We’ve been following with some interest the dilemma over third party retailers being able to take over a book’s “buy button” on Amazon, offering a book for sale at reduced prices and subsequently affecting an author’s sales, royalties, even their obvious ability to sell multiple copies unless a reader is seeking beyond the primary buying options offered at Amazon.
The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) is taking action on behalf of indie authors and publishers. With their permission, we’re reprinting an open letter they issued to the indie community on June 20, 2017.
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Dear Indie Publishing Community:
As many of you know, Amazon rolled out a new policy this spring regarding the way in which it promotes listings in the Buy Button on a book’s homepage. On May 9, 2017, IBPA issued a statement taking issue with this policy in a post titled “Amazon’s ‘Buy Button’ Policy Change Hurts Publishers and Authors.”
Since that time, we’ve had multiple conversations with industry leaders who’ve expressed their own concern and a desire to dig into this policy. The most notable concern, which IBPA shares, is whether the third-party vendors who are “winning” the coveted Buy Button are in fact selling “new” books. Per Amazon’s stated policy, only “new” books can win the Buy Button. New is defined by Amazon as:
- New: Just like it sounds. A brand-new, unused, unopened item in its original packaging, with all original packaging materials included. Original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. Original manufacturer’s warranty, if any, still applies, with warranty details included in the listing comments.
The question that remains unanswered is the question of where all these “new” books are coming from. It’s hard to understand, for example, how a “new” book could be sold by a third-party vendor for as little as $2.00. We’ve learned from various sources that a handful of publishers (big and small) share this concern. With this in mind, we’re doing research in an attempt to clarify the issue.
As part of this research, we are calling on you, the indie publishing community, to join us in some advocacy.
IBPA’s Advocacy Committee invites you to check your book’s listing on Amazon. If you find that your Buy Button has been commandeered by a third-party vendor, please purchase it. When it arrives in the mail, check it out. Is it slightly or more-than-slightly worn? Is the spine crushed or damaged in any way? Post what you discover on social media using the following hashtag: #IBPAAmazonBuyButton.
Remember: This only works if you find that your Buy Button has been commandeered by a third-party vendor. If your Buy Button lists Amazon as the seller (see image below) than your Buy Button has not been commandeered and you don’t need to buy and report.
IBPA will continue to research and monitor this situation and inform our members of any changes to the policy. In the meantime, we hope you’ll join us in this community advocacy effort and feel free to email the IBPA Advocacy Committee directly at email@example.com.
- Angela Bole, IBPA Chief Executive Officer
- Brooke Warner, Publisher, She Writes Press (IBPA Advocacy Committee – Chair)
- Elizabeth Turnbull, Senior Editor & Partner, Light Messages Publishing (IBPA Advocacy Committee)
- Karla Olson, Director, Patagonia Books (IBPA Advocacy Committee)