The Amazon Debacle, the Conclusion

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.It’s been like the week from hell here at Casa Koehler, but things have ended on a good note, at least.

Following the debacle linked above, I received this email on September 4th regarding what seemed like Amazon’s final decision on the subject:

Hello,

Due to repeated violations of the KDP Select exclusivity requirement, the following books and the rest of your catalog will be removed from KDP Select within five days of receiving this message and you will be suspended from enrollment in KDP Select for a period of 12 months.

A Clockwork Vampire (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #1) (Steampunk Paranormal Romance) (ASIN: B005KN45E4) is available on: http://www4.fnac.com/a4770052/The-Mrs-McGillicuddy-Mysteries-A-Clockwork-Vampire-Mrs-McGillicuddy-1-K-H-Koehler#FORMAT=ePub

Books enrolled in KDP Select must be exclusive to Amazon in digital format during the entirety of their enrollment in the program.

Please note that all titles will remain available for sale in the Kindle Store. They will no longer be eligible to earn a share of the KDP Select fund, however you will be paid for any borrows that your books accrued prior to their removal from the program.

You may reply to title-submission@amazon.com if you have any questions regarding this email or believe this decision has been made in error.

Best regards,
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com

If you carefully read the first paragraph above, they stated (emphasis mine), “Due to repeated violations of the KDP Select exclusivity requirement, the following books and the rest of your catalog will be removed from KDP Select within five days of receiving this message and you will be suspended from enrollment in KDP Select for a period of 12 months.”

I took this statement to mean their decision was final. Otherwise, they might have said something like “may be removed” or made some indication that their decision wwould be finalized over the next few days, depending on my next actions.

I then wrote them an angry email that you can read in my previous blog entry. I felt I was direct but professional, and I didn’t seen anything wrong in expressing my outrage at such a harsh judgment regarding a ridiculous infraction. Please note that this is the same company who refused to remove a libelous book from their site even after multiple authors had complained about it, including several well known celebrity authors like Brian Keene and Ramsey Campbell.

Because I assumed, by their wording, that this was their final decision, I went ahead and within a few hours re-released my titles to my other ebook vendors, including BN, Kobo, Smashwords and Omnilit–all the places I had previously removed my titles in order to meet their exclusivity requirements. Mind you, my goal was not to spite them in some childish way, but an effort to gather sales as quickly as possible since my books in the Landing Library–by their own admission–would expire in 5 days and I need every sale that I can get. Losing privileges in the Lending Library was going to impact me harshly financially. I live or die by my royalties. I also felt since they were going to oust me under dubious circumstances, I should be allowed to re-open my other sale venues. Amazon and I were, to put it bluntly, breaking up.

I posted my blog entry, and many friends and colleagues of mine shared it across multiple social networking venues.
Then I got the following email on September 7 (my insertions are in red):

Hello,

Thank you for your message. We apologize for any frustration caused by our communications.

Um, yeah, you could say that. Um…what?

In regards our communication on 08-18-2015, for the ASINs below, we did not penalize you for that instance since the books were removed from KDP Select within the first 3 days of enrollment:

The Dreadful Doctor Faust (ASIN: B004LZ4EYS)
A Clockwork Vampire (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #1) (Steampunk Paranormal Romance) (ASIN: B005KN45E4)
The Devil You Know (Nick Englebrecht Book 1) (ASIN: B00IQWNB1Y)

This actually gets a little confusing, because, 1., they only had a problem with The Dreadful Doctor Faust. The others never came up. And, 2., yes, they were punishing me by including the above example as an infraction (“repeated violations”) when it was not and they admitted it was not in a follow-up email to the one they alluded to above. But read on.

However please be aware that I’ve looked into your book(s) below and confirmed that its content is currently available in digital format on the following website(s):

The Dreadful Doctor Faust (ASIN: B004LZ4EYS): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dreadful-doctor-faust-k-h-koehler/1029880103?ean=2940012131522
A Clockwork Vampire (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #1) (Steampunk Paranormal Romance) (ASIN: B005KN45E4): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-clockwork-vampire-k-h-koehler/1105143612?ean=2940013076914
http://www4.fnac.com/a4770052/The-Mrs-McGillicuddy-Mysteries-A-Clockwork-Vampire-Mrs-McGillicuddy-1-K-H-Koehler#FORMAT=ePub
The Devil You Know (Nick Englebrecht Book 1) (ASIN: B00IQWNB1Y): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-devil-you-know-kh-koehler/1113470718?ean=2940149362134
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-devil-you-know-nick-englebrecht-1
A Werewolf in Time (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #2) (Steampunk Paranormal Romance) (ASIN: B0085TQZ34): http://www4.fnac.com/a4910265/The-Mrs-McGillicuddy-Mysteries-A-Werewolf-in-Time-Mrs-McGillicuddy-2-K-H-Koehler#FORMAT=ePub

Well, yeah, of course they are, because I put them back up after you guys told me I was being kicked out of the Lending Library in 5 days (see the first email above). Also, again with the French site which was never authorized by me to carry my books in the first place and which I had no control over. And now it gets even more confusing.

The next violation will result in your entire catalog being un-enrolled from KDPS and suspended from re-enrollment into the program. If you have already unpublished your book(s), please be sure to visit the websites where you’ve published to confirm its expected status.

Check out this page to learn more about the KDP Select guidelines:
https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=200798990#eligibility

You may reply to title-submission@amazon.com if you have any questions regarding this email or believe this decision has been made in error.

For all other KDP questions visit: kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us

Best regards,
Kindle Direct Publishing
http://kdp.amazon.com

Best Regards,

Adam B
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
http://www.amazon.com/your-account
______________________________
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing
Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AmazonKDP

So, um, am I in or out? Because the email above completely contradicts the former email I received on the 4th.

At this point, I had to step back from the computer, take a few deep breaths, and a have a huge highball before my head blew off the top of my body like some ill-conceived climax in Sharkcano.

Returning to the email, I then re-read it about four times, finally coming to the conclusion that Amazon had decided to revoke their former decision and throw me a bone–or, at least, one last chance to fix the situation. But (I assume) being the big, tough kid on the playground, they didn’t want to come off as being soppy or sentimental.

(No, I didn’t actually believe that. I thought that, perhaps instead, my blog post had created a small undercurrent of bad pres for them. I knew they weren’t doing it because they liked me or cared about my opinion of them or even if I was in the Lending Library or not. After all, I’m what you might describe as a “working writer,” synonymous with the pulp writers of Street and Smith Publications from back in the 1930’s, and I’m OK with that. I’m not a flashy celebrity writer with flashy celebrity writer superpowers, but then, I’m OK with that too.)

I had a decision to make, I realized. I could ride on with being vanished from the Lending Library, or go back and pull down all my ebooks from their other venues once again, and take my chances begging the French site to remove all my titles from that venue–this time completely, quickly and efficiently. I had had mixed luck with them last time, understand.

It was going to be a lot of work. I have a lot of titles under my real name, plus a menage more written under other names in various other genres. I counted up and wrote down all the titles that would need to be removed, both from venues I had accounts with and those still live on the French site. They numbered 30 books.

The hard part actually wasn’t removing the books from my own venues. I could do that in about two hours. What was going to be challenging was convincing my contact on the French site to remove 30 fucking books without him wanting to send the Département de la Sûreté after me to kick my ass in. Still, I refused to cut my nose off to spite my face. Thus, I decided to be a good girl and removed all the books, then begged some poor, put upon Frenchmen to remove 30 books from his French-language site.

No, the French Secret Service didn’t show up to kick my ass in. Though, if they did, I hoped they would send Jean Reno, because, if I’m going down, I want it to be kind of flashy.

Then I waited. The books came down blessedly fast from my venues. The following morning, I received a suspiciously cheery email from my French contact assuring me all my books would be down by that afternoon. In the interim, the whole French site had gone down for several hours. I have no idea if that was my fault or not. Probably. Better to nuke it from space just to be sure?

Anyway, once everything was down, I wrote Amazon the following email:

Hello,

Please note that the books listed below are listed as Out of Stock or Not Available on the sites where they are listed:

The Dreadful Doctor Faust (ASIN: B004LZ4EYS):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dreadful-doctor-faust-k-h-koehler/1029880103?ean=2940012131522

A Clockwork Vampire (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #1) (Steampunk Paranormal
Romance) (ASIN: B005KN45E4):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-clockwork-vampire-k-h-koehler/1105143612?ean=2940013076914

The Devil You Know (Nick Englebrecht Book 1) (ASIN: B00IQWNB1Y):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-devil-you-know-kh-koehler/1113470718?ean=2940149362134
https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-devil-you-know-nick-englebrecht-1

These books, and all my titles under KDP Select are not available at any other distributor. I formerly requested that the titles below be removed from www4.fnac.com, as well as any and all of my other titles. As you can see these titles are gone as well, and the whole site appears to have been removed.

A Werewolf in Time (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #2) (Steampunk Paranormal
Romance) (ASIN: B0085TQZ34):
http://www4.fnac.com/a4910265/The-Mrs-McGillicuddy-Mysteries-A-Werewolf-in-Time-Mrs-McGillicuddy-2-K-H-Koehler#FORMAT=ePub

A Clockwork Vampire (The Mrs. McGillicuddy Mysteries #1) (Steampunk Paranormal
Romance) (ASIN: B005KN45E4):
http://www4.fnac.com/a4770052/The-Mrs-McGillicuddy-Mysteries-A-Clockwork-Vampire-Mrs-McGillicuddy-1-K-H-Koehler#FORMAT=ePub

Please be aware that on various sites, the PAPERBACK version of my books, published through CreateSpace, is still available. Please don’t confuse the paperback with the ebook versions.

Let me know if you need me to do anything else to secure my place in the KDP Select library.

Thank you,

KH Koehler

https://khkoehlerbooks.wordpress.com

Don’t let it be said I’m not a lady and willing to meet their requirements. Note above that I also made mention of my paperbacks to them, lest they mistaken the paperbacks for the ebooks. Hey, with the luck I was having, one never knows.

Shortly afterward, I followed up with another email:

Hello,

Please note that even though the website http://www4.fnac.com/ has been restored, ALL my titles with KDP Select have been deactivated here, as well as on Barnes & Noble and Kobo. You can see and confirm which titles are unavailable here:

http://recherche.fnac.com/ia1948044/K-H-Koehler

If you need further proof of my willingness to comply with the exclusivity requirements of KDP Select, don’t hesitate to contact me.

KH Koehler

https://khkoehlerbooks.wordpress.com

I mean, right? Am I paranoid? Damn straight. Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness. Finally, on September 8, I received the following form email to wrap everything up with a shiny red bow:

Hello,

Thank you for your message.

We appreciate you taking the time to ensure your book(s) meets the requirements for KDP Select.

Thanks for publishing with Amazon KDP.

Best Regards,

Rosa
Amazon.com
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.
http://www.amazon.com/your-account
______________________________
Connect with KDP and other Authors and Publishers:
Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/KindleDirectPublishing
Follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AmazonKDP

I also received another identical email in reply to my second email above.

So what really happened? Even now I am writing this in spooky Leonard Nimoy In Search Of voice. Did Amazon over-bully itself into embarrassment? Or did it genuinely feel remorse about the lengths it was willing to go to prove itself a corporate powerhouse? Did I just dream all this? You decide.

In conclusion, I’m willing to acknowledge that Amazon did, in fact, take the right steps to fix this injustice…but just between us, I think I’ll continue to be extremely careful in my future dealings with them.

Advertisements

Shout it Out!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s