Amazon is a massive giant and growing. Consider the following facts:
- Half of all U.S. households are subscribed to Amazon Prime.
- Half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon.
- Amazon captures nearly one in every two dollars that Americans spend online.
- Amazon sells more books and toys than any retailer online or off.
- Amazon sells 67% of all ebooks and 64% of online print book sales.
As an author, you cannot ignore Amazon.
Recently, the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) published the results of a study they conducted. The study “Amazon’s Stranglehold: How the Company’s Tightening Grip is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities” provides in-depth details on how Amazon is monopolizing the economy, undermining job growth, and weakening communities. Consider a few more interesting factoids:
- Amazon increasingly controls the underlying infrastructure of the economy.
- Amazon’s Marketplace for third-party sellers has become the dominant platform for digital commerce.
- Amazon’s Web Services division provides the cloud computing backbone for much of the country, powering everyone from Netflix to the CIA.
ILSR warns that Amazon’s power as a gatekeeper in our economy will increasingly have negative consequences. One example ILSR sites is that “Amazon’s power to manipulate what products we encounter is especially concerning in the book industry, where it now commands more than half of sales, and where it can stifle the exchange of ideas simply by removing a book from its search and recommendation algorithms, as it did two years ago, in its dispute with the publisher Hachette.”
Christian authors, do not take this warning lightly. ISLR is on to something very important here. Amazon is not a Christian company, nor are they friendly to Christian books. Yes, Amazon lists almost every book for sale on its website, but that does not mean that the company is sympathetic toward Christian books. In fact, the opposite is true.
A member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) recently brought this to my attention. This gentleman had published an ebook on prayer via the Kindle Direct Publishing program. He then signed up to use Amazon’s Marketing Services to run an ad campaign on his book. Amazon denied his ad campaign and cited their “Creative Acceptance Policy”.
I urge you to go to Amazon and read this policy. This policy states the following:
- Unacceptable Books: Books with content that is threatening, abusive, harassing, or that advocates or discriminates against a protected group, whether based on race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other category.
- Restricted Ad Content and Books: There are several customer experience sensitive categories that are not appropriate for a general audience. The following categories may be restricted from the homepage and Kindle E-reader placements: Religious or spiritual content.
In addition, the email that Amazon sent this author stated, “we are unable to approve your ad if it contains overtly religious or spiritual ad copy, images, or symbols (for example, the Star of David, a crucifix, the Star and Crescent).”
I believe that moving forward, Amazon will increasingly restrict religious content on their site through the means mentioned above. Personally, I find it sad that the Christian Retail Industry has not done more to embrace small publishers and independent Christian authors. In not doing so, they have partly been responsible for the rise in Amazon’s power, as these publishers and authors were forced to rely on Amazon for book placement and sales.
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