As the Bad Luck Detective informs us, Amazon removed thousands of books from their site on November 5th. Books were removed because of three keywords located in the title’s information page in the keywords section: Free, Bestseller and Kindle.
It didn’t matter if your book was free, an Amazon bestseller, or a Kindle eBook; Amazon pulled the plug.
Approximately two weeks ago, authors received notices from Amazon giving them five days to comply with Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS). If you’ve ever looked at Amazon’s TOS you might understand why the biggest problem was identifying words that Amazon now claims are a no no. Many authors missed “Kindle” in the long boring diatribe known as TOS and suffered the consequences.
Perhaps it’s time I actually read those TOS…
Thanks to The Passive Guy for the tip.
Wow, Amazon is really tightening the reins. If they keep this up they will strangle indie authors who are trying to get publicity for their books.
It is a rather fine line to walk.
I heard there were heart attacks and strokes among authors whose books were pulled – a site also mentioned a death… Yikes. Must have been awful for them and I expect many had no idea they were doing something wrong. I haven’t read the TOS, not even sure where to find it, but I HAVE read the instructions in KDP about what is ans is not allowed in the book description. So many authors violate that, for example, putting in there quotes from reviews when Amazon clearly states it’s not allowed. Also, with the title, I am not clear at all if I am allowed to put in genres. So many authors do…. and as a result they come up in the searches…. but I am too scared to do it too, because Amazon is not clear about it so definitely not taking the risk. Since they started to take such strict measures recently, now is definitely not the time to step into any grey areas. I am good…
I think the heart attack bit was a joke, actually. Plus, you’ll get a warning from them. Still, if you stick to the TOS, you have nothing to fear 🙂
I can see both sides here: I imagine that the word bestseller must be abused quite frequently, which is annoying for readers, but it must be absolutely infuriating for true bestselling authors. I think Amazon could solve a lot of problem through a few veracity hoops: for instance, if a book becomes an Amazon bestseller in any category, they could provide a badge or a label which is only accessible to books which have earned it. At least then everyone would know that certain claims made by authors were verified.
Strangely enough, they do that. I have a screenshot with the “best-seller” badge next to the Power of Six. It disappears as soon as it’s no longer #1 in its category, though.
I’m thinking of a badge which once earned can be permanently displayed, though. A book in the traditional bestseller lists would always refer to itself as such whether it earned the accolade one month or ten years ago. If you earned it, you should be able to keep it, not least in a situation where it validates the real bestsellers from the fraudulent ones.
I know. I get enough doubt from some trad pubs as it is when I say that my books have reached #1 in their genre. Sigh…
I can see Amazon’s point. Kindle, free, and bestseller should not be in the key word list. I read a book an author sent me as a “bestseller”. It was so badly written I couldn’t review it. When I checked sources at various booksellers, the book was not a bestseller and only had negative reviews. Of course, every author wants their book to be a bestseller, but that is something the reader determines. If one searched free or Kindle, either one would generate pages of irrelevant material.
BTW – How is Electra doing?
Sigh… That’s the problem with enthusiastic authors 🙂
She’s fine, thanks for asking! We probably have a couple of weeks to go, so… 🙂
Thanks for sharing this, Nicholas. 🙂 — Suzanne J
Glad you found it interesting 🙂
I read the entirety of the Amazon contract with my boss before she signed for Kindle Unlimited. I do think every authors should read it.
I guess I’d better read the TOS too before I’m banished. ?
Lol – we would get a warning first 🙂
Seems like a waste of keywords to me. I’ve always assumed that keywords will place your book in the sub-genre lists, so words like bestseller and free will hardly improve your book’s visibility if someone types those words into Amazon’s search box.
And putting Kindle in your keyword list! Who types ‘Kindle book’ into Amazon’s sarch box? You’d have twenty odd million results.
I couldn’t agree more. It only makes sense if you have a perma-free book and wish to add the keyword “free.”
Actually, this seems fair to me. Too many authors play the system to gain bestseller status. I can already envision nasty responses to this comment. Duck!
Lol – I think of my blog as a nasty-free zone. Yes, I’m sure they had their reasons for doing so. It’s just silly to punish those whose books are, say, permafree and available on Kindle. Or, even worse, people who write guides on how to use Kindle.
Did my comment seem nasty? It wasn’t meant to be.
No, silly! You ducked to avoid nasty comments, so I explained why there would be none 😀
Oh! Okay, cool.
Thanks for the info. Will definitely avoid those keywords. 🙂
Same here 🙂
I think the first two make some sense. You can put ‘free’ under keywords and then put a price on it. Bestseller is another that you can’t always prove and overuse of the term might weaken it for Amazon’s use. Imagine searching for bestsellers and getting a bunch of stuff that doesn’t look like it should be there. Probably smarter to put ‘bestseller’ in the book description.
Kindle is an odd one. Then again, Amazon doesn’t let you use author names and book titles as keywords any more. Too many people were simply listed popular ones to show up in the search. Guess we’re seeing the results of a handful of people abusing a loophole.
Isn’t that always the case?
Seems to be.
I used ‘free’ on a free book, which seemed logical to me and I used ‘bestseller’ because my book was a best seller in it’s category and I said so. However, I had heard Kindle contravened the T&Cs and had already removed that.
It does all seem quite odd.
Glad you dodged that bullet!
Good tip, Nicholas. I will have to remember that. (If I ever write a book…)
Best wishes, Pete.
Lol – fair enough. Thanks, Pete 🙂
Wow, I hadn’t realised this! Sales have been slow these past few days, I’d better go and check my descriptions…
Unless you had one of these three words in your description, I’m sure you have nothing to worry about. Plus, you would have received a warning 🙂
Yes, sadly it seems I cannot blame Amazon for my slow start to the month 🙂 Books are still there, though I was pleased to see a new review! Just wondering though, what if you had the word ‘free’ as part of your general synopsis ie ‘Fred needed to free the hostages and save the world etc’? I wonder if Amazon did a blanket remove or looked at each one in context?
They looked at keywords, not synopses. Keywords can be up to seven, and are very specific indeed.
Ah, see, this is why I’m not so good at marketing LOL I don’t even know the terms for everything! Thanks for clearing it up 🙂
Sorry to have scared you 🙂
You? Never 🙂 you’re far too nice for that x
Aw you! *blush*