We received a note from Last Dragon author J. M. McDermott who notes that you might have trouble finding certain books on Amazon.com; specifically, it seems that for some titles Amazon is not showing the latest editions in search results. Even worse, he says that some of the editions being presented as new are actually used.
Read on to see what McDermott found (reprinted here with his permission) and let us know if you can shed light on this…
So, currently, Jason Sizemore and I have been trying to figure out what the heck happened that Amazon has almost made the latest edition of LAST DRAGON disappear from search. One can only find the paperback of LAST DRAGON by clicking around a lot towards the most expensive listing. What shows up in search is something called [Bargain Price] edition. Now, that’s a used, Out-of-print edition, right there. It’s not a new book. It’s a book that was printed sometime around 2007-2008, and it’s going to be old, crusty, and probably marked on. However, you wouldn’t know that from the listing. It’s being listed as if it’s just a bargain, new edition. It’s also given primacy in search functions.
So, it’s also murdering the search placement and impacting sales of the latest edition of LAST DRAGON, from indie press Apex, which includes author corrections, and amazing new artwork by my wife, who holds a degree in illustration from prestigious Moore College of Art & Design.
More importantly, because I don’t actually mind people picking up used copies of my books – that’s a great and wonderful thing – it is being presented to the customer as if they’re getting a great deal on a brand, new book.
I’m not the only one affected by this. Firefly Rain and Devil’s Cape are both impacted, also from the same original line of books that published my first novel back in 2008. I’m sure there would be more.
What we’d like to accomplish is a simple new search rule, for amazon: Latest Print editions get primacy in search.
There are lots of reasons why new editions should be presented first. For instance, corrections cannot always happen in the first edition in time. That’s another whole round of editorial polish to the second edition. Also, art and design might have changed and improved. Being a new edition, instead of a used one, the quality of paper and ink will be different, presumably better, and the customer should have a longer-lasting artifact in hand. Of course, the failure to find latest editions without diligence also means that the bottom line to publishers and authors is impacted, and it will likely chill the ability of publishers to reprint older titles, and chill the ability of authors to reintroduce their own work themselves, when search placement at Amazon is favoring the used and out-of-print editions. And, of course, selling something that is not new with a listing that indicates it is? Not cool.
I hope you can help us figure out what’s going on, because Jason and I are mystified, and we’ve gotten no good answers either from Jason’s distributors, or Amazon.