Amazon.com's Top 100 Book List has returned to reality—Kathryn Sockett's novel The Help was back on top; the Wolverine Ominbus was gone—after a data snafu offered hundreds of graphic novel titles at eye-popping discounts. First reported over the past weekend at Rich Johnston's comics news blog Bleeding Cool, the computer glitch led to thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of orders of mispriced titles as fans flocked to Amazon.com to buy in bulk. It is unclear how many of these items were ordered or whether Amazon will honor them.
Calls and messages to Amazon for comment on the pricing gaffe have not been returned.
Many of the mispriced titles were hardcover collections of classic comics selling for more than $100 that were being offered for $14.99 or less. While there are reports that some of the lucky buyers have received their heavily discounted purchases, many other purchasers have not. Bleeding Cool reports that some purchasers have received letters canceling their orders; while some who ordered multiple copies of pricey hardcover editions, for say $8, have been told that Amazon will ship only one copy of the mislabeled book.
While the computing snafu is reported to have been fixed, a source at Diamond Comics Distributors, the dominant distributor in the comics shop market and Amazon's supplier, said Amazon and Diamond were in discussions over resolution of the situation. No doubt, they are also discussing who will take the economic hit if they honor some of these orders, a hit that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Johnston's popular comics news blog is part of Amazon's Associates program, which allows Web sites to receive a fee for linking its readers to Amazon to make purchases. The program allows associates to track purchases and according to Johnston, more than 14,000 mispriced items were purchased through the Bleeding Cool associates link. And Bleeding Cool is just one comics site that uses the Associates program. There are many more.