creativeonion Press’ in-house inventory and fulfillment desk.

Please stop buying your sh*t from Amazon. Love, Indie Publishing.

It’s not Amazon that’s killing our profit margin: it’s customers.

marjorie steele
5 min readAug 25, 2021


Let me tell you a little story from my life, as an indie book publisher.

*spoiler alert:* It’s about how Amazon fucks over small business. I know: shocking.

Let’s start by pointing out that when I, as a publisher, sell books through Amazon (as I must, to survive in the market today), Amazon takes 55% of my profit out of the gates. 55% is the maximum distributor discount in the industry, so naturally it’s Amazon’s required rate for publishers. Other distributors, such as book chains, intermediary distributors, and independent book stores accept sometimes as low as 40%. But Amazon requires 55%. You don’t HAVE to give Amazon a 55% discount on your books, as a publisher. You can, instead, choose not to have your titles listed through Amazon. Which isn’t much of a choice, considering that’s where most people not only buy, but also review books these days.

When we, on the other hand, sell our books directly from our own website and fulfill the orders ourselves, we don’t have to offer a distributor discount, because we are the distributor. In other words: instead of 55% of our profit margin being taken off the top, we have 0%, with a few minimal backend administrative maintenance fees.

tl;dr — we make 55% more profit when people buy our books directly from us than we do when people buy them from Amazon.

That’s a lot of my profit margin to give to a company that treats its workers like shit. It pains me to think about.

But that’s just the numbers. Take a peek into the nightmare of logistics that is publishing through Amazon.

When I order proofs for my book, it’s the same step as effectively publishing it. When I hit the “distribute” button to upload my final files to print, it also lists the title as available to major distributors. This is the really nerve-wracking part of the game, for me as creative director and publisher, because I have to pray all my artwork and files are 100% correct, order proofs, wait for them to arrive, then upload any final revisions I have ASAP and pray that no distributors have ordered the pre-edited copies…



marjorie steele

poet, educator, hillbilly gnostic pagan. teaching business to designers.