Direct sales may be the future of independent publishing

Things in the publishing industry have dramatically changed in the last few years. It used to be fairly easy to make a living as an author (given you had high quality books to begin with), but those days are over. As with much of society, publishing has become even more all or nothing where a few big selling names control most of the market, and the rest of us fight over the tiny scraps leftover. In addition to that, giants like Amazon are finding new ways to make money off the authors they claim to be helping. They've increased hidden fees, make authors pay "restocking fees" for e-books that readers return, and generally have moved to a pay-to-play type of model where only the authors paying for ads get any notice. This is not a sustainable way to make a living creating art.  Nor is this good for readers.

So, we are trying something new. As you've seen this year, we moved back to all online retailers, rather than being exclusive to Amazon.  We wanted to reach readers where they're at, rather than requiring everyone to come to the 'Zon to get their books.  Not only was Amazon taking larger and larger cuts of our profits and placing restrictive rules around how we marketed and sold our products, but we felt like we were doing a disservice to readers who would prefer to have a choice on where they purchase their books. 

But that's not the biggest change.  In addition to moving back to all the major online retailers, we've also begun to sell them directly through our website. By selling directly we keep about 95% of the profits (more if PayPal is used instead of a credit card to make a purchase). On some books we only made 30% from Amazon.  By adding direct sales to our options, we can easily run specials for our newsletter subscribers, release the books earlier than they would be on other sites, and sell complete book bundles, which are the easiest and most convenient way to purchase them.

With over 50 books available in our store, I'm sure you'll find something to read. And by buying directly from us, your support means I can keep writing books for years to come.

Essentially, we want to provide options for readers.  This requires a lot more work on our end, maintaining multiple websites and our own store, but we believe that it will be better for readers in the long run.  We have other ideas about how to improve the experiences for everyone (we’re currently working to have paperback books available in our store for example), but we're not ready to roll those changes out just yet.  Just know we're constantly thinking about how to make things better, for you, the reader.  So, if you have ideas or comments, please make sure to send me a note at thomaskcarpenter@gmail.com

Amazon Job Listings Reference ‘New-To-World’ AR/VR Consumer Product

Amazon job listings reference a “new-to-world” AR/VR consumer product.

Spotted by Protocol, one listing explains “You will develop an advanced XR research concept into a magical and useful new-to-world consumer product” while another references “developing code for early prototypes through mass production.”

Another job listing describes the role as working on “the core system interface along with end-user applications spanning from multi-modal interfaces to 3D AR entertainment experiences”.

Protocol also spotted that in March Amazon hired Kharis O’Connell to lead a “Futures Design” group, described as “helping Amazon experience what it’s like to live in the future, today”. O’Connell once worked for the now defunct Meta View startup, and then worked on Google’s AR operating system.

Amazon is the only consumer tech giant with no announced or rumored AR or VR headset product. Meta has its Quest VR line and is working on AR glasses too. Microsoft has its HoloLens AR headsets. Multiple reliable sources claim Apple is working on a mixed reality headset, and The Verge reported Google is too.

The company currently sells “smart glasses” called Echo Frames, but these lack any display system or cameras – the use cases are talking to Alexa, taking calls, and playing music. It’s possible – even arguably likely – that Amazon intends to develop this product line into AR glasses in the long term future.

If you’ve got information to share with UploadVR you can email us via tips@uploadvr.com.