Online retail giant Amazon.com has scooped up the ‘printing fulfillment’ company BookSurge, which maintains a catalogue of thousands of book titles available for users to print on demand.
“Print-on-demand has changed the economics of small-quantity printing, making it possible for books with low and uncertain demand to be profitably produced,” Greg Greeley, vice president of media products for Amazon.com, said in a written statement.
The move seems to reflect Amazon’s continued efforts to add new revenue streams and fight off competition from online rivals such as eBay and Overstock.com. Amazon has already been forced to lower prices to keep customers wandering off elsewhere.
Despite generating twice the revenue of its main rival eBay, Amazon is lumbered with the hefty financial drain of maintaining and operating its warehouses throughout the world – because eBay sells a service not a product, it manages to be three times more profitable than Amazon with only half its revenue.
Amazon’s deal with BookSurge gives the company the ability to offer a new product without adding any further burden on distribution network.
The company will now offer (cue: North American accent) “inventory-free book fulfillment” to publishers through BookSurge Publisher Services and to authors through BookSurge Publishing.
Print-on-demand allows booksellers to offer titles with limited appeal, without the hassle of having to keep stock which may not get sold.
Additionally, retailers, wholesalers and distributors will be able to leverage the BookSurge Direct wholesale platform.
“BookSurge makes it possible to print books that appeal to targeted audiences, whether it’s one copy or one thousand,” Greeley said. “Our new relationship with BookSurge will provide Amazon customers an ever-expanding selection of titles that are not available through other channels. Thanks to print-on-demand, ‘out of print’ is out of date.”
This latest move continues Amazon.com’s trend toward the world of e-books and other downloadable products, building on its 2001 eBook deal with Adobe Systems that added nearly 2,000 e-books to its catalogue.
Although e-books are still a small part of the current online book market sector, significant growth is expected by publishing companies and online retailers.
Internet portal Yahoo already has an e-book sales deal with four major publishing houses and Amazon are clearly looking to get their size nines wedged into this door of opportunity.