What Amazon has done to reshape the publishing industry as a whole is nothing short of miraculous. The launch of the Kindle line of e-readers sparked a revolution in reading, just as the launch of KDP self-publishing completely revamped how books even come into being. Of course, Amazon has branched out in countless ways, offering everything from toilet paper to original content for television since the days when it first sold only books.
Early on in its major publishing reshaping efforts, novelists did quite well with KDP, but there were whole hosts of book creators who were left out in the cold. Full-color content like children’s books or cookbooks, art books that rely on intensity of images, even the pen-and-ink graphic novelists were late to the self-publishing game because the platform wasn’t well suited to their publishing needs. Now that those concerns have modestly been addressed and authors of that type of content are included in the self-publishing realm, there’s a whole new angle to publishing that Amazon seeks to support: the homemade arts-and-crafts crowd.
Wait, isn’t that what Etsy is for?
Brooklyn-based Etsy, a web portal that gives crafters a platform from which to sell their creations, is being challenged by the Everything Store’s new option among rumors of the launch of Amazon Handmade. First reported on Etsy message boards by users who’d been contacted with an interest survey and then reported in news outlets, Handmade could stand to do for home crafters and mompreneurs what KDP did for self-published authors.
As it stands now, there are some interesting dynamics that may support or thwart Amazon’s latest venture. Just on the surface, it’s interesting that a lot of Etsy crafters purchase their supplies online from sites like Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and yes, even Amazon, and under the Handmade storefront, those customers could purchase their supplies and then turn around and sell them back through the same platform where they themselves bought the goods. What else stands in the way of Amazon’s possible venture is the seller fees; while Amazon arguably reaches an exponentially larger audience of consumers than Etsy, their seller fees are much higher. In order for Handmade to take off in a big way, crafters would not only need to be lured away from the sense of community they find in Etsy, they would have to be offered a sweeter deal in terms of seller fees. If Amazon lowers the seller fees for craft-based businesses, would they then have to lower the seller fees for, say, a bicycle gadgets seller like Bike2Power?
One thing authors can teach crafters in this regard is that it doesn’t pay to ignore the massive customer base that Amazon carries. While it’s nice to imagine sellers sticking it out with Etsy out of a sense of loyalty, that would be akin to the authors who refused to sell their titles on Amazon–remaining loyal to selling through B&N, Apple, Smashwords, or their own or independent websites–out of a sense of protest against the retail giant. It doesn’t profit them in the long run to cut out the world’s largest book buying audience, but at least they get to feel smug.