Have you noticed the piggyback vendors on Amazon? On Queer Clergy’s Amazon page, beneath the book info, there is a clickable line that says, “5 Used from $16.75.” It’s rather startling that there are used books available, since the book has been for sale for less than a week. No, it’s not startling, it’s blatantly false. Listen to the further lies contained on each individual listing: “small bump to one corner in shipping,” “With Light Amount of Wear,” “Very Good with Small Signs of Wear. Pages and Dust Cover in Great Shape” (note: the book is paperback, and there is no dust cover), “Contains remainder mark on bottom outside edge. Some Shelf Wear.”

And then there are the prices that are often low but not always. Who would buy a “used” copy of Queer Clergy listed for $152.25?

A year or so ago, I noticed that all such listings for my earlier book, A Wretched Man, a novel of Paul the apostle, had disappeared. Hmm. I did some checking, and discovered that a church book club had chosen my book and bought up all the copies listed, first on regular Amazon, then went into the piggyback vendors and bought up the rest. I also learned that the book club got all the books they ordered, but it was 3-4 weeks before the last copies arrived from the dubious vendors.

I suspect that these questionable vendors (some are not—some actually do have used books in stock) will simply take an order and then purchase a copy at a wholesale price from one of the wholesale book distributors that are out there. Even then, I’m not sure how they profit since their discount price is often roughly equivalent to the wholesale market price.

Who are these people?