“VIRTUAL” BOOK INVENTORIES ARE MISLEADING AUTHORS AND READERS – “AbeBooks.com shows 182 copies of my book for sale but I haven’t been paid for those sales!”

“VIRTUAL” BOOK INVENTORIES ARE MISLEADING AUTHORS AND READERS – “AbeBooks.com shows 182 copies of my book for sale but I haven’t been paid for those sales!”

Q –


My friend got online and checked out his book. On AbeBooks.com, he found a listing of stores for distribution of his book. Most of this was in England. All total he found more than one hundred copies that were out there offered to the public for purchase. Can you check this out?

Thank you,

A –

Abe Books allows “independent sellers” to “sell” books on their website. If you search for your book’s ISBN on their website, and if you don’t know what’s really going on, you’ll likely be shocked and confused by what you see, and may even accuse your publisher or the distributor of stealing your royalties.

I looked up the ISBN of the book mentioned above on AbeBooks.com. This is what I saw:

GreatBookPrices – 5 copies (Incidentally, their name is deceptive. The author’s book has a list price of only $17.95 so avoid this seller!)

Book Depository International (owned by Amazon): 10 copies

GreatBookPrices – 5 copies (Yes, a duplicate listing from the one previously mentioned above.)

Welcome Back Books – 20 copies

Global Bookshop – 20 copies

International bookstore – 10 copies

PBShop.store US – 15 copies

THE SAINT BOOKSTORE – 20 copies (Not sure how you can call your company “Saint” when you are misleading customers about your inventory.)

Ria Christie Collections – 20 copies

Chiron Media – 10 copies

GreaBookPricesUK – 5 copies (Their third listing!)

GreatBookPricesUK – 5 copies (Their fourth listing! If that doesn’t tell you this is all fake, I don’t know what will.)

Chiron Media – 20 copies (Yes, a duplicate listing for this outfit, too.)

AHA-BUCH GmbH – 1 copy

moluna – 20 copies

Those quantities are NOT book sales. The books haven’t even been printed! Any firm that has an Ingram account (the distributor) can offer books for sale. If someone orders a copy from one of those firms, only then will they order a copy from Ingram. The copies you see online are what the industry calls “virtual inventory.” Those copies do not yet exist.

All total, AbeBooks.com has 182 non-existent copies of this book for sale. How do I know they don’t exist? Easy. They’re all listed as “new” and I have access to the sales information for this book. This book has sold 30 COPIES.

If one of the resellers above had obtained a copy of one of the 30 books that have been printed, it would be listed as “used.” (Or, they could lie, and say the book is new if they are really slimy.) And, of course, since there are 182 copies for sale, when only 30 copies have been printed, the numbers are completely fake.

Those resellers can type whatever number they want into the box when selling books on AbeBooks.com. I call that fraud.

Don’t trust the fake (“virtual”) inventory numbers on AbeBooks. AND, don’t order books from AbeBooks. The prices are WAY too high!!! When a bookstore or a third party retailer prices a book too high, they keep the rest of the money. The author does NOT get anything extra. Your best bet is to order from the publisher directly, from BarnesandNoble.com, or from Amazon. But, keep in mind that Amazon often inflates the prices of books as well, as do their third party sellers.

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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