Early evidence new textbooks restrictions are minimal as Amazon sends email rejecting textbook receipts
Is this in fact the most overblown drama in Amazon seller history?
In this article:
- Amazon’s delists few books after implementing new restrictions.
- Early evidence Amazon textbook restrictions apply to New and Like New books only.
- How to tell if books in your Amazon inventory have been affected.
- Live webinar: “Online Book Arbitrage” is back (register here).
Here’s the Amazon “textbook restriction” timeline so far, with a new development:
- Amazon sends “textbook apocalypse” email in June, requesting receipts for “certain popular textbooks”
- Due to the ambiguity of Amazon’s email, theories proliferate as to what restrictions may be coming.
- I theorized (among other things) the restrictions may be limited to some New and Like New textbooks.
- This week, Amazon rejects many (most?) receipts, in new email.
- Amazon sellers report few if any of their textbooks are taken down.
- Virtually all delisted books are New or Like New (from early reports)
Is the feared Amazon “textbook apocalypse” not that bad after all?
That’s the earliest indication after Amazon finally delivered on their veiled threat to restrict certain textbooks – and then didn’t restrict much at all.
This week, Amazon sent this email out to many sellers who submitted textbook receipts:
Thank you for your application to sell certain popular products in the Textbook category. We decided that you may not sell in this category.
We made this decision because we were unable to verify the information you provided, and/or because of specific information related to your seller account.
Reminder: Amazon never said they were “banning textbooks”
At every step of the way (over my two previous articles), I’ve said the same things:
- Amazon is not banning textbooks.
- Amazon is not banning sellers from selling textbooks.
- Amazon never said they were banning sellers from selling textbooks.
While Amazon hasn’t been explicit about what was to come, they were clear that whatever happened, it pertained to “certain popular textbooks.” That was the key phrase. Whatever that means, its a long way from “all textbooks.”
Those predisposed to panic will do it no matter what, but any chatter that “Amazon is banning textbooks” ignored the evidence.
A week ago, I started getting emails from sellers
“Help! Amazon banned me from selling textbooks!!!”
I got many emails stating some variation of this, after a seller received the latest email from Amazon (the one above).
Funny thing about that email: It doesn’t say Amazon banned them from selling textbooks.
Read it again:
“…you may not sell in this [ the ‘popular textbooks’] category.”
Yes that’s basically a meaningless statement, since “popular textbooks” is not only not an Amazon “category,” it has no discernible meaning whatsoever. But it’s not a “textbook ban.”
So my next question is always:
“So you say you’re banned from textbooks. How many of your textbook listings did Amazon take down?”
This is where it gets better
We don’t even have to speculate as to what Amazon does or doesn’t mean by “popular textbooks.” That can be determined quickly & simply in the “Stranded Inventory” page.
This is where Amazon puts inventory that 1. Was previously for sale, yet 2. you’re no longer allowed to sell.
Problem: “Amazon isn’t telling me what I’m allowed to sell.”
Solution: Go to the page where Amazon puts everything you’re not allowed to sell.
So this is what I asked every Amazon seller I knew who got the email:
“Look at your stranded inventory page. How many books did Amazon actually restrict?”
Translation: “Go to your ‘Stranded Inventory’ page and tell me what you see.”
Here is a roundup of the evidence I collected:
- Without exception, the answer was very few (if any) books.
- Everyone reported it represented a small handful of books (very low single digit percentage, or fraction of one percent of their total inventory – or none at all).
- It was seemingly random: I heard examples of 1970s physics textbooks and children’s books being among the restricted “popular textbooks.”
- Nearly all delisted books were in Like New or New condition.
By my rough translation, this (so far) indicates:
- Amazon isn’t restricting many textbooks (or other books) at all.
- Amazon’s restrictions appear to be totally random, and not just affecting textbooks (I consider this good news)
- Amazon is restricting books largely (or entirely) based on book condition.
It all comes back to New and Like New condition
My survey size was pretty small (I have not personally faced any restrictions), but almost everyone I heard from reported the books Amazon delisted were in New or Like New condition.
But wait, I said “almost everyone.” So if some people are reporting Acceptable to Very Good books being restricted, wouldn’t that mean Amazon is not limiting restricted books to New and Like New?
I’m definitely not saying any sellers I talked to are lying (and I didn’t have time to probe them more before getting this article up), but it’s important to note that books end up on the Amazon stranded inventory page for many reasons. These include books damaged at the FBA warehouse, damaged returns, etc.
So its not a big leap to wonder if some reports of Good or Very Good books getting restricted is actually inventory stranded for other reasons.
(Please share in the comments below if you have stranded books in Acceptable to VG condition that you’ve confirmed are related to Amazon restrictions)
What you can do about any delisted inventory right now
- Create removal order.
- Relist as Very Good.
- Move on with your life.
The next question is: Is it possible Amazon will delist more books?
It is certainly possible that the limited number of delisted (“stranded”) books is just the first wave of removals. It wouldn’t make a lot of strategic sense for Amazon to roll this out slowly, but it’s possible.
I wrote this article fast based on limited evidence. Like the last article, would love to get closer to the truth in the comments.
Jump in the comments and let the Amazon world know:
- Did you provide Amazon textbook receipts and get approved?
- If yes, what kind of receipts did you provide?
- If you were not approved, what percentage of your Amazon inventory was delisted (check the “stranded inventory” page)?
- What trends do you see among the delisted titles (condition, or otherwise)?
Let’s hope this article is the final word, and that the feared “Amazon textbook apocalypse” is among the most over-hyped & overblown dramas in Amazon history.
If there’s any more news to report, you’ll find it here.
PS: Guess what?
“Online Book Arbitrage – The Webinar” is back (register here).
After an 18 month hiatus, the webinar that brought Online Book Arbitrage to the world is returning… for one night (maybe two) only.
I’ll go in depth into why the biggest source of textbooks for textbook season is Amazon itself – and how to tap into it with no tools and no experience.
It’s live. And it’s free. But it is very limited.