You could say the process has now come full circle. When Clenise and I first started producing the book about the Leica D-Lux 4 camera back in late October of this year, I signed up for an Amazon Advantage account, through which I shipped books to Amazon for them to keep in stock and sell. If you’ve read some of the earlier posts in this blog, you know that that process soon spun out of control, because Amazon first asked for 2 books, then 32, 32 again, then 265, and finally 419, if I remember the numbers correctly. At that point we had to stop and completely re-think the situation, because there is no way we can produce that many books using color laser printers and a manual binding machine, not to mention the manual guillotine cutter, which requires at least four cuts per book.
So, without repeating the history of the past several weeks, in a nutshell, I signed up for an account with Lightning Source (LSI), a large print-on-demand company that will print the books in Tennessee and make them available directly to Amazon.com and other major online retailers (but not to distributors to bookstores, in my case).
I just received the proof copy from LSI this past Monday, and I expected it would take a week or more for the books to show up as available directly from Amazon. But I checked a few minutes ago, and, lo and behold, the book is now shown as “In Stock” and eligible for shipping with Amazon Prime. I believe this means that Amazon doesn’t yet physically have a supply of books in its warehouse, but has them immediately available through LSI. Anyway, this is great news for me and for anyone who wants to buy the book, because they can order it and it will arrive quickly. Clenise and I don’t have to print, pack, and ship to customers, and we can get out of the business of maintaining laser printers, refilling color toner cartridges, getting cutter blades sharpened, etc.
So, we’ll see how this unfolds from here. I’m hoping the book’s sales rank on Amazon (currently 37,034) will go up somwhat because of the ease of ordering directly from them, and because Amazon can’t run out of books, having a direct pipeline to LSI’s printing operation.
Also, LSI just e-mailed to tell me they have shipped a carton of books to camerabooks.com, the retailer in Oregon, and one carton to me. So, although both laser printers have been working here tonight and Clenise has bound another batch of books (using our new shipment of hot melt glue pellets, which seems to be of better quality than the pellets we used for the last two months), we may be getting out of the book printing business for now, and maybe forever. We’ll see.