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Tue June 27 2017 13:03:21

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

By: Ina Steiner

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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:

Hello,
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

Sincerely,
Seller Performance Team
amazon

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."




Comments (22) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 27 14:00:45 2017

big surprise, they crack down on everything..why not just allow big business to sell on their site?

amazon are cowards and bow to every whim of corporate pressure..they are not good business partners as they do not protect their sellers in any way.

its time to jump ship.

jeff is a coward supreme.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Tue Jun 27 14:14:50 2017

Soon, Amazon will have every category gated. If you cannot produce invoices from your supplier or suppliers or pay an application fee, you will no longer be able to sell there.

It started with DVDs, spread to other items, and now Mom 'N Pop businesses (like myself) cannot sell textbooks either. CDs are rumored to be next on the chopping block.

Do they realize that the majority of 3P sellers find these preowned items at garage and estate sales, thrift stores, and the like? How can we produce invoices from these suppliers?? IMPOSSIBLE!!

Amazon seems to be phasing out small sellers. This will (or should) be a boon for eBay- I went from selling twice as much on the River than the Bay to virtually no sales at all. In fact, I rarely even list there anymore.

Ebay should grasp the fact that they gain these listings of blocked goods from us small sellers, and embrace it. If they block, hide, and gate items like Amazon, then the time for Baba to start up and gain US market share has arrived.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jun 27 14:59:51 2017

I agree completely with eXtinctBay. I would think used textbooks would be the very hardest category within which to obtain invoices for the merchandise. Perhaps Amazon is planning to purchase a textbook publishing company so they have to start kicking off the used book sellers.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: JQ This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 27 18:24:53 2017

I assume this is only for textbooks listed as in "new" condition?

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Tue Jun 27 22:46:26 2017

@JQ

This applies to used textbooks as well. And, no, Amazon will not accept a receipt from the Little Sisters Of The Poor annual rummage sale as a purchase invoice.

I learned when I had a full time job and worked for companies that always made up non-sensical rules to either adapt or go away. Another site or sites will pick up the slack when Amazon essentially forfeits their used textbook business.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jun 28 11:39:40 2017

Copies of 3 invoices?

I agree with the above poster who stated that soon all categories will be gated.  Just like eBay, they are protecting the "big boys".

There really is an opportunity for an ecommerce site to cater exclusively to the small guys and COMPLETELY gate the enterprise sellers.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Wed Jun 28 13:57:12 2017

"How can we produce invoices from these suppliers?? IMPOSSIBLE!!"

Think outside of the box here.

domain name - $12
1 year of hosting - $75
TracFone - $50
moderate MS Word skills - $0

For extra points, take a photo of your local auto parts store and use Photoshop to slap your logo on it.  Just remember to answer the phone as "EZ-txt Distro Ltd" and tell Amazon whatever they want is out of print or sold out.

The real question is whether this horse shit is worth the trickle of sales, high commissions, and serial A2Z fraudsters provided by Amazon.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Jun 28 15:21:03 2017

I also agree with the posters that Amazon appears to be working towards gating most if not all categories.  I've ran into gating problems when trying to post certain things.

I don't think it is Amazon's mission to get rid of small sellers.  That seems to get said about any site that makes some kind of a change.  So I don't buy this unless someone has some proof this is what is happening.

Small seller or larger seller, they have to produce the chain from which they acquired their inventory. While certainly a pain do, I welcome it in this category.

However, I'm a mother of 2 college students and text books are sinfully priced.  Those consumers that are in need of college textbooks must be EXTREMELY careful and pay attention to the details.  More and More there are unauthorized publications showing up.

Not just on Amazon, but other sites as well.  It can be very expensive for consumers that get a book that is NOT authentic.  It can cause it to be useless for the class needed.  Then you are scrambling to find the right book that you can get in fast enough for the class.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 28 16:08:54 2017

Most of the time when someone sounds off on a site trying to get rid of small sellers they are just venting hot air. They have no proof.

Think about it people. If ebay or anyone else wanted to get rid of you, they would just pull the pull for just about any reason they can think of.

They don't need to create some hairbrained scheme to do it.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 28 19:07:55 2017

@FeelingFroggy - You're right that eBay or any other site could "pull the plug" on small sellers. However, the publicity would be so adverse, and the backlash so strong, that I don't believe they'd want to risk damaging the reputation of the site. However, if they institute a number of insidious policies (60 days returns, TRS discounts cut in half, hiding listings) they're hoping the small sellers will give up and walk away voluntarily.  

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 28 23:01:59 2017

If you put a froggis in boiling water it will jump out. If you put a frog in cold water and slowly bring it to a boil..it will stay in and die.

This is why they don't just pull the plug on small sellers.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage

Thu Jun 29 00:15:23 2017

I likewise have been ''gated'' by Amazon. Cobalt glass of all things, where the manufacturer is selling there. I wasn't allowed to sell 6 pcs of previously owned tumblers at a discount. Who knew?

Too new for Etsy and I finally moved them on eBay.

Very frustrating.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Philo

Thu Jun 29 01:57:33 2017

I sold textbooks for a few years and it is big big business.  The fake books, international editions, and loose leaf all hurt the original publishers (and market).  Also the original publishers started requiring one time use codes with the books and digital copies which killed the resale market as well.  My take is rather than address the illegal stuff, they are going to gate it up.  No one wants to tackle the fakes problem, Amazon doesn't want to deal with it and Ebay won't acknowledge it.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 29 03:18:47 2017

What is a counterfeit textbook?  How do you know it's fake or counterfeit?  Who would go through the trouble of printing a fake or counterfeit textbook?

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 29 03:21:10 2017

I've been on AMZ&EB since about 2000 when they first started.  Maybe because I'm grandfathered in, but I have no problem selling DVDs and CDs....stop selling CDs, no money in it.  The only problem I have is with the DVD "sets" for TV shows.  Imagine that HBO doesn't want those TV shows sold online.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 29 03:52:22 2017

@feeling froggy

Careful, that is what I said on another recent blog here and it was not well received by another regular poster here.

But I completely agree.  If Ebay wanted to get rid of small sellers, Ebay would just get rid of them, period.  They would not take more than a decade to accomplish this.  Besides, Ebay doesn't think that far ahead anyway!

@chicago48

Oh there is a LOT of money in textbooks.  ALOT !!!!  For 3 quarters of college for ONE kid, we probably spend $700 to $1000.  And that is because we are good shoppers.  There always seems to be a $300 book that is needed for something.  It is ridiculous the price of college textbooks.

You have to watch the edition, publisher and place it was published / printed.  It it says it is an "international" edition or copy, chances are pretty high it is counterfeit for USA use.  You have to read the info on the book very carefully to make sure you are getting what you need.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

This user has validated their user name. by: VV

Thu Jun 29 09:00:06 2017

Amazon IS wholesale at this point.

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: ignatz This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 29 09:09:26 2017

"As part of our ongoing efforts to provide the best possible customer experience,"
---
Correction:  "As part of our ongoing efforts to work with the mega-corporations to restrain trade ..."

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 29 12:31:31 2017

Who said eBay is trying to get rid of small sellers? Small sellers are the only ones paying the fees!  

Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales   Amazon Cracks Down on Textbook Sales

by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 30 10:29:29 2017

Soon everything sold that is in direct competition with Amazon themselves will be gated. CD's were last month.  this NEEDS to have a class action filed against them period.

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