Publisher vs Distributor

Something to Consider When You See the Word "Publisher"

 What is the real difference between an independent publisher and a traditional? It’s a little more complicated than “agented vs unagented.” Take a look at Amazon, considered a “publisher” but in actuality, the largest online distributor in the world. It is the same as every other independent publisher out there - but with even less behind its name, despite the size of its catalogue and its distribution, and with the total burden on the artist, for all that it offers in terms of creating, uploading and managing product. Amazon, in fact, launched its independent publishing options as a response to media and industry attention on the rising success of self-published authors, which was starting to make headlines when Amazon opened up its multi-media publishing services. Opening up a self-publishing portal service swept up independents and Amazon made itself "the scene," the mega-venue, the industry standard, literally overnight. It retains a whopping 60% of royalties or more and controls print-on-demand. Calling itself a publisher because it fetches and assigns (and owns) ISBNs and ASIN numbers, Amazon imposes restrictions that traditional distributors never did, capitalizing on the needs of the independent artist community - a virtual version of the Machine anyone can access but no one can operate. The ISBN and ASIN effectively imprint books, as if Amazon were a publisher, but Amazon offers nothing for that ISBN other than the right to upload it to a virtual shelf. There is no promotion, no marketing, no artist development services, no editorial review, no publicist, and no negotiation of contract terms. Amazon is, and always has been, a drop-ship distributor and a printer with an online catalogue, and not a publisher. It has a paid-in option, which is your “Prime” subscription. Since it is the world's biggest eBook distributor, it does not even have to carry the overhead for drop-shipment and its printing and shipping costs are, in total, less than five dollars for a typical book - yet, it still claims 60% of royalties or more, even though there is no recoupment. Nothing is charged on Amazon’s end unless someone orders a book. The order is pre-paid, so, technically, nothing is charged on Amazon’s end at all. STILL 40-60% is retained, with the Kindle Direct Publishing global agreement being the most generous split at 20/80, but only for eBooks. 


The reality behind self-publishing on Amazon is one of the myths Bothsams would like to dispel, among other because Bothsams knows that independence and self-publishing does not mean artists have to go without industry-standard resources, guidance, support and production OR success. 

The second myth Bothsams would like to dispel is the myth of what a traditional publisher actually does in-house, "behind the curtain," and what it is supposed to "look like."

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