How to support your favourite authors on Amazon

When an author publishes a book it’s natural for family and friends to be delighted. They’d be the first to support them, and to ensure that – should they buy a copy of their book – that some of the revenue goes into the pockets of their loved one. Because, let’s face it, Jeff Bezos doesn’t need the money.

However, when buying a copy of your favourite author’s book from Amazon, you may not be sending any royalties their way. Across the vast majority of book sales, only by buying copies directly from the publisher’s website is an author guaranteed royalties.

This post is probably pointing out the obvious, but it’s amazing how many people who wish to support an author mis-order on Amazon.

Amazon doesn’t just sell new books, it’s also a marketplace for second-hand books – and this is what some people forget when ordering from the site. If you’re not paying attention, and simply choose to buy a copy of the author’s book from the first supplier listed, you may not receive what you think.

We know of authors’ friends and relatives who have received damaged/well-used copies of their loved ones’ books after ordering on Amazon, and assumed they have come from the publisher. No publisher would send out a battered or used copy when fulfilling a ‘new copy’ sale (that said, they have no control over how well Royal Mail may treat the book during delivery!). The purchaser, in this scenario, will have ordered a second-hand copy from Amazon without realising.

Authors only receive royalties on the sale of new copies; once a copy is in the public domain – whether sold at a car boot sale, on Amazon, from a charity shop or elsewhere – it’s like any other second-hand product…only the seller gets paid. If you want to ensure an author is rewarded for the wonderful content they’ve created, which you’re about to read, support them by purchasing a new copy of their book and not a second-hand one.

Sometimes, this mis-ordering is genuine error. Amazon doesn’t give any priority to new book sales, and therefore doesn’t always present the publisher/provider of new copies at the top of the drop-down list on a book’s sales page – you need to be aware, when ordering, exactly who you’re ordering the book from. Whilst you may not know the publisher’s name, Amazon will state the condition of copies and whether they’re new or not.

Of course, many people are happy to order second-hand copies of a title and, due to the rise of Amazon, we have all become used to purchasing books at rock-bottom prices. However, for book buyers who wish to consciously support a certain author, take care when ordering from Amazon. Our advice, as you’d expect, is to order directly from the publisher – not only will the author receive their respective royalties from the sale, it’s also likely that they’ll receive more of the revenue when there are no Amazon selling fees to meet.

Think of the amount of time and talent an author puts into the creation of their book. If we all only ever bought second-hand copies, how are authors expected to pay their bills?

Support the writers of the world and buy new books!

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