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

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 :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.

View Comments (24)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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"

  • 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.

  • 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....

  • 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.

  • 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.