Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Amazon Connection

Amazon.com is a huge factor in my publishing experience, so I’ll talk a little about some aspects of my interaction with Amazon. There are some things not to like about the company, but on the whole my connection to it has been a tremendous benefit.

The main benefit comes from the fact that I can get my books sold through Amazon without jumping through a lot of hoops, using the direct distribution that comes from having the books printed by Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI).  I spoke about that system several months ago, but it’s worth repeating — for self-publishers or small, independent publishers, an excellent way to get your books distributed with a minimum of effort is to sign up with LSI, a print-on-demand company, which prints the books as orders come in from Amazon (and others, such as BN.com, the online arm of Barnes & Noble). All the publisher has to do is sit back and collect the proceeds — whatever is left over after the printing costs. Of course, there’s a good deal of work to do up front. Anyone who is interested in pursuing that option should get copies of Aaron Shepard’s two excellent books, Aiming at Amazon and POD [Print on Demand] for Profit.

Once the books are available through Amazon and other online retailers, it’s hard not to become somewhat obsessed with tracking their progress. For example, I find myself going on Amazon several  times each day to check my books’ sales ranks.  It may be somewhat of a waste of time, but it does give me some idea of how well the books are selling. For example, the newer of the two recent books, Photographer’s Guide to the Panasonic Lumix LX3, is starting to catch on somewhat after being available for about a month. It’s now available through Amazon.co.uk, the United Kingdom site, as well as Amazon.com, and its sales rank is now sometimes in the five digits, rather than the dreaded six digits. The other book, Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 4, continues to sell some copies, though both books are probably nearing the end of their most substantial sales, as the cameras they discuss are being superseded by newer models. (The new Leica model is anticipated, but not announced yet; the new Panasonic model, the Lumix DMC-LX5, has recently started shipping in Canada and the United Kingdom, but not through U.S. dealers quite yet.)

That’s all for now.  I need to talk about customer reviews on Amazon; I’ll try to get to that topic in the near future.

Slowing Down as the Summer Ends

Well, the summer doesn’t officially end for almost a month, but it feels as if it is ending this weekend. My daughter heads back to college tomorrow and school is starting back up for some local kids. Camera guidebooks are not selling too well at the moment, at least not the ones I’m involved with. I’m hoping it’s just a late-summer lull as people finish their last week of vacation and get ready for the Labor Day weekend.

I have gotten several things done lately; my new, professionally-designed web site is up and running nicely; it’s still at whiteknightpress.com, but now it has a much cleaner look. My new book, Photographer’s Guide to the Panasonic Lumix LX3, is available there in paperback through links to Amazon.com and camerabooks.com, and the PDF version is also available through my site. The paperback and PDF versions of  Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 4 are also available through the site.  The experience of selling the PDF versions has worked out fairly well. This past week I had two or three customers who e-mailed me about having problems downloading the PDF after they had paid for it, but those were quickly resolved. The downloading system, using fastspring.com, has worked very well overall, and fastspring’s technical support has been very responsive and helpful.

I have found it interesting to see the locations of the buyers of the PDF versions of the books. Quite a few have been international buyers.  Here are some of the locations for the recent purchasers of the PDFs: besides various U.S. states, I have had buyers from Spain, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the Netherlands, Russia, Israel, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Oman, Cyprus, France, Sweden, and Portugal. Sales of the print versions of the books have been tapering off lately, which I suppose is not surprising given that the new version of the Panasonic camera, the Lumix DMC-LX5, has recently started shipping, at least in Canada and the United Kingdom. I have placed an order for one myself, and hope the U.S. shipments will start soon. I do have a tentative plan to write a new book about the LX5, and possibly a new book about the Leica version of that camera, assuming that Leica eventually does produce one, which presumably would be called the Leica D-Lux 5.

Well, that’s the update for now. I have also been working on books with David Busch, and the latest one, on the Sony A550 and A500 DSLR models, has recently started selling on Amazon.com and elsewhere. I’ll try to do more frequent updates to this blog as things continue to develop.