Amazon | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books


The Passive Guy alerted me to a big change in the way Amazon does book marketing. As Amy Collins of The Book Designer reports, starting today, Amazon is expanding its Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to include a wide range of book marketing tools previously unavailable to us, or only available to its bigger clients.

Here are the additional programs being made available:

“A+” Detail Pages

Want video, sample page shots, extra photos and other “juicy” offerings on your book’s page? Now you can have it! $600 gets you a LOT more on your detail page. The “A+” detail page is a deluxe detail page featuring advanced formatting and rich media content (detailed descriptions for example) to enrich the shopping experience for customers.

Pricing Discounts

Amazon is finally following Smashwords example and will now allow vendor-funded coupon links (available on the product detail page) to offer customers immediate discounts off of the Amazon selling price. YOU pay for the discount but this program allows you to offer sales and promotions during key peak periods. You can drive sales during heavy review and blogger appearances or during a big media hit.

Vine Reviews

Amazon reviews are becoming more and more important every month. And Amazon is being a lot more vigilant about deleting reviews that do not appear legitimate. Amazon Vine reviewers are a select but LARGE group of reviewers that have been “pre-approved” by Amazon and their reviews are given more weight.

You can either look up each Amazon Vine reviewer individually and ask if they would like a copy of your book to review or you can save all that time and hassle and pay $1500 to be offered to the Amazon Vine reviewers. It is a pretty hefty price tag, but if you want access to the entire VINE reviewer list in one easy, seamless program, you can invest in this program and let THEM handle all of the details.

Review Dashboard

The AMS dashboard will now include information on sales data and marketing ROI on each and every marketing tool you try, including these new ones.

My Take

The whole budget is $100 to enroll plus $600 for the A+ page (times the number of books you’ve published) plus a hefty $1,500 to join Vine reviews. So, and as far as I’m concerned, there are two ways to look at the news.

All in Favor…

One, to celebrate the fact that anyone now has access to the big guns that were so far only enjoyed by publishing houses. This can be seen as yet another way in which Amazon is making its impressive arsenal of marketing tools available to the little guy. In this view, Amazon is helping level the playing field further, while at the same time weeding out opportunistic authors of the write-a-book-and-get-rich-quick kind.

Also, by focusing on Vine reviewers, it helps Amazon in its continuing quest to get rid of unreliable reviews (more on that in an upcoming post). From the company’s point of view, making you pay for the privilege is a stroke of genius.

…All Against…

The second way of looking at the news is less favorable. The new AMS can be seen as yet another way to exploit Indies: pay up our exorbitant prices or no one will ever discover your book. In this view, Amazon is cynically extorting Indies and small publishers, while at the same time getting rid of the small fry that generate little to no income.

So, what do you think? Is Amazon further democratizing publishing by handing us the same tools it gives the big guys? Or has it priced book marketing beyond the means of most Indies?