In starting our new publishing company we looked hard at what Amazon costs a small publisher, and what it provides in return. We decided it wasn't worth it; that we would be better off on our own.
To sell our titles, Amazon would require a discount of 55% or even 60%, that's $11 or $12 on a $20 book. Amazon would use some of this money to discount the book to its customers -- that's what gives it its edge. If, as a publisher, you try matching their reduced price, Amazon will insist your new, lower price is the basis for their discount, so they can cut their price still further. That makes it pretty much impossible for you to compete with direct sales to your customers.
For their very substantial take on a book, Amazon will rarely do more than simply make it available. Rather than going out and finding customers, it waits for them to come to it. And, of course, plenty do -- Amazon.com received 615 million visits in 2008; the company has 50 million customers annually.
Colin Robinson of OR Books on their reasons for not selling through Amazon (Huffington Post March 22)