Here’s another one from the mailbag about self-publishing a stage play…
I’ve noticed that on both your sales pages and mine, there are listings for “New” and “Used” copies of our respective books. How can that be if we’re presumably the only publisher? I know I haven’t seen any revenue from these resellers. How did they get their hands on my books without paying me for them?
Once you list your book with a distributor, such as through Bowkers or Createspace’s distribution, you’re making it possible for any bookseller to order it. Because it’s print on demand, however, most sellers won’t actually order it, they’ll just list it as active inventory when without having it in stock because they know they can just get it printed a copy if/when someone orders it. (You’ll only be paid if they actually order a copy.) This is why you’ll see third party sellers listing it on Amazon and other reseller marketplaces or other bookstores, such as the Drama Book Shop, listing it on their website when you haven’t specifically gotten them to stock your book. It’s a common tactic to make it look like the sellers have more inventory than they actually have.
Sometimes you’ll also see super weird prices on these items, either ludicrously high or low, and that’s because many sellers use automatic pricing software for Amazon and similar sites that is set to automatically out-bid their competitors by increasing or decreasing the price. With a normal title, this helps them to place their book realistically within the listings that actual humans with real copies have put up. With a POD title, where usually the only people listing the book are other resellers using the same software as them, you get funny outlier prices where pricing bots battle each other into insanity.