Monday, September 15, 2014

Is Amazon crazy?

(This is not about one of my own books, but rather about a book that was published through A Conspiracy of Authors, which I oversee.)

I will not go into the specifics of what is going on in this case -- no names and no book title, since nothing has been resolved yet -- but I'd like people to consider something about Amazon which is so totally insane that I really couldn't believe it was true until I had three different emails from them.

Anyone can simply go to Amazon Kindle and say 'I wrote that book or I have rights to that book, not the person who published it' and Amazon will immediately remove the book from the store without any sort of proof. Not only that, they will not put the book back up until both parties come to an agreement. So. . . .

So if this new person who claimed the book is his own work does so for malicious reasons, they need never come to an agreement and the book will never be for sale on Amazon. Apparently in such a situation, the best the true author can do is take the other person to court and force him to say they were wrong, which is going to cost money. For an Indie author with an ebook, that's going to be tough. And you know, I'm betting Amazon wouldn't do this to an author with a 'name', which makes this discrimination against people who don't have the power to fight back. If someone claimed Stephen King's latest book, you can bet it wouldn't be coming off sale in their store.

What about this for a scenario? A troll gets a dozen email addresses and simply targets books at random or for religious reasons or for whatever cause he might have. Then he need never answer any emails from the author (Amazon does provide the email address of the person who filed the complaint). If the person isn't interested in coming to terms, then the book is never going back up for sale. Here is the quote from one of Amazon's emails (This exact line is in at least one other email as well):

If a resolution is reached, before we may take any appropriate action regarding the book(s), all involved parties must contact us via (email address).

Oh, and the other part from Amazon? They will also threaten to terminate the publisher's account. That's part of their 'take any appropriate action' part.

And remember this is with no proof at all but simply the claim of one person about one book.

Is it possible Amazon was provided with some sort of proof? I would like to think so, even if it is false information. However, all I have been able to get from Amazon is that someone made the claim. If they had proof (which I have asked to see and not gotten from Amazon or the other person) don't you think Amazon would show it to the other party so they had a chance to at least know what was claimed against them?

I am not particularly surprised by Amazon's lack of information. This is the same group that terminated the Forward Motion storefront because 'someone associated with the store did something against our rules' and not only never gave any more information, but also told me I could never have another Amazon storefront. I was the only one who had control of the storefront, so I suspect they didn't like one of the books by an FM author that was on the list. I have no idea. I was never given any proof of wrongdoing by this other person.

I have heard that if you have filed the copyright that you might have a better chance with this, but honestly most of us don't do that because we don't have the funds. And what if the person simply claims like having published without their permission, they also filed the copyright without their permission? How will that make any difference to Amazon? Amazon never asked if the copyright was filed, after all.

I am just amazed. I had just started to feel better about Amazon's ebook world, and now something this so incredibly stupid comes along.


Jean said...

I got a similar response when I discovered one of my blog posts listed verbatim and posted on another site. I contacted the hosting company, but they took the approach of, come to me with a court order, and we'll take it down.

Two different approaches, but in both instances, the person in the right is put in the position to legally prove something at great expense to themselves.

Tammy Jones said...

First, I don't trust Amazon. I have to work with them to sell my books, but I don't trust them.

Second, they're a huge business, and, as such, they don't have 'time' - or consideration or care - about the miniscule nobodies that stock their store shelves with products. If there's any complaint, they'll simply remove it from the shelves because there are a bazillion other products right there to take its place. They simply do not care what's right, fair, or true, just about what's the easiest way to slap the annoying gnat and get back to making money.

I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this crap, Zette. I'd like to say I'm surprised, but I know a LOT of authors upset at Amazon for a variety of reasons. I guess the best you can do is maybe republish with a different title or shrug it off to it being a business decision.


Graeme Ing said...

This is why I would urge authors to always scrape together $35 to copyright their work immediately. I'm willing to bet that supplying Amazon with that copyright certificate is going to sway them. Surely they cannot ignore a government document as valid evidence?

Graeme Ing said...

Oh, and I do wish you every luck and success! I hope my previous comment didn't come across as blaming you. Budgets are tight, we all know that. And thanks for making this problem visible.

M Pax said...

Wowza! That's horrible. Shouldn't the person claiming the work have to provide some sort of proof? I had to when I found one of my books on Lulu with a new cover and somebody else's name on it.