Amazon and its policies regarding books and authors are in constant debate. The following is a bestselling indie author’s recent experience with Amazon, their third party affiliates and the decision to remove her titles from Amazon distribution.
It all began yesterday, while I was performing a vanity search on Google. What appeared on one result page was a link to a China-based electronic website using my name in its website URL for one of its product pages. This angered me, and a request to Google to remove it was denied, with no reason given. This was the beginning of a long search for answers…
Next, I checked in on Facebook. A post by James Patterson was glaring from the newsfeed. Fueled by the recent Amazon block of Hachette Book Group and others, his was on a crusade to shame Amazon, called on the public for a law to stop the “economic war” and the monopoly on book sales in which he blames Amazon. He accused Amazon for being the cause of local bookstores forced to close their doors and as a result, he and other celebrity authors are losing money.
Not the best statement to millions of indie authors that are working 2 or 3 other jobs to make ends meet. Many indie authors have already left Amazon.
Hachette and their celebrity authors complaining is hypocritical. None of these authors have removed their profiles, nor their books, from Amazon. Why? Because something is working quite well for them. If they really want to prove their point, they would leave Amazon entirely, like the indies are doing.
Amazon did not start this “war”. Indie authors started it so they could finally get their books in print. We write because of our passion and love of writing. We can take our book anywhere we choose. We are not locked into a contract with a publisher that dominates our every move. Most of us will never get a hefty monetary advance to pen the next novel, like Mr./Ms. Celebrity Author receives, and most of us are happy with our decision.
Technology has advanced to bring the creation of e-books. Did Amazon capitalize on it? Sure, they did, along with Barnes and Noble, Lightening Source, Kobo and others. It’s called competition and free enterprise. The authors and their publishers that are now calling for a revolution against Amazon are the very people that first jumped on the e-book bandwagon and signed up with Amazon. They have made millions of dollars and continue to do so each day on Amazon. Perhaps they should check their big publishing contracts and read the fine print. Their own publisher is to blame – not the indie author and Amazon customer.
As I continued my research online, I discovered a UK online bookstore was selling one of my own titles on eBay. They claimed to have 2 copies available of my book. I have never sold them 2 copies of my print book, and if Amazon did, then I was not compensated for those sales. A cease and desist notice to the UK company resulted in prompt removal of my title from eBay and their website. In communications with the Commercial Manager of the company, we both agreed it was most likely Amazon’s distribution channels and expanded distribution options that were the problem.
After some serious consideration, I chose to immediately remove my print titles from Amazon entirely. I also removed the titles from those distribution channels and expanded distribution to foreign countries, schools and libraries. Donate your books to schools and libraries personally. You do not need Amazon or any other corporation to do it for you.
Two of my books each have 5 print versions available as “Used” and “New” on resellers Amazon pages. Until those are sold or removed by the reseller, those two titles will appear in search on Amazon. I do not expect to receive compensation. Either Amazon did not pay me when the resellers bought them, or the resellers are lying about possessing the copies. These sales do not show up in my Amazon sales reports from the last six months.
If you think Amazon and their unscrupulous resellers are the only problem, think again. Be wary, indie authors. I have caught other indie authors add my books to their Amazon Associates affiliate websites so they could profit off my titles. (If you are one of those greedy, cheating authors and you are reading this, I blissfully inform you that those links are now dead.)
I was just offered a large sum of money to guarantee a 5 star review for a book – without reading it. After gently educating the “author” on this subject, I refused his offer. There have also been “review exchange” offers – “you give me a good review, I’ll give you one”. I refuse those offers as well. With authors and others paying for fake reviews to falsely boost their rank, Amazon is on a slippery slope. If the reviews for products are not authentic, customers will leave.
As of today, my print books are available only via my website, linked to my direct e-store only. I have disallowed foreign and domestic distribution to Amazon resellers for my e-books. The experiences of the last two days are not going to prevent me from writing or publishing. It’s just a sign that I need to do things differently and look toward the future with different vision, as do all indie authors.
The business of publishing and selling books is going through another big change. A change that is, once again, sparked by the passion of indie authors – not from Amazon, nor traditional publishers.
© 2014 Cairenn Rhys