The £ 740 book that shows you just can’t trust a cover price on Amazon

Authors demand Amazon be brought to book: Modern novel sold as ‘classic’ for £ 740 shows you really can’t trust a cover price

  • John C Boland’s novels were marketed as published in the 17th century
  • They cost over £ 700, but are actually expected to retail for around £ 10.
  • Writer sues Amazon in America for failing to properly monitor book sales

Spotlight: Books like John C Boland’s Hominid have been for sale at inflated prices on Amazon

Critics accuse online giant Amazon of allowing third-party sellers to distort the books they market on its website. In some cases, the books are sold as classics at inflated prices.

Among those affected is American author and publisher John C Boland, whose recent novels were marketed as published in the 17th century and cost over £ 700. In fact, his modern thrillers are expected to cost around £ 10. The Baltimore writer is suing Amazon in US courts for failing to properly monitor the sale of books on his online store.

Although Amazon sells books directly, there is also an option to buy “new” and “used” from other sellers if they also have copies available, which can often be found at links on the site. Web under a description of the literature. Anyone can sign up as one of these third-party resellers if they are able to create an Amazon seller account – although the online giant typically receives 15% of the proceeds from sales.

Boland says: “The abuse affects not only my own works, like the science thriller Hominid, but also novels and non-fiction published by other authors.

“For example, books for $ 12 (almost £ 9) are offered in fancy editions” 1602 “for $ 1,000 (£ 740) which were actually published at the turn of this century.”

He adds, “Amazon’s response that it doesn’t allow this sort of thing is wrong. My search of its books website has revealed thousands of mistakes made by third-party sellers.

“When a salesperson claims to have published an edition over a hundred years ago, he also defames authors like me by suggesting that the book existed before I even wrote it – like I was a plagiarist. “

Meryl Halls, executive director of the Booksellers Association, says the issues John C Boland raises highlight the flaws in buying books online.

She says: “Amazon has enormous power in the book market and it is difficult for independent booksellers to compete with it.

Retail Titan: Amazon sales - of which books are only a small part - grew by more than 50% in 2020 to reach £ 20.63 billion.  He paid a direct UK tax on his profits of £ 492million

Retail Titan: Amazon sales – of which books are only a small part – increased by more than 50% in 2020 to reach £ 20.63 billion. He paid a direct UK tax on his profits of £ 492million

“A local bookstore not only offers quality and reliable advice, but it also allows book buyers to hold a book in their hands before they have to part with the money. “

She adds: “Fortunately, in the past two years – during this terrible pandemic – around 100 new bookstores have opened as people have come to appreciate their value.”

There are some 1,000 independent bookstores in the UK today, less than half of the number that was in business when Amazon launched in 1995.

Those who find browsing the shelves part of the fun of buying books should also consider visiting a book fair to find hidden gems to browse – and talk with experts about other books they might find appealing.

David Maynard is a bookseller and a member of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association. This trade organization offers details of book fairs held across the country – as well as online fairs.

He says, “The Internet has its place, but when it comes to buying books, there is no substitute for personalized service.

“These allegations defame authors like me”

Maynard adds, “Buying older books can be dangerous if a buyer doesn’t know what they’re doing. Descriptions of the condition and exact date are a key part of the purchasing process.

“We have a code of conduct that all members adhere to, so if a buyer has a problem it can be resolved immediately. “

Maynard adds, “Another benefit is that we can help book lovers on their journey – introducing them to new, exciting reads after they’ve shared what they enjoy with us. Amazon’s main selling point is convenience – with a purchase possible with a few clicks of a button rather than having to visit a store.

It also has enormous global marketing and sales power to beat its competition in terms of price. Up to half of all book sales are now through Amazon. He also owns the AbeBooks book-selling website.

A criticism often made about Amazon and other online services is that they don’t have the overhead costs of big box stores, such as store rentals and staff costs, and they pay proportionately lower taxes.

Amazon sales – of which the books are only a small part – increased by more than 50% in 2020 to reach £ 20.63 billion. She paid a direct UK tax on her profits of £ 492million. The American giant channels the majority of its British retail sales via Luxembourg, a tax haven.

Amazon has not commented on John C Boland’s allegations.

But he confirmed that as independent businesses, third-party sellers are required to follow all applicable Amazon laws, regulations and policies when listing items on its online store. He also confirmed that he is promptly investigating any issues raised by buyers and taking action where appropriate.

To find out where to find your nearest bookstore, visit is another website to consider when looking for your favorite Main Street literature.

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