Amazon's new "policy" undercuts publishers/creators

It's been a while since I've been here. Hi guys, it's Darryl aka DeeMonie. You might remember me. I came back to post this because I think it's important and something you guys should be aware of and look out for.
 
Okay, after a good long while of sales on my Amazon product page not being reflected in my publishers sales report (I moved from Lulu to Ingram Spark a while back) I contacted Amazon about when do they report sales to publishers and got pretty much the runaround. Then I started researching Amazon's sales report practices and came across this article:

https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/5/19/15596050/amazon-buy-box-publishing-controversy

It says that Amazon are giving third party sellers the ability to basically bid on use of the Amazon "add to cart" buy box so when you think you're buying a book from Amazon you're actually getting it from a third party seller who may have gotten the book not from a distributor but from a bookstores overstock bin. And since the books have already been paid for once when they're sold via Amazon the publisher/creator isn't paid his/her royalty.

For instance, for some reason Amazon had my $12.98 book marked down to $.60 and it was selling like crazy. But none of the sales were showing up in my publishers sales report. By comparison my B&N, etc, sales would show up in my sales report within 24/48 of the sale being made. Amazon? Nothing.

And before anyone suggests that trying to determine sales from Amazon sales rankings, all of my books are tracked by both Bookscan and Novelrank so I can tell when a book sells, where, and what time of day.

Has anyone else run up against their Amazon sales not being reported? It's gotten so bad I'm going to ask my publisher if I can have my books removed from Amazon as a distribution line.

Dee

Comments

  • Darryl

    You are a self-published author which means that your books are only manufactured when an order is placed. There are no physical stocks being held anywhere for third party sellers to get hold of (remember, they are only allowed to sell new, or nearly new books). You have not sent out loads of books to be reviewed, there are no books being held in a warehouse which have become slightly damaged, which are being junked out cheap (presumably the publisher must have ordered the large quantity of books from the printer and will have to pay for them so they must get the money when the books are junked out) so I can't see how the buy box auction (as unusual as it is) would apply to you, or any of us.


    I publish directly to Amazon (via Create Space) and every now and then I use the Amazon giveaway promotion facility to generate interest in my books. It sometimes takes a little longer than I would have expected for those sales to show up on my dashboard (easy to track for a book that was published just a few hours previously) but they eventually do.


    If your book was being sold at $0.60 ask yourself where the sellers got the book from when Ingrams are the only people who can manufacture the book, and they always report to you when they do so. How likely is it that the sellers would have got the book so cheaply that they could sell it at $0.60? Something does not add up.


  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country Librarian
    I didn't see the part where 3rd-Party sellers are able to bid on the "Buy Box", though I did see where an algorithm selects those who can be listed, while delisting takes time.

    As for a book obtained from an overstock bin that's already been paid for once, if it's been paid for once wouldn't the publisher / creator have been paid once? I somehow missed the fact that every time a print copy is resold the publisher / author get paid again.

    I did see where it was suggested the print books in question were suspected of being either unmarked promo or slightly cosmetically damaged copies.

    Perhaps your publisher can help you arrive at a solution.
    It's been a while since I've been here. Hi guys, it's Darryl aka DeeMonie. You might remember me. I came back to post this because I think it's important and something you guys should be aware of and look out for.
     
    Okay, after a good long while of sales on my Amazon product page not being reflected in my publishers sales report (I moved from Lulu to Ingram Spark a while back) I contacted Amazon about when do they report sales to publishers and got pretty much the runaround. Then I started researching Amazon's sales report practices and came across this article:

    https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/5/19/15596050/amazon-buy-box-publishing-controversy

    It says that Amazon are giving third party sellers the ability to basically bid on use of the Amazon "add to cart" buy box so when you think you're buying a book from Amazon you're actually getting it from a third party seller who may have gotten the book not from a distributor but from a bookstores overstock bin. And since the books have already been paid for once when they're sold via Amazon the publisher/creator isn't paid his/her royalty.

    For instance, for some reason Amazon had my $12.98 book marked down to $.60 and it was selling like crazy. But none of the sales were showing up in my publishers sales report. By comparison my B&N, etc, sales would show up in my sales report within 24/48 of the sale being made. Amazon? Nothing.

    And before anyone suggests that trying to determine sales from Amazon sales rankings, all of my books are tracked by both Bookscan and Novelrank so I can tell when a book sells, where, and what time of day.

    Has anyone else run up against their Amazon sales not being reported? It's gotten so bad I'm going to ask my publisher if I can have my books removed from Amazon as a distribution line.

    Dee

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    The big issues would be if a third party were either selling returns (i.e. books sent to bookstores on commission, reported unsold, and "destroyed" rather than returned to the publisher so that the publisher doesn't pay return shipping), or else "rolling their own" by printing copies on the cheap (for example, by re-scanning the book and submitting the resulting PDF to a printer such as Lulu under a fake account).

    Both of those require an unusual series of events in order for the third party to make money. It's possible... But unlikely.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Librarian
    By the way -- If I saw my books offered at $0.60 anywhere, I would order 100 at that price. If someone is willing to buy my books at $11 and sell them back to me for $0.60, I'll take that deal all day long.

    Of course, the hook would be in the shipping. They would want $15 or $20 per book for shipping/handling. Or more.
  • Selling habits are strange on Amazon and always have been. Prices vary widely, including sellers claiming they have a 'used' book, but at twice the price of a new one! I expect they do not hold any in stock but wait for anyone daft enough to pay that price (when all alternative prices are displayed) then order a new one. Anyway, none of it matters because any seller has to buy a book in order to sell it at whatever price they want, but when they do, we get paid the same amount, even if some seller sells for £0.0. (We don't get paid again when genuine secondhand books are sold though!) To be honest I think this is fake news ...
    How Do. Take a seat.
  • OK - this forum is ill. Why has my post appeared 3 times, most recently on February 01?
    I tried to edit it immediately I posted it because I hadn't left any space between paragraphs, but was unable to. It really is starting to feel like two steps forward, one step back.


  • I'm not sure why it's posting your content multiple times like that. I deleted the duplicates. I haven't seen anything like that from other posts either.
    The Feb 1st posting is due to the post getting caught in our moderation queue and me approving it before realizing there were duplicates.
    I had editing set to expire after an hour, but I opened that up so you can always edit your own posts.

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