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Cave venditor. (Seller beware). When Amazon UK appear to be in breach of distribution contract. Is t


In a world of publishing, where most traditional publishers and literary agents ignore the vast majority of authors (searching for the next blockbuster or literary award winner), there is only one recourse for a writer; self-publishing. It’s the route I had to take. I used feedaread.com who got my book into POD distribution rapidly with a very generous deal. I neither had to keep a stock nor go through dealing separately with book distributors. They even had my book going through Amazon UK and for six moths everything seemed to be going reasonably well. When copies sold out Amazon ordered more from feedaread.com’s printers who also handle distribution for a number of large publishers. Suddenly it stopped.

The message appeared this book was only available from third party suppliers. This was not part of the contractual deal as I understand it and appears to be a breaching of the contract. In spite of several attempts to get a quick response from Amazon I’ve been greeted with stonewalling. They blamed the printers and feedaread.com for the problem. I received a quick response from the Customer Care Team of feedaread.com. This was the their response:

“"Hi John

Thanks for your mail. Re your query, our printers who handle distribution raised with Amazon say they did not receive a helpful response so they raised a next-level ticket with Amazon. The printers distribution agreement with Amazon involves tens of thousands of books so usually they resolve quickly, more quickly than this, so we have also asked that our printer representative take it to the next level with their own management examining this too as it effects your book of course but if amazon aren't providing their normal quicker response we pointed out to the printers it could be affecting more than one book and different publishers that they represent.

As soon as we hear further we will let you know. Re the resellers on your book's page on amazon, the only way resellers can get a copy is by sourcing a copy through our printers so this ensures you always receive a royalty, most of the resellers listed for your book such as Wordery are very well established with over half million book sales on amazon, and include free postage in the price on amazon, so in the interim you could point readers to the resellers or to our site directly if you have clicked for your book to be public on our site too.”

My annoyance went to infuriated with Amazon. My sales and marketing campaign are best described as shoestring. My main resource is online through Facebook and Twitter as well as some leafleting via friends up and down the country. Until this action by Amazon I’d actually seemed to be doing quite well. The novel actually reached into the low 90s in Amazon’s Books/Erotica/Literary & Fiction/Romantic (even though they placed in the wrong category – another separate issue). Not bad for someone with my limited resources.

It was then that fellow self-published authors online began to provide me with their interesting thoughts and take on the subject. I won’t name names but I will quote their thoughts.

”…there are numerous forums on amazon from sellers stating that they, as small businesses, are being edged out by amazon and fulfilled by amazon policies etc. My amazon sales have been dire in the last couple of months as opposed to pretty good most months last year.”

A further comment went like this:

“It does seem as though they are aiming to back small business into a corner and go amazon fulfilled which in turn can cause various issues (charging for storage space, holding back stock, pressurizing to reduce stock prices to their recommendations etc.). I got an email a day or so after reading the forums recommending I go down that route to reach more buyers and as I say, my sales have dipped since Xmas to a very low level. I have also noticed that the search engine for the books fluctuates… so yes they have some serious control over who sees our books etc.”

Another comment also seemed to reflect a deliberate strategy by Amazon to force authors into their corner:

“…it has always aggrieved me that they have such a monopoly (so to some degree it’s Hobson’s choice) - doubly so that they often charge insufficient postage that I have to swallow... worst of all I probably pay more in tax than they do…”

My response is clear.

I don’t know what their game is. I don’t care what games they’re playing but if they don’t comply with the terms of their distribution contract they will face a 24-7 campaign from me online until they do. I’ll use every means at my disposal even the news media and legal recourses if needs be. They are in breach of a distribution contract as I understand. If I have to go 24-7 and 365 I’ll give them the kind of publicity they won’t like. So be it.


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EMAIL: johnknightnovelist@gmail.com

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