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The Developers are Rioting in KindleTown

Have you ever wondered what it was like to submit an app to Amazon for the Kindle? I have, but due to Amazon’s insistence on secrecy few developers will talk about it.

Until today. There’s a fascinating post over it iReaderReview that offers a behind the scenes look. Amazon’s approval process for games and apps for the Kindle is long, obtuse, and probably designed to sap the developers' will to live.

BTW, iReaderReview, besides being an excellent Kindle blog, is run by the folks behind 7Dragon, a developer with several games and apps on the Kindle. In terms of reliability I would call them a two-fer. They have demonstrable inside knowledge and they are creditable bloggers.

And they’re not happy. Amazon has given them the run around, rejected apps based on changes made at Amazon request, and also bounced apps for frivolous reasons.

Their post today focuses on just one of the apps that Amazon won’t let them release for the Kindle. It’s an app that teaches speed reading, and they first submitted the app back in October of 2010 – over a year ago. It offers a 7 day course and includes 15 pd ebooks to work with. But it doesn’t let you read any ebook sold by Amazon (it’s against the rules).

So they’ve had this app ready to release for over a year, but Amazon won’t let them because:

  • lack of credentials to release a reading speed app
  • legal concerns (BS)
  • users might give it a negative review (BS)
  • the price is too high (let them make it Wifi only, then)

The only possible valid concern is the lack of credentials, but that only holds up until you really think it through. Amazon cannot really care about credentials; after all, they let anyone publish just about anything in the Kindle Store, don’t they? So why would credentials matter for app developers?

But it’s not just the one app. They also had to fight with Amazon to get their apps updated, which only happened after they threatened to pull their apps out of the Kindle Store. They also have other apps, including some very cool ones, which Amazon won’t let them release.

They did eventually get their Notepad app out of Amazon’s clutches, but Notes with Email is still buried under Amazon’s disapproval. The second app would have allowed you to email your notes to yourself (that is so very shiny). And they have even more apps, including a photo album, "please return me", and personality test apps.

Just think. If there’s some app that you wish you could have on your kindle, it’s probably already been made. The reason you don’t have it is that Amazon won’t release it.

In conclusion, let me put this rant into perspective. I’ve known these folks for just over a year, and Ive never been able to get them to comment on the app process. They had always been afraid of Amazon and didn’t want to rock the boat. But now they are so pissed with Amazon that they don’t care anymore. They are airing Amazon’s dirty laundry in public and daring Amazon to respond. What we have here is effectively a scorched earth policy towards Amazon. That is how pissed off they are.

But this should really come as no surprise. We’ve heard many past complaints about Amazon’s high-handedness before, both in how they treat Android developers (here, here) and in the way they have treated customers.

The greater surprise is that anyone still submits apps. If this is the norm for Amazon’s behavior then I wonder why we haven’t seen actual rioting.

P.S. If anyone cares to share their horror stories, I will protect your anonymity.

via iReaderReview

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Luqman December 13, 2011 um 2:23 pm

How are they treating customers in a high handed manner? They are the only eBook manufacturer that I know of that will actually replace busted eInk screens for free.

Nate Hoffelder December 13, 2011 um 2:52 pm

Competitor’s apps blocked on the Kindle Fire, ebooks pulled off of Kindles, need I go on?

Luqman December 14, 2011 um 8:01 am

How many years ago did that incident with 1984 happpen? What, do they have parade around in Sack-cloth and ashes? Next you’ll go on a rant about the Sony Root-kit incident. And the apps are not blocked, just not available in the fire store. You can sideload them easily, which is more than can be said for the Nook.

Andrys December 13, 2011 um 3:23 pm

Generalizing Amazon customer 'treatment' by their not making competitor apps readily available may be 'cool' for the blog but is generally misleading.

Besides, I have the B&N app on my Kindle Fire because Amazon is clear that they allow side-loading of non-Amazon material for ALL of the user-files area on the device and also have allowed for checking the settings box to allow APK files from 'unknown' sources. They also allow NON-Amazon material on ALL 5 gigs of personal documents in the Kindle-owner area and ALL 5 gigs of general Amazon Cloud space.

B&N is considerably more closed , and just try returning a Nook with broken screen, or an e-book for bad formatting or no linked table of contents (which we can do within 7 days).

Amazon is known for anything but bad attitudes toward customers though they of course are a business rather than some non-profit business or charity and they have been stupid in a couple of past instances and can learn from their mistakes, because their main interest IS in the bottom line, which they know benefits from happier customers.

To get off the overly-simplistic business of Amazon removing purchased books from the customer device and inferring that’s all anyone has to say about any of this the way it is normally referenced, please read the actual history of it, that I monitored at .

That’s if anyone actually wants to know what it was about and all the erroneous info that was circulated about it.

Nate Hoffelder December 13, 2011 um 3:27 pm

I disagree. I went through a long series of email exchanges with Amazon and they repeatedly lied to me about the competitor’s apps. And what about the times they’ve closed accounts with no notice and left the owner with no way to recover the Kindle ebooks? Not all have been for good reasons, like hacking.

Edit: Or, what about their previous foray into ebooks (circa 2006)? All those customers were left in the lurch when Amazon dropped the service, and some were even stuck with expiring content.

Andrys December 13, 2011 um 3:43 pm

The times? Another lovingly grabbed overgeneralization based on rumor that is appearing to be a preferred mode lately.

If really, truly interested in the details, see
There are people who really look into these things, one one of our favored forums where you and other explorers hang out.

The Kindle was launched in 2007. I think Barnes and Noble had a foray into earlier e-books and dropped them suddenly and then later on (recently) dropped supporting the older format of of an outfit they bought.

You really overgeneralize to make a point that I think is, on the whole, invalid in the way that you make it, as if some kind of overarching reality.

I AM more worried about what they are doing with Indy authors signed up for the Prime program.

And Coker makes good points about the unpalatable effect on sites like his also.

a different mark December 14, 2011 um 12:58 pm

Slight correction to the statement "…they let anyone publish just about anything in the Kindle Store, don’t they?" My company has a proven patented technology that can be incorporated into electronic reading material. I built mobi/kindle ready content with this technology for a variety of public domain classics and published to the Amazon Kindle store. The titles were accepted/published by Amazon.

Then Amazon decided to curtail the number of 'undifferentiated' content copies and removed these titles from the Kindle store. Understandable. I sent communication clearly defending the 'differentiated' (not 'just about anything') nature of what we published. Amazon reviewed this case and allowed the content back in, to only subsequently rescind this decision with no valid explanation of their rationale.

Lots going on behind the veil there which makes their publishing to the Kindle nowhere near as logical or attractive as they make it out to be; not surprising to hear that highly-proven app developers are getting lost in that/similar black box too.

We have moved on to find other avenues to reach customers where we can better control the 'whys' & 'why nots'; I await a more sane approach to permitting market-based demand in the Kindle platform.

Nate Hoffelder December 14, 2011 um 2:02 pm

The funny thing about Amazon removing your ebooks is that they left plenty others. I set up a library for a high school student back in August and I had any number of free and paid pd titles to choose from.

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