Amazon enforces its rules

picture of Iron Admiral coverTake 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.”

I’d read the Guidelines and checked my interpretation with a friend, who agreed I wasn’t breaking the rules. So I wrote back to them, explaining this wasn’t the same book, that The Iron Admiral was an omnibus, with a different ASIN and ISBN. In hindsight, you might think my mistake was obvious. It wasn’t to me. In any case, here’s Amazon’s response.

“Thank you for your email.

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.”

I thanked them politely for clarifying and said I wouldn’t be taking down the two books in the omnibus (Conspiracy and Deception) from other retailers, and that I assumed they would remove The Iron Admiral from the Kindle Select program without any further intervention from me. To which I received this response.

“Hello Greta,

We’re sorry to hear you’d like to cancel your content’s participation in KDP Select. Your book is enrolled in KDP Select until April 4th and cannot be excluded from the program during this time.
If you don’t want to renew, simply go to the book’s “Edit book details” page anytime during the current term and uncheck the box next to ‘automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.’

As your book is currently still enrolled in KDP Select, please ensure that it meets the requirements of the program.”

At this point, I’m rolling my eyes. Left hand… right hand.

So what the hell. I pulled the books (Conspiracy and Deception e-book versions) from Smashwords and Omnilit. After all, my main purpose was to gain new readers, so Kindle Select was probably more useful to me than not. There’s usually a delay in moving from Smashwords to B&N, but there wasn’t. The e-books were removed forthwith.

This is the next missive from Amazon.

“As we emailed to you earlier, KDP Select content guidelines require that books enrolled in KDP Select are exclusive to while enrolled in the program. As the following book(s) is not exclusive, it has been removed from KDP Select, but remains live in the Kindle Store. It is no longer eligible to earn a share of the KDP Select fund, however you will be paid for any borrows that your book accrued prior to its removal from the program.
The Iron Admiral (ID: B00AWU85FA) is available on:

That link goes to the print version of The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy on B&N. I sent the pixies an email pointing out that fact, and have not, to this point, received a reply.


  1. an omnibus is not a new book in the eyes of Amazon.
  2. Automated replies seem to be the go at head office.

Make sure you understand the rules, and play within them. Noted.


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 14 February 2013, in On writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Hm…an omnibus was okay for Hugh Howey’s Wool series. (Or maybe the originals were exclusive to Amazon. I’m soooo confused now!) 🙂

  2. Sorry to hear of your issues. KDP has been back and forth about what they allow and don’t allow authors in the Select program to do or not do. For a while, they were even telling authors that they couldn’t post excerpts of their work on other sites, or even promote on other sites.. even if it all linked back to Amazon. That has since changed. Their support, in my experience, is hit and miss. Sometimes you get someone really good who doesn’t use canned responses. Usually, you will get one of those if you reply back saying “please don’t send me a canned reply”, and you get bumped up a tier or two in support.

    As it stands, your book and 100% of its content, if published in KDP Select, must be kept exclusive to Amazon. They “Allow” you to now publish 10% of that exclusive content elsewhere for marketing purposes, but beyond that you can’t include that content in other works such as an omnibus or anthology, unless said omnibus or anthology is also in the KDP Select / exclusive to Amazon.

  3. Oh yikes. We’ve all had issues on occasion. Don’t blame you for your frustration.

  4. What a rigmarol. Maybe, as C.E. said send them another email and say, no canned reply, please.

  5. Holy cow, Greta. How crazy is that? Kinda funny, too, only while they’re doing cartwheels around themselves, you’re losing sales. I am sorry, but what an anecdotal story. I hope you get it straightened out one way or another.

  6. Wow. That totally sucks. So sorry you had to deal with this!

  7. Wow, the inflexibility of Amazon makes me want to scream! Thanks for the info, Greta. I have no plans to use KDP select, but at least I’ll know it has to be TOTALLY exclusive. O.o

  8. *head bang* And yeah, you’re wise to realize it’s their shop, so they get to set the rules. I run my business my way and they run their business their way. It does make you want to scream and kick when you get such different answers. I laugh sometimes at the responses I get from tech support, for instance. You can tell they didn’t read my problem, just sent a link to a canned response. Which brings me back to *head bang*

  9. So basically, if you want out of the Kindle Select thing, just put your book, or something like it, up at any other retailer.


  10. Amazon KDP, since its inception, has provided not only vague legal documentation–but much of what is provided up front is indecipherable. This is not due to inefficiency, ignorance, or haste in their part. This has been done with a great deal of forethought. This allows Amazon latitude to change their legal policies without notifying the KDP authors–thus precluding the need for agreement addendums and modifications. I am not providing this an objective explanation. I abhor the fact that Amazon practices this rather gray enterprise against KDP authors. It’s just one example of how Amazon is taking advantage of the situation without full disclosure.

    If you look at the history of nebulous KDP transactions over the past few years (your as such an example) over the last few years with other KDP authors, you will begin to note the discrepancies and changes in their policies.

  1. Pingback: Amazon enforces its rules | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe

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