Amazon’s Actions Lead To Angry Readers, And May Have Killed My Sponsorship Deal! By Wendy Lou Jones

Amazon’s Actions Lead To Angry Readers, And May Have Killed My Sponsorship Deal! By Wendy Lou Jones
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In the beginning (about 1995), a tiny Amazon was focused on becoming the biggest book seller ever. To thrive in that early ‘wild west’ shark tank called the Internet, it quickly moved beyond its initial focus of books. Fast forward past the turn of the millennium and Amazon has arguably become the largest seller of anything and everything, A to Z. (Oh, did I mention they still sell books?)

For those of us whose books are listed on the infinite Amazon platform, working with a ‘900-pound gorilla’ has not always been easy. Small press publishers and authors alike have occasionally had to listen to the temper tantrums of that engorged beast as it flexed its muscles (searching for more bananas, no doubt). As the owner of RK books, I have experienced things that can only be described as ‘Amazon issues’ with one of our titles.

My company was licensed the rights from Davis/Panzer Productions (Hollywood), and Studiocanal Ltd. (London) to create a new ‘Highlander Imagine’ universe from the original Highlander TV series (1992-98). The first paperback book, ‘Highlander Imagine: For Love’s Sake’, was released in May, 2015. It retailed for $17.57.

From the get go, Amazon was an issue. Our Highlander Imagine Facebook site chat box soon lit up with complaints that Amazon had not fulfilled book orders for weeks. This was inexplicable. Barnes & Noble confirmed they had books, and had been fulfilling orders from day one. A call to Amazon resulted in a text-book reply: ‘We’ll ship as soon as we can get books…’ But, there was never any problem with Amazon receiving books from my supplier!

Our Facebook members were urged to cancel their orders from Amazon, and reorder from BarnesandNoble.com. Several fans did switch and they quickly received their books. For one of our men in uniform, stationed in Okinawa, I personally shipped an autographed copy (no charge to him) as he was still waiting for his Amazon order after almost twelve weeks! Eventually, Amazon actually began shipping and life went on.

The next big surprise from Amazon came at the worst possible time.

Early in 2016, I was in California meeting with potential sponsoring companies for the Highlander Imagine Series while the second book, ‘Highlander Imagine: Beyond Infinity,’ was being prepared for release. Amongst other things, I was asking the sponsors to carry this title physically as well as in their on-line catalog (at a discount from me, naturally). Pulling up the information for the first title, ‘Highlander Imagine: For Love’s Sake,’ on an Amazon site brought a shock I was not prepared for. What we both saw killed the deal – a jaw-dropping price of around $3 per copy! The immediate comeback by my (now lost) sponsor was, ‘…I can’t compete with this price…’ and that was the end of the meeting.

I called Amazon, but received a reply which went something like this: ‘We can choose to offer our titles at any discount … this will not affect our payment to the supplier…’

“Oh, great,” I thought, “how can I take advantage of this ‘rock bottom’ discount?” I quickly discovered they only allowed one book per customer at this price. There was nothing I could do but fume at Amazon. This low price persisted for a little while longer before finally returning to normal but the damage had already been done.

While it may seem wonderful to recline in the cooling shade of a massive on-line gorilla, it is wise to keep a watchful eye out for where those occasional banana peels land.

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Professional speaker, and actress, Wendy Jones has held professional positions in the USA, Canada, and Austria.  The author of numerous books, journal and trade magazine articles, the genera includes scientific and lay-magazines as well as books – fiction and non-fiction. Works can be found in: Journal of Single Cell Biology, Medicinal Foods, Renal Nutrition, Bio-Techniques and Immunogenic; the former iSeries Weekly, and e-Business Quarterly, Midrange Computing, and Showcase Magazine; the pioneering renal demineralization book series: Food Fuel Fitness and More Bio-fuel Less Bio-waste; as well as fiction series – Golden Downs, and Jerimy. Wendy also holds patents in plant science and scientific research devices in the USA.

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5 Responses to "Amazon’s Actions Lead To Angry Readers, And May Have Killed My Sponsorship Deal! By Wendy Lou Jones"

  1. Helene Pulacu  August 12, 2016 at 7:43 am

    This must have hurt!!!

    • Wendy Lou Jones  August 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm

      NO KIDDING!
      You want to see pain — just spend a month getting an appointment to see the president of a large company (related to your title), handshakes and ‘elevator pitch’ done and the computers open. Now your are warmed up for the punch — and the unbelievable happens! A price so low shows up on Amazon that you can’t even believe they could ship um’ for that.
      AND, after giving your best discount — which was 3X higher than what was on the screen, you look like a complete fool.
      The meeting ended 45 seconds later with the president leaving without a word.
      I could have shot Amazon for their horrible trick.

  2. Barbara a Martin  August 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    I’m confused. When you say your books are listed on Amazon, does that mean you created a listing on Amazon of your book and a POD printer prints and ships the book when one is ordered or do you have your books printed by an offset printer and ship a quantity of books to Amazon? Which Amazon then ships when an order comes in.

    Can Amazon manipulate your price when you physically send your books to them? And would that be one way to avoid that problem in the future? I’d like to know that answer.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  August 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      Barbara,

      Wendy Lou Jones’ most recent book in the series was published by Abuzz Press, a hybrid publisher, which we own, that does not charge setup fees to authors. See: http://www.AbuzzPress.com.

      Amazon can price a book at whatever price they choose, regardless of the recommend list price you give them. See:

      Why Does Amazon Have My Book Listed At A Fraction Of The List Price?!
      http://writersweekly.com/ask-the-expert/why-does-amazon-have-my-book-listed-at-a-fraction-of-the-list-price

      – Angela Hoy
      WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com

    • Wendy Lou Jones  August 22, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Angela aptly answered the question of ‘listing on Amazon’.

      I could not believe the discount that was (temporarily) on my title. The real issue was their horrible timing of this act.
      I was visiting a major company, with products related to my title (bladed weapons). I had literally just sat down with the president — and this came up ending the meeting in 45 seconds!
      I felt that Amazon just waited until that moment to pull something like this on me (my imagination, of course).
      But seriously — I am dealing with Hollywood — you don’t need this when you are trying to build relationships out there.