We have all heard stories of artists going to extremes to sell and promote their work — the musician selling CDs from the trunk of their car, the filmmaker who mortgages a house to pay for film distribution, the writer typing at a desk in the middle of Times Square.
Without the backing of a big publishing house, film studio, or record label, content creators have long struggled to sell their work to a wider audience. Today, digitization and the Internet have made self-publishing easier; however, the full process of promoting, selling, and distributing physical copies can still be difficult, time-consuming, and financially risky.
Understanding Amazon Advantage
Amazon Advantage levels the playing field. It is a hassle-free, low-cost program that allows content owners and providers to efficiently sell physical copies of their work through Amazon. Amazon will list, promote, and sell these works without requiring a sizeable inventory. In fact, the minimum commitment is two units per title.
That means a writer or indie film studio can create the minimum number of books or DVDs needed to test demand and ship them to Amazon. Each seller is paid after Amazon makes a sale, much like a consignment store.
Program Benefits – Beyond Minimal Inventory
Always open, Amazon is the world’s leading e-commerce platform with tens of millions of shoppers. Amazon Advantage offers content providers and creators this massive exposure along with algorithmic optimization. Amazon’s algorithms are engineered to find who is likely to buy a product, even if it is niche or specialized. In addition, the product detail pages for Amazon Advantage items perform identically to Amazon’s own inventory pages — so all the benefits of auto-merchandising, customer discounting, and marketing placement logistics apply. Plus, Amazon handles all payment, shipping, returns, and customer service issues. If those benefits were not enough, Amazon Advantage is completely non-exclusive. Ambitious content creators or providers can sell on Amazon and elsewhere.
Amazon Advantage in Practice
Direct Release: No more rejection letters. No more years of waiting for a deal. Independent content creators, like authors, musicians, and filmmakers, can go straight to market with their new work. They can also sell that work efficiently while avoiding the time-consuming tasks of handling sales, customer service, and Amazon promotions.
Disrupting Economies of Scale: Generally, in the film and music industries, CDs and DVDs will not be distributed in wholesale channels unless there’s popular demand. Amazon Advantage, therefore, lets independent musicians, filmmakers, labels, and studios circumvent these limitations to reach a larger audience.
Expanding a Catalog: Smaller record labels, studios, and publishers can expand their catalogs through Amazon Advantage. After achieving success with one title, content providers can incrementally scale up by testing demand for others.
How It Works
Joining Amazon Advantage requires online enrollment and account setup. With an active account, sellers can start listing items. To note, a seller must have a valid legal title to distribute titles through Amazon Advantage.
From there, Amazon will automatically begin ordering titles listed in the account. Items must be shipped in accordance with Amazon’s shipping requirements. While typical orders are once a week, Amazon may later change its order rate or quantities to keep up with demand and any anticipated interest.
Items appear as “In-Stock” on its Amazon.com product page. Since Amazon is fulfilling these orders, they are eligible for Prime and Super Saver Shipping.
- Single Copy Magazines
- Vinyl LP Records
- Video Games
Amazon Advantage does not accept subscription-based items like magazines or journals and digital content, like ebooks and MP3 downloads. It is also not for selling used books or books for which a seller does not have the North American distribution rights.
- North American distribution rights for any titles you enroll
- Access to email
- Access to the Internet
- A U.S. Bank Account (for electronic funds transfers; you do not need a U.S. bank account to receive paper checks)
- A valid ISBN, UPC, or EAN for each of your items
- A scannable barcode on each of your items which maps to the valid ISBN, UPC, or EAN
Amazon Advantage costs $99 a year; with membership, a seller can enroll unlimited titles, access Amazon’s Vendor Services team, and manage their account from the Vendor web site. Advantage members are also liable for the cost of shipping items to Amazon. Since Amazon’s inventory orders are presumably defined by demand, there are no FBA storage or inventory fees.
The seller chooses the list price first. It must be less than $1,000 and at or below what is set in sales channels outside of Amazon. While special terms are available for titles of a medical, scholarly, or technical nature, the standard payout terms are Amazon keeps 55% of the sale while the Advantage vendor keeps 45%. Ultimately, Amazon will choose the price to sell an item and frequently discounts items. In that case, the difference comes out of their share, not the seller’s.
For example, an author will make $5.85 for a book that sells at $12.99 while Amazon will make $7.14. Payments go out at the end of the month after the month in which the product is sold. If that book sold in March, the author will receive payment at the end of April. Overall, the author would need to sell at least 16 copies of this book to cover the $99 membership, although that doesn’t account for the cost of shipping inventory to Amazon.
Amazon has rewritten more than the rules of retail success. They have defied the corporate tastemakers and gatekeepers who have long determined who gets to be an author, musician, and filmmaker. In the same vein, they have also disrupted the economies of scale underlying much of the distribution of this physical work. With Amazon Advantage, content creators and providers can efficiently put their work in front of millions with the full weight of Amazon behind them.