The Vandal blog on AmazonSo you probably thought that when you buy from Amazon, you are buying from Amazon. Well, how wrong you are.

As an independent author living in Switzerland, I use a US publisher for my books. (Not e-books. Different sorry saga.) The publisher is a subsidiary of Amazon, so naturally I have been secure in the knowledge that my books are being distributed through the Amazon international network as well as an ‘Expanded Distribution System’ that I pay for to have my books available to bookstores, universities and libraries worldwide.

How wrong I have been. I recently discovered that my books were not appearing on Amazon UK. So, I shot off a message to my publisher asking why.

The answer was a shock.

Yes, my publisher is a subsidiary of Amazon US and my books are therefore automatically listed on the US site. But they have no affiliation with Amazon Germany, Japan, Canada, UK or France and these international Amazon sites do not list my books via any connection at all with Amazon US. Their listings are provided by a company called Ingram Wholesale/Lightning Source International (LSI).

As well as LSI, the international Amazon sites use third party resellers to provide books for their sites. I checked one of my books on the UK site and was presented with these reseller options to buy my book: Winston Bookstore UK, Spineys, Quartermelon, Aphrohead Books, Buyve: Buy to Give, The Book Depository and GB Books UK. Who are these providers? And why do they stock my books and not Amazon UK?

But the worst part was that these resellers were offering my book at up to DOUBLE the price that the book is listed in the US. One was even double for a USED copy. Resellers or blatant ‘rip off merchants’?

The only bright side to this story is that Amazon Germany, France, Canada and Japan seem to be offering most of my books directly from their sites and at the correct listed price.

But it does beg the question – who the hell is Amazon outside the US?

And the conclusion that Amazon UK is to be avoided completely as it is clearly attempting to rip off my readers.

Trust Amazon – But Is It Amazon?
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6 thoughts on “Trust Amazon – But Is It Amazon?

  • 18/06/2011 at 4:39 pm

    Maybe Amazon US operates by utilizing franchises Derek, conditional that they operate under the copyrighted name Amazon, while setting their own totally unfathomable local set of rules???

  • 19/06/2011 at 2:51 am

    Well, this is very interesting news to me. I had absolutely no idea this was true. Thanks for the information.

  • 19/06/2011 at 4:11 am

    "But it does beg the question – who the hell is Amazon outside the US?"

    Very good question. Thanks for sharing this post. Food for thought.

  • 19/06/2011 at 7:02 pm

    I recently published and used FastPencil, who then became the distributor to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and Ingram.

    As I understand it, all the other "retailers" who are carrying my book find out through the Ingram listing.

    Still, all the books go out from FastPencil and all the royalties come to me from FastPencil; except, of course, in the case of someone pirating my book :-)

  • 19/06/2011 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for the info Alexander. I'll check out FastPencil for sure.

  • 29/08/2011 at 9:32 am

    Hi Derek I didn’t notice until recently that Amazon is a big hosting company most of the products sold on Amazon are not actually their products they come from external companies that sell their products through Amazon. I’m not sure how it works in the other countries because I have never looked.

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