“How can Amazon have ‘Print on Demand’ books in stock that nobody has ordered yet?”

“How can Amazon have ‘Print on Demand’ books in stock that nobody has ordered yet?”

Q –

I just read your response about the person who said a buyer bought an old copy of their book. You said to buy the remaining books from Amazon so future book buyers wouldn’t receive those old copies.

But, the writer said their book was print on demand. Why would Amazon have copies of a book no one ordered yet, and keep it on the shelf? I thought that’s not how print-on-demand works?


A –

This is actually a very common question I hear from new authors.

Print on Demand (P.O.D. or POD) is simply a term that describes a method for printing books. As is states, each book is printed on demand, when it is ordered by a publisher, author, distributor, retailer, or book buying customer, depending on where that purchase occurs.

Amazon can choose to stock a POD book for any reason, especially if it’s selling well, or getting significant press. They may even choose to list a book as “in stock” that they don’t have in stock at all. If someone clicks to buy the book on Amazon, they can quickly order a copy from Ingram, the largest book distributor, and have Ingram obtain the book, and ship it directly to Amazon’s customer, even using an Amazon.com return address label.

Another scenario is a returned book. Amazon allows returns by its customers. If a customer returns a POD book, Amazon will put that on their shelf, and resell it to another customer later rather than having a new copy printed. In these cases, the author only earns royalties for one sale, not both, because Amazon gave the first customer a refund.

Also, undelivered books are restocked by Amazon. A certain percentage of packages never reach their destination and you’d be surprised how many people never contact the seller after not receiving their product. Amazon automatically credits the customer’s account, and then puts that book back on their shelf, and resells it to the next person who orders a copy. Again, authors only earn a royalty on one of those sales.

So, yes, Amazon does stock “print on demand” books for a variety of reasons. And, this is why buyers attempting to purchase a “new edition” of a particular book might end up receiving an older edition. Amazon will always ship an existing copy of a book to a customer rather than ordering a new copy to be printed and shipped. And, they have every right to do so. They can’t be forced to discard old books simply because the author made updates? Why? Because Amazon already paid for those books.

How can authors avoid this? If you are making significant changes to your book, I recommend:

1. Publishing the new edition with a new ISBN. It will cost more in the end to publish a brand new book but it’s unlikely your readers will get confused since you’ll be providing them with the book’s new links for purchasing. Amazon doesn’t remove old book pages but, if your new edition has a new ISBN, Amazon will assign it a unique page on their site.

2. Add “SECOND EDITION” after the title of the book everywhere – on the cover, on the title page, and in your marketing materials. That further prevents buyers from getting confused, and buying the old edition.


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Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, 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).

Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.

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.

ANGELA ON TWITTER https://twitter.com/AngelaHoy

BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!



Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE

One Response to "“How can Amazon have ‘Print on Demand’ books in stock that nobody has ordered yet?”"

  1. Anonymous  September 1, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you!