What Does Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery Mean for the Book Industry?

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Amazon.com has been both a benefit and a drawback to us over the years. Yes, two-day shipping is great, plus you can find pretty much anything on their site. At the same time, local and family owned businesses are losing out on much-needed support and customers. Shopping local is also better for the environment.

Over the years, Amazon.com has tried to introduce same-day delivery service, and while this has worked in some places, it’s always been understood that geographically, they can’t be in all places at once. But when it comes to book deliveries, that might not be the case anymore.

In an interview with with Book Business, Jon Conley, the CEO of Borderland Advisors who has been in the printing and book industry for 42 years, detailed what exactly Amazon same-day delivery service would mean for the standard model of getting books published – effecting everything from the publishers house, to the printing, to the distribution centers.

Amazon distribution center. Image courtesy of thestate.com

The way Conley looks at it, we have the ability to make deliveries on the same day as the order placed; we have print engines capable of producing the volume needed; now, Amazon.com just needs to name what kind of service level will be needed to ensure same day delivery. The definition of service level, he says,  “will create a whole new set of opportunities for a lot of people.” Those people aren’t necessarily going to be the same people who are currently delivering the books; instead, it will create room for other people to come in and try to meet amazon.com’s requirements for same day delivery.

Another aspect of that Conley looked at was the printing centers: Amazon.com would have to consider whether or not they would be willing to build the printing centers themselves. Or, he argued, they could go for the more economically stable option: get partners. The printing company Lightning Source has held a long-standing contract with Amazon.com for years, and while Lightning Source is a good partner – they have the IT, they have the right print knowledge, and they have locations – same day delivery would mean that they would have to be almost everywhere at once, something that no one’s quite sure they can do.

Amazon distribution center in Seattle. Image courtesy of seattletimes.com

What this all means, is that if Amazon.com does create same-day delivery service, there will be a vacuum not only when it comes to delivery services, but also printing services, and the standard models that we have won’t work. Publishers who want to sell on Amazon.com will have to go to other printing companies, who will in turn go through different delivery services. This promises promises to shake up the usual methods of operation, in every section of publishing.

While Amazon.com currently offers same day delivery, it’s only for certain geographic locations where they can ensure that deliveries will be made on time. As for whether or not they will move forward with same-day delivery, it remains to be seen what the effects would be on the publishing industry, printing companies, delivery services, and local businesses.

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Rachel Fogle De Souza was born and raised in Connecticut, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, parts of Asia, and the United States, before attending college at the University of California, Davis, where she received a B.A. in Comparative Literature, with a double minor in Women, Gender and Sexualities studies, and Middle Eastern/South Asian studies. When she's not writing, she's reading, boxing, or thinking about traveling.

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