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View Full Version : Writer Demands to Be Unlisted from Amazon



AnneMarble
12-21-2006, 05:38 PM
Here's an article about a writer who demanded that his book be "unlisted" from Amazon:
http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1976143,00.html (http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,1976143,00.html)

He's a big fan of the indie bookshops. And he was "horrified" to find his book listed on Amazon -- without his permission. In the article, he's quoted as saying. "What they are actually doing is getting the independents to do their market research. When a book gets a certain amount of attention, they will attempt to stock it and cut the independents out. Not with my book!"

Whatever floats your boat, but may I say?... Jeez. I love independent bookstores (at least those that bother to meet my needs instead of being too froo-froo), but I adore chains, too. I refuse to feel as if I'm committing some horrid sin by buying from a chain bookstore. :tongue In most cases, the chain store is closer, not to mention more likely to stock what I want (particularly as I buy a lot of genre fiction). That's not to say I don't buy at indies. (I love Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley, MD, for one -- but it's a long drive!) I don't agree with everything Amazon has done as a business (like some of the patent fights), but I also understand that they are trying to stay on top because that's what big businesses have to do.

The author urged people to shop at indie stores and use independent bookstore sites. Yeah, God forbid I might want to 1) shop in a store that has a large selection and a convenient location or 2) buy from a proven on-line vendor that offers discounts I like, not to mention all the reviews and so forth you can get at Amazon. OK, I guess I could use the reviews and lists and forums at Amazon to help me make up my mind, then buy it at an indie store, but wouldn't that be like getting Amazon to do the market research of the independents? ;)

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, this author is cutting his nose off to spite his face. Some people are going to shop for books at Amazon, period. (Because of habit, because they like the store, because they are Amazon Prime members and get free shipping, whatever.) So they're not going to be able to buy his book from Amazon now. But I guess he feels special about that.
:Shrug:

Carrie in PA
12-21-2006, 05:41 PM
I don't have an indy bookstore within a 2 hour drive. So if I were to feel bad about shopping at chains and on Amazon, I'd feel bad an awful lot. LOL

MMcC
12-21-2006, 07:49 PM
Sorry, but I can get Starbucks coffee, Cheesecake Factory desserts, and a 15% discount at Barnes and Noble.

Beat that and I'm in. Somehow doesn't seem likely.

Cath
12-21-2006, 10:51 PM
10% of me admires this guy for standing up for independent stores, 40% thinks he's a egotistical nutcase and 50% suspects he's just doing it to get publicity for his book.

I'm guessing it's one big publicity stunt. I was wondering why his publisher wasn't kicking up a stink, but I see it's self published.

The campaign seems to be working, though. The Guardian is one of the biggies in newspapers in the UK, and BBC Radio 4 have interviewed him as well.

He's enterprising, I'll give him that!


ETA: Since he's British, independent bookstores are a bit more common/accessible than here in the US, so he's not hung himself completely. Also UK bookstores don't do 15% discounts or Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake (although the coffee is still in abundance).

Sassenach
12-22-2006, 03:44 AM
It's a self-published book...appears to be a clever publicity campaign.

tourdeforce
12-22-2006, 06:12 PM
This guy's two other big issue are that albums sound better than CD's and Dick York was the only true Darrin.

tourdeforce
12-22-2006, 06:24 PM
This isn't a fight worth having. Amazon is as legitimate a book retailer as the small store. If he wants to support the independents, then he should do a book tour and apapear at these places. But not cut off a major line of distribution. His publisher must be thrilled.

aadams73
12-22-2006, 06:27 PM
It's a self-published book.

Oh, 'nuff said right there then.

tourdeforce
12-22-2006, 06:32 PM
Oh, 'nuff said right there then.


The plot thickens...

AnneMarble
12-22-2006, 07:12 PM
At least now we know why his publisher let him get away with that. :D

JeanneTGC
12-23-2006, 01:00 AM
Wouldn't it make more sense for a self-published book to be listed on Amazon? Isn't that one of the few true outlets for a self-pubbed book? Or is my understanding incorrect? (Which is entirely possible.)

engmajor2005
12-23-2006, 01:32 AM
If he had've had to stand up to a major publishing company to have this done, had sacrificed a nice contract, something, then I'd applaud him. But he's just grandstanding. I imagine he's the type that wears tweed sweaters and looks down his nose as he says "I write literary fiction for an intelligent audience."

I'm all for the little guy and I love indie bookstores (the ones who don't have a "We sell literary fiction for an intelligent audience" attitude), but I would classify this guy in the same camp as people who refuse to listen to musicians that are popular.

Just 'cause it's popular doesn't mean it's trash; just 'cause it's indie doesn't mean it's good.

Steve Lenaghan
12-23-2006, 01:48 AM
I have a similar problem with my dad's book, Math-e-Magics (http://www.amazon.ca/Super-Math-E-Magics-Speedy-Without-Calculator/dp/0969787804/sr=11-1/qid=1166823908/ref=sr_11_1/702-7620269-5551217) We have the last remaining stock and can't even communicate with Amazon that we have them, more than frustrating. It's buy our stock or unlist it. It is false advertizing to offer something that you cant.

J.S Greer
12-23-2006, 01:59 AM
Wouldn't it make more sense for a self-published book to be listed on Amazon? Isn't that one of the few true outlets for a self-pubbed book? Or is my understanding incorrect? (Which is entirely possible.)

It sure makes sense for me...

Then again maybe he is a tortured poet who just has to fight the establishment! "I'll never go commercial, my art is too important!"

MMcC
12-23-2006, 04:19 AM
Plus, in the interview, he keeps saying "we." Is that a royal "we," or does he have an imaginary self-published posse?

Just an FYI-- I am not against self publishing. It's just guys like this make anyone who wrote something decent, failed to find a market for it, and self pubbed look like egocentric weasels... which stinks.

ebrillblaiddes
12-23-2006, 04:26 AM
I have to wonder...what's the point of a publicity stunt that makes his book less accessible to anyone who doesn't know how to find the right indie bookstores? I guess Mr. Genius Poet didn't think that one through.

Jamesaritchie
12-23-2006, 04:38 AM
I'm glad he want sto support independent bookstores, but he apparently has no clue whatsoever about how independent bookstores work, or anything at about how and why people actually buy books.

Personally, I wouldn't walk five feet to get a self-published book. I've tried to read hundreds, nad 99.9% of them have been just God-awful, and that's being kind.

If a self-published writer wants me to give his book a chance, and I will, with reason, I need to be able to find that book in a convenient location. I'm not about to track down an independent bookstores that carries it.

In fact, one of the things I think is killing the indpendents is their desire to carry so many books most readers don't want, and so few books readers will go out of their way to get.

Evaine
12-23-2006, 03:09 PM
It's to do with the economics, I think. Independant booksellers are unable to buy in bulk as the chain stores do, so they are unable to offer deals to the customer, and are often unable to offer as wide a range as a chain however much they would like to do so. Some of them, of course, support the smaller publishers, but are unable to get hold of the big bestsellers at a price that customers will buy at - so people don't go in to buy the bestsellers, and never see the other interesting books that are in stock.

As an analogy, I used to know of a very good independant butcher's shop. They had a game licence, so sold pheasants and so on, were friendly to customers, would advise on the best cuts of meat, and so on.
Then a supermarket opened just up the road. The meat department in the supermarket held the prices of the meat down to artificially low levels that the butcher couldn't compete with until they went out of business - and then the prices went up again. They could do this because they were a big chain, and this was only one of about 200 meat departments.

maestrowork
12-23-2006, 08:51 PM
It's a self-published book...appears to be a clever publicity campaign.

Sounds like it.

If he's really serious about the "Amazon vs. Indies" issue, I doubt he would make a big splash about it, what with interviews, etc.

And good luck selling a self-pub book in ALL indie stores. I hope Amazon will grand him his wish. :D

CBeasy
12-24-2006, 07:21 AM
Yeah, I'm about as non-capitalist as one can get. and I'm not very into corporate philosophies, but this guy's a wingnut. Sure, supporting indie stores is nice, but I can't think of any reason why a writer wouldn't want to be on Amazon. Even if not for the money, just to be able to reach that many more readers.

MMcC
12-24-2006, 08:06 AM
Says more for amazon that they had it on there to begin with than this numnut that he is "demanding" the remove it. I mean, why not just be civil?

And I'm very suspicious about how the bloody thing ended up on amazon if it's self pubbed and he didn't want it there. ???? Maybe the uk is different but who the heck submitted it to begin with? Amazon doesn't just decide to list self published books over here.

I published a co-written book with a small indie publisher in 96. It did really well on amazon, but our editor/publisher had to jump through a few hoops to get it listed with them.

benbradley
12-25-2006, 04:44 AM
There was a post in this thread the other day that I wrote a longish response to, but I accidentally lost the text I wrote (better to write larger responses 'offline,' save to disk and then copy/past to an AW website text window, rather than write directly in it), and now I don't see the post - it's apparently been deleted (hope I'm not breaking a rule by mentioning a deleted post...Winston Smith comes to mind).

But this post is on a somewhat related issue:

...
And I'm very suspicious about how the bloody thing ended up on amazon if it's self pubbed and he didn't want it there. ???? Maybe the uk is different but who the heck submitted it to begin with? Amazon doesn't just decide to list self published books over here.

I published a co-written book with a small indie publisher in 96. It did really well on amazon, but our editor/publisher had to jump through a few hoops to get it listed with them.

I'm a part-time used bookseller through Amazon, and I can easily see how any title could get on Amazon. If a seller sells 40 or more books per month through Amazon (I don't sell that much), it's worth it to pay $40 per month to become a "Pro Merchant" where among other things, you can create an Amazon entry for a used book you have that you want to sell where Amazon doesn't already have an entry for the book. This is usually done with older out-of-print books that are pre-ISBN, and that haven't been listed on Amazon before. Once the entry is created, other sellers (including non-pro-merchants such as me) can list their copies of the book for sale under that entry. The page for the book will still show up from searches even if there are no copies (neither new nor used) for sale.

I can see where a buyer buys a new book such as this one, reads it, and gets rid of it in one of (at least) three ways:
1. sells it to a used bookseller who lists it on Amazon,
2. donates it to a thrift store where it's bought by a used bookseller who lists it on Amazon, or
3. lists it himself for sale on Amazon.

If I understand the article correctly, the author's beef is that Amazon was selling NEW copies of his book, and I don't know how Amazon decides to sell new copies or (like the quote of MMcC above) how they would get a shipment of them if this guy is also the publisher as well as author, but I easily see how USED copies could show up (and they almost inevitably will, sooner or later, if a significant number of new copies are sold into the market) for sale on Amazon.

I think there is very little if anything an author or publisher can do about what happens to copies once they have been purchased at retail, due to what is known as "First Sale Doctrine:"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine