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News & Press: IBPA Association News

An Amazon "Buy Button" Call to Action

Tuesday, June 20, 2017   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Angela Bole
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IBPA Advocacy
Read Also: "Amazon’s 'Buy Button' Policy Change Hurts Publishers and Authors" (May 9, 2017)
Read Also: "IBPA’s Fall 2017 Update on the Amazon Buy Button Policy Change" (October 4, 2017)

Dear IBPA 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 have 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.

This community-wide effort is important. Why? Following BookExpo, IBPA communicated with the folks at Amazon tasked with looking into this issue to discuss our concerns. Currently, they say they have no proof that third-party vendors are selling used books and asked that we keep them posted if we see any books for sale via the Buy Button that are not “new.” In other words, the only way to prove to them that their vendors are widely selling as new what should qualify as used is to show evidence.

To give you a sense of the kind of damage we’re looking for, Brooke Warner, Chair of IBPA’s Advocacy Committee, has a new post on Huffington Post, in which she shares photos of several books she purchased. We need and want your help, and believe this is one small action that might effect a change in Amazon’s policy (#IBPAAmazonBuyButton). If they cannot police their vendors, we can do it for them.

Please post your results to IBPA’s Facebook page as the books come in. We welcome knowing whether you believe your books are in new condition, too. We want to see what’s really happening on the ground. This isn’t only about proving Amazon wrong.

As a side note, we believe that publishers, moving forward, will need to take measures to mark post-publication promotional copies and to pay to stripe remainders so we can get ahead of this problem that Amazon seems to have limited interest in addressing. If you’re not already considering these actions, now might be the time.

Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to hearing back from you here in the comments section below and on social media using #IBPAAmazonBuyButton.

In Partnership,

The members of IBPA's Advocacy Committee:

  • 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)


David Wogahn, says...
Posted Monday, July 3, 2017
Last Thursday I went to buy copies of a client book. I clicked add to cart without looking at the fine print. At checkout, I noticed the book price was about half our normal price and the seller was third party, and not Prime. I had to go back and intentionally add our book to the cart--it was listed with all the other third party sellers--and delete the third party seller that "owned the buy box." Today, 4 days later, we (the Publisher) once again owns the buy box, as we should. My only conclusion is that Amazon noticed that I bought the same book twice, from the publisher, and decided to put the publisher's book back in the buy box. I logged out and tried again and the publisher's book was there. Unfortunately I didn't buy that cheaper book but I'll monitor the book and do so next time.
Skeeter Buck, Night River Press says...
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Thank you advocacy committee and leadership of IBPA for being so active and articulate with this issue. You have given me action items that I can attend to and also share with others. Keep up the good work!

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