Oh dear. Amazon, not a company that you might think of as being childish, has certainly driven the cart into the muck this time. The company will eventually reverse its actions, but for now, is set to endure stripes for mistakenly hosing an independent author.
Meet James Crawford, an indie author who published his novel, Blood Soaked and Contagious, on the various digital platforms that now afford writers unparalleled control over their work. If you didn’t know, Amazon has a clause in their contract that you cannot publish your novel on a competing platform, and through its Kindle Direct Publishing market, and charge a lower price at the other store. This guarantees that Amazon always has a competitive price.
That’s not especially egregious. But when things go awry, Amazon needs to own up to it. Mr. Crawford had a three chapter snippet of Blood Soaked and Contagious on the Nook platform, and was giving it away for nothing. This isn’t abnormal, he was trying to hook people with the first part of the book, and convince them to pick up the whole novel. Amazon then mistook the sample as the full work, and cut the price of the novel on its platform to zero.
It then proceeded to give away some 6,116 copies of the book for free. The author had been charging some $5.99 for tome, previously, so the dollar amount here is non-trivial. Amazon’s response has been that they will “research the entire chain of events and will get back to [Crawford] in a day or two.” That’s not good enough, as you might guess. Straight from the horse’s mouth, this is what the writer told PaidContent:
They stand by the terms of the contract (ie. no compensation for their mistake)
They are grateful for my help as a test/training case for customer service
They have never seen an issue quite like this one before
My concerns were not handled promptly enough
My issue was not dealt with in an empathetic manner
Gosh, we really appreciate you talking to us about this
We didn’t edit that in the slightest to keep it as pure as possible. Amazon will recant and pay the man for the distribution of his content. But until it does, there will be a certain, and new, hesitation among authors before dealing with the company.