Amazon’s Black Hole for Data Joseph J. Esposito Digital Book World 2014
The “Hawking Radiation” Project • Metaphor from astrophysics: information that escapes from a “black hole” • Amazon is notoriously secretive • Some of the information it releases is misleading • The fawning media compound Amazon’s reticence • How to find indirect ways to get data about Amazon?
Strategies • Work with defined subset of books (university press titles) • Interview U. press directors • Interview wholesalers • Interview librarians (from 4-year colleges) • Blog about findings to garner comments and additional information
Interesting Data Points • A French-language U. press site receives one-half of sales from outside France: http://www.lcdpu.fr • Many American press note increasing feedback from overseas readers • All U. presses report declining sales through B&T • All presses report sharply rising sales through Amazon for print
It appears that Amazon . . . • . . . is quietly taking a growing share of the international market • . . . is becoming a significant distributor to libraries • . . . is increasingly competing with B&T and Ingram • And all this is for print only
A Supply-chain Paradox: Case Study • A publisher ships books to (say) B&T • A library orders a book from Amazon • Amazon orders the book from B&T • B&T drop-ships the book to the library in an Amazon box • Librarians say they order from Amazon instead of B&T because the service is better!!!
Speculations • Amazon’s market share may be even larger than generally assumed • Market share in libraries is unknown; some estimates put it at 10% or higher • (Currently working on a grant application to research this with an extensive library survey) • Likelihood Amazon will develop strategy to migrate this print market share to digital, perhaps through acquisition
Contact Information • Joseph J. Esposito • firstname.lastname@example.org • @josephjesposito • +Joseph Esposito • http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org