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Author Loses Royalties From 5,104 Books

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform offers authors a great way to self-publish books, but authors using the platform should proceed with caution. Author James Crawford reported that he lost royalties for 5,104 downloads of his book when Amazon slashed his book’s price without his permission.

eBookNewser has more: “After noticing a huge spike in downloads over night for his novel Blood Soaked & Contagious, Crawford went to see what was going on with his book. It turns out that Amazon dropped the price of his zombie novel to free, after finding the book cheaper on another site, as per the company’s terms. The problem is that Amazon was wrong about the other listing.”

According to the author, the other offer was actually for a few free sample chapters from Barnes & Noble. While Amazon has corrected the error and his eBook is now on sale for $5.99 in the Kindle Store, they don’t plan to pay out on the 5,104 books that were given away for free. Crawford (pictured, via) published an email from Amazon: “We’re sorry, we’re unable to pay royalties for your sales when your title was listed at $0 on our website. As per our KDP Terms and Conditions, we retain discretion over the retail price of a Kindle book.”

Crawford expressed his frustration in his blog: “KDP’s terms stipulate that they will change the price if they find the SAME work priced differently elsewhere. This isn’t what happened with me. They found something that is quite similar, asked no questions, and used their power to discount my novel 100%.”

UPDADTE: Author Kristine Kathryn Rusch criticized this article and added more commentary at a long essay on her site. Here is an excerpt: “So does Amazon owe Crawford royalties for the mistake? No. The sales wouldn’t have happened if the book hadn’t been free. Does Amazon owe him damages? Only if he can prove harm, and again, given my experience and the experiences of others, I don’t think there was any.  He can always hire a lawyer and see what he can get—but I suspect all he’ll get will be some legal fees.”

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