According to this article, readers are able to report issues with a book to Amazon. In response, Amazon will inform the author of the issues so they can be fixed. If a book is considered “unreadable” due to formatting, it will be suppressed, while uncorrected books could have a warning on the book page to inform readers.
Sounds good, on the surface. I am giving the benefit of the doubt, and saying that this has good intentions behind it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of questions I have about this policy being implemented.
- How are authors being protected? It’s no secret that people flood books with fake negative reviews. Authors, publishers, and people with personal issues with a particular author have all been caught doing things like this before. They could easily use such a system to their own advantage.
- What about authors who are with small presses? Say reports come in on a book, but the author is unaware, because the publisher hasn’t informed them, nor done anything about it?
- What oversight is involved to make sure these issues are actually issues? I’ve seen people mention getting reports of issues before because they used the English spelling of a word, rather than the American. That’s not an error. What about Omniscient POV? Will that be able to be reported as a formatting or other issue? Head-hopping and Omniscient are often interchanged when, in fact, they are two different things.
- How can one stop small press/indie books from being disproportionately targeted by such a policy? Large house books can be riddled with errors too, but I’ve seen a lot of commentary in the online community where they are given a pass for that.
- What about Fantasy/Sci-Fi? They are often filled with weird name spellings, made-up terms, etc. How would they keep these genres from being negatively impacted in particular?
- What about stylistic choices regarding sentence structure?
I personally feel that the best weapon a reader has at their disposal are book excerpts, which I noticed have now been removed for most new titles. My current book, for example doesn’t include one. I assumed it was because of the fact it was, at the time, a pre-order. I hadn’t yet uploaded the final document, so how could they put up a preview? Well, cut to almost two months later, and there is still no “look inside” option, and I’ve heard others mention this about other titles. I think Amazon, should they enact this to help readers, would be better served by bringing back the previews. It puts the power directly in the hands of the reader to see for themselves whether or not a book is to their standards.
What do you think? Have you used the “look inside” feature? Are you supportive of such a policy? I’d love to hear what you think.