God knows I tried. I really did. They say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So I did. Then the hoop-jumping commenced. They wanted to know everything about me, practically down to shoe size and blood type. I gritted my teeth, but complied. They required me to confirm my mailing address by sending me a postcard with a secret code I’d have to input to be verified. Then they didn’t send the card. I waited, then requested another card. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. After over a month, Amazon told me I was allowed to sell my books on their site.
Before I made a single sale, there was a $39.99 charge against my account. After multiple chats, emails with bots, and phone calls with humans, it turned out that Amazon had default enrolled me for a “Professional” account, monthly $39.99 included at no extra cost. I managed to convince them to reimburse the first charge, then downgraded to an “Individual” plan. This meant that an additional 99 cent fee would be tacked on to every (theoretical) sale, in addition to the pile of charges “Professionals” and plebes alike are saddled with.
A few days later I made my first sale. It was for a copy of my forthcoming book. I looked at the order. The price is $20. Amazon took $5.70 for nothing more than processing the sale and allowing a postage stamp-size image of the cover to appear on their site. I wrote to the buyer to tell them when I hoped to ship their book and tried to put the rest out of my mind.
I opened my Seller account one day and noticed my account was in the red. How could this be? Didn’t they still owe me for my one sale? Turns out that in their UK, Australia, EU, and Japan marketplaces, I was still a “Professional”, which meant they could charge me a monthly fee. Never mind that I’ve never sold anything in those countries. I stupidly assumed that downgrading to a mere “Individual” in the States would make me regarded as same worldwide, but apparently the Everything Store is sees its supplicants as unique and different in every corner of its world.
Another round of chats, calls, and bot email followed. A second sale was also pending. I canceled it and directed the thwarted buyer to my online shop. No final accounting has happened yet. When I try to delete my account, an automated message informs me I must have a zero balance and wait 90 days after that one sale I made.
I’ll wait the 90 days. Then I’ll never use Amazon again. Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.
—I wrote about the Peacock Network’s new John Wayne Gacy docuseries.
p.p.s. Thanks to Neutral Spaces and Maudlin House and Vol.1 Brooklyn and Chicago Reader and Hello America for running excerpts from Old Style. The printers tell me the book should be ready Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll start biking them over to Chicago residents and mailing out the rest by the weekend, if everything breaks right.