Ever since Amazon.com began I have been an ardent supporter as a customer. Fast, efficient, limitless titles, easy shopping experience. I purchase all my books through Amazon, and even some non-book items. I am an Amazon Prime member. They seem to be moving quickly to become the world’s largest retailer.
However, now I have the experience of being an Amazon supplier and not a customer. Based on my current experience of trying to sell my book, FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution, through Amazon, they seem to favour the customer over the supplier.
My big problem with Amazon.com is this: I have written a book, like many people out there, and want to sell it on Amazon, because it is THE world-wide market place for books. I have agreed to all the terms of how much of the book price ($15.00) Amazon gets and how much I get. Not even half, but who cares, it is distribution we authors are looking for. I fill out all the forms, try to figure out which of the several Amazon seller programs is the right one for me, register, upload all the information, even spend $600 sending inventory to two different Amazon fulfilment warehouses in the US (I live in the UK and my book was printed in the UK), only to find that I am now competing with Amazon as to who sells the books!
I don’t get it. They have this term called, Big Box, which is not explained anywhere, but after a dozen emails and finally a call with a live “customer representative”, I learn that Amazon competes with the vendor for who gets to sell the book! As a result, since I am the smaller party, and on the Amazon site for my book it lists, in bold, RED print, that the item is currently out of stock (but there are 119 copies in their warehouse!) and in very small print off to the side it says it is available from another source (which happens to be me, but also fulfilled by Amazon)!
What the hell is going on? Here is the current Amazon page for my book. What does this communicate to you, a first time buyer? If you are like most people, all you see is the big RED “Temporarily Out of Stock”, and you stop searching. Even though in small print it says there are two copies available (when in actuality there are 119 in the warehouse waiting to be shipped) as another buying option.
After half an hour on the phone with the very friendly (but totally unempowered) “customer service person”, he has no solution to offer other than try a different Amazon seller program!
To say I am upset is an understatement. Independent authors just want is sell their work and let the world decide if it has value. That’s the value of Amazon. We should not be competing with Amazon, they should be helping us sell out work, since they make money on every sale.
If someone out there in the blogosphere has some insight into this dilemma or have had a similar experience, resolved or not, I would like to hear about it. Am I missing something?
Being the biggest retailer of books on the planet is good, but not if they compete with those who provide the content; what good it that?
One frustrated Amazon supplier, and former Amazon fan!
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress