Amazon is Undermining Authors/ Authors Should Be Holding Amazon Accountable #Repost

 How Amazon, Once Again, Is Driving Down The Value Of Books And Undermining Authors

Brooke Warner Publisher, Coach, Author

Third-party sellers can now ‘win’ the Buy box. Here’s what that means.

On March 1, while the only people paying real attention were hypervigilant third-party sellers and book geeks on Reddit, Amazon enacted a policy change that allows third-party sellers to compete for the Buy Box for books in “new condition.”

When you go to a product page on Amazon, the ADD TO CART button is the default offer. Other used options fall below the Buy Box. Where books are concerned, the default Buy Box option has always belonged to the publisher. When you buy a book, Amazon pays the publisher 45 percent of the list price, so authors are making a profit (albeit small) every time you buy. This contributes to authors’ royalties and also means that your purchase is supporting the entity that published the book, namely the publisher.

The suggestion in some of the articles I’ve read on this topic is that this new policy hurts small sellers, favoring bigger third-seller operations. But I’d like to break down how much this policy hurts authors and publishers.

I finally clued in to how problematic this policy is a couple weeks ago when one of my authors emailed me to inform me that her book was no longer being listed on Amazon—at all—as available from her publisher, in this case, SparkPress, one of my company’s two imprints. When you typed in the title of her book, the only listings that came up were from third-party sellers. Amazon’s policy states that “eligible sellers will be able to compete for the buy box,” but in this case, we had been completely wiped off of Amazon as an eligible seller in any capacity, without being notified.

As an experiment, I typed in a few backlist books from my Seal Press days. By my third try, I’d hit upon Second Wind, by Cami Ostman. Same scenario. No offering from the publisher. When you click on the product page, here’s what you see: Read More…

Authors Should Be Holding Amazon Accountable, And Here’s One Easy, Actionable Step

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote last month about Amazon’s new Buy Button policy. That post described what the policy is—Amazon allowing third-party sellers to “win” the Buy Button and sell “new” books in that prime piece of real estate on a given book’s primary page listing. I also expressed my belief that the policy harms publishers and authors. I raised more questions than I had answers for then, but I’ve spent the past month talking to industry folks and shopping on Amazon and I wanted to share the results here. (I also invite you to join the Independent Book Publishers Association and its Advocacy Committee (which I chair) in a fun sleuthing mission we’re launching—see Call to Action below—to expose whether or not the books being sold by third parties are in fact “new.”)

What Qualifies a Book as “New” on Amazon?

According to Amazon, what makes a “new” book is pretty straightforward:

New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.

Except that it’s not so straightforward when it comes to books. Books are not sold in original packaging with packaging materials included. The only protective layer books have around them are their covers/spines. Books are easily damaged in transit, and as such they’re often deemed “hurt” (a returned book that may have been slightly damaged).

According to Ware-Pak, a warehousing, distribution, and fulfillment service for authors, a hurt is “worn and cannot be sold as new.”

These slightly worn books are placed into a bin to be eventually sold off to one of the remainder wholesalers.

I know that a number of industry players have been in contact with Amazon since this whole Buy Button policy thing got out more widely. I’ve even communicated by email with someone at Amazon who expressed interest in having a call, but then wrote back to say she was “booked solid” and welcomed my questions by email. I sent a list of my concerns last week and haven’t heard back.

My biggest and most pressing concern is this: Who’s holding the third-party vendors accountable for selling “new” books? It certainly isn’t Amazon. As I mentioned in my first post, if I’m a consumer who’s getting a steep discount, like one-third or more off the list price, am I going to issue a formal complaint because my book has “shelf wear”? Most likely not.

Three of three books I ordered this month from the Buy Button had significant enough damage to be qualified as “hurts” by my distributor’s standards. Please note Ware-Pak’s language above, in which they express these books “cannot be sold as new.” But Amazon just created a sales channel by which they’re overriding that “cannot” and making it really easy to sell shelf-worn books as new.


Author: lynnthompsonbooks

Lynn Thompson’s home is in the Land of Enchantment, and, yes, the land is enchanting. The skies are blue, the stars are bright., and there are beautiful panoramic landscapes surrounding her hometown. Lynn wades through the craziness of life to follow her true passion, writing fiction. You can find her, or not, trekking through the mountains, searching for fairies and vortexes, keeping her eye out for anything paranormal, or sitting in the hot springs in her spare time. Lynn doesn’t have a specific genre she writes in. Characters have a way of leading her stories. She follows. Lynn is also a sponge when it comes to knowledge. She’s always on the move to continue her education in writing, marketing, social media, digital media, and hopes to find the extra time to add some criminal investigation classes to her repertoire. Lynn has three novels out: Blake, Sterling, and Tarnished Gold. Blake is the beginning of Montana’s story. Her need for seclusion, at least, for one winter. She does not get what she wants. There is someone or something in the mountains stalking her, people keep showing up on her doorstep, and she meets Max. Max knows what is hunting Montana, but won’t tell her. Montana’s lack of trust in Max drives her to fix her own problems. If she had known what she’d be confronting that night, she never would have sedated Max. Sterling is the second novel in the Montana Dayton series. Montana moves to Florida hoping to escape her old life, and regain her normal life back, but her past has come back to haunt her. Not only does she start losing time, she continues to wake up every morning wearing gorgeous jewels and is surrounded by precious gems. She never remembers where, or who she’s getting the glittery baubles from and is hell bent to get back her memories and return the jewels. Afraid she has been out robbing houses in the middle of the night, she is determined to figure out what is happening on her own. That is until the dreams and the strong pull to explore the gulf. When she finally realizes she needs help, she is powerless to get it. Tarnished Gold is Sam’s story and will be coming out around the new year. Sam first appeared in Sterling and demanded her own novel. Lynn has bowed to Sam’s wishes and is writing that story now. Lynn is also the proud owner of: Dark Fates. Eight short stories that are fun, but still on the dark side. Dark Fates-Madness. Four dark short stories. News Worthy. News Worthy stands alone with five short stories. Watching the news first thing in the morning may not be fun, but dissecting news clips and re-writing them into short stories that had a different ending was a blast! Dark Fates Collections is compiled of Dark Fates, Dark Fates-Madness, News Worthy, and features Karma Shay’s adventures. Visit Lynn at: Website: Twitter: @lynnthompson8 Facebook: Goodreads:

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