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Mya Bell
05-16-2005, 10:12 PM
Hi, all,

We've been having a discussion on WN about how Amazon and other online sites make it so easy to buy used books that it may be hurting the sales of new books and depriving authors of their royalties.

I came up with an idea that MIGHT help (near the bottom of the thread) and I could use some input from thoughtful people on the pros and cons: is it viable? what should we use as a rationale for presenting the idea? and who should we contact first to make it maximally effective?

Any thoughts you may have would be appreciated. I'd like to do more than talk about it. I'd like to go forward on it, but not rashly---better to work "the bugs" out of it first.

Thanks.

--- Mya Bell

http://www.writers.net/forum/read/1/22220/22220

Liam Jackson
05-16-2005, 10:33 PM
Mya, I like money as much as the next guy, but I think Glen Brock has the right of it. Under my "standard" contract, I have no compensation rights beyond the original retail sale.

Jaws, our resident legal predator may be able to shed additional light on the issue.

Jaws? You swimming in the neighborhood?

Mya Bell
05-16-2005, 11:19 PM
Hi, Liam, thanks for your input, but the idea I'm talking about is the one mentioned near the bottom of the thread about vendors putting a simple asterisk or other one-character flag next to books that pay author royalties.

It's not about taxing anyone or extra royalties or changing the current monetary distribution system.

It's simply an identification system that lets buyers know which books pay royalties to the authors and which do not. A simple red asterisk. No money changes hands---it's basically just an educational tool that alerts consumers and lets them choose which book to buy.

Anyway, any and all thoughts are appreciated.

--- Mya Bell

Liam Jackson
05-16-2005, 11:27 PM
Ahh....guess my speed-reading skills (or lack thereof) missed that part. I think the identification marker notion has merit. Not sure of how to go about soliciting implementation. Ideas?

maestrowork
05-17-2005, 12:24 AM
Wait, what do used books have to do with anything? We get our royalties from first sales. After that, people can buy and sell and make profits all they want... it goes with everything from used cars to clothes to computers... the fact that people trade used items may or may not hurt sales, but they're "sold" in the first place so the author has already earned his royalties.

So I don't understand what purpose it serves by identifying which books pay royalties (most "traditionally" published books pay royalties...)

Mya Bell
05-17-2005, 12:31 AM
Exactly, Maestrowork, writers get the royalties from first sales. But if you read the whole thread, you'll see the first sales aren't happening on sites like Amazon because "new" or "virtually new" copies that are advance reading copies (which aren't supposed to be sold) or remaindered copies (which have been resold and thus little or no royalty) or "as new" used copies are being sold on the same Web page (with deep discounts) along with the new books.

There used to be a separation between new and used books. Now there isn't.

See the problem?

But if the royalty-paying books were simply flagged, consumers would have a choice. Right now they don't---the listings aren't clear enough. Read about my experience on Amazon yesterday. I had to spend an extra half hour deciphering the listings to figure out which books were new---it wasn't easy.

--- Mya Bell

Richard
05-17-2005, 01:00 AM
But if the royalty-paying books were simply flagged, consumers would have a choice.

Why would the overwhelming majority of them care? When I take out a library book or rent a video or buy something in a book store, I really don't give any thought to the financial interplay that went on behind the scenes. Likewise, I don't know if it's different in the US, but when I click 'Add to Shopping Basket' in Amazon, it's putting a full proper copy into my basket - New/Used is an entirely seperate option.

Mya Bell
05-17-2005, 01:26 AM
Hi, Richard,

The two points you make are right on the mark. Most people don't care and New/Used is a separate section.

But... there's a new development in the New/Used section.

First some background... The reason I wanted so badly to buy new books yesterday was because author Tristan Egolf was just killed by a gunshot wound a week ago. His little daughter is fatherless. His books have good reviews. I wanted to be absolutely sure I bought a new book so his heirs (his little girl) would get the royalties. It's a small amount, but every bit helps.

Amazon is changing. The New/Used section is less separate now than it used to be. Amazon is moving toward brokering books from other sellers rather than stocking all of them as they used to. In other words, instead of warehousing the books, they are getting more associate sellers selling on their site (and Amazon gets a cut) for some kinds of books.

Amazon didn't have any copies of Egolf's books, so my only option was to go to the New/Used section. That's where I hit the roadblock. Some were in "as new" condition, some were new but remaindered (no royalty), some were new (with royalty), and some were used.

If I had bought used or "new remaindered," there would have been no royalty to the Egolf estate. It should have been simple to select a New book, but it wasn't. The listings are short and cryptic. I'm not exaggerating when I say it took 1/2 hour to select only two books. If they had had a simple asterisk next to the new ones, I would have been done in three minutes.

I know most consumers don't care, but some do. Why deny them the information to make the choice when a simple solution may be possible?

--- Mya Bell

Jamesaritchie
05-17-2005, 06:58 AM
I like your idea, but I confess to not having a problem with telling new books from used on Amazon. I think what's confusing is the link that say "Used or new." It is misleading. New books, if any are available, always have a link that simply reads Buy New. It's on the left. If that link is missing, it usually means no new, royalty paying books are available.

Mya Bell
05-17-2005, 08:03 AM
Thanks, James, for adding your thoughts on this, but things have changed a little on Amazon. It may not apply to all books, but I think if you look around for a while, you'll probably notice it eventually.

The Buy New link only works if Amazon stocks the book. But, there are quite a few books now that Amazon lists on their site that they don't stock. If they have one or more "associates" carrying the book, they make a page for it without the Buy New link but with the New/Used link to third parties with the book for sale.

It used to be, if you went to that link, you would find only Used books, but that is no longer true. Now there's a hodgepodge confusing mixture of New and Used. Within those listings are New books that don't pay royalties (remaindered books that have been bought en masse by third parties, for example) and "real" new books by vendors who have them.

That's where the problem lies. It's difficult sometimes to tell which is which. I had a very hard time yesterday trying to separate out the "real" royalty-paying books.

--- Mya Bell

Lauri B
05-18-2005, 07:19 PM
never mind.

maestrowork
05-18-2005, 07:27 PM
I see what you mean...

Well, Amazon should screen sellers and make sure the books are not review copies or of the "not for sale" variety. But that's just wishful thinking.

Lauri B
05-18-2005, 07:48 PM
Thanks, James, for adding your thoughts on this, but things have changed a little on Amazon. It may not apply to all books, but I think if you look around for a while, you'll probably notice it eventually.

The Buy New link only works if Amazon stocks the book. But, there are quite a few books now that Amazon lists on their site that they don't stock. If they have one or more "associates" carrying the book, they make a page for it without the Buy New link but with the New/Used link to third parties with the book for sale.



If Amazon isn't stocking your new book, I think you have bigger problems than finding a reseller to put a red star next to the title that pays royalties.

Julie Worth
05-18-2005, 07:55 PM
The ultimate solution is to publish only mass-market paperbacks, with paper designed to crumble after exposure to the sun.

Jamesaritchie
05-18-2005, 09:58 PM
Thanks, James, for adding your thoughts on this, but things have changed a little on Amazon. It may not apply to all books, but I think if you look around for a while, you'll probably notice it eventually.

The Buy New link only works if Amazon stocks the book. But, there are quite a few books now that Amazon lists on their site that they don't stock. If they have one or more "associates" carrying the book, they make a page for it without the Buy New link but with the New/Used link to third parties with the book for sale.

It used to be, if you went to that link, you would find only Used books, but that is no longer true. Now there's a hodgepodge confusing mixture of New and Used. Within those listings are New books that don't pay royalties (remaindered books that have been bought en masse by third parties, for example) and "real" new books by vendors who have them.

That's where the problem lies. It's difficult sometimes to tell which is which. I had a very hard time yesterday trying to separate out the "real" royalty-paying books.

--- Mya Bell


I've looked around there, and do see the problem. They have changed things with some books. I honestly don't know how much of a problem it is. Once a book has been remaindered, royalties are usually pretty much gone, anyway.

And who knows, maybe it evens out. Used bookstores and libraries have both lost a goodly number of customers since Amazon started pushing used books. eBay has also cut the numbers. It's amazing how many people go there before even looking at Amazon.

But there's no doubt Amazon is more concerned with profit than with writers, just as most who buy used books in the first place are more concerned with their own budget than with writers.

I would like to see more separation between new, used, and remaindered books, but I don't know whether or not Amazon will listen.

maestrowork
05-18-2005, 10:20 PM
I think something like Amazon or even Barnes and Noble represents yet another side of the business. First, you have the writers. Then, you have publishers who want to sell as many new books as possible. Then you have the book stores and sellers who want to make as much profit as possible with new and used books alike. It certainly is an issue in the business model. They say, even though publishers are publishing more books (175,000 in 2004), they're making less money (44 million less than the previous year). It's a tough business.

A book can be resold multiple times to maximize the profit. The writers and the publishers might not see much of that profit...

Darkhaven80
05-22-2005, 10:57 PM
I see what you mean...

Well, Amazon should screen sellers and make sure the books are not review copies or of the "not for sale" variety. But that's just wishful thinking.

Not to mention it does lose additional "new" sales. Say a person wants to buy a book, uses Amazon often, so opens the website to buy said book. They enter the title and, lo and behold!, they now see that there is a used version for a cheaper price....and the already discounted "new" price.

Since they were going to buy the book anyway, they figure they may as well get the cheaper copy right?

Little things like this DO add up :( Unfortunately as a reader I enjoy used books in more expensive areas too so :/

Femotica
08-04-2005, 08:03 PM
On a side note about the author getting killed, why not just send a donation or start an online auction or something? You'd raise far more money for his family than by spending 30 minutes picking out a few books.

But I do agree that shopping at amazon is an issue now with how they put used right next to new with a tiny price tag. I'd like to see amazon not sell used copies for say three months after a book has been released. That gives ample time to make first sales.

But one week after the new HP came out and there were already 147 used copies available...... *sigh*