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Amazon enforces its rules

18 February 2013

From author Greta van der Rol:

Take note, authors and publishers. Amazon is a very large organisation and like many other monoliths (Government Departments, Apple and Microsoft come to mind) flexibility in dealing with clients is in very short supply. This is a cautionary tale.

A few weeks ago, I decided to bundle my two Iron Admiral titles (The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and The Iron Admiral: Deception) into one volume and sell it for less than the combined cost of both books. It’s a common practice after books have been out for a while. While I was at it, I thought it might be nice to add the new book to Kindle Select, maybe interest a few new readers. After The Iron Admiral had been out for a couple of weeks, I received a message from the Kindle Select people.

“We found the following book(s) you’ve published doesn’t meet the KDP Select content guidelines. Books enrolled in KDP Select must be exclusive to Amazon in digital format while enrolled in the program. The Iron Admiral (ID: B00AWU85FA) is available on:”  with the link to The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy on Barnes & Noble. “In order for your book to remain in the KDP Select program, we’ll need you to ensure that it is exclusive to Amazon within 5 days from the date of this email. If, after this 5-day period, your book is still not exclusive to Amazon, it will remain for sale in the Kindle Store, but will be removed from KDP Select. Upon its removal, it will no longer be eligible to earn a share of the KDP Select fund.”

. . . .

Publishing your content in multiple parts or a varied format on another site is not acceptable. All content made exclusive to Amazon in KDP Select must remain for sale on our site only. However, you may choose to make up to 10% of your book available on other sites as a sample.

Please note that digital content that is available elsewhere is not made eligible for KDP Select by adding or removing additional book content, adding a bonus chapter, author’s commentary section, introduction, illustrations, making minor language edits, or changing the book’s cover art, title metadata, etc. We reserve the right to determine the types of Digital Books that we accept in KDP Select. Your book will be removed after 5 days of receiving our initial message.”

Link to the rest at Greta van der Rol

Amazon, Ebooks

17 Comments to “Amazon enforces its rules”

  1. That seems perfectly reasonable to me. The KDP Select program requires exclusivity. It can’t be exclusive to Amazon if the contents are available from other sources.
    Or, am I missing something?

    • She admits later in the post that her mistake was obvious, but there *is* more to it than that. If you read the whole post it makes her look more careless than stupid, if you have any charity in your heart whatsoever.

      I don’t, but then that’s just me. I can see where if you did you might feel differently.

    • I agree, this has always been the case. I’m not sure why she’s so angry about it. Did she bother to read the rules before using Select?

      • I’m not seeing the anger. She misunderstood the rules, double-checked with a friend who misunderstood the rules the exact same way, had the rules clarified to her, decided to let their original solution take place. It didn’t, so she said fine then, fixed the problem their way, missed one and had the original solution take place. Then ground her teeth a bit and said, y’all, understand the rules before you play.

        Sorry. Seeing a tiny bit of frustration with the way this whole thing played out, but no anger, just the advice to other readers to do better at understanding first.

  2. This looks like an easy way to get around the full length of the KDPS exclusivity obligation. If you aren’t getting the sales or borrows you want, simply put it back on sale at B&N or Kobo or Smashwords and Amazon will take it off KDPS. Not that I would do that, but what is the penalty from Amazon if you do?

    • You lose your eligibility for a share in the borrow fund and they can make it retroactive.

      Or they could toss your sorry ass off KDP, since they can do that essentially at will anyway. But mostly it’s about losing your right to the borrow fund and the threat of making it retroactive. If you did it more than a few times I’m thinking it might by sorry-ass-tossing time.

    • Your account will be frozen and the title removed within 5 days of getting a notice. That seems to be their most common response to any ‘problem’ titles – including ones priced lower at other retailers (which can be a problem when trying to get Smashwords distributors moving).

      But yeah. Read the TOS…

  3. Where I can see this getting complicated is if you have a short story you originally contributed to a compilation, and then after the exclusivity runs out you decide you want to put in a collection of your own short stories. You won’t be able to put that compilation of short stories on KDP Select, because that other publisher can still sell that original compilation, with your work in it, as an eBook.

    No big deal, really. Just don’t put it in KDP Select. But if you were planning to you need to keep track of where it’s been, because it might still be there.

  4. I have a boxed set. Unspeakably Desirable is one of the 3 books and it is in Select but the boxed set is only available at Amazon even though Not Low Maintenance and Fly Away With Me are available at BN & Kobo. I didn’t read the rules before doing this. It seemed obvious since the rules are pretty simple and I know the definition of the word exclusive.

  5. My mom always said, “Noboby’s that stupid.”

    Sounds like she tried a loophole and got caught. Duh.

  6. “Take note, authors and publishers. Amazon is a very large organisation and like many other monoliths (Government Departments, Apple and Microsoft come to mind) flexibility in dealing with clients is in very short supply. This is a cautionary tale.”

    I guess I’m missing the expected benefit from more flexibility. How would a greater supply have helped? Does she expect a waiver from exclusivity? How does the size of the company matter?

  7. “Take note, authors and publishers. Amazon expects you to abide by your agreements.”

    Fixed that for her.

  8. Yep, I’m with everyone else here. If you test the limits, don’t get upset when the limits are real.

    I’m hoping that Amazon won’t kick me out of Kindle because my books are free elsewhere – I can always take the free option away. But I know they might.

    Taking risks means sometimes things don’t work out.

  9. The cautionary tale here is “Read the Rules and BELIEVE them.” If the title of the post was something about not being careless, then yeah, I give her a pass for being careless.

    But titling it “Amazon Enforces The Rules” and leading off with how big and powerful they are? That makes this a “Big Bad Amazon” story, and I’m sorry but Amazon has made that aspect of the rules utterly and and completely clear.

    They’ve already made it clear that they don’t allow even the posting of excerpts on a blog for promotion of the book.

    This is one of the reasons why I do not do Selects, and also why, if I ever were to decide to do it, I would only put up pristine, never-been-seen anywhere by anyone work. You don’t have control of work once you’ve let it out there.

    I understand the idea that people need to be reminded that other people’s rules are not negotiable. I would understand a post which explains how word-of-mouth can mislead people. (Amazon, after all, does sometimes have mixed-message rules — like with their price matching.)

    But the warning here is “don’t be careless” not “Gee, Amazon actually means it when they say ‘exclusive.’”

  10. It’s hardly a cautionary tale. And it’s not a matter of Amazon being inflexible, either. She didn’t read the fine print (or did, and tried to see if she could sneak around it), and got shut down. Exclusivity is exclusivity. It’s not as if Amazon wasn’t clear about the limits the place on content availability.

    The obvious solution is to not sign up for Select if you don’t want to abide by the rules. There are sacrifices one makes in joining the program. When people sign on, they ought to actually intend to abide by rules. But I suppose it’s easier to just blame Amazon than admit a mistake.

  11. Publishing an e-book on KDP and the same, but slightly different, e–book on other platforms was a loophole. I did it (and I’m not ashamed) for nine months, until Amazon figured what was going on and plugged the hole. Not because of my book, but many others like mine. They told me to remove my book from the other platforms and quoted me the requirements. To me they looked like new requirements, which I didn’t see months earlier. It was clear now and I complied. Actually I was kicked out of KDP, but that’s OK, those were the new rules and not being on KDP if I violated them was proper. I had no arguments then or now.
    For you who wonder, why I’m not ashamed for using that loophole, it is rather simple. Amazon sets the rules; it is their job to create a fence without holes in it. If they leave holes and you find it, it is your choice to use it or not.

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