Joanna Cabot, writing over at Teleread, was browsing the Amazon website the other day when she came across a notice that was new to her (and me).
The above notice showed up on the listing page for an ebook which wasn’t available at the time. As the notice explains, the ebook was not available because it was under review for some less than specific reason.
Now, the notice is new to me but I’m mainly surprised to see Amazon announce that an ebook as been removed (or other non-ebook items). I’m also surprised that Amazon has apparently been using it for over a year before it showed up in the news.
While I’ve never seen this notice before, I do know that Amazon has responded in the past to customer complaints and forced publishers to fix their ebooks.
The most likely explanation for the notice above is that the ebook had formatting errors and Amazon pulled it in order to make the author to fix them. That is not new; I recall a similar situation where Amazon made a publisher fix an ebook under the threat of the ebook being pulled.
If you’re a publisher and never heard of this, well, I got it from someone who makes ebooks and had to fix the broken one. This dates back to Fall 2010, and I’m sure there were plenty of other incidents both before and after.
If you’ve ever returned an ebook and complained about errors, Amazon noticed. I don’t know what the threshold is for them to act, but I know they have responded before. And now with this notice, they are making sure you know that they are cleaning up the Kindle Store.
First it was junk and PD ebooks, then it was ebooks copied from Wikipedia, and now there’s a visible effort to remove badly formatted ebooks. (It’s a pity Amazon won’t extend the same effort to audiobooks.) With each step Amazon is showing that they aim to be better than the small fry which is their competition.
In case you’re wondering, Amazon is not the only ebookstore to make this effort.
Smashwords has been removing junk ebooks for years. And while I’m sure Smashwords would like to remove badly formatted ebooks, their MeatGrinder book converter tends to create them (shudder). B&N, on the other hand, doesn’t even validate Epub files submitted to PubI (but Apple does). Apple is obsessively picky about the content they will allow into iBooks; I doubt we will ever see this kind of notice in iBooks because Apple would regard it as a sign of failure.
But I am glad to see it in Amazon.