Amazon is Inexplicably Destroying Indie Author Careers By Randomly Removing eBooks From the Kindle Store

Amazon is Inexplicably Destroying Indie Author Careers By Randomly Removing eBooks From the Kindle Store Kindle (platform)

When I reported two weeks ago that due to a bug ebooks were being automatically removed from sale in the Kindle Store, I used a "don't panic" graphic. I figured Amazon would fix this issue within a few hours, so there was no reason to jump up and down about it.

I was wrong.

Not only has the problem continued, a significantly larger number of authors are being affected. What started as only a handful of reports two weeks ago has grown to scores if not hundreds of authors reporting, all in the past couple days, that Amazon has taken one or more of their books down from the Kindle Store.

Many of the reports sound like this:

I woke up this morning and two of my ebooks have been pulled for sale from Amazon.com. I checked my competitors as well as ebooks in other categories and they have also been pulled down too. There are ebooks in the top 100 charts that have been pulled too. I checked my KDP account and the ebook status is 'live', but when I click the link to the ebook on Amazon.com, there is no buy box for the Kindle edition -- only for the paperback edition.

If you think that report was scary, try this one on for size. Amazon is apparently showing only a random selection of each author's ebooks to each visitor, and leaving the rest hidden.

Yesterday, I had friends outside of my country (I'm in Canada) check the status of my books. Rhode Island, could see half my books, but not the other half or they said unavailable for purchase. Florida couldn't see any of the kindle books for sale. Ohio could see and buy them all. Australia could only see half.

What this report means folks is that even the authors who think they are unaffected can never be 100% sure that they escaped Amazon's ebook massacre. For all they know their ebooks are being hidden from the next customers.

And to make matters worse, there are also reports that the trick of "republishing" an affected ebook doesn't always solve the problem. At least two authors I know tried the trick and their ebooks are still affected.

Now is the time to panic, folks.

Amazon was contacted before the previous post was published, and did not respond.

Update: Amazon finally acknowledged the issue. This was posted on the KDP support forums:

Hello,

We're experiencing an issue that has made some eBooks unavailable in the Kindle store in different marketplaces. Our engineers are working to solve this issue as quickly as possible. We'll update this post to keep the Community informed once this issue has been resolved.

We appreciate your patience and understanding in the meantime.

Regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing Team

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

24 Comments

  1. Sharon12 November, 2018

    At least two of my books show the paperback but not the digital version on Amazon US. On Amazon.de all the versions were there and live. I haven’t checked any of the other markets yet.

    On KDP *all* the ebooks shows up as live. I also had trouble logging in to KDP – it didn’t recognize my password either on KDP or on Amazon.com or on Amazon.de

    Sounds like a major meltdown going on.

    Reply
  2. Sharon12 November, 2018

    Just to clarify – I just published a novella on Kindle a few days ago. Showed up for sale, no problem. I’ve just published the paperback version as well and the Kindle version has disappeared. This is not just a problem of visibility due to amazon accounts in different countries – the Kindle version was there and now it’s gone. Just in a matter of two or three days.

    Reply
  3. Richard Hershberger12 November, 2018

    Amazon is not your friend. Amazon is not your enemy. Amazon is a force of nature. Amazon is an elephant; you and I are ants. We may be trampled under the elephant’s feet, or the elephant may pass us by. We have no control over this, and the elephant doesn’t care.

    Any business model that includes “rely on Amazon” is perpetually flawed. You might get lucky and do just fine. You might be crushed without Amazon noticing. It’s a crap shoot.

    Reply
    1. Starlight12 November, 2018

      You’re absolutely right. Thank you for your post.

      Reply
    2. Cheryl Wright12 November, 2018

      Sadly, all of that is very true, Richard.

      Reply
    3. Linus Wilson20 November, 2018

      Well said.

      Reply
  4. Sheri-Lynn Marean12 November, 2018

    5 of my 8 books aren’t showing the kindle version, and 3 are, contacted support, they can see all of them in kindle format, I can’t.

    I deleted history, tried different browser & computer, no go. Hubby checked on iPad, and saw all but one in kindle format. I’m in Canada, and other friends in the US can see my books in kindle versions, so I know they are there.

    Amazon support is referring it to tech support … but if they are trying to get ups to use our own country’s amazon, that is going to suck.

    Reply
  5. June Ahern12 November, 2018

    I’m getting it clear as a bell. No sales in a couple of months since my publishing company CreateSpace sold out to Amazon. My books sold every months for years and now, nada; same with many other indie authors.

    Reply
    1. Terry12 November, 2018

      Amazon has owned Createspace since 2005.

      Reply
  6. Dylan Cross12 November, 2018

    There are also authors having entire KDP accounts terminated due to claims of “manipulating” Kindle Unlimited. In the cases we investigated, no manipulation or violation of program guidelines had occurred — and Amazon produced no explanation for the alleged violations. It’s doubtful that an actual human actually looked at the cases in question, which were probably “false positives” in the battle against “book stuffing.”

    The message seems to be: don’t risk putting your books into KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited unless you can afford to lose your ability to sell on Amazon. We also received no reply from Amazon, despite having sent a letter directly to the office of Jeff Bezos.

    Reply
  7. June Ahern12 November, 2018

    I know but service and sales were good. Now it’s not.

    Reply
  8. Lyn12 November, 2018

    In the misty past, a person could post to Facebook, and all his friends would see the post. Then, “organic” reach began to shrivel. In the smoky, tear-stained present, if you want all your friends to see your post, you have to pony up. Is Bezos in a mastermind with Sugarhill?

    Reply
  9. Kevin13 November, 2018

    Never put your eggs in one basket. I learned the hard way. Get your own site up and market your own work. And most importantly, build your email list.

    Reply
  10. ShellBell13 November, 2018

    I don’t buy very many ebooks through Amazon, but I have noticed that very few ebooks, if any, are now available for me to purchase through amazon.com. If I do wish to buy any more ebooks from Amazon, I will have to buy them through amazon.com.au.

    Reply
  11. Star light13 November, 2018

    Yes, me too! I initially thought I was being kept from buying books through the US Amazon store because I live in New Zealand. There have been reduced price & free books that I haven’t been able to get in the past because of this, though back then the book just stayed at its presale price, but over the last month I started seeing books on my US Amazon wish list that were suddenly ‘unavailable for purchase’, the number of books increased, & nearly half the books on my wish list are now unavailable, & so are a lot of other books when I look them up, but, as far as I can tell, I can still buy them on the Australian Amazon. This comes not long after Amazon was removing reviews from books, seemingly at random, this has slowed, now, but still happens on occasion. Amazon seems to be falling apart from the inside & I wish more authors would swap to Smashwords, I prefer to buy from there because there is a massive range, & a lot of books there are less expensive than other retailers.
    I feel SO bad for the authors being affected by this & I hope it’s fixable.

    Reply
  12. Tom Wood13 November, 2018

    Amazon posted a notice in the KDP Community board:

    https://www.kdpcommunity.com/s/article/Temporary-Unavailability-of-eBooks-in-Some-Marketplaces?language=en_US

    “Hello,

    We’re experiencing an issue that has made some eBooks unavailable in the Kindle store in different marketplaces. Our engineers are working to solve this issue as quickly as possible. We’ll update this post to keep the Community informed once this issue has been resolved.

    We appreciate your patience and understanding in the meantime.

    Regards,

    Kindle Direct Publishing Team”

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 November, 2018

      Thanks!

      Reply
  13. Sharon13 November, 2018

    My books have ‘reappeared’ in the Kindle store on .com as of this morning.

    Reply
  14. Mike Cane13 November, 2018

    I hope there will be an update if the issue is fixed for everyone.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 November, 2018

      I have heard on FB that Amazon is telling authors it has been fixed.

      I have heard nothing.

      Reply
  15. Michael Smith13 November, 2018

    Well, this is disturbing. I had almost a month of no sales at all, which is highly unusual. Sales began again just today. Go figure.

    Reply
  16. Kim Lambert14 November, 2018

    As at a couple of hours ago, all fifteen of mine that were missing are back. But… one of my books that is in paperback only doesn’t currently show in search results for my author name….

    Reply
  17. Vicki p15 November, 2018

    Amazon are lying. A few weeks ago they completely shut down Jo Raven’s author account. The only books of hers that are available are the audio books because they are sold through a publishers. Even the author herself cannot access her page as it is completely gone. This is seriously messed up.

    Reply
  18. Linus Wilson20 November, 2018

    I notified Amazon of the problem on November 13, and called three times on three different days. The ebook in question is still not available for purchase in the US and USA. I will try editing it to get it to show up.

    Reply

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