Amazon enforces its rules
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.”
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.
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 Amazon.com 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: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-iron-admiral-greta-van-der-rol/1112380196?ean=2940011221439”
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.
- an omnibus is not a new book in the eyes of Amazon.
- Automated replies seem to be the go at head office.
Make sure you understand the rules, and play within them. Noted.