Why does Amazon show used copies available of my book?

Now that An Accidental Awakening has launched and is available worldwide, I have more insight that popped up along the publishing road that can help you.

There are several areas of confusion when it comes to the massive algorithm machine that is Amazon.

One issue I’ve seen many rants about online is the reselling of self-published authors’ books. Authors assume that their books have been purchased and are being sold via third parties on Amazon.

This is partly true… but not entirely how you think.

I have no proof of what I’m about to share, however, have suspected it since I published Anna and the Earth Angel over 2 years ago. When An Accidental Awakening went live 2 weeks ago, I saw my theory in action.

My frustration with Earth Angel was that I published the book through Ingramspark, which made it available for worldwide distribution including through Amazon. However, as a Canadian author, I was unable to share this great news with my readership because although Amazon.com picked up the listing and displayed it immediately for purchase (“ships from and sold by Amazon”), they did not pick it up for Amazon.ca. It was listed there, but only available through third party sellers and my $9.99 children’s book of 3000 words was listed for $37.

There was no way I was going to promote that link! In fact, I avoided it like the plague and immediately listed on Chapters/Indigo. (Who has their own issues and I’ll get to that in another post). This is not meant as criticism. I love my distribution channels, though they take work to surf. It is meant as education for the self-published author.

In order to solve my Amazon issue in Canada, I ended up publishing Earth Angel on Create Space (now Kindle Print). Once published, Amazon immediately listed the book as it was intended.

What I suspected though, was that these third party resellers did NOT actually have a copy of my book.

An Accidental Awakening went into pre-order status for a month. I was on my computer when it switched over to available on Amazon. I did publish it both on Amazon and Ingramspark (Amazon won’t allow preorders from self-published authors, but if you publish through Ingramspark, your book will go into preorder on Amazon… it’s a maze, I know. That’s why you hire a coach to help you navigate it… wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more).

Here’s what the screen looked like at launch time:

Screen capture from Amazon.com at launch

Check out the paperback availability. 2 Used and 4 New. Excuse me?

It just launched. Like minutes ago. There are used copies available for sale? Wow! People read fast. And list books even faster. For big prices.

No they don’t. They have, what I can only imagine is, an algorithm of their own that trolls the updates and grabs books to list for sale. Of course their dream is to list those unwitting self-published authors who didn’t realize their book would not be ‘shipped from and sold by Amazon’. The third party sellers typically have long ship times because they will purchase and ship your book once they receive a sale.

Again, this is my best guess. But don’t get all up in arms when you see a reseller list your book as used. They haven’t purchased it and it’s completely unethical in my opinion, but it’s what appears to be happening on Amazon.

Your best route to ensure pricing integrity is to publish your book through Kindle Print, particularly if you are Canadian and want to promote your book through Amazon.ca. You can go through Ingramspark (who, by the way, pays higher royalties), but it may take several emails to correct the listing, if indeed it gets corrected.

.com doesn’t appear to have the same issues. They tend to pick up Ingramspark-listed books just fine. Apparently we are their annoying little sister… or chihuahua.

No, we’re just not as big of a book-buying audience as our southern sisters and brothers.

I hope that provides you with some insight. Let me know if you’ve grappled with this same issue or if there are other questions you have that I can shine a light on.

One thought on “Why does Amazon show used copies available of my book?

  1. I published my first book in 2005 and sent a copy to Amazon.com (that was before Amazon had print on demand). Being poetry … it’s still there (poetry doesn’t sell). At least, it shows it there but good luck actually locating it. And, it’s multiplied! Amazon.com shows the original at a reasonable price. However, Amazon.ca somehow got hold of several copies and is trying to sell new nonexistent books for 43.31 – almost 4 times the original price. There’s a used one for $11 more. Go figure. Trying to get hold of anyone at Amazon that can rectify the situation is next to impossible. Be prepared to put up with a lot of stupid and frustrating things beyond your control once you publish a book.


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