Amazon is Once Again Selling “New” Copies of My Out-of-Print Book?

I terminated my contract with my POD publisher a couple of years ago. This week, Amazon once again has my book listed as available, meaning somebody can buy it directly from Amazon (not one of their resellers).

What is going on?!

If Amazon has any copies on their shelf, including returned copies, they can legally sell those. Since they paid for them, they are absolutely permitted to attempt to sell those copies. There is nothing you or anyone can do to stop a retailer from selling something they’ve purchased.

If you have questions about Amazon’s listing, you should contact them directly…but good luck getting a response that really helps you (many of them are automated) or one that even comes from a real human being. Their database changes frequently and, just because they say a “new” copy is available, does not mean that’s the case. Their database contains numerous errors because it’s automated and actual humans aren’t checking each book page whenever there is a change.

Some authors who see these types of changes to their old book pages automatically assume somebody is illegally printing/selling their book through Amazon. Since the book page shows up under their old publisher’s name and ISBN, they point the first finger at their publisher…when they should be pointing it at Amazon. One way to prove beyond any doubt that the book showing up as available on Amazon actually exists, is to order that book from Amazon.

If you decide to buy that copy from Amazon, one of two things will happen –

1. They will send you an apology email in a few days or weeks, saying they don’t have a copy after all and that they can’t process your order.

2. They will send you the copy that’s sitting on their shelf (or one they get from one of their suppliers, who might also have old copies available).

If you’re using one of the largest POD publishers, your book will likely have a barcode and a series of numbers printed on the last page. You should be able to send this info. to your publisher and they can then get tracking info. from the printer (most of us use the same printer). This information will show not only when the book was printed by the printer and sold, but also who ordered the book. You can then determine if this is simply an old copy that ended up getting returned to Amazon, or if somebody is actually printing illegal copies of your book.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of and BookLocker. is the free marketing emag for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. is rated “Outstanding” by Mark Levine, attorney and author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing.



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