Who Are All Those Resellers of Your Book?

There seems to be a misconception by many authors that the books re-sold on Amazon are by reviewers. Although this is true in many aspects, resellers come in other forms. Aside from actual readers that buy the book to read and then sell it, there are speculators.

For example, look at the Amazon listing for Rewriting Life Scripts (a book I recently co-authored) and you will note new and used books for sale. When you click on the “new” you will see a list of resellers and their prices. Interestingly enough, someone is selling our $19.95 book for as much as $32.99. When you click on “used” you will see the same resellers.

In reality none of these resellers have the book in stock. They know that Ingram can deliver a book because they watch the Ingram news feeds for new book announcements. The serious resellers know they can undersell Amazon to make money without having to stock the book. Keep in mind that it’s not exclusive to POD books, they are equal opportunity sellers. You will also find books published by major traditional publishers sold the same way.

So, let’s do a little math here to see what really happens. Standard bookstore discount is 40%, which means Amazon paid Ingram $11.97 for our $19.95 book. In reality there is a $7.98 profit margin. The speculating reseller (the lowest priced one for our book) can also buy the book from Ingram for $11.97, but is selling it on Amazon for $16.46 and pocketing $4.49. The buyer of the book pays for the shipping/handling costs therefore there is no other output by the reseller except time and a small listing fee. Sounds like a lucrative business to me.

I’ve heard from many angry authors that refuse to list their book on Amazon or feel they aren’t making any money when books are sold through that site. In fact, some have written nasty (and I mean NASTY) emails telling me they refuse to deal with us because we give links to Amazon so potential readers can buy the book. To me, this is shooting oneself in the foot. I don’t get it. As a successful business person my mind is telling me that my best move would be to become a reseller of my own book and undercut the bottom line seller. For example, I can get the $19.95 book for about $11.77 (including shipping) directly from the publisher and if I resell it for one cent less than the bottom price I can pocket $4.69. On top of that, the buyer pays $3.99 for shipping/handling and if I send the book media mail (using recycled packaging) I can ship it for $2.39. Although Amazon takes a fee for the listing once the book is sold, it is covered in the allotment for shipping. and I can usually receive an additional 50 cents. I’m a happy camper with $5.19 because it’s certainly a lot more than I would be getting in royalities if another reseller sells my book.

This is just part of the bookselling ecosystem and is perfectly ethical. It’s all part of doing business. It’s part of selling your own book.
So, what’s the bottom line? Wallow, and blame? Become a reseller of your own book? Or, just be darn happy someone is selling your book?

I want to hear your thoughts.

PS – If you are wondering about how some resellers could sell under your cost it’s because they buy up remainders or returns from $1.00 to $5.00 a box. As well, some reviewers sell books by the box to resellers (including used book stores) for $10 to $30 a box.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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Posted on April 26, 2010, in Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. In defense of brand new authors, the entire Amazon "thing" is very foreign. I did not understand it myself when I started, even though I read everything I could about publishing. It is upsetting to authors when they hear about the deep discounts Amazonr requires whether or not the author wants it. Now I have an Amazon Advantage account and there’s no problem. I’ve come to accept the way it all works. Every book sold of mine is another book out there. You are right, you’ve got to use every possible source out there to sell your books. As far as the resellers, I pay no attention. It’s just too insignificant to worry about it, In a sense, I think of it as free advertising for my book!

  2. Great info! I know the selling and reselling is a part of the business, so it doesn’t bother me.I’d rather write my next great novel, than worry about who ‘else’ is selling my novels. : )Besides, right now, I’m giving away all my novels free from my site http://www.beckydue.com(including my new release, Returning Injury) as a gift to my readers. Thanks for everything Irene!Becky Due

  3. Having just published my first novel Rendezvous Rock, I’m finding out that there is so much about the publishing industry that I don’t know. The article was very informative, as your editorials always are. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with those of us just getting into the publishing industry.Rickey Bray

  4. With hundreds of thousands of books being published each year, I believe that any legitimate "storefront" – brick and mortar or click and mortar – is something to be thankful for.Traditional bookstores have limited shelf space, increasingly stringent policies about what books they are allowed to carry, and understandably are going to focus their efforts on books likely to sell through in volume. Digital booksellers don’t have to worry about that, and have a much greater scope of capacity.With so many people scouring the internet for "great deals" on a book they’ve heard about, if somebody is reselling my book by buying it through legitimate channels, I say "have at it!" I’ve already sold nearly 1000 of my award-winning fantasy fiction books, and it’s been in part thanks to Amazon and other online sellers. Anybody who curls their lip at these channels of distribution hasn’t really researched today’s book-selling world. Claudia NewcornAuthor, Crossover & Dark Firewww.claudianewcorn.com

  5. Hi Irene the only thing thst I have to say about reselling is that I agree with you and any common sense thinking person should to you either resell you book or let someone else but the bottom line is your book is being sold and not collecting dust who knows the right person might read it and the rest may be history

  6. Michael B. Druxman

    As long as I get my royalty, I don’t care who sells my books.

  7. Good article Irene. I find that authors and independent publishers are sometimes upset to learn that online bookstores like Amazon.com are selling their book at a discount from the list price. For an explanation of how discounted pricing of new and used books affects the profits earned by authors and publishers, see http://bit.ly/bcq9XP.

  8. Thanks for explaining the economics of bookselling to authors, many have no idea what they are talking about. Especially those who complain that Amazon is selling their book for 30% off List Price. You people with Amazon discounts should be dancing with joy, it means that consumers are more likely to purchase your book because its a "good deal". Meanwhile you get the same royalty regardless of whether Amazon sells it at Full Price or 30% off. Did you think that selling your books on your site was competing with Amazon? Forget it, people use book search engines to find the lowest price on a given book and for sure they won’t find your site on there So embrace Amazon and all its goofy resellers who make more on shipping than they do on selling a book sometimes.

  9. Hi Irene! I’m trying to convince my wife to become my "business manager" and learn all this market stuff so that I can just WRITE. But, she’s smarter than that, so I juggle both – and agree with all your insights! Quick question – do you folks review manuscripts before pub. you’re a trusted reviewer and I’d like to have your "blurb" on my cover (note the assumption of your praise of my work.)Thanks!Tom GauthierAuthor of:Code Name: ORION’S EYEMEAD’s TREKA VOYAGE BEYOND REASON (2009 Writers Digest Award Winner)

  10. Tom, yes, we sure do review manuscripts! Info here: http://tinyurl.com/bof8ax

  11. I thought of reselling my own books on Amazon. Especially since I have a box of them that I bought from Ingram at publisher’s price. Now that you’ve honored such an idea, I may follow through.

  12. Hi Yvonne (and all)YES its perfectly within the Terms of Service to compete on price with Amazon on your own books. You simply use Amazon Marketplace and pay the $1.35 commission on each copy sold. Amazon Marketplace can be far more lucrative than Amazon Advantage where they take a 55 PERCENT commission on each sale (essentially demanding wholesale terms.)Sell that $19.95 book for $14.95 using Amazon Marketplace and you’ll pocket double your normal take that you would get from Amazon Advantage. It’s fun to compete with yourself and win!

  13. Irene,I have so many balls up in the air as it is and when I started out all I wanted to do was write a book. Notice the (a) – as my 5th one is about to be published! I have found as the years go by that writing the book is the easiest part of this business. I would love to get more money in my pocket for each and every book that sells, but if we as authors really write to make money we are in the wrong business! I, for one, write for many reasons, the top two are I have a message to send and I love to write. Making money is nice, but I sure can’t pay my bills on what I make from my books — not yet anyway.Whoever came up with Amazon knew what they were doing and I say: Let them make money and let me write books!

  14. I’ve been aware of this practice for a while, and it’s interesting to see all the booksellers around the world who are selling my books. What amazes me is the high prices on some of these books. Why would anyone pay that when they can get it so much cheaper?1 I see it on other books too, of course.

  15. Thanks Again Irene for making note to Amazon. I am not sure what to think of Amazon yet. I do know that I do not make any money with Amazon…yet. Maybe you can shed more light in your experience to us new publishers and new authors about Ingram and Amazon. My company only has one book and two books in the works. Should we go to Ingram first since Amazon buys from Ingram. Who is Ingram? No question is to dumb to ask! Remember, I am new to this program and learning everyday. Here is what I know about selling on Amazon: Publish on Kindle, Sell Your Stuff, Fulfillment by Amazon, Webstore by Amazon, Advantage Program (I am here), Associates Program and Amazon Payments. We can help each other by recommending the right program for the specific publisher or author depending upon "how many books" we have. Help guide us…thus bringing more business your way if we all make money. Teach us Irene!

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