I was looking over the Amazon page for Catskinner’s Book last night and I noticed that they have changed the price for the paperback from $9.99 (which is what I set on Create Space) to $8.99. The reason seems to be that a third party seller has a new copy listed for $5.99.
Interesting, said I.
As it happens, I have never actually sold a new copy through Create Space. All of the copies that Create Space has printed have been shipped to me. Some of them I have placed with a local bookshop, All On The Same Page Books, the rest I have given away in various promotions. (GoodReads, Story Cartel, and Cu’s Book Giveaways.)
Now, if I assume that this third party storefront isn’t buying copies from All On The Same Page’s online store and then reselling them at a loss, I’m left with the conclusion that someone who received a promotional copy of my novel turned around and sold it to an online store, which is listing it as new.
I’m not happy with that, for a number of reasons. The main reason is that Amazon is now undercutting the paperback price that I have set for All On The Same Page, and part of the deal I have with them is that I set my Create Space price for the paperback to the same as they sell it in their store. I have done that, it’s still listed as $9.99 on Create Space, but because this other vendor is selling one of my promotional copies as new for $5.99 (plus $3.99 shipping, BTW) Amazon has dropped their price.
I’ve got an e-mail into Amazon, but I’m not expecting them to disable their price match algorithms for me.
Now, it may not actually be illegal to sell items received as promotions. If the book was unopened, it may not even be illegal to sell it as new. But it’s a dick move, ethically.
If all that I am figuring is right, and it is a promotional copy, then I am pretty sure it came from GoodReads. The Story Cartel giveaway was limited to be people who had already published a review of the e-book, and presumably actually wanted the book. The Cu’s Book Blog giveaway copies were signed.
I never got any reviews, or, in fact, any acknowledgement that the winners received their copies at all from GoodReads. I have already decided that it wasn’t worth signing up for another one for Cannibal Hearts.
Now I’m wondering, though, do people just sign up for every giveaway that shows up on GoodReads, and then just sell the books when they get them? That would explain why so many people signed up for the Catskinner’s Book giveaway, and why so many of the profiles I checked of people who had signed up seemed to be people with no obvious interest in science fiction.
Or maybe the on-line bookseller is one of the winners himself. The business e-mail doesn’t match any of my winners’ e-mails, but that proves nothing. As pure speculation, would there be anything to stop an on-line bookseller from signing up for GoodReads giveaways with the intent to resell any books he wins?
In any event, I don’t really see anything to do at this point. It’s not as if my sales of the paperback are large enough that Amazon dropping the price a dollar is going to hurt me financially. I may buy the copy from that on-line bookstore, just to get it out of his inventory.
However, if I do any other paperback giveaways, I am going to buy a stamp that says PROMOTIONAL COPY NOT FOR RESALE, and make sure that any copies I give away are liberally marked that way.
EDIT: Just received a reply from the seller. He bought the copy at a yard sale, and he apologized and promised to take it down right away.