Authors from a variety of publishers ask me this question ALL THE TIME and, frankly, I’m tired of answering it. So, after I post this, I will simply give this link to people who ask. It’s unfortunate that these authors’ publishers don’t explain this in detail to their authors when their contracts are terminated. It would save so many authors a lot of stress.
Here’s an edited version of one such email:
Have you had any success in getting Amazon to “take-down/remove” a copyright-illegal, out of print, “no royalties to author upon third party sales,” book at Amazon?
The 2006 edition of my book is still on Amazon. The 2016 edition has the exact same title.
Both I and the former, original publisher have legally instructed/ordered Amazon to void their website of all images/references to the 2006 edition.
Four or five days ago, Amazon’s copyright/legal department “declined” to observe copyright law. The 2006 edition is “still there” and it looks like Amazon will not remove it. Indeed, Amazon-legal is not even responding to emails and faxes now (and, when they did, it was a one-time “declined” response,
which took 10 days to arrive).
Any thoughts here? Do you have any “pull” (or even contacts) at
Amazon or did your lawsuit sour things totally here?
I looked at your book page on their site. Amazon isn’t selling the book directly to buyers. The are allowing resellers to list the book.
Any bookstore (online or brick and mortar) and any reseller/individual/distributor/wholesaler can sell used copies of a book. The “new” copies you’re seeing on your book’s page on Amazon likely don’t even exist. Only if somebody orders a copy from that reseller would they then attempt to order a copy from your publisher. Of course, they can’t get a copy and they would then have to notify their buyer that the book isn’t available.
Anybody with an Ingram account (like the resellers listing it on Amazon) can pick up Ingram’s feed, and can list the book for sale on Amazon, or anywhere else, including sites like ebay. By the way, I checked and your book IS for sale on Ebay as well.
Many of those resellers have thousands of books for sale and they really don’t care if a book is later inactivated. They also don’t appear to care about the accuracy of their listings since there are countless errors appearing on Amazon.
Since Amazon isn’t selling your book directly to customers, they’re not violating copyright law. They’re simply allowing other folks to list/sell used books on their website. Again, that doesn’t violate copyright law.
Amazon would likely remove the book if somebody else was selling your book under their name (meaning a different person’s name was on the cover, inside the book, etc.). THAT would definitely be copyright infringement. Amazon’s legal folks are probably ignoring you now because they know they’re not violating copyright law. What they’re doing is perfectly legal. You’re a bee in their bonnet…and there are a LOT of bees in their bonnet. Since they know they’re not doing anything wrong, they don’t need to take any action. Believe me – they hear from disgruntled authors all the time. If they’re falsely accused of something, they’re not likely going to pay their attorneys to keep responding to that author. They likely respond to authors’ attorneys but not many authors can afford to pay an attorney each time they have a beef with Amazon.
For authors who don’t want their old edition competing with their new one, and who don’t want confused book buyers, I always recommend releasing the new edition under a different name.
You could contact those resellers on Amazon and buy up any used copies while also asking them to remove the faux “new book” listings but, honestly, I don’t think you’ll have much luck. You could do all of that and still see more listings pop up. The old listings might still remain as well.
And, no, our lawsuit against Amazon didn’t “sour” things. Under Amazon’s settlement (https://antitrust.booklocker.com) with BookLocker.com, they have to play nice with us. But, they don’t necessarily have to play nice with anyone else. As far as my “pull,” I am very busy taking care of our BookLocker.com (https://publishing.booklocker.com/) and Abuzz Press (https://www.abuzzpress.com/) authors, as well as our WritersWeekly (https://writersweekly.com/) readers. I wish I had time to take up everybody’s fights but I just don’t.
I know this is a frustrating situation. You’re definitely not alone. Many other authors have been incensed with Amazon’s refusal to remove old book listings as well.
BookLocker’s Anti-trust lawsuit against Amazon
Does Amazon Remove Old Book Listings? No!
Why Hasn’t Amazon Removed My Out-of-Print Book?
Amazon – Do They Draw The Line ANYWHERE?
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My compliments to you for taking the time to explain in detail the conditions regarding this author’s questions. This is another example of why BookLocker retains its high standing in the publishing industry.
Thanks for clarifying what must be a muddy situation for many authors. I appreciate the insider insights.
Amazon has a host of issues along this line. I just spotted one earlier today. Search Amazon for one of my books, My Nights with Leukemia. You’ll get three results.
1. The legitimate one with Kindle, paperback (CreateSpace), and used editions included. Every copy of this book for sale on Amazon should be there. There’s never been another edition.
2. Separately listed as if it were another book are used copies from eleven different sources. The LEAST expensive is offering my $14.95 book for $42.41. Yeah, a real ripoff.
3. A listing claiming the book is “currently unavailable.” Hey, CreateSpace prints it. It is not going to be “unavailable” as long as CS is around.
My hunch is that Amazon is letting third parties create their own listing for books even though they are already in Amazon’s database. These unethical dealers are hoping that potential buyers won’t see that legitimate listing and will instead buy from them at those inflated prices.
Hopefully, you’ll soon see just one in the search results. I just reported the latter two listings under Amazon’s “Report incorrect product information,” but it is a hassle to police my books like this. I’ve got some thirty in print. Amazon not only needs to create the search code to weed out these bogus postings, it needs to ban book dealers who play tricks like those on customers. Customers who get screwed will blame Amazon not some obscure third party.
Angela mentioned selling new editions under a new name. That may be too late for you. You might want to try the opposite tack. Since you are the author of that older edition, you might see if Amazon would allow you to add “obsolete” or “previous edition” to the title. Amazon would then be honest in what it is selling. Also, you might see if Amazon will let you change the former book’s description. Then you could explain in that description why customers should buy your newer edition.
In my case, the Amazon detail page does list “Inkling Books” as the publisher, so as Inkling Books I should be able, at the very least, to edit any of the webpages selling the book—even old editions.
Let’s hope that Amazon acts on this. It’s not to their benefit for all these scams to be taking place with their blessing.
For multiple editions, Amazon should take the time to create two labels that appear on books that have several. Older editions would be clearly labeled “Old Edition,” while new editions would be labeled “Latest Edition.” That’d reduce customer confusion and probably lead to more sales. When customers see two or more copies of a book for sale, some say, “What the heck,” and go to a book retailer that doesn’t confuse them with too much.
Amazon needs an omnibusmen with the responsiblity of standing up for the rights of independent authors and small publishers. Amazon makes a lot of money from such people, so it needs to treat them more kindly.
I’ve often thought that it’d be great is some bright and aspiring young lawyer living in Seattle would begin to take Amazon to court over these issues. Each author frustration may be petty in itself, but collectively in a class action suit, that lawyer might do quite well. If he gets a reputation for winning, Amazon would probably learn to concede quickly to spare the expense and bad publicity.