Why oh why are Amazon sales diminishing rapidly?


Hi Jilly, it clearly has got something to do with how Amazon has changed how the search engine now works - I don’t know if it is by design (i.e. it means that Amazon themselves are getting an ever increasing bit of the cherry - that would explain why new editions rather than 1st editions are now pushed with the latter being ‘hidden’) or accident but I suspect the former.

The end result is however, that the unscrupulous dropshippers create multiple listings to ensure that ‘their’ books are picked up in any search on Amazon, they are not going to stand back and see their market share drop through the floor.

Incidentally I have actually had one customer on Ebay say that they searched on Amazon for months but couldn’t find the book (mine was listed on both sites), I have also had feedback on Amazon saying that they had been trying to find this title for ages and were so pleased that my copy had come up for sale (yet again mine had been on Amazon for years).


I dont buy anything from Amazon anymore since I found out how badly they treat their sellers - I buy from Ebay


i sell via FBA - having the same issues- gone from selling 10 a day over last two years with no days of nothing…


That used to happen. But it can no longer happen now that an ISBN is required to create a new page in the books catalogue. I have seen no examples of rogue dropshipper duplicates for books published in the last 18 months or so. But I think you are right that the search has changed so that it favours listings on which Amazon appear.



I agree. Amazon sales are up 74% for the same 30 day period last year for me. But eBay sales are down 30% for the same period. I sell besboke products btw so not much competition from other sellers. If sales are right down for some of you then i think it must be due to competion from all the new sellers because there are plenty of people buying on Amazon.


We are still talking about millions of rogue listings. But I agree that the single biggest factor is Amazon themselves and there is nothing we can do about it apart from broadening our scope and looking at listing on other sites.


I wanted to buy a cheap item today and I gave up looking on Amazon as all that was being pushed were PRIME items (for some reason the prime badge is not showing on the main pages, but when you click on the listing all the items I could find were prime or Chinese only.

As I didn’t want to spend £20 to get free shipping I kept looking for an FBM listing…

After about 10 mins I was getting a little frustrated. I couldn’t be bothered to search any longer and went to eBay. Found what I wanted straight away for a much cheaper price.


What amazes me is you can have 2500+ listings and only make 1 sale a week… or even 7 a day seems like very little. Unless the profits are very high per listing? That would make more sense.


Obviously it depends what you sell.
I can remember in the ‘old’ days the rule of thumb was (for books) a sale a day per 1000. So my 5000 item inventory should (and used to) generate 5 a day - I’m lucky if I get that in a week now.


Don’t forget books can cost as little as ,50p (or less) so you do the maths


Well, it’s a bit hard to do the maths if I only know what it’s buying for and not selling for. I guess these might be very rare books? I would have thought most books sell from… 5 to 20 pounds? Decent margins at the higher end but compared to the volume of sales it still hardly seems worth the time.


I’d be interested to know what kind of margins you’re working with. So you have 5000 books, one copy each (or maybe more) in some kind of warehouse? Or perhaps you also own a bookshop, that would make a lot of sense.


Hi Prance - no I don’t own a bookshop or warehouse ! - these are stored at home in a spare room and garage.
Fortunately I am not dependent on this as my main and only income - started as a spare time add-on to my career, but I am now retired and although it is a business, it is more a hobby and to top-up my pension - I love books and used to enjoy selling on Amazon, but not so much now because of all the changes.


When I first started on Amazon all those years ago my Amazon account manager told me the best way to get more sales was to list more products. That was pretty much rule of the thumb, these days listing new products doesn’t do anything, mainly because the searches are completely saturated, Amazon seem to have the handful of sellers that dominate however every year or two it seems to change,
All those specialised sellers seems to have been replaced by companies I’ve never heard of.
All those doing well now need to make the most of it because it changes and eventually they will be in the same position of some of us. I’m not scaremongering either, I don’t see any companies top of the searches that were there 2 years ago and the only ones that are still there seem to have a very limited amount of exposure, even those that used solely FBA aren’t particularly visible anymore


So true. I’ve been selling on here for 13 years and I remember well when the more items I listed my sales would rise too.
I am now listing very little as wanting to downsize my inventory and concentrate on fewer more expensive books.


Stirkes me that by raising the issue here, those suffering declining sales are beginning to do something about it.


they can also cost as much as £10,000 or more…!


Hello Prance,
The margins on 2nd hand books and media are high as the cost of stock is so low. Books are also a classic long tail business with literally millions of items with that have the potential to sell although in very small numbers. The combination of these two facts makes it possible to make money despite overall stock turns which would seem absurd to anyone selling any other type of goods. For a well organised book seller cash flow is hardly an issue at all.

On the other hand even one sale per thousand per day seems very unambitious. I am not sure that I could be bothered to get out of bed to do that. I don’t think I have ever fallen below 2 per 1000 per day and mostly better. These figures are only rough rules of thumb as the requirements to have periodic clear outs of old stock are very specific for every seller. In my own mind a number that I think of as critical is the marginal storage cost. Does it cost any more to stock one additional item? The other way too much stock has an impact on the bookseller’s business is when it effectively stops them listing new stock.

What drives sales is not how many units a seller has for but their rate of listing stock. Although the actual numbers and ratios will vary immensely this applies to all styles of seller from a boutique operator with a few hundred items, attempting to get an asp of more than £25, right through to the behemoth mega sellers such as World of Books.


I think that there’s some truth to that. I’ve seen this too, it’s like a turnover of businesses. I still believe that a completely borked search algorithm is the main cause though.


Amen ! (huh, why 20 characters to be able to reply ? - yet another of Amazon’s stupid ideas !)