More of Amazon’s bad behaviour



On May 25th this year I posted a blog about Amazon’s random and inconsistent selection of book reviews: it posts some and not others, and the alleged basis on which it chooses is not matched by its practice. This isn’t good. Far worse was the impertinence thrown at me by a batch of trolls, apparently Amazon employees, when I asked why some reviews of my Cruel and Unusual Punnishments hadn’t been posted.

Since then, I’ve had more reasons to rail against the monster Amazon.

First, I was told that some of the book reviews I’ve submitted for other authors have been posted by Amazon – but under someone else’s name, not mine. I checked and found I’d been told the truth: the reviews were definitely mine but the name on them wasn’t. Amazon had changed it, which is hardly the kind of thing that could have been done by accident. Why on Earth did Amazon they do that?

Second, a friend suggested I list my six published fiction (or at least non-technical) books on Amazon’s Author Central: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk. So I did. But if you look up my name in Author Central you’ll discover I’ve only had two such books published: the case study of the evolution of a local legend, Murders in the Winnats Pass; and the collection Folktales of the Peak District - both published by Amberley, in 2010 and 2011 respectively. I seem not to have been credited with authorship of the short story collection Rope Trick: Thirteen Strange Tales (Ash Tree Press, 2008), the novel Perilaus (Eloquent Books, 2009), the children’s story Fenella and the Magic Mirror (Gypsy Shadow Press, 2010) or the recent collection of pun-jokes in prose and verse Cruel and Unusual Punnishments (Fantastic Books Publishing, 2016). Some diligent searching might lead you to two of those publications, but not the other two.

Amazon made this bizarre selection among the books on my Author Central without informing me, still less consulting me. I can’t even begin to guess the reason. I’m puzzled. I’m also annoyed and, frankly, disgusted. Since Amazon chose to insult me in this way, why didn’t it have the guts to write to me and tell me so? Is this great big multinational scared of me? Or, as seems more likely, does it simply not give a damn about anyone it deliberately offends?

Amazon is an efficient and reliable retailer. If you order an item from Amazon it’s delivered on time and at a competitive price, and payment is straightforward. This is admirable. On the other hand it has a bad reputation regarding tax payments. In common with certain other large multinational concerns, Amazon pays a tiny amount of the tax it ought to pay in the UK and other countries.

Its treatment of authors seems more consistent with its behaviour towards the tax authorities of its host countries than with its courtesy and helpfulness to its retail customers. The way Amazon has treated me as author is arbitrary, arrogant, gratuitous, inexplicable and disgraceful, and since there’s no plausible reason why I should be singled out for this kind of contempt I can only suppose that it treats other authors similarly.

Henceforth I shall have as little to do with this organisation as I possibly can.

 

8 Comments

  • Hi Mark, This is an area I know something about as I have published 4 books on Amazon on my own.

    Amazon central:
    It’s a good place to post your author photo and all of your book covers. Check out a famous author such as Stella Duffy. This feature is pretty cool.
    1. I had no problem in activating this feature. If a book cover was missing I posted it there myself by selecting something like ‘Add book cover’. This facility is not on auto-mode so you need to sort it out yourself or request assistance [from me?];
    2. Later on, I discovered that a book’s paperback cover and Kindle cover on this feature switch over according to sales. This is automatic so save your breathe if a cover is switched;
    3. Please let me help you get the rest of your covers up. I will email you soon.
    4. If you go to Amazon.co.uk and select Books and then type in Mark Henderson, you will see another author of the same name and it may be that this is leading to identity problems. I think it might be good to think this through in order to avoid future problems.

    Book reviews:
    Yes they are very strict.
    1. Remember ’52LOVES’? I had to ask the book’s own authors not to post a review themselves because they were in the book!!
    2. Sadly, SINCERE reviews can also be excluded if they come from the SAME computer or laptop. This is scary, but if you think about it, it’s also impressive.
    3. That doesn’t stop other individuals using blackmail or bribes to get mass reviews from individuals… so Amazon have a tough job keeping it authentic.
    4. Don’t think I’m sticking up for them. I hate ‘em.
    Again it sounds like identity details are a problem.

    Amazon errors / correspondence:
    1. They make errors in their correspondence. When I updated my ‘Case Summary & Skeleton Argument’, I was informed that I could not call the book by own as it was analysis. I was deeply perplexed and sent back a very short email — that I thought their email was SPAM as I had written about two court cases that were part of my personal experience. They retracted their error immediately;
    2. The problem is once a saga in correspondence develops, it seems to get worse and worse, so I can only suggest in future to keep email queries as minimal as possible, bear in mind that not everyone speaks or reads English well, or is competent, and try to give them an easy solution / suggestion.

    Amazon deliveries:
    Yes they are good, aren’t they? However, I have known them to leave parcels on my doormat which is far from desirable especially as I exit from the back door most days! There again, there is always the deliverer who opens up the package in order to squeeze it through the letter box!

    Amazon and Createspace royalties:
    They are an abomination and I remain hopeful to find a literary agent and be properly protected.

    • Mark Henderson

      Thanks for this, Yolanda – I see that Shai found your guidance useful, too. Perhaps I’ll take a tranquillizer and give Author Central another go, but there’s no escaping the conclusion that Amazon’s behaviour fluctuates between weird/inexplicable and downright offensive. For example, Fenella was published as a e-book so the cover I uploaded was the Kindle cover. This little book remains available for purchase. So why was it censored? As for the elimination of Cruel and Unusual Punnishments in both its hard copy and kindle formats (same cover), there’s no possible justification. And there’s certainly no justification for Amazon making these random decisions without at least informing me.

      I do take the point about the need for care in distinguishing legitimate from illegitimate reviews, but Amazon’s policy seems in practice to have less to do with care than with random decision-making. Just one example: I know you submitted a review of Cruel and Unusual Punnishments because you told me so, so why wouldn’t Amazon publish it?

      But as I said, perhaps I’ll give Author Central one more shot. Nevertheless I won’t forgive Amazon for the way it’s behaved.

  • Amazon’s main hunger is money. Annoying people is a handy byproduct. :)

    I love Yolanda’s advice and thoughts – I’ve learned something here! I am currently working on a book (Crayons in the Toaster) that would print from Createspace… perhaps I should rethink that. I am having issues with formatting anyway. I think I’ll visit a local printer for advice before I proceed further.

    Thank you for this post!

    Shai

    • Mark Henderson

      Two of my writer friends who’ve decided to self-publish say they’ve had considerable satisfaction from Lulu, so you might want to consider that as an alternative to CreateSpace; though I know people who speak warmly of CreateSpace…

      In any event I do look forward to seeing Crayons in the Toaster in the public domain. I loved that little collection of memories and it would be delightful to own a copy.

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