTIME, has this been a wild fifteen years or WHAT?

I’m kind of stoked to go poke around the Random Penguin site. Seems we can earn free books (free GOOD books). The message—mission statement—seems a bit unclear to me as to what exactly they’re doing, but I haven’t done the full deep-dive yet.

Yes, I am posting before knowing ALL the things.

But, I wanted to blog on this since I discovered the Penguin Random House site relatively close on the heels of that Forbes article about the major defections of large and respected brands.

Kinda freaky….

And, since, I’m not seeing a ton a buzz about some fairly HUGE retailers going it alone, it does lead me to believe the Illuminati are hiding how HUGE THIS REALLY IS.

*dons tinfoil hat*

What are your thoughts? I’ve MISSED you and am needy, so talk to me!


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    • Jean Lamb on February 3, 2020 at 3:36 pm
    • Reply

    And if you’re not chosen to be a client of Penguin? Still back in the jungle…yes, gatekeepers are great, gatekeepers are fine, and if you still can’t get through, it’s not always because your books suck. If you apply Sturgeon’s Law, that 90% of everything sucks, that still leaves a *lot* of stuff out there that doesn’t suck, but won’t be chosen through lack of slots open at Big Publisher.

    Example: There are over 700,000 Harry Potter stories in English on That means there are likely 70,000 Harry Potter stories that don’t suck, and a fair number of them are novels. How do you find those good ones? Now, FFN does have filters, so you can choose characters to have in a story, and you can even choose characters you hate to not be in a story. But there isn’t a Suck/Doesn’t Suck filter.

    Now,for HP fanfic fan groups like WIKKT help guide people. And if you see a story which is 10K plus with two reviews, that is sometimes a very good clue. Plus, if the reviews say ‘get a beta!’ or ‘is English a foreign language to you’ that is often helpful.

    Reviews on Amazon often provide a lot of help that way, too, if you can spot the Paid For From Fiverr types and ignore them.

    Obviously, there are still a few bugs in the system.

    1. Yes but it is a move toward SOME sort of gatekeeping. This is ONE publisher. We have to have a better sorting system than the nightmare we’ve been trying to deal with. And in fairness, a lot of it is because the books suck. I might have agreed more with you back in the aughts. These days? I get samples that couldn’t pass 7th grade English. It isn’t the marketing plan, Sweetie. Learn to write.

    • tony on February 3, 2020 at 3:37 pm
    • Reply

    Sounds maybe as good as acceptable from the readers POV. Do they still have those lovely contracts so authors give up their left … (you know) and life of copyright sign over, plus all the ancillary rights? Just saying.

    1. I believe Kristen is right… but Tony those draws to being indie published, having the rights, greater pieces of that profit pie, and hopefully it’s a well written book still have my attention when it comes to getting my book published. Though, this is coming from someone who has yet to hit publish on Amazon. I’m a month away. And my material is not what traditional publishers would pick up anyway: memoir of a non-celebrity. Maybe I’m throwing away my shot at being traditionally published ever, or maybe I’m eager to get my dream fulfilled, because Amazon makes a way for it to happen. At this point I’ve already decided.

      • Kessie on February 3, 2020 at 4:53 pm
      • Reply

      Yeah …. I was just thinking this. Apparently they grab all your IP rights and then very rarely do anything with them, so they can write them off as a valuable property on an IP assets sheet. It’s the one way they still appear to be making money. IMO, the takeaway from this article is that we authors can start selling books from our websites, as well as through the other stores (not just Amazon). The more doors into your Magic Bakery, the better. (Props to Dean Wesley Smith and his Magic Bakery blog series.)

        • tony on February 3, 2020 at 8:31 pm
        • Reply

        Props to you for calling out DWS and the Magic Bakery.
        But be careful in selling through your own site, especially if it’s visible in the EU. Not that sales tax collection in the States is a much simpler problem.

  1. I’m gonna need that security system tho.

  2. Great post, Kristen! Let’s hope traditional publishing is listening.

  3. My editor, who is sole caregiver for his 91 year old mother, pretty much promised me he would kick my hiney if I put my books on Amazon. Self-publishers can aim for wide release with organizations like Ingram Spark. They not only produce e-books, POD paperbacks and hardbound. They are also distributors. (I not only learn about interesting stuff from you, I also belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors.) As far as craft goes, I am a very particular reader and lifetime creative. I can’t imagine producing crap then having the nerve to throw it out in the great wide world and say “Hey! Look what I did.” If I wouldn’t want to read something I’ve written myself, I certainly won’t claim it. After our monthly chapter meeting this past Sat., I shocked a few folks by stating I don’t bother with books on Amazon, even for free, when ARC reviewers can’t write their way out of a paper bag. I don’t care about stars. If a reviewer doesn’t have a basic grasp of writing, it makes me suspicious the author doesn’t either. My reading time is precious. I’ll go back and pull a favorite off the bookshelf before taking a chance on a “free” book by an unknown author.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’ve been fighting a persistent cough, but I think its caused by a bad case of acid reflux. The RWA debacle came right as I was wrapping up final editing and production of my first book. Aack! Oh well. I did get brave this past week and throw my book cover on Instagram and Facebook. Even boosted the post. I got an interesting mix of likes, both male and female, since the cover doesn’t scream “Romance Novel.” (I did that on purpose.) Turns out, I really write romantic fantasy, and I’m far happier staying in my freaky little world. Hopefully, I can get a few folks to visit me on Patreon now. My fourth chapter is available to read for free. I hid the Prologue – 3 behind the Patron wall, along with a behind-the-scenes of how I produced my book cover. Oh yeah, a small portion of my music playlist for writing is available to all. If that doesn’t make people curious, nothing will.

    • Kristin Russo on February 3, 2020 at 4:22 pm
    • Reply

    Awesome post. LOVED IT! Thank you for this!

  4. So glad you’re feeling better, Kristen. Thanks for the heads up and for your insight into how the whole publishing business has evolved through the years. You are always way ahead of the game.Love your humor and wit. Great post. We’ll see what the future holds.

  5. Ah, Kristen, you are like the Brian Kaplan of the publishing industry (see I await developments with interest.

    1. *Caplan

  6. Interesting article. I’d previously read that five of the big publishers were thinking of going KU this year, so I’m glad to hear that not all of them are doing it.

  7. Great post, I love how you use humor. I have shared this widely, including a link from my website.

    • Harald Johnson on February 3, 2020 at 7:12 pm
    • Reply

    “RESTORE gatekeeping. Writers are wearing out. Authors cannot keep going it alone and still offer quality to readers. We NEED advocates. For the love of chocolate…”

    Are you kidding me? You *want* more gatekeeping? Oy. I’m running full speed in the other direction. No thank you.

    1. We are seeing a million+ self-published books launched to market every year. There HAS to be some form of gatekeeping system put in place. The readers cannot keep up with this influx of content. No, I don’t want what we had before. Lord help us, I hope we learned. But we DO need something to help guide readers to good books or everyone will starve.

      1. Done correctly, the gatekeepers can help the writers develop as artists. They can force us to improve and grow. IMHO

        • Harald Johnson on February 3, 2020 at 8:18 pm
        • Reply

        I say: let the Market be the Gatekeeper. I like being in total control of my authoring/publishing. Maybe that’s my OCD speaking 😉 But, to each his/her own.

        1. I think the problem with allowing the readers be the gatekeepers is that there are people who think all self-published books are rubbish. Else why haven’t they been published traditionally? They think publishers won’t touch them, and so won’t buy self-published books.
          There is a lot of ignorance about publishing in the populace. They think if a book is good, it will be picked up by a publisher. They also believe that books written by ‘celebrities ‘ are actually by them. Never heard of ghost writers! (Not that I’m saying all such books are ghost-written. Just that some are.)

        • Jean Lamb on February 11, 2020 at 2:18 pm
        • Reply

        But there were problems with the old system, and the Big Five are still going to have limited slots–in my previous comment, I was trying to point to that out. (as for my credentials, I’m an active SFWA member and one of my stories was on the Preliminary List for the Nebula in 1998). Yes, gatekeeping needs to happen–but can we really trust the Big Five to do anything for authors besides what they’re doing now?

        1. I think they are going to have to be replaced. As much as I have held out hope. After the $#!t show for Black History Month the DAY after I posted some hope for Random Penguin? I had egg on my face and am DONE rooting for them. If THIS is how far they have evolved? I HOPE they go extinct. The world is better without them.

  8. I’m glad you’re feeling better! This is an interesting article all around, and I’m looking forward to your predictions in the future. I mean, they’ve been right so far, right? 🙂

  9. Thanks for keeping us informed about these changes, Kristin. I, too await further developments. Doubt the Big A will join horses and buggies right away, but will probably learn something of the ‘other’ side of the rapid growth cycle.

  10. Oh Kristen, You’re such a wealth of information. I <3 you.

    • Chris Jones on February 3, 2020 at 9:47 pm
    • Reply

    Writing conference after writing conference I hear from really top professional self-published authors about how to use Amazon to do their business, and I simply cannot understand it.

    They work tirelessly to build a newsletter list. A social media presence. A fan following. Then they put their book on Amazon and have to divine through a reading of the tea leaves and casting of the bones who bought those books. That’s insane.

    “But no one can find our books if they’re not on Amazon!” No, that’s backward. No one can find them on Amazon unless you tell them where to look. So why not tell them to look on your own website?

    Jeff Bezos isn’t making money off your books. He’s making money off your READERS. He’s mining data. He knows who is buying your books, and he knows what those people are buying with the rest of their money, and that data is worth gold by the bucketful. You think he’ll share that info with you? HAHAHAHAHAHA.

    Last summer I got sick of it and started a publishing house. We use Amazon for POD, and that’s all. All our book sales come through our own website, which means every author in our cabal (we call it a qwerty) knows the name and email address of every single person that’s ever bought a book from them. When you launch book 2 of your series, guess how valuable those data are? Book 3? Book 4?

    There are two other publishers of which I’m personally aware that have sold, and are selling, tens of thousands of books without using Amazon for one thing. Readers just want the book. They don’t care where they get it, as long as it’s convenient, point and click. And guess what? Anyone can do that these days.

    I’m not as hip as you are, and I didn’t catch on as fast as you did, but I can be taught. Thanks for once again sounding the trumpet.

    • Jo Smith on February 4, 2020 at 12:08 am
    • Reply

    WOW!!! I didn’t get a chance to really write seriously till 2004 or so. Then life jumped in and it came to a stop for several years so now I’m trying to climb back on the horse but it is slow. I’ve taken a few on line classes but common sense had told me the business of a writer had to have changed a lot. I just took a class to decide what and how I wanted to get into publishing. Just as I thought, the business has gone into a confusing pile of ways to do this. And the knowledge being offered today is just like I left it. I knew something was terribly wrong with what I was being offered as new info and the way to find your way was to decide what kind of publishing you needed to aim for. When business begins to become huge industries it does not take too long for it to get greedy and a need to get all the available cash the others are pulling in and how they can get it into their pot. I think I’ll just take my time and rewrite what I have written and bring it up to date (cell phone not pager). Thanks for the info and please don’t drop me off your mailing list.

  11. Great post, but Harlequin were setting up author pages and selling direct from their site years ago.

    1. Romance has always been FAR ahead in the industry, which is why it is so sad that RWA is having such struggles right now. The Big Six could have learned a thing or thousand from romance about business for sure.

    • Jean A on February 4, 2020 at 8:26 am
    • Reply

    Wonderful info. Thanks for your hard work and posts. You rock.

  12. I always enjoy your down to earth approach. I find it scary how people can hand over their freedoms for the sake of convince. (Alexa)
    In Colorado and Nebraska, we have six foot drones running around which they don’t know where they are coming from yet the public has been cautioned not to shoot them down. This would be a great sci fi if it wasn’t true.
    I wish we could get back to common sense. Thanks for letting me grumble a bit.

  13. Not there yet – how to crack the “get-to-people-you-don’t-know” algorithm. I’ve had sales all over the world – how does someone in Australia know to look for a book they would love, if not for a global platform? It is inevitable that Amazon will experience a time-tested zenith and apogee. The trick is to leap on and off that merry-go-round at the proper time.

  14. Lots to think about here. But you know what they say… the bigger they are, the harder they fall, so…

    • Bob Beers on February 4, 2020 at 11:45 am
    • Reply

    Check out Draft2Digital. I use it having win my battle to own my own books. Now selling again.

  15. I’m torn on the “Gatekeeper” aspect of the industry. The premise (as I understand) is only quality writing passes beyond the gates. But, it doesn’t apply to each *book*, just the author. Once an author has done well enough on the published side of the gates, their writing isn’t tasked as harshly as those of us still honing our craft. Kind of like watching the guards enter a prison and having the metal detectors re-set, so they don’t have to take off their uniforms… If the gates don’t apply to authors already published, readers must then weed through crap from a (theoretically) reliable publisher, thus negating the reason for the gates to begin with.

    I’ll admit, I’d rather fix the “loophole” of published authors being permitted to put out incomplete books which wouldn’t pass the gates. Amazon equals the gates being non-existent and leaves me questioning whether I’ll ever feel *truly* published without an actual *publisher* in the mix.

    • Lu on February 5, 2020 at 5:48 am
    • Reply

    Hi Kristen,

    First time commenter, subscriber since 2013, plus reader of “Rise of the Machines”. Thanks for all the information and details about publishing and being an author you have provided over the years. It’s been invaluable.

    When I read this post, I was happy to hear that Penguin had broken free of Amazon. I imagined they had set up a website like Harlequin’s, where books are sold directly to readers.

    I clicked on the link to PRH’s website and checked it out. I noticed that when I clicked the ‘buy’ button for an ebook, further links came up. These were for Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers. When I clicked on the link for Amazon, I landed on the American Amazon’s page for that particular book. Inspection of the link indicated that it was an affiliate link for PRH. I could not see any link to purchase the book directly from PRH.

    Given this, I would have to disagree with your blog post. PRH hasn’t broken free of Amazon, instead, they have developed a website with affiliate links (to make additional money for PRH and not the author) and a sign-up to collect reader information (taking a page out of Amazon’s agenda menu).

    If I have misunderstood PRH’s website design, my apologies.



    1. No, not totally free of Amazon, sadly. They are too weak for that. They waited way too late. BUT they are giving assistance to the authors. For instance, not all authors are savvy at building their own websites. Also, with the incentive to order THROUGH them (free books) they are training buyers to choose them (or trying to) instead of people defaulting automatically to Amazon for all purchases (books included) and that is a step toward breaking free fully from Amazon.

      There is a reason the brands that broke FULLY away are LUXURY brands like Rolex, Luis Vuitton, etc. Nike could lose a half billion dollars and be okay. NYC waited far too long to have the luxury of going it solo the same way.

      BUT they are no longer joined at the hip and that is a promising sign, especially for consumers who are not too keen on how large ZON is growing.

      Thanks for the loyalty. I would have delved further into this but there a) just are NOT enough articles on WHAT is going ON and b) the blog was getting long and we can discuss this more. I DO believe that it is a promising trend that other retailers ARE growing brave and breaking free of AMAZON, so that bodes well for publishing.

      Remember THIS SITE is less than 6 weeks old so for all we know the links to external retailers could be a place-saver until they get their own accounting system set up and in place. They only just sold off their American stocks back in December. So they may have to do some internal accounting and restructuring. Who knows? But we CAN hope and maybe speculate 😀 .

    • Diana on February 5, 2020 at 5:10 pm
    • Reply

    I think they lost a marketing chance by not going with Random Penguin, because that totally stuck and makes me happy and giggle

    1. Oooh, I hadn’t even noticed that was a possibility. They should take advantage of such a cute name!

  16. Great article! I always appreciate you sharing your market knowledge with us. Had no idea so many businesses were leaving Zon. They are big names, though, so it makes we wonder how Zon is going to treat us “little guys” when the big ones leave them what will become a noticeable financial gap over time.

  17. This is really great news, thanks for keeping us educated!

    I’ve been frustrated with Amazon because they blocked me from giving book reviews. I’ve written and called and can’t get an answer why they blocked me, but I was told it might be because I know the authors. What they don’t understand is that because I was on the board of directors for a large writers group, have directed writers conferences, and attend writers conferences I know A LOT of writers. Why should I be penalized for that?

    I started shopping elsewhere as much as possible, so thanks for the tip on where to put my book money!

    Hope you feel better.

  18. Wow! I remember blogging stuff like this AGES ago.

    Now, I can barely find the energy to give a good crap about any of it. Which, frankly, feels awesome!

    But, thank you for blogging these things, so I don’t have to. 🙂

    • Olivier on February 10, 2020 at 9:18 pm
    • Reply

    Hmm, Kristen, I think you jumped the gun on this one. Big five publishers have been doing book pages on their sites with buy buttons for ages. Here’s one from one of my favorite publishers (Orbit): But the buy buttons have always been outside links.

    Also, they do it wrong in another way. Orbit is the brand (technically, the imprint) serious readers know and care about. And you can find the book on the Orbit web site (here: but the full page for it: the one with the buy buttons (and the one I posted above), is on the web site of the parent company: Hachette, which most readers don’t know and don’t care about, so this is screwed up.

    Some publishers do sell direct but AFAIK they are all university presses or small presses: none of the big boys do and I see no sign that this about to change.

    1. Sigh, maybe. After what they did for Black History Month (my next blog) I don’t care. I was excited because the site was new, the copyright being 2020, which means there could have been new and improved things ahead they could have been doing for authors. I’ve never seen a site for author where there are incentives for readers to buy THROUGH that site (e.g. the shopping cart where readers/buyers could earn free books for loyalty) so that seemed to be leading in a new positive direction I’d not seen before.

      • Jean Lamb on February 20, 2020 at 6:50 pm
      • Reply

      And the Big Five (including Harlequin and most of the romance publishers) are *still* hosing the writers. Despite a new sales model, their treatment of authors hasn’t changed one bit.

  19. Thanks for a great explanation!

    With 3 books published and 20 more to go (in draft), I need to know this stuff. 🙂

    It’s brutal out the and most of us (aka ‘me’) are ill prepared to climb the mountain of information available.

  20. All I gotta say is that you write well and have a great sense of humor. I would add one thing to your supposition(?) about Amazon. And I say this as one who does not buy from Amazon and is no fan at all … but ol’ Bezos got to where he is because of customer service. He makes the customer #1 and that is his secret to success.

  21. Thank you for a fascinating post. I wonder where it will all end up?

    1. I think Amazon with replace the Big Six starting with Thomas Nelson and the larger and more successful indies will fill in the vacuum. Especially after the implosion of RWA and the giant Charlie Foxtrot with Penguin (like literally the DAY AFTER this post) and B&N putting literature in blackface to celebrate Black History Month. They are too out of touch and I wash my hands of hoping for them.

  1. […] via Amazon Past Prime: Why Major Retailers & Publishers are Going it Alone — Kristen Lamb. […]

  2. […] The business end of writing is forever changing. Jim Milliot reports that print unit sales posted a big end of January gain, while Kristen Lamb discusses the growing trend of major retailers and publishers leaving Amazon to go it alone. […]

  3. […] “Is Amazon past prime? I really can’t speak for all business fads, just ones American. […]

  4. […] year, not the next, but it’s in the future), so that’s always good. Especially with major retailers and publishers bailing on Amazon, so eventually I’ll do it […]

  5. […] “Amazon Past Prime: Why Major Retailers & Publishers are Going it Alone” on Kristen Lamb […]

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