Richard Answers Question About Amazon’s Used Book Sales

I’m writing in regards to the zshop listings for sellers that sell books. The information for the sellers has a line that states purchase information with a quantity. Does this indicate that they have purchased this quantity of books?


Hi Dennis,

Angela passed your email to me. I sell used books (from my own collection) on Amazon, so she thought I might be able to answer you better.

The quantity can be set to anything the seller wants, whether they really have that many copies of a book or not.

The quantity could represent what the seller actually has on hand or it could just be the quantity they have access to.

If the book is a Print on Demand (POD) book, and they have an account with Ingram, they may put in any quantity. And then, when an order comes in, they simply turn around and order it from Ingram. When Ingram actually obtains and ships the book is when money changes hands.

While you’re not a author, many POD publishers do receive this same question from their authors. This is what the Author FAQ states about this subject:

Anybody with an Ingram account can list copies of Ingram’s books for sale anywhere they choose, including on These “new and used” copies available on Amazon have not yet been printed. These companies are simply trying to get a piece of the Amazon customer action. Once someone orders from them, they’ll order a copy from Ingram, who will then obtain a copy from your printer or publisher.

Dennis Wrote Back:


Thanks for responding. The question of whether the seller has access to a quantity and not on hand or sold. Some of the sellers have a quantity of 999 and the same company with different seller ids have different quantities. Could this represent that they actually have books on hand.

My guess, based on the quantity, is the number 999 is probably the largest quantity you can put it. They would want to do that to assure they don’t get delisted too quickly.

When you put up a listing, it is only active as long as you show you have at least 1 in stock. Otherwise the listing disappears from Amazon. To prevent having to re-enter all the book info, they are probably just entering the maximum quantity Amazon allows.

Using different seller IDs might just be a strategy to test different selling prices.

In any case, I doubt very seriously they actually have the books in-hand. All they are likely doing is ordering from Ingram when an order comes in from Amazon, especially if the books are print-on-demand.