Amazon significantly underreported sales for one of our book titles printed through CreateSpace in 2018. They have never paid us the royalties owed for those sales, nor have they addressed the underlying problems that led to the issue.
We believe CreateSpace systemically underreported sales and that Amazon owes many authors and publishers millions of dollars in royalties.
Amazon’s staff promised to look into the issue but never did; they eventually stopped responding to all requests to resolve the issue.
How We Found Out
One of our books, Unlimited Memory, started showing some very strange royalty reports from Amazon. Print sales declined suddenly and dramatically while eBook and audio sales were booming. The data made no sense, especially because the print sales had been growing steadily for years. Furthermore, the Amazon Sales Rank for the print edition held steady for months and showed no signs of a slump even as reported print sales declined by as much as 70%.
None of that made sense, so we contacted CreateSpace support and asked them to look into the issue. After dozens of emails and calls, a CreateSpace employee sent us an internal sales report on September 16, 2018.
The report showed that CreateSpace had 1,654 sales via the Amazon.com distribution channel for the book over a 5-month period. CreateSpace had NOT reported and NOT paid us royalties these sales.
They ignored our requests to provide a similar sales report for that book title over a longer time period and for similar reports for other book titles.
We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg and that Amazon owes us royalties for tens of thousands of unreported book sales printed on demand (POD) by CreateSpace. It’s also likely Amazon owes millions of dollars in royalties to many other publishers and authors that used CreateSpace’s print-on-demand services during 2018 and in previous years.
Promises Not Kept
During multiple phone conversations, Amazon employees repeatedly promised that they were looking into the issue and that they would provide an audit of our sales reports, but they never did.
Here’s an example:
Thank you for contacting CreateSpace.
I just wanted to check in and let you know that we are still investigating this issue, and you have not been forgotten. You should receive a response to your original inquiry soon, and I sincerely appreciate your continued patience.
CreateSpace Member Services
Apparently, Amazon is still “investigating this issue” 4 months after the sales discrepancy was discovered—but they’re not. All emails from CreateSpace have now been disabled, and no one on the KDP support team has been able to help.
Our Request to Amazon
The chances that this problem occurred only once are near zero.
We publicly request that Amazon look into this issue and fix it. Because Amazon prints books on demand and sells them through their own retail channels on their website, their sales reporting systems must be transparent and accountable.
Here’s what we’re asking Amazon to do:
- Audit all CreateSpace POD sales for Unlimited Memory from day one until CreateSpace was shut down and send us the data.
- Audit CreateSpace POD sales for all of our other book titles from day one until CreateSpace was shut down and send us the data.
- Pay TCK Publishing the royalties owed from these sales.
- Follow steps 2 and 3 for other publishers and authors that used CreateSpace’s POD services.
- Fix the reporting problems and lack of transparency in KDP’s POD service so this never happens again.
- Get back to work making Amazon the great company we know it can and should be.
What You Should Do
If you used CreateSpace’s print-on-demand services to sell books on Amazon in 2018 or earlier, contact Amazon KDP Support and ask them to audit all sales for your books that were sold through CreateSpace.
There’s a chance Amazon owes you money.
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Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.