Getting my book in France – a journey into delivery of self published books via Amazon

This is a story about getting the French edition my Agile Retrospectives book, Tirer profit des rétrospectives agiles, delivered in paperback via Amazon in France. I ordered it while being on holiday in France.

It’s a longer post compared to my normal posts, but there’s lot’s of interesting stuff in there on self publishing books on Amazon and having them ordered, printed, shipped and arrive. For me it was a challenging journey, but with a happy end.

French paperback released on Amazon

The French edition of my book on agile retrospectives was released in paperback format on Amazon on July 24.

I self published the French edition of my book on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Aa the name suggests, it a service provided by Amazon to publish books and sell them in Amazon shops.

I am already using KDP to publish all ebook language editions on Amazon, the French edition is the first one to be also published in paperback format with KDP (I used CreateSpace for the Dutch paperback Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives).

My paperback book is distributed via Amazon using Printing on Demand (PoD). This means that there is no stock of books, the book is printed after it is is ordered. This works better for smaller series, the drawback is that it takes longer to get the book as it first needs to be printed.

FYI, I work with a company in the Netherlands that prints small batches for a reasonable price, so I always have stock of my books and can deliver quickly if you order directly from me.

Ordering the books

Once the French paperback was available in Amazon I started promoting it in the social media. Marc Nazarian, a member of the French translation team spotted my tweets and asked me if he could get a paperback copy. Of course! At occasions I’ve given paperback copies to team members and to Alexandre Boutin who wrote the foreword, so it would be my pleasure to send him a copy.

I looked for a way to order an author copy with KDP to find out that KDP doesn’t support this (CreateSpace does). As a workaround, I changed the selling price of the book to the lowest possible. I had to wait a couple of hours before the price change was approved, during which I came up with the idea to also order a personal copy. I’m in France for the holidays for another two weeks, so Amazon could sent it to the campsite where we are staying.

When I got the confirmation that the price had been changed, I ordered a copy for Marc (using his address) and one for me (using the campsite’s address). Next I changed the price back to the normal selling price.

A funny thing happened along the way. Looking at the KDP dashboard I found out a couple of days later that not two but three copies of my book had been shipped on July 28. The royalties earned on these books were 0 euro, so apparently someone else also ordered the book on Amazon.fr for the same low price that I used for my two copies. If you are the one who did this, please contact me. Don’t worry, I won’t charge you any royalties, I just want to congratulate you being the lucky one who got a great book for a very low price :-).

The journey begins

After ordering the books on Tuesday July 25 I received confirmations of my orders stating that the books would be delivered between July 29 and August 2. That’s 3-6 working days, which is longer than what I’m used to in the Netherlands which is next day delivery, but ok, we’re in France and it’s a holiday, so relax.

On Friday July 28 I got confirmation messages that the books have been printed and shipped. My book would be delivered before Wednesday August 2 while Marc should receive his book latest on Friday August 4.

You can track delivery online on Amazon. Things started to get really exiting on Wednesday August 2 afternoon, as my book was about to arrive:

Unfortunately the book wasn’t delivered that day. Looking at the Amazon website I found out that delivery was delayed, it might take until August 7. That posed a problem, we will travel back home on August 7 and are leaving early in the morning.

I contacted Amazon to find out what was happening and if there is anything possible to speed up delivery. They responded promptly and told me that their delivery partner in France has delays. They contacted them and asked them to deliver my book as quickly as possible.

Next I asked them what the normal delivery time would be. I want to mention this on the information for French speaking customers Jeux et livres de Ben Linders en français so that people who want to order the book through Amazon.fr would know what to expect.

More than one Amazon – and more than one me

Most people think of buying stuff online when they hear Amazon. But next to buying thing from Amazon, you can also sell your own stuff or affiliate with Amazon. or both.

Currently I have four different “identities” with Amazon:

  • client buying books on Amazon
  • author of books sold on Amazon
  • seller of my books in Amazon shops
  • affiliate referring visitor on my website to Amazon

Why I emailed Amazon as a client but also asked a question as a author, publisher, and seller trying to serve my customers/readers, things initially got confused. I mixed up sales support and seller support, the question about delivery times should go through a different Amazon channel. Also due to that I’m using different email addresses (it is not possible to have the same email address for seller central in US and EU) I got into a discussion with Amazon trying to identify if I was the correct person using the proper email address. After clarifying the different roles that I have I again asked again about the delivery time for customers buying my book on Amazon.fr.

Meanwhile I found the website of the courier, which provided a trace function for deliveries. I searched for my package, and found a notice from August 1 stating that my book would be delivered within 72 hours. You can do the math …

First book arrives!

Marc got his book on Friday August 4, the date which was mentioned as delivery data. Apparently he’s quite happy with it, shouting it out on Twitter. Thanks Marc!

Mine should have been delivered the same day too … but again didn’t make it. C’est dommage.

I contacted Amazon.fr customer service again by email and mentioned that I still didn’t receive it although the courier promised to deliver it August 4 latest. I asked if the courier delivers on Saturday. Amazon customer support told me that the courier doesn’t deliver in the weekend, the earliest the book might be delivered on Monday. But then we’re not at the campsite anymore, we’re leaving early Monday morning. So I asked if the delivery address could be changed to my home address.

Customer service to the rescue

On Saturday I was called twice by Amazon. First it was customer service from Amazon France, who told me that they will put in a new order for the book which will be shipped to my home address in the Netherlands. This is what I call great customer service, thank you Amazon!

The second call was from Amazon seller Europe about the delivery times. Note that my book is sold on Amazon using two “sellers”, one is Amazon.fr (which sells my book via KDP) and the other is Ben Linders Publishing (my own seller account on Amazon).

When you buy the book from Ben Linders Publishing Europe on Amazon you are actually buying it from me. I will accept your order and mail the book to you, using PostNL. I checked with them, delivery time from the Netherlands to France is 4 – 5 days. Amazon seller Europe told me that delivery time in France is 3 – 10 days. It also took 3 days before the book was printed and mailed, so we’re talking about 6 – 13 days. Working days that is.

Since I have stock of the French book, and PostNL together with LaPoste is faster than the courier that Amazon uses, I can beat delivery time to France :-). If you want to have your book fast, the best you can do is order directly from me.

The easiest way to do that is to order it in my webshop (I get notified directly if orders in my shop come in). On top of that I’m having a holiday sale of all French books and games in my webshop, so it’s not only the fastest way but also the cheapest way.

Going home – but not empty handed

It’s Monday August 7 now and we packing to head back home. My book hasn’t arrived yet. It’s a bit of a sad day as holidays are over and we have to leave; as the French say “partir c’est mourir une peux”.

It takes a bit longer before we are ready to leave which turn out to bring luck.  When we check out at the reception, the lady at the desk hands over an envelop from Amazon which arrived 5 minutes ago. Here it is my, the paperback of my French book!

 

Now I can drive home with my own paperback copy, one of the first series of three that was printed by Amazon!

Testing delivery of the Dutch edition

I’m looking for a testpilot who wants to have the paperback edition of the Dutch book and order it from Amazon. Amazon.nl doesn’t sell paperback books (they do have all of my ebooks) but Amazon.de provides free shipping to the Netherland of my book.

If you are interested a free copy of the print version Waardevolle Agile Retrospectives from Amazon.de and want to help me testing the Amazon delivery channel, contact me.

If you want the Dutch paperback and don’t want to be a test pilot, then just order it in my webshop, bol.com, or managementboek. Managementboek should be fasted (they offer next day delivery) the other two are services by me with 1-2 days delivery time.

About Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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  • Ben Linders – Independent Consultant Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement

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