Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Temporarily Out of Stock

Wikipedia's definition of Print on Demand is as follows:
"Print on demand (POD) is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received, which means books can be printed one at a time."

I don't hold Wikipedia out as the greatest source for a definition, but this pretty much meshes with my understanding of the concept of POD, that there is no stock, someone orders a book, they print it and send it to you. It gives a sort of personal feel to the whole book buying experience, this book was created just for me.

So, how can a book that is being printed just for me be "Temporarily out of stock"? It turns out that Temporarily Out of Stock means that Amazon is waiting for Ingram to send them more books. It also means that Ingram is waiting for Amazon to order more books before they send any. The impasse is broken only if a customer orders a book. Most customers will not order an item listed as Temporarily Out of Stock so this situation could potentially last forever.

This is a problem that I spent way too much time battling last week. I had a request for 20 copies of Adventure at Brimstone Hill. They were being ordered for a specific purpose and I only had four or five days in which to deliver them. No problem, right? Amazon two-day shipping to the rescue, right? Not this time. The book was listed as temporarily out of stock. I made the order anyway and contacted Amazon about it.

"Please contact Ingram Book Group directly about your title's availability on"

I contacted Ingram and they shifted the blame back to Amazon. I made several phone calls at the end of which my head was spinning from being shoved back and forth. I tried not to scream "It's Christmas, my books MUST be in stock!"

Ingram put through the order but it did not arrive on time, so I cancelled. As a result, the book's status changed from "Temporarily Out of Stock" to "19 in Stock, More on the way" and now it finally says "In Stock".

The experience was frustrating, to say the least, and it is not over as other books have the same issue but now I know the trick, make an order and then cancel it after Ingram prints but before Amazon ships them. Sounds tricky, I know, but hopefully it will work.


Liane Spicer said...

Oh. My. Dog. How horribly frustrating. I've never heard of this particular twist on the publishing game before.

Charles Gramlich said...

Had no idea. Thanks for the heads up.

G. B. Miller said...

That, my friend, is mind boggling.

William Doonan said...

I'm thinking this is Amazon trying to corner the POD market. Use CreateSpace and we'll take care of you. But if you want to use LightningSource or any other provider, expect delays.

Carol Mitchell said...

William, I am with you on that one. It would be great to stay with LightningSource on principal, but at the end of the day Amazon will probably win just because one would like to sell a book or two ...