Sunday, December 31, 2017

Amazon revokes my selling privileges though they make as much or more than I do on many books I sell

Amazon has revoked my selling privileges because I have failed to "valid tracking" numbers on at least 95% of my shipments, and my account is "under review." Here's my conversation with them, followed by an example of how they rip off small publishers and independent sellers like me.

Their message to me:


Your Valid Tracking Rate is below the goal of 95% in the following categories: Book

As a result, you may no longer sell merchant-fulfilled items in the affected categories on Amazon.com. Your listings for those categories have been removed from our site.


My response:

Dear friends,

Many of the books I sell are thin and light and that means the post office allows me to send them as "large envelopes" instead of as parcels, saving me money on shipping charges. As such, they do not come with free tracking.  When I sell a book, you (Amazon) are in many cases already making as much off it as I am (thanks in part to your phony $3.99 shipping charge, because none of my books really cost 3.99 to ship). If I pay extra for tracking, I make even less than you do. So it does not always make sense for me to pay extra for tracking on a small book.

In other cases, with bigger books, I send them via media mail, which does provide free tracking, but these comprise far fewer than 95% of my sales.


Their further response:

Your account is still under review. We ask for your patience while buyers leave feedback for you.

We will send you an email when our review is complete. Until then, we may not reply to further emails about this issue.


The numbers:

Here's just one example: I sell Elliot Nicely's Crisis Chronicles Press chapbook The Black Between Stars for $4.99 in the Amazon marketplace. Amazon makes the buyer pay an additional $3.99 for "shipping." So the buyer is charged a total of $8.98. Then Amazon takes their fees:

Closing fee:
-$1.80
Per-Item Fee
-$0.99
Referral Fee on Item Price:
-$0.75
Shipping commission:
-$0.60 

After all that, Amazon gives me, the publisher, $4.84. But then I have to [pay to] ship the book. Because this is a small and light chapbook, it only costs me 70 cents to mail as a "large envelope."  So of the $8.98 the buyer was charged, I end up with $4.14, the post office gets $0.70 and Amazon gets $4.14. They receive exactly what I do on the transaction. And they didn't have to publish the book.  But now they insist I pay extra for tracking on top of this?

And no other book I sell is as light in weight and small in dimensions as The Black Between Stars.  Here's another example: I don't just sell books I publish on Amazon. I also sell used books I pick up here and there. Last week I sold a copy of Diana Gabaldon's The Fiery Cross for $4.99 on Amazon.  The numbers for it were exactly the same as the numbers for selling Nicely's, except for the fact that The Fiery Cross is a much heavier book. So in this case, the least expensive way for me to mail it was Media rate, which cost me $3.12. At least I got free tracking with Media rate. But again, Amazon made WAY more than I did overall.

And now they want to burden the independent sellers and small presses they're ripping off even more by forcing us to pay more to provide tracking on every single book. For shame!

5 comments:

  1. Effective January 1, 2017, Amazon was supposed to have implemented a policy where any purchase over $10 required a tracking number. The one sale I had through them that was over $10 (two copies of a $6 book) did not force me to list one, but nonetheless I changed my pricing on my few $10 books to $9.99. On my normal $6 books, I end up making 12 cents more on an Amazon sale than direct through my site. However, I offer free shipping to US customers and I'd much rather folks buy the book through me and have that $3.99 shipping money to spend on another book.

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  2. wow.. what bullshit. makes me mad. grr

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  3. I notice your John Burroughs titles are still on the site to buy.. it seems to be all the Jesus Crisis ones unavailable.
    You may want to explore selling on Etsy. Though that entails moving and relisting everything. And you lose the visibility Amazon gives.
    They seem to want people to play only by their rules. which squeezes small sellers out of thier market. I really dislike that practice. '

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