Lightning Source Moves Like A 100 Year Old Turtle.

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My new book(and my first), Shattered Image,  launched on August 8th.  By critical review accounts and to some extent sales(for a self published book), it was a successful launch.  It was successful until about a week into the release,  when my book suddenly ran out of stock on Amazon and became back ordered anywhere from 1-3 weeks to 2-3 weeks. This should be impossible. Why? My book is Print On Demand(POD) as most self published authors are.

Despite the fact that my book should be printed with each order and shipped it is now shipping in 1-3 weeks per the mysterious back-order notice that appears on my Amazon Book Page.  It is not there on my BarnesandNoble.com book page so I will assume this is some type of problem specific to Amazon.  Bottom line. Its costing me money every day.  Every day someone looks at my book online, sees that its back-ordered 1-3 weeks and chooses another book instead n the same genre that is available immediately.

Now you’re asking, What is  Print on demand (POD)?  POD is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received, which means books can be printed one at a time. Compare this to standard publishing in which books are published in “print runs” of thousands of books which in many cases end up unsold and are returned to the publisher. This would be quite an expensive hurdle for self-published authors like myself who could not afford to buy thousands of books up front. Better just to pay for, and sell one at a time as ordered. There theoretically is no back-order. the book is ordered, say on Amazon, it is printed through my contracted POD vendor, Lightning Source and shipped out. Boom! Book sold and shipped immediately. The was what I thought I paid for through my Publisher, Netminds, who contracted with Lightning Source.

Why is this happening? I have no idea. Maybe it is the fault of Lightening Source Maybe it is the fault of Amazon. Maybe Amazon is trying to stick it their competition at the expense of self published authors who have done nothing wrong. Admittedly, Lightening Source can’t ship until they get the order from Amazon.  If  Amazon does not tell them for 1-3 weeks there is nothing to print or ship.  I get that.  Either way, this seems clear. Lightening Source  apparently does not have the clout to fix the problem. A problem that does not seem to plague authors from standard publishing  houses. The small author like myself is stuck in the middle getting screwed. And when your only two sources of online distribution are Amazon and BarneAndNoble.com, it amounts to a royal screwing.

If you are a self published author and something goes wrong on Amazon, there is really no one at Amazon to talk to you. You have to have a POD company, like Lightning Source that can go to bat for you and get things fixed before you go broke not selling your book which is what is happening to me.

Maybe Amazon is sticking it to all their POD vendors to incite just this type of angry reaction from authors causing them to switch services. It’s working. I will probably be forced to take my book offline when I switch to  another POD printer because of their(Lightning Source’s) impotence on this issue.  POD for Lightning Source?  Pretty Old Dog.  Limping along with the 100 year old turtle.Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 7.46.33 PM

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Bob Kraft (1 comments.) Says:

    That problem obviously should not exist. I haven't been through this, and don't know the answer, but someone somewhere has messed up. I hope you get it straightened out quickly. You're right in saying this could have a significant impact on your sales. Good luck!

  2. Newt Barrett Says:

    Brian,
    I had exactly the same problem earlier this summer as have many authors and small publishers. The only alternative appears to be using Amazon's CreateSpace division to publish on Amazon.com only–and to use Lightning Source for everything else. It's a pain in the neck to do. And, worse, you have to give a 40% discount to Amazon vs. the 20% you can use on LSI. To learn more about this, google 'Aaron Shepard's Plan B' in terms of process. You can then look up his latest comments on what's happening. He is well-worth reading because he wrote the legendary 'Aiming at Amazon' which taught so many of us how to get published.
    You don't have to take your book offline with LSI. As soon as you have ok'd your proof with CS, you will be switched to their printing service and LSI will stop printing for Amazon books.

  3. John Craig Says:

    The reason for this is because Lightning Source is a competitor of Createspace, and you're using a company which is a direct competitor of Amazon. Amazon is purposely doing this to deter you from using Lightning Source so next time you will go with Createspace, this has nothing to do with your PoD options.

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