Thousands of eBooks Have Disappeared from Amazon.com – Were Your eBooks Hit Too?

Thousands of eBooks Have Disappeared from Amazon.com - Were Your eBooks Hit Too? Kindle (platform)

I am about to give a few thousand authors a really terrible morning.

Numerous authors are reporting. both on Facebook and in private discussions, that their ebooks have disappeared from Amazon.com. I have read first hand over a half-dozen reports to this effect, and heard many more reports second hand.

The issue seems to only be affecting Amazon.com, and according to two reports primarily new releases are impacted. The affected listings have vanished from the site entirely, and have been replaced with one of Amazon's cute 404 pages (the ones with dogs), but the books are still listed on other Amazon sites.

Update: Several people are saying that this looks like the first stage in the next purge of authors. I disagree. I don't know what went wrong on Amazon.com, but I have seen similar issues on a WP site often enough that I know how to fix them. The cause on WP would be that the code running the site can't find the content in its database (but the content is still there), and the solution (it works almost all the time) is to go into the "permalinks" settings menu and save it. This helps the site find the content again.

Author John Van Stry has lost two books to this issue. "The two books I put out (one last week, one 5 weeks prior) are now gone. The one from last week was a #1 bestseller," he told me by email. "This is going to kill me financially, because I was in the new release cycle on two books, and now I've been thrown out of that and when my book comes back it won't be #134 overall on amazon and #1 in like 6 different categories."

John also told me that Amazon's help center in India told him that it will be 24 to 48 hours before this is fixed. As someone who does tech support, this sounds like they do not yet know what broke, much less how to fix it.

That impression was confirmed by a second report to the effect that Amazon's tech team is doing its due diligence, and that they have no idea when it will be back up.

Update: They may have fixed it. I've read several reports on Facebook that affected ebooks have been restored.

Have your ebooks been affected?

Thanks, John!

image by Lachlan Hardy via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. 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.

25 Comments

  1. Airwolf6 April, 2019

    You did not give a date when this happend. When I did a google search, I found the disappearance of ebooks from Amazon.com dating back to Nov. 12, 2018, but nothing since.
    I would think that if this is a real issue, it would surface on Google.
    I also did a search on duckduckgo.com and it came up totally empty of any books disappearing from Amazon.com.
    So can you provide any proof (links, titles of books that have disappeared, etc.)?
    Also which books of author John Van Stry have disappeared? (I found a lot of his books on Amazon.com).

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder6 April, 2019

      It’s happening right now, and the reason it’s not in Google is that this is my scoop.

      If you are a member of 20Booksto50K on Facebook, here’s 3 different reports:
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/20Booksto50k/?multi_permalinks=1840417702731352&comment_id=1840422276064228&notif_id=1554566324339925&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

      It is a closed group, unfortunately.

      Reply
  2. Gordon Horne6 April, 2019

    It’s happening. I checked the Amazon.ca and Amazon.com listing for a half-dozen posters in the 20Booksto50k thread. Everything fine on .ca, but on .com their most recent books are “No results for [title/ASIN] in Kindle Store”. Earlier books show up. Box sets including missing books show up. Pre-orders show up.

    Some of the posters report customer service has told them it is a problem with some but not all Amazon.com servers.

    Reply
  3. Dave Willmarth6 April, 2019

    My newest release disappeared as well last night. It had dropped from a high ranking of #143 in the overall to the 600’s this week, but I’m still losing hundreds of dollars each day this continues. Not to mention the ratings drop and momentum loss.

    I spoke to customer service, they were no help. No time frame to fix, no info on what the problem is.

    Reply
  4. Dilsia6 April, 2019

    Isn’t there another place to publish books? I mean…

    Reply
  5. Carmen Webster Buxton6 April, 2019

    All 11 of mine look like they’re online ad for sale..

    Reply
  6. Heather6 April, 2019

    Almost sounds like another purging run at indie authors like what struck one of my authors who was suddenly for false reasons was banned from Amazon.

    Reply
  7. John Ime Hyme6 April, 2019

    The publisher of this blog is right though. It happened to my book too. I emails their customer care and got a reply that their tech team will look into it

    Reply
  8. Nate6 April, 2019

    Sounds like Amazon’s last purge of indie author’s. They don’t care even though those authors are bringing in money for company. Still awaiting the return of one of them that is in a lawsuit against Amazon. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more media coverage of this problem. And for the people that say their are other platforms to release while true none of them have even close to the number of readers that Amazon has, and a few of the indie author’s that have tried report back little to no earnings

    Reply
  9. Dartanyan Terry7 April, 2019

    At the risk of sounding selfish, I am happy, (I guess) that it was not just me. There for a moment, I was beginning to feel singled out. So many of the works that I have published over the years, suddenly vanished from Amazon. It was like a punch to the midsection. There was no advanced warning. I just woke up one morning, and they were gone.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 April, 2019

      Have your books been restored yet?

      Reply
  10. Mary Kelso7 April, 2019

    7 my book published about 10 days ago is gone on amazon.com but still available on Amazon.ca. depending when it disappeared from the site it was on special for 99 cents for the past 5 days up until Friday. I haven’t checked Amazon in any other country to know if it’s missing there too but it is available in Canada.

    Reply
  11. Olivier7 April, 2019

    I have little sympathy for authors (and there are many among indies) who choose to depend entirely on Amazon.

    Reply
  12. Dhvani Shah7 April, 2019

    But why would Amazon Purge the indie authors? What does it get out of it?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 April, 2019

      nothing – this is probably a glitch, which is why I was careful not to use words like “purge”

      Reply
  13. Deborah7 April, 2019

    Hearing that a movie had been made of the Stephen King novel Dr. Sleep, I decided to reread it. My records showed I had purchased it in 2013, but it wasn’t showing up in a manage content search. I went back to 2013 and it was faded out – unable to download. Que pasa, Amazon? Purging purchases of now relevant ebooks to make you buy them again?

    Reply
  14. Tymber Dalton7 April, 2019

    Cari Silverwood had at least one disappear from US but it was still available on CA, AU, etc.

    Reply
  15. PJ Quirino7 April, 2019

    This is VERY bad and my sympathies to the well known fiction authors and non fiction authors out there however I HOPE THIS TRAGIC ISSUE REALLY AND TOTALLY SCREWS UP THE PROFITS OF THE NASTY ANTI RELIGIOUS AUTHORS IN MAKING THEIR BOOKS KNOWN TO THE WORLD BY MAKING PROFITS WITH SPREADING HATE AND RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE!!! IM COUNTING ON THAT!!!

    Reply
  16. Theron Beidelschies7 April, 2019

    The beauty of writing and print is that no voice can be silenced no matter how repulsive some may find it. If it isn’t libel, it should forever be uncensorable. That’s a cornerstone of freedom.

    Reply
  17. Harmon Rashid7 April, 2019

    Yep, lost books, me too affected

    Reply
  18. John8 April, 2019

    All your needs comes in one place https://chat.whatsapp.com/EC97Ago0j3P23EUVR2ABmu

    Reply
  19. Rick Carufel8 April, 2019

    It was inevitable that Amazon was gonna cut a lot of ebooks sooner or later. In my opinion the myth that anyone can be a writer has dragged the art into the gutter and the delusion anyone with 5th grade literacy can write a best seller and get rich has resulted in the bottom dropping out because the market is inundated with garbage books. Thought Amazon was gonna start cutting ebooks that don’t sell long ago.

    Reply
  20. […] #5: Free Stories, Analog Scrolling News #4: Hello? Is There Anybody Listening? News #3: The Great eBook Disappearance of 2019 News #2: Cure for the Common Algorithm News #1: One Sweet […]

    Reply
  21. Ava Greene15 April, 2019

    Thanks for this, Nate. It’s so important. I agree with Rick Carufel above about the inevitability of Amazon toughening up. A few weeks ago, I released a new ebook on Kindle Unlimited—first time I tried KU, and the last—and was stunned to find that, though they boast ‘exclusivity,’ Amazon didn’t list my new book in any related searches of the book’s subject, or even when searching for most of the words in the title. The only way to find it was typing out the book’s entire (long) name. The customer service guy in India, after saying a supervisor would call me back in 5 days but none did, said that if I want people to buy my ebook on Amazon, I have to directly send said people the URL of my ebook’s page. In other words, I can bring customers to Amazon, but Amazon won’t bring customers to me. You never know how much the reps actually know, but it does makes sense for Amazon to turn the tables—why not profit from self-publishers instead of sponsoring them?

    A week or two later, I published the print version, and now the ebook tagged along with it and they were (slightly) more visible. However, nearly all ebook versions of my 5 titles show severe pricing errors on Amazon that seem impossible to remedy. And customer service is ineffective to the point of futility.

    My recent thinking is: indie authors need to leave Amazon, and we need to exit en masse.

    On the other hand, Amazon has never been obliged to prop up and support the entire self-published wagon-train. If it’s not worth the effort for them, or the clogged drains, not much anyone can do. The times they are a-changin’. I’m glad I focus on print books and that I sell everywhere else as well. Amazon is definitely forcing indies into advertising though. Smart…..

    Reply
  22. David8 August, 2019

    Most of Kurt Vonnegut’s books have gone. This is very sad. It’s not a link thing, they’re removing the books.

    Reply

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