Amazon seller restrictions continue to spread to new categories, and media sellers have been hard-hit. Last year, Amazon cracked down on sellers listing DVDs. Last month, it was music CDs and vinyl. This month, it's textbooks.
Readers are describing the same experience with textbooks as sellers had described when they received notifications about CDs in May: vague directives and a lack of clarification from Amazon customer service reps.
Here's the letter Amazon sent to some booksellers:
Please read this email carefully. The listing information described below may affect your ability to sell certain products on Amazon.
As part of our ongoing efforts to provide the best possible customer experience, we are implementing selling qualifications for certain popular products in the Textbook category.
Please reply to this email within 3 weeks with the following:
- Copies of up to 3 invoices or receipts from your primary supplier(s) issued in the last 180 days for your popular Textbook products. These should reflect your sales volume during that time.
- Contact information for your supplier, including name, phone number, address, and website.
You can send .pdf, .jpg, .png, or .gif files. These documents must be authentic and unaltered. We may call your supplier(s) to verify the documents. You may remove pricing information, but the rest of the document must be visible. We will maintain the confidentiality of your supplier contact information.
If we do not hear from you within 3 weeks, or we are unable to confirm the information you provide, we will remove your listings.
To learn more about our policies, search for these topics in Seller Central Help:
- Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions
- Product Detail Page Rules
- Condition Guidelines
Seller Performance Team
Sellers often source products from middlemen not necessarily authorized by publishers (or manufacturers), making it difficult to produce invoices acceptable to Amazon.
Some sellers say they are seeking other venues, such as eBay. (In related news, eBay is closing down its media marketplace Half.com.) And there's speculation among a few sellers that Amazon wants to end the sale of used goods on its site.
Producers and publishers of media are known for exerting pressure on marketplaces and sellers over concerns of Intellectual Property violations. In January, three publishers sued
Amazon over allegations related to counterfeit textbooks, and last week, publishers sued a textbook distributor, Follett Corporation, "on charges of selling counterfeit textbooks in its stores," according to a report in EdSurge
In another article about Amazon EdSurge published yesterday, the authors wrote, "Getting Amazon to talk about what it is up to is not as easy as just shouting questions to Alexa on an Echo, of course." That's something sellers can relate to: writing about the textbook crackdown, a seller wrote, "I still find it bizarre, and creepy, really, that Amazon thinks it's a good idea to keep the meaning of "certain popular products" a big secret."