Sunday, March 23, 2014

What a deal, deux.

Recently I admitted my vast store of ignorance about a tiny area of book publishing, i.e., used and collector books available on Amazon. Today, I continue exploring that realm.

I “unpublished” my book Blood Anjels a couple of days ago, meaning that new copies of it are no longer available. Before you reach for your hankie, this was simply a marketing decision. I decided the title and original cover weren’t working, so, new title, new cover. The book is now called Anjel and is readily available on Amazon.

I only printed a handful of these with the original cover and title—maybe a couple. Some were sold through Amazon’s print-on-demand service. Maybe there are 100 of them in existence. I still have three. That means there might be 97 copies floating around out there. If you’re a collector and you have one, this is probably cause for minor celebration. Don’t buy the spendy bubbly, though.

Amazon likes to keep titles up on their site even when they don’t have any to sell. It gives used book dealers the opportunity to sell copies they may have, from which Amazon makes a commission. There are six copies of Blood Anjels being offered, all by the same dealer, ranging in price from $42.38 to $42.54.
The physical descriptions of the books vary a bit. Two mention light water damage. One mentions a bit of shelf wear. One says it is brand new and unread. Another claims it is in good condition, including the dust jacket.

I suspect that this company might have a single copy of the book. It probably doesn’t have any shelf wear, because how much shelf wear could it have after a month of existence? I doubt it has water damage, but who will complain if it shows up in better shape than advertised? Also, I’m pretty sure the description of the dust jacket being in good condition is bogus. This is a trade paperback and doesn’t have a dust jacket.

It’s tempting to purchase all six copies to see what happens. I’m guessing I would receive one copy, in good condition, along with five emails telling me they’re sorry but they’re temporarily out of stock. Tempting, but I think I’ll go another route. I’ll put my three copies up for $39.95 each, undercutting the dealer. Will their asking price go down? Will it go up? Will they suddenly discover another 200 non-existent copies and offer those for sale?

And, here’s the big question. If they suddenly had 200 orders for this book, would they be able to fill them? Remember, something less than 100 printed. However, it was a print-on-demand book. If additional copies began appearing, someone would have some explaining to do.

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