This is actually a subject I know something about as I’ve been experimenting with this feature of Amazon since the day they started allowing it. (Indeed, feel free to purchase any of the 39 items I am currently listing.) The guild’s argument is that books purchased this way are not counted towards author royalties or in surveys that influence best sellers lists.
Who is behind this misguided campaign? It sounds to me that the guild should be enlisting the aid of eBay’s Half.com since Amazon is simply knocking off their model. Note to the Guild: This is the Internet where you’re always only a couple of clicks away from perfect pricing of the latest Grisham novel. ($13.25 on Amazon. $10.99 on Half.com.)
In reality, Amazon allows any seller to list a book, new or used. I have found that many of the listings are from independent retailers who are simply accessing the customer base of Amazon and matching the online store’s pricing. (Why does Amazon care? They are increasing their margins with never touching the merchandise. It’s brilliant.) And such sales by independents ARE generating royalties.
Used book sales are not however. And never have. And never will. What does the guild want to do next? Shut down the thousands of other sites on the Web where one can purchase used books? Maybe then they can advocate a ban on flea markets and garage sales?
I have sold a couple dozen used books on Amazon in the past three months and can assure the Authors Guild that sales of the vast, vast majority of their members’ books are not being affected greatly. Indeed, the experience has given me a lot of insight into the merchandise turnover patterns at Amazon.
For instance, if a book is not a current bestseller, it can sit around, well, forever. From my experience, I feel the 80/20 rule (or 90/10, or even 95-5) works for Amazon just like every other merchant. They are selling lots of a very few titles and collecting dust (or allowing Ingram Book to) on the vast majority of their database of titles.
Another insight I’ve gained regards the traffic patterns of their customers. For instance, I can predict with a fair degree of certainty that Amazon sees a dramatic spike in sales on Sunday evenings…and I mean DRAMATIC. I estimate that at least 30% of the sales I’ve made via Amazon have come on Sunday evening or Monday morning.
Bottom line, I am a big fan of buying and selling new and used books on Amazon (and half.com). The Guild’s efforts are illogical, at best. Amazon is your friend, people. Why can’t we just all get along?