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Warnings on E-books?

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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.

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Jamie White is a music addict, book lover, pet servant & NaNoWriMo survivor. When she's not busy writing posts for CultureShock, she's taking pictures for her photo blog and spending time with her husband and pets. She released Stains on the Soul and Clutter via Pagan Writers Press in 2013.

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8 Responses

  1. Eugene Orlando
    | Reply

    This is a serious issue worth keeping an eye on. I just put up a Kindle anthology of 23 short stories and have been given the “Look Inside” without asking for it. There is material out there on this new “service” already. A google search is in order. Thanks Bria for bringing it to our attention.

  2. Eugene Orlando
    | Reply

    Sorry, Jamie … I meant Jamie.

    • Jamie White
      | Reply

      You’re welcome! I’ve seen a follow up that says human eyes will be involved, so hopefully, they are keeping these concerns in mind.

  3. Kenneth R. McClelland
    | Reply

    I would like to know if anyone is aware of a better or equal alternative to Amazon Kindle. I appreciate that they will allow someone to become an author in a matter of minutes, but from there it seems to be all about Amazon and at times it can be frustrating.

    For example, when an author offers their book for free as a promotion in order to hopefully generate interest, reviews, and future sales, the only ones assured to benefit from the idea, are Amazon and the person who downloaded the authors work for free. The reader has no obligation or incentive to leave a review of any kind, so the author could be left right where they started. I know there are authors out there that will say ‘too bad for you,’ but Amazon could fix this so that the author would get a review of some sort from each download (even if it’s just clicking on the stars). That way everybody wins and you don’t have people scrambling to find people willing to leave a review so others will have some indication as to the book’s value as reading material.

    The other issue I’ve had with Amazon is that when someone leaves a review which has nothing at all to do with the author’s work, Amazon could care less about righting such an injustice. Case in point; I have one person who gave me a one star review because the book would not download onto his older model Kindle. Another person gave me 3 stars because they said it would not format properly on his reading device. The purpose of the ‘book review’ is presumably to give others an idea as to the quality and interest of the book. It should not be based in any way on whether Amazon had a downloading glitch, or the individual’s reading device was not up to date and unable to read the book. I worked hard writing my book, and to have someone drag down the star review of my book over something that wasn’t my fault, which I had no control over, is just wrong.

    Okay, all griping aside, it is nice that through Amazon an individual sitting in their living room in Backwater, Tennessee, can write and share with the world, the things that previously existed only inside of their heads. For that I am grateful.

  4. Martin Von Cannon
    | Reply

    Thanks Jamie, both for the article and follow up (Responding to Eugene’s comment). These make me pause in publishing with Amazon. I chose them for a reason (largest seller and easy to use). Now, it seems they have opened up an avenue for “trolling”. This does not seem like a good idea.

    I am open to receiving complaints and even nit-picks, but to think that ANYONE could slam my work just because really bothers me. I know I can’t please everyone, but to open every author to attack so that another author could prosper does not seem like a good idea.

  5. DIANNA COLE
    | Reply

    I THINK AMAZON SHOULD STAY OUT OF THE BOOK BUSINESS. LET READERS DECIDED WHAT THEY LIKE OR DISLIKE. LET AUTHORS WRITE WHAT THEY WANT.
    BY ALL MEANS LEAVE IN THE PREVIEWS AND ‘LOOK INSIDE’ PART OF REVIEWING.

    BUT I REALLY JUST THINK I WOULD THINK TWICE BEFORE PUTTING YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON. I WOULDN’T WANT ONE OF MINE ON AMAZON.

  6. DIANNA COLE
    | Reply

    i’m getting my comment back saying it is awaiting moderation but you don’t tell me what’s wrong with it nor how to moderate it. I’ll ‘moderate’ it if you’ll tell me what you want me to do.

    • Mary Ann de Stefano
      | Reply

      All first time commenters have to be “approved.” It’s something we do to keep spam off the site. Moderation had nothing to do with the content of your post.

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