When an author publishes a brand new edition of their book, or when they move their book from one publisher to another, or even when they get the rights back to their book and decide to self-publish, they are often frustrated to learn that Amazon will not remove the old version of their book from Amazon.com. Unless there is a copyright or trademark dispute, Amazon will leave a book up for eternity and they have legitimate (and legal) reasons for doing so.
CUSTOMER ORDER HISTORY
Amazon provides each customer with their own online account where they can access their order history. We were told by Amazon long ago that removing a book from their site will create errors in their customer accounts.
If a book is returned to Amazon for any reason (customer return or undeliverable package), they can reshelf that book and sell it later. Since they have already purchased this book, they have every right to try to resell it.
Amazon provides two different ways for buyers to order books:
Amazon-direct – This is when Amazon has a copy in stock, or will order a copy from Ingram, which will then ship directly to Amazon’s customer.
Resellers or “More Buying Choices” – These are what we refer to as reseller accounts. Amazon allows resellers to sell “new and used” copies of books directly from Amazon.com. However, there’s a secret behind this operation that many self-published authors don’t know. Some of these resellers don’t actually have physical copies of many (or any) of the recently published books they list in stock. Instead, they have an Ingram account. If somebody clicks to buy a “new or used” copy from them, they will then order the book from Ingram. They’re simply businesses trying to get a cut of Amazon’s action.
The worst part about the reseller listings is that many of these individuals/companies don’t seem to care about keeping their listings current. Long after a book goes out of print, somebody can still click to order the book. However, days or even weeks later, if the reseller did not have a copy in stock, the customer will get an email from the reseller, saying they can’t obtain the book from their supplier (or other words to that effect). The customer may get so upset that they abandon their pursuit of the book altogether. This is frustrating for the author because they have a potentially delayed, and likely lost, sale. However, contacting these resellers and trying to get them to remove or update a listing can be futile. There are just too many of them now and, with potentially thousands of listings in their “virtual inventory”, some just don’t care about keeping those listings current.
“But I Didn’t Get Paid For Those USED Books!!”
Many authors complain when they see used copies of their book for sale for which they have not received royalties. They haven’t received royalties because many of these books have not yet been printed and sold, per the previous paragraph. I get this question from so many authors (who are concerned their publishers are ripping them off) that I had to create a stock answer for them, which I copy and paste into reply emails.
“BUT I DON’T WANT AMAZON TO DIRECT-SELL THE COPIES THEY **DO** HAVE!”
You may be frustrated knowing that, when your readers search Amazon for your book, they’re seeing two different versions for sale – the old and the new. And, you may want Amazon to stop direct-selling copies they have in stock. If Amazon has one or a few copies of your book on their shelves, and you don’t want your book to show up as available directly through Amazon (for immediate shipment), you can buy those copies from Amazon to clear their inventory. You will probably need your publisher to contact them to determine how many copies Amazon has. After Amazon ships the books, your book should then only show up under the reseller accounts. The good news is, some people don’t want to provide their personal information to Amazon’s resellers, and will not order from them. They may then go looking for your book elsewhere.
WHAT CAN I DO?
If you are moving your book elsewhere, or publishing a new edition altogether, you should add SECOND EDITION in large, bold type to the end of title itself – wherever it will appear in bookstore or distributor systems. If you do this, customers looking for your book on Amazon (and other sites) will see both listings, but will instantly know which one is the most current. You can see an example HERE.
There have been occasions when Amazon has kept a book listing active without having any copies in stock. When this happens, their actions are similar to the resellers. They will accept the customer’s order, but will contact that customer days or weeks later, claiming they can’t get the book from their supplier. At this point, Amazon will usually (but not always!) remove the Amazon-direct listing from their site.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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