My previous post listed the four A’s necessary for using data in publishing.
I have added the fifth A — Amazon.
Amazon is an account that requires immersion and research of the data to be successful.
The 4 A’s from my previous post:
- Access – get it easily & reliably delivered.
- Analyze – gap, models, pog, and rom.
- Accurate – cleansed and correct.
- Action – execute a plan, do it.
Amazon is generally the largest account for a publisher. In some cases, it is the ONLY account.
- POS – how to keep score.
- The pre-order tally is important to watch as it is a guide to how many copies Amazon will sell on the first day. Driving up pre-orders will drive up initials from the publisher which can create higher print runs. In this era where there are less bricks and mortar to advance books and a more JIT inventory method – getting pre-orders is key.
- Physical book sales on a weekly and annual basis. As mentioned before, Amazon most likely is the top seller of physical books for a publisher. Being fully aware of their weekly sales is essential. Without Amazon, retail sales on many books can be quite dreadful.
- Ebook sales on a daily, weekly and annual basis. If Amazon is big in physical book sales, they are dominant in ebook sales. Amazon owns 75% of the domestic retail market for ebooks.
- Digital Audio continues to have the steepest growth curve in the industry. Amazon dominates that growth and the numbers add to a publisher’s P&L.
- Rankings – how to compare.
- Watching the rankings is informative and fun. Movement from #10,000 to #4,000 may be a lot of “movement” but generally results in just a handful of copies sold. But moving into the top 500 or even better, the top 100 indicates serious units sold.
- A more informative aspect is to review the book’s rankings in the various categories and sub-categories. Seeing how your book stacks up to the competition by genre is much more useful. It helps to look at other comp titles and then to dive into the metadata of those to see if there is anything that would be helpful to add to your title. It also helps to view the book from various angles to see other ways to pitch.
- Publishers Marketplace has a great service to track title rankings and Amazon retail price. Look on the site at “track books.”
- Amazon Advertising (AA) – how to manipulate discovery.
- This could be its own post, or even a book!
- As Google before it, Amazon is all in on advertising on their site. Amazon claims it is one of the biggest growth areas for them.
- There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of companies that will charge publishers to manage this. Since it is such a critical part of the business, publishers large and small would be wise to train an in-house person to do this. The analytics are deep so it comes back to the numbers.
- Amazon says “find, attract and engage customers throughout their journey.”
- Inventory – how to control the flow.
- Amazon is on a 2-week JIT system. It is based on sales. So, a blip in the demand can drive the stock to zero. No one wants to see the dreaded “out of stock, will replenish in 10 days.” We all want “in stock and you can get it tomorrow.” Reviewing the inventory in conjunction with sales (and potential increases) is key to staying ahead of potential out of stocks.
- Amazon is also highly efficient in that they have very low returns. Reviewing the inventory; isolating potential overstocks; and then proactively promoting titles is effective in keeping books from being returned. The data is all there.
- Metadata – how to survive.
- No post about Amazon is complete without a mention of the M word.
- Everyone knows the importance. Everyone is playing the game. It is a battle, but owning the algorithm is worth millions of dollars. It also changes every day so constant attention is demanded. Publishers can be driven out of business if this is done poorly. Publishers can also rise to the top with diligence here.
Amazon is here to stay whether you love them or hate them.