Support Your Small Publisher – Not the Amazon Squeeze
By John Fox
Angle Valley Press will celebrate its 10th anniversary next May. I am very proud of the books that this little company has put together over the years and I hope many of you have enjoyed reading them too.
My goal has always been to find authors who have uncovered new stories about the Civil War and then to work with them to put together a pleasing package for you, the reader. What is my definition of a “pleasing package?” First of all an interesting, well-written story accompanied by plenty of pertinent images that have captions. Next come professionally drawn maps that are related to the narrative, not some generic miniature map copied out of somebody else’s book. One of my big pet peeves is trying to read a battlefield narrative and flipping pages looking for a nonexistent map or finding a map that I need my cheaters, a magnifying glass and a microscope to understand.
While the manuscript is being edited [also professionally] copies are sent to several Civil War historians for their feedback. At the same time, a graphic designer is working on several different views for the dust jacket and the best looking jacket design is then selected. After all this is accomplished, then it is time for the interior book design to begin. Again we hire professionals to do this. You ever see a book with screwy looking font and unusual gaps and spaces on some pages? It screams amateur. The final stage is getting the book printed which can be a time consuming process.
My point in describing this here is that time and quality mean money. Because I believe that a book is forever, Angle Valley Press will only produce quality professional books. This means that our books are expensive to produce because we do small print runs of 2000 to 3000 copies. You might wonder why we don’t print more copies which would reduce our per book production cost? Good question and the answer is that we have a small marketing budget and the more copies we print then the more we pay in storage costs at our distribution warehouse in Ohio.
There have been many changes in the book industry in the past ten years, some good and some bad. My distribution arrangement represents my biggest monthly cost. My distributor [who will remain anonymous] stores our books and then ships them to the “book trade” as orders come in. Most of the “book trade” represents book wholesalers like Ingram and Baker & Taylor who receive orders from independent bookstores and then order our books from our Ohio distributor.
For Angle Valley Press to have our books available throughout the country then we have to give a significant 50% to 55% discount to the wholesalers [middle men]. But because of this discount the wholesalers pay for the shipping. My distributor then hits me with an additional 18% charge on the net. This has generated some heartburn but up to this time has been acceptable.
However, just recently Amazon has decided to act like the 800-pound gorilla and change the rules. My Ohio distributor ships a lot of our books directly to Amazon. Even though Amazon receives a 55% discount they recently decided to charge the small publisher for shipping. Why? I guess because they can. This will place a significant squeeze on Angle Valley Press. Amazon has already forced many independent bookstores to go down the drain and now I wonder what this will do to all the small publishers.
My appeal to you as a history book lover is this – if you like our unique Civil War stories accompanied by numerous images and specially designed maps then please purchase our author signed first edition books from the Angle Valley Press website. We have always given Free Shipping/Handling for mail and website orders. Also, please spread the word to other Civil War aficionados and get them to visit our web page and get them to “like” our Angle Valley Press Facebook page. Let me thank you in advance for your support and your loyalty and know that we will be working to continue to bring you outstanding history in 2014. Our website will be hosting a Special Christmas sale that will begin on December 1.
In the meantime, enjoy the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas season and I hope that you and your families will be blessed with much joy.