July 14, 2015
Recently, Amazon has made unprecedented moves in order to clean up their Kindle Direct Publishing system and in turn has most self-publishers worried.
Amazon Strikes Back
Back in April 2015, in an attempt to stop fake reviews, Amazon filed a suit against the owner of buyazonreviews.com, Jay Gentile. A first of its kind, Amazon took an aggressive stance to stamp out the falsification of the review system, a major factor in Amazon’s search engine’s ranking.
According to the suit, “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews.”
While the removal of fake reviews is noble and ultimately better for customers, it’s the “actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews” part that has self-publishers worried and perplexed.
Removal of Reviews
Amazon has been known to remove reviews without any warning or without any indication as to why. However, even if a review is obviously written out of spite or any other illegitimate reason, Amazon will not take any action to correct the wrong or remove the review.
This sort of action is making self-published authors feel as though the company has no interest in their well-being and in certain situations will not lift a finger to prevent cyber bullying.
Authors Take a Stand
Fed up with this sort of treatment, Todd Barselow established a petition on change.org aptly titled “Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum Participation.”
Consequently, Todd Barselow wasn’t the only one with this sentiment. Famous writer, Anne Rice, author of Interview with a Vampire, has not only signed the petition, but has also been extremely vocal in the cause. After having multiple battles with trolling reviewers, Anne Rice embraced the cause and ha taken every moment to point out the injustice this has caused to writers and their trade.
Although Amazon maintains that they merely protecting the customers, many authors can’t help but feel as though they are being left to the wolves.
Changes to Kindle Unlimited System
Furthermore, starting on 1 July, Amazon made another sweeping move that has authors worried, if not downright irate. Making changes to the Kindle Unlimited program, authors will no longer be paid based on the number of downloads of their book, but will instead receive compensation for how many pages are read.
For some authors, this will be a crushing blow to their business. “Since the KU change occurred, I have now lost over $1000 in revenue. It’s as if we authors not only have to provide a book that makes sales, but also gets read. Do you know how many legitimate books I have on my shelf that I haven’t read yet?” says Marcia Jenner, best-selling author and editor of BookMeReviews.com.
However, for others, this sort of move was necessary. Tom Morkes, CEO of Insurgent Publishing says that “I’m neither for or against it – it’s just another change that Amazon has made and they’re sure to make more, some people profit and some people lose. You have to be willing to adapt.”
However, regardless of whether or not you think Amazon is in the right or wrong, it is evident that Amazon is making swift moves to change their user’s experience…not the author’s. It is the belief of many that this won’t be the only changes we can expect from Amazon in the coming days.
Image Credit: Flickr/alienratt
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