Important info, from Aaron Shepard’s blog:
Over the past month or two (or three?), Amazon.com has quietly been letting its stock of many Lightning Source books dwindle and disappear. It has then been assigning most of those out-of-stock books an availability status of 2-3 weeks. In more rare instances, a book shows no direct availability from Amazon at all.
This is very different from how Amazon has operated in the past. For some time now, Amazon has kept substantial stock on hand for all books that sold even marginally—about three weeks worth, the last times I tested it. More importantly, though, Lightning books out of stock at Amazon have still been listed as “in stock” with an availability status of 1-2 days. This has been based on Amazon’s practice of drop shipping such books from Ingram Book Company, as well as on Lightning’s ability to supply Ingram with the required books overnight. But Amazon apparently now feels that its drop shipping arrangement with Ingram is no longer essential or economical.
The situation has become more obvious as more and more Lightning books have gone out of stock. (I would have seen it much earlier myself if Amazon had not carelessly torpedoed Sales Rank Express some months ago.) Though some small publishers still cling to the hope that this is all due to a glitch, the chance of that seems less and less likely.
Lightning Source is aware of the problem, to the extent that it has developed a stock answer for reps to supply to client publishers:
“We are aware that Amazon has changed the availability of some LSI titles resulting in 1-3 week delivery status. Currently, we are continuing to look into the issue and are evaluating our options to address it. We will update you as soon as we have more information.”
Meanwhile, Amazon has started to issue this caveat to inquiring publishers:
“Please note that making your titles available through a wholesale vendor and/or distributor does not guarantee an ‘In Stock’ availability message on our site.”
The result of all this is that small publishers are seeing sales of some titles dwindle or even plummet due to poor availability.
Personally, my LSI novel is still in stock without the 55% discount, which Shepard recommends later in the post. So this is developing…
About the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.