“I ordered copies of my own books from Amazon but my publisher never paid me for those sales…”

“I ordered copies of my own books from Amazon but my publisher never paid me for those sales…”

Q –

“Through my Amazon account in December, I bought copies of my book through Amazon. I don’t see those sales in my publisher’s reports. I know I’ve been ripped off repeatedly throughout the years with this book.”


A –

No, depending on the publisher you are using, you may not have been “ripped of” at all. It’s more likely that you don’t understand how retail orders and inventories work.

Amazon does often stock print on demand books. If Amazon chooses to purchase and stock a book, they will pay when the copies are ordered, and then hold those in their inventory until they sell. The key takeaway here is this: Amazon must pay for those copies when they are ordered. So, a sale like that will often show up in the publisher’s books long before that copy is later ordered by an Amazon customer.

Retailers often order, pay for, and stock an item days, weeks, months, or even years before that product sells. If someone returns a book to Amazon (in good condition), or if a package is sent back to Amazon as undeliverable, they will re-stock those copies, and sell them as new. And, they can legally do so.

So, if your publisher’s records show old sales, and if you recently ordered copies from Amazon, you won’t get paid a second time for those copies because Amazon paid the distributor (or your publisher) for those copies when they were originally ordered.

Also, it’s helpful to know that, for most print on demand books (depending on the printer), there is a code on the very last page that shows you when that copy was printed. It’s kind of a backwards way of listing the date but, once you know “the code,” you can determine when that copy was printed.

It looks like this:

The number 220221 means the book was printed on February 22, 2021 –

22: day

02: month

21: year

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