Cutting off Amazon
The New York Times’ David Streitfeld has a profile of Tulsa-based publisher Educational Development Corporation, which in February pulled its 1,800 children’s books off of Amazon. (A move discussed in a previous MobyLives report.)
Randall White, EDC’s chief executive, tells the Times that “Amazon is squeezing everyone out of business… I don’t like that. They’re a predator. We’re better off without them.”
The move is expected to cost EDC $1.5 million a year, about 6 percent of the company’s annual revenue.
EDC is unusual in that it chiefly sells through a network of consultants, described by the Times as “a direct sales force of about 7,000 women.”
“Sales more than doubled from 2000 to 2004,” but:
In recent years, though, the consultants have found it rough going. They would pass around a picture book like “The Noisy Body Book” or “Guess How Much I Miss You,” talking it up, and then the customer would order it online. Sales fell about 20 percent. Frustrated consultants began quitting.
What happened in February to Christy Reed, a sales consultant in Pleasanton, Tex., was becoming all too routine. Her school district decided to order 16 copies of a science encyclopedia and a science dictionary but then completed the deal on Amazon.
“I worked so hard to sell those books,” Mrs. Reed said. “I had to talk to so many different people. Then I lost the sale to a couple of clicks on the computer.”
She acknowledged that the district saved a few dollars but added: “I’m here, in the neighborhood. I went to school here. My kids went to school here. Yes, they got the books for less. But my earnings go back into our community. Amazon’s do not.”
For now, the company seems to be stable: In March, sales were even up slightly, and executive Randall White is optimistic: “I’m Type A… I don’t mind a fight.”
Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.