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Entering a global marketplace made easy – Amazon publishing part 3

The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

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Juho Jutila



We have published two previous blog posts on Amazon Kindle. In the first one, we described how the service has the potential to change the industry value chain. In the second one, we introduced the Direct Publishing process through a case example of our own content. In this blog, we examine a case example of someone following this idea and publishing content of their own. It turns out it is even more straightforward than we originally thought!

We had the honour of interviewing International Consultant and Author Paavo Harju. He wanted to make his writings available to anyone interested and was keen on trying Kindle's on-demand printing. We will begin by introducing the case and continue by sharing the story of the author.

A flexible distribution channel for both digital and print

Amazon offers an on-demand printing service for Kindle-formatted content. It means that whenever someone orders a hard copy of a book, Amazon prints and ships it, and then subtracts the printing costs from the royalties. Authors do not have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory. You can define how the cover looks and decide if you want to offer a paperback or a hardcover format. A limited amount of proof or author copies can also be ordered at printing cost. This is useful if you want to see how the hard copy looks and feels after the physical reproduction process. It's a neat package that works quite well.

We got our hands on an actual hard copy itself. It checks all the marks necessary. The glue binding is neat, the printing is crispy clear, the cutting is sharp, and the paper is quite sufficient. Publishing tools are very easy to use and work pretty much in line with modern editors that show you how the outcome will look like (It's called WYSIWYG, or What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get).

Amazon offers an editor called Kindle Create. They also support importing the most common file formats. The process and tools are so easy that they should not be a barrier for anyone to use.

Instead of generating revenue, the author's primary interest was to establish a distribution channel and try something new. The traditional route via a publishing house did not feel like a fit for this purpose. The book was made available on Amazon with just minor support from a copywriter. Kindle and paperback versions were made available. The digital copy was priced at around three dollars so that anyone with a sufficient interest could access it. The paperbacks were aimed at those who prefer a physical copy and for the Author's own distribution.

We were told that a small experiment with Amazon Marketing Services revealed that audiences in the US or Germany are not that interested in material based on data collected in Finland. The value of Kindle Direct Publishing becomes in this case through the distribution mechanism that Amazon offers.

The process shows that publishing a physical book and reaching a global distribution network is rather easy. However, it stresses the importance of the overall sales process: the possibility to buy an item is only a prerequisite for sales. Reaching a global audience would need marketing efforts. Even reaching visibility on Amazon's own platform might not be possible without using Amazon Marketing Services or marketing outside Amazon.


An author with an exceptional track record

We had the honour of interviewing a gentleman who contacted us after reading our description of the Kindle Direct Publishing process. After a brief discussion, he chose to go without an external agency. He used help from people nearby him with some additional professional copywriting. He did go all the way and tried Amazon's Print on Demand and even experimented with Amazon Marketing Services within Kindle.

Paavo Harju has a career spanning over sixty years behind him. He's currently pushing ninety and offers a good discussion on global trends. He has a heartwarming sense of humour and a positive outlook on life. His track record spans from financial planning and management to sales and all the way to academic work. He has seen multiple industries and functions in several countries. The highlights from his vast experience were illustrated through stories of how he started as a salesman in Helsinki and learnt by doing what results in sales and what does not. He also offered some advice to us when asked. According to him, a good salesperson must first know the products and services, and then customers and their needs. Without that there will be no competitive fit. On top of all of this, a good salesperson should never forget to bring a smile with them.

His history is impressive. Among other things, he has worked with international companies, gotten a Master's degree while having an office job, done academic research and teaching, and been consulted by various companies worldwide. The software business is a more recent interest of his, and part of the story of his publication. The publication at hand is actually based on five previous research initiatives. It has 130 literature reviews behind it that he tested on software startup entrepreneurs. The result was a model with 81 things that need to be put into order to create circumstances for success. It is meant as advice to software startups.

There were many takeaways from the interview. The one that resonated with us was a statement saying that the writing itself was an enlightening process. The model and thinking emerged during the process. Writing helps in mental processing and clarifies one's own thinking.

If you are interested, you can check out Paavo Harju's work here.

The Data Handbook

How to use data to improve your customer journey and get better business outcomes in digital sales. Interviews, use cases, and deep-dives.

Get the book