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Amazon Under Fire for Sale of Modern Novel Sold as a ‘Classic’

By January 3, 2022Bookshops, News

Amazon have been accused of letting third-party sellers falsely labelling books as classics to sell for hiked-up prices.

American author John C Boland has been among those to accuse Amazon of not properly overseeing the sale of books on their website. His recent novels have been sold by third-party sellers in a misleading way, marketed as 17th Century publications with a hefty price tag.

His 21st century thrillers should actually be sold for about £10.

The Baltimore writer is now suing Amazon in the American law courts for their lack of interest in controlling how works are being represented in the online store. Anyone can sign up as a third-party dealer, with Amazon receiving 15 per cent of the proceeds from sales.

Boland says: “The abuses affect not only my own works, such as the science thriller Hominid, but novels and non-fiction published by other authors.

“For example, $12 books (nearly £9) are being offered in fanciful ‘1602’ editions for $1,000 (£740) that were actually published earlier this century.”

The author adds: “Amazon’s response that it does not permit this sort of thing is false. My search of its books website turned up thousands of mistakes being made by third-party sellers.

“When a seller claims to have an edition published more than a hundred years ago it is also defaming authors like me by implying that the book existed before I had even written it – as if I were a plagiarist.”

Managing director of The Booksellers Association, Meryl Halls, explains that the problems raised by John C Boland shows exactly how difficult online selling can be, especially where literature is concerned.

She says: “Amazon has huge power in the marketplace for books and it is hard for independent booksellers to compete against it. A local bookshop not only offers quality and advice that can be trusted – but it also allows bookbuyers to actually hold a book in their hand before having to part with any money.”

She adds: “Thankfully, over the past couple of years – during this terrible pandemic – about 100 new bookshops have opened up as people have learned to appreciate their value.”

Amazon has not provided comment on any of the allegations made by John C Boland.

It did confirm, however, that as independent businesses, third party sellers are required to follow all laws, regulations and Amazon policies when listing items for sale on its online store.

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