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The Great Kindle Rip Off
Amazon's Kindle may have been a boon for readers, however it is proving to be exploitive in its treatment of its authors and publishers. The experience of one independent author, Derek Haines, highlights the issues faced when publishing on Kindle.
By: Derek Haines
A couple of nasty little issues have come to the surface over the last few weeks that have really bothered me and for those of you who are publishing on Kindle you may want to keep an eye open.
About two weeks ago, I discovered by complete accident that one of my books, Vandalism of Words’ had been reduced from $0.99 to free by Kindle. I only noticed this when I happened to check my Kindle sales and saw a huge jump in sales for this book. Well, sales is not the best term. As I was to also discover, even though Kindle list these as ‘Unit Sales’ when they reduce a book to free, my $0.30 royalty goes out the window.
Cop It Sweet
So I checked what had happened and had to ‘cop it sweet’ as I had been offering the book in question ‘on promotion’ over at Smashwords for free. In Kindle’s terms, they have the right to match a lower price being offered elsewhere. Mind you, I have no way of offering my book for free myself on Amazon Kindle, which is another issue I suppose.
Anyway, the upshot is that ‘Vandalism of Words’ is now happily residing on a lot of Kindles, which is very nice. However, as of today this has meant forfeiting $2,200 in royalties though. That really is very expensive promotion.
But alright, I have joined in Kindle’s game and promoted my ‘free book’, so all is well in the world.
As I live in Switzerland, it is next to impossible for me to see what price my Kindle books are being listed at in the US because Kindle kindly add an ‘International Delivery Charge’ of about $1.30 to all Kindle downloads outside of the US. Yes, even on free books. So my free ‘Vandalism of Words’ will cost $1.30 for anyone outside the US. Even for me. But Kindle make a nice little profit on my free book huh?
Ripped Off Again
But I did find a way. By clicking on ‘Show all reviews’ I discovered I could see the price of my books in the US. I wish I hadn’t. Here I found two of my books that I have listed for $3.99 being offered for $2.99! Now this is not fair. I haven’t offered these books at a lower price anywhere. They are at exactly the same price of $3.99 on Smashwords.
So sent a message to Kindle asking why, and if was it possible to at least advise me of when my book prices were lowered. The answer?
Thanks for your comments about Price matching feature of Amazon. From your email I understand that you expect us to send you an auto mail, whenever we change the price of your title on Amazon. And so you can keep a track on this. I am sorry; at this time, we are not set up to send any such mails to our publishers. However, we'll consider your feedback as we plan for further improvements.
Customer feedback serves an important role in helping us to improve our platform and provide better service to our publishers. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts.
We hope to see you again soon.’
Well one would think that if Amazon can scour the net with their ‘price matching feature’ a simple email shouldn’t be that difficult. And I was struck by the word ‘feature’. Oh, and the reduction on my two books from $3.99 was happily ignored in their response.
Ok, I give up. The monolith wins again!
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Derek Haines is an author of fiction, historical fiction, essays and poetry. Born in Australia, but now living in Switzerland, his stories cross a wide geographical range but often draw from his life and experiences in the two countries he calls home.