Authors’ Copies and Amazon Prices

My wife and I want to give quite a few copies of my new book to friends, family and colleagues.  My publisher gives me a certain number free, per our contract, but not enough to cover our whole list.  So I have to buy some.

I get a discounted price, under my contract, of 40% off the publisher’s list price.  Sounds good, but then again, on amazon, the sales price to the market, including me, is even less .  So I’ll be buying on amazon.

The discount pricing clause in my contract is becoming antiquated.  Pre-amazon, it was a good deal.  It has been a standard publishing contract clause for decades.  It remains a good deal for those books that amazon does not deeply discount, but those are going the way of the buggy whip too.  

The differential gives authors valid incentives to buy their own books from amazon, boosting sales rank. Suspicious bulk buying to boost sales has always won a dagger (asterisk) in best seller lists. The notation warns of an author trying to boost sales to make the list. Now it is  a routine decision to buy books to share one’s work with one’s dearest.  The notations are heading for the dustbins of history as well. 

Amazon is changing the world in vastly more consequential ways than this.*  But these are not trivial changes to those of us who write books and read publishing contracts.   


* Cf. the category listing below this post, noting “Posted in Amazon.”  Amazon is one of about 100 default categories bloggers at Co-Op may use to classify posts; others include Criminal Law, Current Events, Politics, Race, Securities and Teaching.

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4 Responses

  1. Your book lists at $29.95.

    40% off list is $17.97.

    Amazon sells it at 41% off, or $17.64.

    The difference is $0.33 per copy.

    My conclusion: you have a lot of friends and a large family.

  2. Sasha Romanosky says:

    But wouldn’t one need to buy 1000s or 10,000s of books to boost its rating in any meaninful way? At $20 each (avg book price?) — and even with lots of friends — doesn’t this seem unlikely?

  3. 5 years ago, I was able to get my publisher to send copies out to lots of colleagues as review copies. Have you tried that in addition to your stock of free copies?

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    I’m curious whether in Japan there are remainder bins for books printed but not readily sold. Or are printings more carefully determined to reflect demand in Japan? (One of my stops years ago here in the Boston area was to drop in at “Buck-A-Book” to check out books that haven’t sold well. I would rarely make a purchase even at that price as the volume of remainders would remind me of Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees.”) The print on demand technology may reduce the holdings of remainder bins.