Confirmed by Colbert: Amazon does rip off authors!

This blog post is an update to a story on my blog written over two years ago regarding the inaccuracy of Amazon’s reporting of sales to authors.  It seems that even authors published through traditional publishing, not just us Indie folks, have been affected.  Just ask Emmy award winning TV journalist Stephen Colbert!  Watch the video –>  Stephen Colbert Amazon vs Hachette

stephen colbert takes on Amazon

So let’s get this right, Amazon!

I have a list over over 150 authors who have contacted me regarding this subject. Story, after story, after story of Amazon and CreateSpace inaccurately reporting sales. I personally have experienced it with all three of my books loaded onto CreateSpace through our small press, AgeView. I have, as many of you do, copies of receipts from friends who have bought the books; screen shots of their verified purchases, yet the sales never showed up. And let’s not even begin to talk about Amazon’s “expanded distribution.”

What a joke!!! My award winning Flying Solo trilogy is in over twenty countries, but do you think I have ever seen a fraction of the sales through “expanded distribution” reporting? Hell no!  Don’t get me started!  Most recently, I have heard about Amazon’s fake book companies that “resell” your used book!

That is why many Indie writers, including the authors recently signed with AgeView, have decided to circumvent the dragon. We use Amazon only for what we have to. Afterall, over 50% of all book sales are through Amazon, so one really doesn’t have much choice. But any other stuff, like expanded distribution, goes through Lightning Source (which is part of Ingram) for print and BookBaby for ebooks. Forget the KDP rip off. Another Amazon scam.

So, thank you! Thank you! God bless you Stephen Colbert for posting your experiences and multiple disgruntlements with Amazon on TV to a very captive audience. Continue to shout about it from the roof tops. And when you are ready, contact us ! Our small coalition of Indie writers will band together for a class action lawsuit to take on the giant. Or at least tarnish them a little with mass media!

stephen colbert shoots Amazon the bird

Take that Amazon!  (photo courtesy of Comedy Central)

Please reblog this story everywhere. Facebook it. Google plus it!  And “link” it in! Maybe, just maybe the Associated Press or Oprah will pick up it. Add your email and comments to our list if this atrocity has happened to you. Because if you are an author, you know it has!

7 thoughts on “Confirmed by Colbert: Amazon does rip off authors!

    • I published my book “Autobiography of a Hippie” with LULU back in 2007, and over the years I‘ve noticed a virtual feeding frenzy by Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online distributors of listings for my book for sale, both new and used. and always in substantial numbers (more than 50 available, etc) yet LULU has claimed that in the last 10+ years, I’ve sold less than 20 books altogether; according to them! Now the used books available online outnumber that by several times, especially when looking at international sales, and they always listed new books available in large numbers too. When I confronted LULU, they replied; “we are a print on demand publisher, so Amazon can list as many as they please, and when they receive orders, we will print them; as for the used books available, anyone can resell their books after reading them” …but how does that explain a used book count that far outnumbers the alleged sales? Is someone else printing and selling my book besides LULU? If so, that would be illegal, and shouldn’t LULU be on top of that to protect one of their authors? Unless, of course, LULU is in collusion with Amazon and others, and especially considering that Amazon has it’s own in-house printing service, it’s easy to see that if LULU gave them the files and rights to print my book, they’d need not have to pay me a dime, and simply split the profits with LULU. When I confronted Amazon with this; they said it was LuLu’s responsibility to pay me my revenues, and when I turned to LULU, they replied that all sales made outside of LULU, would have to paid by the retailer selling the books; similar to the notorious old “Tweed Ring” of some criminal politicians back in the late 1800s; who’d point the finger at the next guy, and that one pointed to the next one, and so on. I see the same thing happening with my music posted online for sale at Reverbnation and elsewhere. You’d think that after 5 years of more than 50 tunes posted, at least one of them would have sold for a lousy dollar, but according to Reverbnation; nothing has sold, NOTHING! Now how in the world can I know if that’s really true or not, as several of my songs have gone viral with a following on the internet radio, so certainly someone should have liked at least one enough to pay $1 for a download copy. You see how it is; the online retailers are in the “driver’s seat” with total control, and there’s no way of really knowing just how many copies were actually sold; unless they are forced to open their books to an IRS audit; to reveal actual sales, we are simply out of luck! Indy authors, musicians and artists like myself ; need to form a class action against the big rip-off corporations and demand justice in a court of law; that’s the only thing that will get their attention! Meanwhile, the story of my youth is being profited on by many others; but not the one who wrote the story; me! I am ready to give my book away for free just to take the wind out of the sails (and sales) of the corporate giants, but actually another one has already done that; Google. Sadly, when I published my book, Google contacted me with an offer to list my book with them in “Google Book Search” and as I thought that meant simply listing it in their search engine, I accepted their offer, not realizing that it would mean that Google would essentially place my entire book up online for anyone to read; nearly in it’s entirety, with only a few pages deleted here and there, so why buy a book, that one could essentially read for free!?! I think I need a really good pro-bono lawyer to help me with all of this, as I sure can’t afford to pay someone to fight the corporate lawyers Amazon and others have at their disposal; know anyone? Contact me, Christopher Totten at:

  1. I watched the whole Colbert video and never once does he say anything about incorrect sales reporting. It may well be true, but I’m reserving judgment until I see some proof. It’s pretty common for sales reporting on my KDP and Createspace books to be delayed, sometimes by as much as a month (this happens on my Amazon affiliate commissions all the time too), but in my experience the sales always show up eventually. Just because I have a screenshot of a ‘verified purchase’ made today and it doesn’t show up on my KDP report tomorrow doesn’t mean Amazon won’t count that sale.

    At least with KDP and Createspace, we have access to next-day sales reports instead of having to wait 6 months or longer to get a printout from a mainstream publisher, whose numbers we have NO way of verifying. Per Writer’s Digest royalty reports, my 2010 book The Indie Author Guide has yet to ‘earn out’ on its paltry $5k advance. I find that hard to believe, but there’s no way I can prove otherwise.

  2. You can add my name to that list of 150 ripped off authors. Amazon KDP
    claims to have made deposits, but they never arrived at my bank. I have filed a complaint with the BBB and am considering a class action suit. Any interested lawyers out there?

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