Prerelease orders, also known as pre-orders, allow fans to reserve an advance copy of an item, usually a book or video game, before it goes on sale. Authors have a vested stake in pre-orders because they build anticipation for the title, often leading to a higher sales rank.
Until very recently, they were not available to indies August 14, 2015 Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing announced that it now offers prerelease orders on independently published eBooks for the Kindle. In doing so, it joins Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo who have offered indie pre-orders through the distributor Smashwords since July 27, 2013.
Some local indie authors have expressed excitement about this new development.
“Amazon just made it possible for indie authors to include pre-orders in their book launches,” said San Francisco author Emerian Rich. “This is something we've been waiting a long time for and it's just one more way Amazon helps us stay competitive with the old dinosaurs that still want to charge readers astronomical rates for eBooks.”
For technologically savvy indies with a strong internet and social media presence like Rich, pre-orders have tremendous potential. Rich has more than half a dozen titles to her name, produces podcasts and audio books, hosts an internet radio show on HorrorAddicts.net, and is currently in third place for Best Book Boyfriend in the IndieReCon awards contest.
Online pre-orders ship directly to the customer, who will receive the book or game in the mail close to its release date, and avoid waiting in long lines in crowded stores. For manufacturers, this is a way to anticipate demand and ensure that there will be an adequate number of books or games on the shelves. This is the case with hardcover book pre-orders, something not currently available to independently published authors.
Not all local indie authors are as enthusiastic about the new development.
For authors like Serena Toxicat, who takes a local approach to marketing and sells most of her titles the old fashioned way: as paperbacks, this development is of negligible value. It can seem to be yet another difficult to learn and hard to navigate technological development. Toxicat, lead singer of the catwave band Protea, sells her books through local brick and mortar stores, or during her musical performances and book readings.
When asked if she would use the new pre-order systems, Oakland author Serena Toxicat said, “I’ll try.”