This weekend I met a fan of my novel The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil. Apparently she read the book a couple of years ago and it was quickly circulated amongst all her friends. (I suspect there is a large streak of hedonism running through her social circle, part of my target audience.) Smelling an easy solution to her prezzie problem she decided to buy a copy for each of them for Christmas.
Unfortunately Amazon have been listing the book as difficult to source, out of stock or out of print pretty much ever since it was published in 2006. This has always been disingenuous at best if not a blatant lie. The book is print on demand so it is always available, it just takes a week or so to deliver.
So when she wanted to buy eight copies she had to buy them all second hand. Why is Amazon doing this?
Online sales are one of the few things publishers will take as a recommendation to publish a self published author. Alan Rinzler wrote a blog saying exactly this, yet Amazon is blocking our chances. This is a scandal that really ought to be brought to the attention of the industry.
Just so there is no confusion about this. My titles ARE currently out of print as Gardners were being awkward about a payment of seven quid or something. I had been planning to move over to another small press because of the Amazon blockage so I cancelled my Gardners account earlier this year (2011). However, the woman who wanted the eight copies bought them in 2010 when it was available through Gardners. At that point Amazon were listing it as out of print while Blackwells showed it as having a two week lead time. You decide what's going on.
By the way the new small press publisher didn't work out so if anybody else wants to step in feel free to make me an offer.