A Bestselling Author’s Standpoint on Amazon’s Entry in India

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Harsh Snehanshu

Harsh Snehanshu

Harsh Snehanshu is a former entrepreneur and author of 4 books. His latest book Because Shit Happened: What NOT to do in a start-up traces the story of a failed start-up, and was published in 2012. This book still tops the charts at popular ecommerce stores.

This is a reblog about his standpoint on Amazon’s entry in India:

Amazon was launched yesterday; a wait that I – as a technologist, ex-entrepreneur and an author – had been desperately hoping to get over as soon as it can. And it did.

I have fond memories with Amazon, especially in relation to Quora. I began my Quora “career” by answering one question about Junglee’s strategic advantage for Amazon, where I speculated its entry, its game-plan, its strategy with Junglee.

The reason why I’m happy with Amazon’s entry has less to do with my technology and entrepreneurial background, but more to do with my being an author. The Indian e-commerce space delving into books was more or less saturated and price points were almost fixed before Amazon launched itself yesterday. If Flipkart sold a book at x rupees, Homeshop18 or Landmarkonthenet will sell it at approximately (x-10) rupees – and thus the race went on. Since Homeshop18 etc weren’t able to compete with Flipkart in books, they had nullified the shipping cost to acquire price-governed users. I don’t know how much of that helped them, since the customer being price-sensitive would never be loyal to them.

The bestselling books on these sites, especially on Flipkart, were pre-defined not only because of humongous volumes sold but also because of a lot of influence and money-pumping by publishers as well as authors who opted for advertisements of their books on Flipkart, targeting the heart of the book-buying market. Consider this:

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                                          Snapshot from Flipkart

Right now, the advertisement-space on the right shows Flipkart’s own ad, but till a month ago, almost on all the individual pages of books, you would have observed a particular book listed on the side-advertisement space – most of you would remember a book called Tantra by Adi by a debut author being advertised on that space till about a month ago. Ethically, there is nothing wrong with this – but what a particular book’s explicit advertisement on a site as popular as Flipkart does is that it accelerates its sales, and authors and publishers, who don’t have deep pockets suffer because of them, which is tad unfair especially when the buyers are majorly influenced by the featured bestsellers on the site. The fact that sales on flipkart can be influenced via flipkart doesn’t go down well with me, because it loses the essence of its bestseller list. [pullquote align=”right”]The chief reason why I’m happy about the advent of Amazon – it has bred a new bestseller’s list – which is hourly updated which you can see on their website unlike Flipkart where humongous volumes that were sold in the past don’t allow new books to climb up the bestseller ladder.[/pullquote]

And that’s the chief reason why I’m happy about the advent of Amazon – it has bred a new bestseller’s list – which is hourly updated which you can see on their website unlike Flipkart where humongous volumes that were sold in the past don’t allow new books to climb up the bestseller ladder. And I’m hoping, unlike Flipkart, Amazon will stick to Amazon.com’s philosophy of editor’s picks, instead of Flipkart-like commercial advertising-based recommendations.

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I hope that Amazon’s entry brings out the good books languishing in absence of marketing resources by authors-without-deep-pockets, like me, who have remained hidden from the mainstream crowd and their reach is broadened. It’s true that marketing is very important for books – but for marketing, you need money and for an author, that money comes only when your book sells on its own, which takes time, a lot of time.

By the way, I am happy to inform that my book is doing well. You might like to check: Because Shit Happened: What Not To Do In A Start-up, which traces the real-life story of a failed start-up.

It’s currently on the number 4 of Amazon’s “Business, Strategy & Management” bestsellers category. (http://www.amazon.in/Because-Shi…)

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Credits: Author Image