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ANGLICAN HOUSE PUBLISHING: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Information for the Anglican House Publishers Board of Directors

News Release
Sept. 20, 2023

We are proposing to sell our softback books through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). KDP is the name of a company run by Amazon that provides Print on Demand (POD) book-creation and sales, sold through Amazon.com.

[Note: we shall continue to sell our Bibles, Prayer Books, and liturgical books exclusively through our website and distributors. In effect, "Anglican Liturgy Press" and "Anglican House" books will be two arms of our publishing ministry.]

How does the KDP platform work?
Upload the files to the KDP platform. We at Anglican House upload the interior file and the cover file into the book-creator interface on KDP.com (we are already fully set-up on this platform and ready to go, having published a number of eBooks in the past, which utilize a connected platform).

Then, after 72 hours, the book "appears" on Amazon.com At this point, on the book-page on our website, we add the button "buy on Amazon" which links to the book-page on Amazon.com. The book will also be listed on the Amazon website itself, so some people searching by title or author may bypass our website, which should give us added customers, as something like 70% of all book-sales now are done through Amazon.

A customer buys the book on Amazon. They can pay $3.99 for shipping or use their Prime account for free shipping, request expedited shipping, etc. all the usual Amazon extras.

KDP creates the book within 24-48 hours of the order. Amazon immediately sends an order directly to the fully automated KDP book-creation machine that prints the book, glues it up, prints the cover, glues it on, wraps the book in protective packaging, and places it in a shipping container. Then KDP ships the book.
How does the financing with KDP work?
Here is how Amazon calculates our profit. A 200-page book costs about $4 to make; a 600-page books about $8. We set the list price, then Amazon subtracts the cost-of-production, and 60% of the remainder as a processing fee. We then receive the balance as profit.So, for example: we list a 200-page book at $14; when ordered, $4 of the purchase-price goes to production, $6 goes to Amazon, and $4 profit is banked to Anglican House. Once a month Amazon deposits the profits from the sale of our books into our account.

This may seem like Amazon takes a lot, but it greatly reduces our overhead, our risk and cost in bulk production, warehousing and distribution, and our own staff time. With this set-up, the cost to Anglican House to actually get the books into customers' hands is literally zero. We just collect the monthly profits. The truth is, our softback collection has been a net loss every year and would continue to be if we publish these books in the traditional manner. Now we shall never lose money on any title, shall increase our volume of sales, and make a modest but positive return on investment.
What are some other advantages of the KDP platform?
Focus on manuscripts. The only cost to us will be in working with authors to prepare manuscripts. This focuses our work where it should be: on the quality of our publications. We currently have two new books near completion (A Walk through the Prayer Book by Arnie Klukas and Eastertide by Ashley Null), and they can be listed and sold at once. They will never be printed in the old way.

Revisions and Supplementary Media. We can revise the book files at any time, whether it be minor typographical corrections to entire "second editions" of a book. At any time a corrected file can be uploaded into KDP, and all subsequent orders will use that corrected file. In addition, we can easily add e-book (Kindle) and audiobook versions, which will be particularly useful for global Anglicans who cannot afford printed books or who prefer to listen or read online.

Worldwide Distribution. Being listed on Amazon, our books in all formats will be available for sale worldwide, e.g., in UK, Europe, Australia, South America, and in some parts of Africa (and no doubt it will be coming everywhere). In particular, we shall able to sell in Canada without having to deal with shipping and customs difficulties, which have been a huge hangup.
Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What about the current inventory? The availability of the KDP platform for our softback books calls in question the status of the current inventory (about 25 titles and 20,000 books, all of which have digital files). Many of these books, which were purchased in lots of 1,000 or 500, have been sitting in the warehouse for one or more years and some have sold very few copies. Most of them are priced in the $15-25 range with a mark-up of 100%. The same title produced on KDP will almost certainly be priced lower in order to be more attractive to buyers and will still earn a profit. Further, when any title is sold out in inventory, it will immediately be transferred to KDP.

So what are we to do? We are planning a series of discount incentives, e.g., a clergy and a seminarian discount, and special sales for the rest of this year. While we shall evaluate the worth of each title, in general we shall offer them at a steep discount. Eventually, we shall seek to clear out the softback inventory entirely.

By selling off the non-liturgical books, Anglican House will be reducing its asset value but also its liabilities. Whereas liturgical books are a long-term asset (they will eventually sell), the non-liturgical books are not and represent a sunk cost. By selling these books at a steep discount, Anglican House will generate some additional income and reduce the associated costs of warehousing and fulfillment.

Didn't we have a falling out with Amazon five years ago? Yes, but that was with regard to a totally different system. Amazon was using its warehouse and distribution network and was not happy with the low volume of sales. Also, its processing charge was bringing minimal return on investment due to our high production costs. As noted above, under KDP, there is no warehouse and no production cost at all!

Are there alternatives to Amazon for print-on-demand? Yes, we looked carefully at one company that prints and distributes for many religious publishers; however, they insisted that we move our entire inventory to their warehouse, which would have been costly. We received a proposal from Baker Books, but this would have made us a kind of subsidiary. Finally, we talked with Ingram Lightning Source, which does print-on-demand and has a worldwide distribution network. It is possible we may still cross-list with them as well.

Shouldn't we just give up printing softback books if they are not that profitable? No, part of our calling to serve the ACNA and the wider church is to publish good Anglican materials which will spread the Gospel and build up the church.

What will happen to the inventory of liturgical books? It will remain and be sold and distributed as is currently the case. We do not plan to sell the hardback, sewn books through Amazon. However, softback versions of Prayer Books, hymnals, and the catechism may be published inexpensively through KDP.

What if sales of our liturgical books subside? This is a legitimate question but not one that is the fault of the KDP platform. We hope that ACNA will continue to grow and use its Prayer Book. We note that there are plans afoot for an ACNA Hymnal and we would wish a formal commitment from the Church to be its publisher.

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