walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

A Bit More about EDC/Amazon

Laura Hazard Owen over at PaidContent.org has an excellent article about EDC's decision:


Ms. Owen noted that you can actually still buy a lot of EDC/Usborne books over at Amazon, and asked them about it. Part of the quoted response is:

"As for the 457 titles I saw, Lynn said, “Amazon, I believe, pulls new book info from Bowker, and then lists books, whether they have them —or can get them—or not. Not much we can do about the listing, but they won’t be filling the orders.”"

First, I want to be clear. Ms. Owen did some great journalism here. She went to Amazon to find out what was still available for sale. She checked back with the publisher. She described the direct sales operation and how that would limit the validity of comparing EDC's decision to some arbitrarily chosen publisher. I have zero complaints about Ms. Owen's work.

But Kira Lynn made two distinct errors, one of which is important. The unimportant error is believing that Amazon gets their catalog information from Bowker.

Here's what Bowker says on the subject:


"ONIX conversion and distribution to parties that are not already Bowker customers, such as Amazon, Baker & Taylor, and Ingram Book Company."

That sentence actually makes me laugh really, really hard and I'm probably not allowed to explain why. But I'm fairly certain that even a completely in-the-dark person could conclude that Amazon's catalog is not built using Bowker data.

The important error is a deep misunderstanding of detail page availability information. Amazon did indeed list books where there was some uncertainty about fulfillment. But those books never had an "in stock" availability on the detail page. And at this point in time, if Amazon is listing something as "in stock", I'm reasonably certain it means that it is sitting in one of _their_ distribution centers. If you know otherwise, I'd be interested to hear about it. In any event, there are still lots of books on Amazon that are Usborne published and listed as "In Stock". EDC may think they aren't selling books on Amazon any more. I think they're wrong. However, they might become right as the existing stock moves off the shelves.

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