May 19: Anti-trust lawsuit filed against Amazon.com for pressing self-publishers to print books exclusively through its subsidiary company, BookSurge.
May 20, 12 noon: A promotional E-mail from BookSurge (howâ€™d they find me?) offers me 20 free copies of my own book if I self-publish with them before May 30. Iâ€™m curious and reply.
May 21, 10:20 a.m.: A deft and polite BookSurge sales rep ACTUALLY PHONES ME. I said I had a 90-page book of poetry, print-ready, in PDF format. Faint hint of dismay (poetry?!) detected. To publish this book in paperback Iâ€™d pay them only $299 and get 1 copy. If, like most authors, I had a plain, no-pictures, word-processing manuscript, not print-ready, requiring interior layout and design, Iâ€™d pay $499 and get 1 copy.
Honestly, the above two deals are competitive in all details with other good self-publishers. Except Booksurge alone can currently say, coquettishly, â€œWe are one of the few self-publishing, print-on-demand companies that can guarantee availability on Amazon.com always.â€
But what about my 20 free copies? I asked the rep. Turns out that Booksurgeâ€™s May special isnâ€™t for penny-ante printing like mine, but for their Total Design Freedom Packages: $799 to $2,749. (Note: The traditional publishing industry has never given authors a say in their covers or bindings, much less total design freedom. It sounds good, but you donâ€™t need it.)
Like other PODs, BookSurge has optional promotional tools, but only BookSurge, being Amazon, can pair your book with an Amazon bestseller as a tag-along (â€œbuy this tooâ€) suggestion on the bestsellerâ€™s page -- if you pay $1,000 a month.