the state of things

 

Blah blah blah Amazon blah blah blah

by Douglas Lindsay - 15:24 on 21 July 2015

So I’ve got this thing going on with Amazon at the moment.

The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson was originally published by Piatkus Books back in 1999. A year later they brought out a new edition, not because they’d sold out the first one, but because they wanted to change the cover to tie in with a new concept they were introducing for the second.

A year or two after that, the sold out the second edition, and decided not to reprint. The rights returned to me.

For a couple of years the book was out of print, while I tried to get someone else to take it on. No one wanted it, so finally I started Long Midnight Publishing and published that first book, and subsequently the rest of the series, myself.

After a few years I hooked up with distributor, Gazelle Books, who held the stock and fulfilled orders etc.

Then the movie got made last summer. I agreed a deal with Freight Books in Glasgow to publish a print edition. They asked that I immediately take the Long Midnight edition out of print, so that when their movie tie-in edition appeared, the book would effectively have been out of print for the previous few months.

I agreed, I wrote to Gazelle, and Gazelle recalled all copies of the book and effectively put it out of print. It was no longer available from Amazon, apart from in the other sellers section of the page.

Months passed.

A few weeks before the movie was due for release and Freight were building up to their release, somehow a copy magically arrived at Amazon, and suddenly the book showed as available again. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).

I discovered this when my new publisher wrote to tell me he’d received an e-mail from Amazon recommending that he buy it. Awkward, as it looked like I hadn't done what I'd said I would. Which I had.

Meanwhile, I still had some stock, but I gave it all to the Edinburgh Film Festival for them to give away at the opening night. So the stock is now gone. The book is technically and actually out of print. No more stock. Dead.

Someone bought Amazon’s one copy, and now the page started showing Usually dispatched within 9 to 13 days (which it still does.)

I wrote to Gazelle to check they’d done what I asked. They replied to go through everything they’d done, and that they’d now reiterated it to all concerned. The book is no more. It has shuffled off this mortal coil.

So I wrote to Amazon to tell them that the book is out of print, and please could they stop implying that it was available for order, as it never would be again. I capitalised OUT OF PRINT.

They replied to say, thank you for your request, but unfortunately you reached a fucking dumbass, so we have placed an order with your supplier, and as soon as we receive the books, your title will be listed as IN STOCK. This came from an e-mail address to which, of course, it was impossible to reply.

I started again, rewriting the e-mail. This time I wrote OUT OF PRINT in capital letters twice. I got a reply saying that in order to act on my request, they needed proof that I own Long Midnight Publishing. They could crosscheck easily enough, I would think, by looking at my Kindle Direct Publishing account, but they seemed keen on getting actual paperwork.

I scanned in a bank statement and returned it to the e-mail that had asked me to send it something. I immediately received the you-cannot-reply-to-this-email-you-moron e-mail. Shortly afterwards, I received another e-mail giving me details of how I could send them what they needed. I followed the link. I was immediately told that since I wasn’t registered as a vendor, I couldn’t use this route. I'm also unable to register as a vendor becasue, well, I'm not a vendor.

So they ask me to send them something, and provide two ways to answer, neither of which allows me to answer, (on a matter that shouldn’t be an issue anyway as the company that distributes the books has listed them as OUT OF FUCKING PRINT for the past six months.)

It's a test. I know it is. They're testing me. If I pass, they make me Executive Vice President in Charge of Donuts.

I’m in a down period at the moment. The only way to get back to Amazon now is to start again, writing more than likely to a completely different person.

I might just elect to leave it until after I’m dead.

(This has been a very long and boring way to say that if you want to buy a new copy of The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson from Amazon, you can't. But Freight's Legend edition is exactly the same anyway. With a better cover.)

 

Comment from billie at 15:53 on 21 July 2015.
When I first started reading this, the only thing I could think was.... Hmmmm sounds about right! Amazon...the bain of modern humanity!

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