Amazon’s Pre-Order Quagmire, Redux
Many authors were pleased last year when Amazon gave all authors and publishers in KDP the option to put their Kindle ebooks up for pre-order, but author Mindy Klasky reports that we celebrated too soon.
Earlier this week Klasky shared her experience with putting an anthology of holiday-themed stories up for pre-order. Even though the authors jumped through all the hoops, including uploading a placeholder text and then uploading the finished ebook ten days before it was due to go live, Klasky reports that the process still crashed and burned:
On November 17, Mischief Under the Mistletoe went live. Shortly after midnight, approximately 8100 pre-orders were fulfilled. Alas, Amazon mistakenly sent those customers the placeholder file instead of the final file. (New customers who placed orders after the book released, received and continue to receive the correct file.)
Forty-eight hours later, the situation remains unresolved. Nearly 40% of our reviews are one- or two-star reviews, commenting exclusively about the problems of the placeholder file (without comment on the substance of that one story or, obviously, the content of the missing eighteen novellas.) As a consequence, we have had several advertisers drop our pre-purchased advertisements, because we have not met the four-star threshold for those ads. (We have been denied refunds on those ads.)
Amazon has admitted its error, confirming that we did upload the final file on a timely basis. They have admitted that pre-order customers incorrectly received the placeholder file. They maintain they have “pushed” the correct file to pre-order customers; however, very few–if any–customers have received the pushed file. In fact, some customers who have complained have been instructed to delete the faulty file, request a refund, wait for a week, and re-order the boxed set. (ETA: That week’s wait, of course, pushes the re-sale past the date that counts for we authors hoping to hit a bestseller list.) Customers who have manually deleted the placeholder file and attempted to download the final file have generally found that their ereaders mistakenly re-load the placeholder file.
The situation was ultimately fixed (for certain meanings of the word) when Amazon sent buyers an email telling them how to download the correct edition of the ebook, but the Amazon hasn’t taken any steps to repair the PR damage it caused (all the one-star reviews).
O O O
As painful as that sounds, this tale raises more questions than it answers. For example, how widespread is this problem?
In the fifteen months since Amazon enabled pre-orders, this is the very first time that I have heard of Amazon screwing up the delivery of a pre-order. The closest I could come to confirmation are a few off-hand comments over in the comment section at The Passive Voice. Both commenters said that they had heard about this problem happening to authors they know, but they did not name names, share first-hand experiences, or post a link to corroborating reports.
Does anyone have similar experiences with getting caught in the gears at Amazon?
image by GuySie