Amazon's launch last month of the online self-publishing service Books on Demand (PW, Aug. 13) is the most recent example of how the e-tailer is leveraging several existing divisions and programs to create a business in a new market. Although it's part of Amazon's CreateSpace division, Books on Demand has ties to Amazon's POD publisher BookSurge as well as to the company's Content Acquisition Program, according to Aaron Martin, who is in charge of the On Demand unit.

For BOD's basic offering authors are charged a minimum of $3.15 per unit, plus a 2¢-per-page charge for black-and-white printing, and the company takes 20% of the list price if the book is only on the CreateSpace e-store; Amazon takes 30% if the book is listed on For a b&w book with a cover price of $25, an author would receive $14.85 if it is sold through CreateSpace, with the company earning $10.15. For authors ordering only a few copies to be sold directly through retailers, books are manufactured in one of Amazon's fulfillment centers, while larger wholesale orders are printed by BookSurge. Wholesale orders receive a higher discount, but authors earn no royalties.

While BOD does not offer any design or marketing services to support an author's book, authors can use the different services offered by BookSurge in those areas, Martin said. According to Martin, BOD is aimed at authors who are looking to publish just a few copies of a book as well as authors who have more commercial aspirations. To encourage the latter, BOD authors automatically become part of Amazon's Content Acquisition Program, which the company launched this spring. Under that program, mainstream publishers pay a monthly fee to evaluate the sales history of self-published authors sold through Amazon. Inc.
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