Big. Whispery. Annoying: Amazon Publishes Blogs. Again.

If I didn’t already know about many of the little things Amazon has done to completely decimate any interest I had in them as a bookseller, this wouldn’t bug me too much. But since the long sequence of WTF has been revealing itself for months now, this is just one more layer in the stank that is Amazon.

Way back in 2007, which was several millennia ago in blog time, we bloggers heard from Amazon that we could make our content available for Kindle users. Kindle folk would have to subscribe, and we’d get a cut of that subscription while the subscribers would receive our content automatically on their Kindles. This was back in the days of Kindle I: The Wedge Edition, which I had and at the time loved using.

I had no idea why in the name of whispernet anyone would pay $1.00 or $2.00 for a subscription to a site that’s free, but I was curious, and I wanted to go through the process and see what happened.

So on 17 December 2007, I received a very nice email from a gentleman from Amazon’s “digital publications” team, who said they needed a Tax ID form from me to finish the setup.

No problem! Sent that bad boy out. Gave them the LLC Tax ID number, identified us as a Women-Owned Business Concern, and signed that puppy same day.

On 5 May 2008 I hadn’t heard anything, and figuring that there are many, many other blogs that would be prioritized before mine, I sent the nice gentleman, Mr. Smith, we’ll call him, an email saying, “Yo, what’s up, here’s the forms again in case you don’t have them, kthxbye.”

Got a reply same day – like the Cubs, “they’re working on it.”

My payment account was ready to go, Smart Bitches Trashy Books had been assigned an ASIN for listing, and it needed to merely go through “technical set-up.”

On 3 June 2008: another nudge. Mr. Smith replied that they were still working on technical improvements to help our site move through the queue of sites waiting to be listed. I could expect listing in about two months.

At this point, I figured I was a small enough potato that SBTB wasn’t a priority in terms of potential profit, so I figured I’d email again in a few months.

26 February 2009: Hey there, any update?

No reply.

14 May 2009: A new program for Kindle bloggers, wherein I can sign up for a brand new entirely separate account at Kindle Publishing for Blogs and have Smart Bitches listed for the Kindle – giving Amazon 70% of the cut for rerouting my RSS feed into people’s Kindles.

Are you fucking kidding me? Not a word for over a year, and now it’s a new program? How hard is it to review those already in the queue and update them on the status?

Most of the blogs listed are major Technorati Top-100 players, and I totally understand that blogs that aren’t in the top 100 aren’t a priority, but to be told “we’re working on it, you’re in the system…” the nothing, only to be alerted to a new program with an entirely new pay structure and you won’t mind submitting all that information again, right?

Like I said, if I weren’t already pissed off at Amazon, I’d be mildly annoyed. But this is, to use a tired metaphor, the cherry on top – and the long-ago loss of my virginal blithe ignorance of Amazon’s crazy-ass ways means I’m curling my lip at this email that gleefully invites me to re-participate in a process I completed over a year ago. Whereas before I was waiting for them to figure their shit out, now I have to start all over, and manage the process independently. Why would I do that?!

Curious note: whereas before it was a business partnership, the new model of blog publishing on Kindle: “A self-publishing tool.”

If it were a self-publishing tool, I’d have done it all myself already. Wait, oh, wow, look at that… I already am. I’ll do the self-publishing blogging, Amazon, and you can be the tool.  #amazonfail

Comments are Closed

  1. Meh. Not surprising.

    Given the miniscule royalty I get from a sale on Amazon, I’ve been less inclined to send readers that way. I’d prefer to buy the book myself from my publisher and then mail it to them.  At least I make a decent profit (instead of royalty) that way.

    Like you, Amazon is pissing me off more and more.


  2. Leeann Burke says:

    I’m in the same boat as Leslie. I think Amazon is trying to keep too big a piece of the cake. Most places only take 50% or so but they are asking 65 – 70 for their different services. I know they have overhead and employees to pay but come on.

  3. …and what does Amazon get for their 70% cut??

    I’m with Leslie as far as sales through them go. I make a HUGE percentage more if people buy from me.

  4. Cat Marsters says:

    I’m not surprised either.  Given how long it takes for them to make something available on Kindle it isn’t a huge shock to hear they’re seriously inefficient in other areas.

    I have a four-book series, of which three are out on Kindle—books one, three and four—book two is not.  It came out in June 2007, and despite numerous prods from both me and Samhain, the same ‘it’s being processed/you haven’t sent us the right paperwork’ excuse is trotted out.  I’ve asked my readers to email Amazon about it, but I don’t expect it’ll make much of a difference.

    Honestly, if it wasn’t for the completely appalling availability of books I want to read in brick and mortar stores, I wouldn’t bother with Amazon.  But they’ve got me over a barre, and they know it.

  5. Cat Marsters says:

    Hmm, I meant barrel, but I think barre has a nicer, more balletic, and therefore more hella uncomfortable, image.

  6. Ebooks are already avariciously priced and now they want to charge $1.99 to subscribe to free content? Not just #amazonfail but #amazongreed

  7. Betsy says:

    I am so done with Amazon at this point.  I bought Beyond Heaving Bosoms from Better World Books at the same price, they shipped it for free and it came with free chocolate.  So much cooler.

  8. Bev Stephans says:

    I only buy from Amazon if all other book-selling options are exhausted.  I make no non-book purchases from them as I can always find merchandise cheaper elsewhere.

  9. Sarah W says:

    I used to be a big mazon customer, plus I select romances for a library system and used Amazon for quick title and series checking as well as reviews.

    Now, I even refuse to give ‘em the website hits.

  10. Erica says:

    I love my Kindle, but I thank the software gods for Calibre and Mobi Pocket, for without them I wouldn’t be able to read anything!

    Amazon does this whole 70% thing on their re-seller accounts as well.  They take out a chunk of cash on top of everything you sign up for to sell.  Their self-e-commerce programs and retailer programs don’t give the sellers much in the way of a rate of return.

  11. Julie says:

    Isn’t that a similar “deal” to what they’re offering newspapers?

  12. Carin says:

    Why would I pay to access a free website through my Kindle (if I owned one, which I don’t) when I can get it for (again) free on my phone?  I don’t get it.

  13. I have jokingly been calling Amazon “the new Axis” for a while now. 

    It feels less and less like a joke the more crap they pull.

  14. *nodding*

    Sounds like business as usual. The next time you’re wondering why a publisher doesn’t do A,B,C, re-read this post and think about what it’s like to deal with this type of business relationship on a daily basis. And then multiply it by every chain, distributor, etc. They’re not all horrible to work with—in fact, some of them are lovely. But they do make the workday interesting.

  15. tracykitn says:

    I have already switched most of my book-buying over to They have an excellent selection, decent shipping rates, and free shipping on orders over $50. Including used books. Plus,  they have most books on some ebook format (mostly sony or adobe digital editions.) And, if there’s a title you want that they don’t currently have in stock, but have had at some point in the past, they will notify you when it’s next in-stock. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is preorder books. And I think they sell CDs and DVDs as well.

    Nothing that’s on Amazon isn’t available some way, somewhere else.

  16. Theresa says:

    I’m over here in the UK, and I thought I’d found another online bookseller, BooksOnBoard, when the #amazonfail was ongoing.  Problem is, BooksOnBoard ships every book in an order separately.  5 books, 5 packages, what a waste of material, not to mention shipping costs.  Gah.  Must continue to hunt for Amazon alternative…

  17. Sabrina says:

    Thanks for sharing your past experience with us. I’ve known amazon was super sucky for quite a while but its helpful to see my feelings aren’t unfounded.

    And, as a new blogger learning what others have gone through keeps me from making the same mistakes.


  18. nkkingston says:

    For those looking at other book buying options, I can offer Better World Books, with free shipping in the US, lots of ex-library books, and charity donations (beware if you’re outside the US, though, because they charge postage per item and then send them in one package), and The Book Depository, which currently wins with me for a slightly better range of books and free delivery worldwide. I admire BWB’s ethics, but I can’t afford the cost of delivery to the UK.

  19. cursingmama says:

    I’m starting to equate Amazon with another large corporation that I have long avoided on principal – only using them in Emergency Situations like the school requiring something that can only be had at Walmart.  Hopefully Amazon and their Kindle won’t become the only product on the market – Thats why I’m rooting for Nintendo to come up with something.

  20. Shanna says:

    I was looking at my Amazon Associate account last night and apparently I get zero commission now on any Kindle book sales through my website Amazon links. Gee thanks Amazon, I give you sales and you give me the finger.

  21. Cat Marsters says:

    I’m over here in the UK, and I thought I’d found another online bookseller, BooksOnBoard, when the #amazonfail was ongoing

    Theresa, try Bookfellas or the Book Depository, who have free delivery too.  Waterstones can be a little limited as to stock—they let you order, then email you to tell you it’ll be forever until you get it, but on the upside they do have a points reward scheme.

  22. Laura Dawson says:

    Sarah, originally Amazon’s blogs were distributed by a company called Newstex, who also licenses RSS feeds into libraries and other services. So if Newstex carried your blog, you were automatically in. However, Amazon didn’t bother to let anyone know, and I discovered my own blog there by complete surprise. It has a subscriber. One. Which is very sweet, and I want to adore that person. But I had to find that out via Newstex.

    This totally doesn’t surprise me, however – Amazon’s communications are horrendous. Today when I tried to log onto the PUBLISH YOUR OWN BLOG thing, the site was down. Nice beta.

  23. Silver James says:

    I have to respond simply because my spam word is: include63

    Uhm…no! Amazon doesn’t include shit.

    If ever there was an argument for going Sony, this just about does it for me. And when my book comes out in print, I’ll point everyone to B&N to get it rather than Amazon.

  24. SarahT says:

    @Leslie Dicken (or anyone else in the know):

    Did I understand correctly that authors receive less money from an Amazon sale than from one in a regular bookstore? If so, that’s something I did not know and it doesn’t impress me!

  25. SarahT says:

    I can’t believe Amazon charges people for BLOGS!

    Do any of you subscribe to blogs via Kindle? Is there any advantage to doing this versus using a regular computer, iPhone, laptop, etc.?

  26. Many books take a while to make it to Australia, so I buy US and UK books from Book Depository UK.

    I bought Heaving Bosoms from there. Even with the exchange rate, they have free delivery to Australia and it worked out cheaper than Amazon. And I figure you probably get a better royalty from Book Depository as well? Hope so.

    It arrived about 10 days after I placed my order, and had a cute bookmark. Shame it couldn’t have any chocky. Might drop them an email . . .

  27. MaryK says:

    Hmm.  I’m not sure I could kick my addiction to Amazon’s wishlist feature.  I have all kinds of things in it that I might someday possibly want to look at more closely.  Other sites sell books, but is there one that rivals Amazon as a book research tool?

  28. Theresa says:

    Gah.  BooksOnBoard is the ebook retailer I use.  Where was my mind today?  *headdesk*  I actually have ordered from the Book Depository a couple times, and was fairly happy with their selection.  They’re the ones who sent the books in my order piecemeal.

  29. Zebee says:

    I use because they have a very good range and while the pound is low are the cheapest method.  They have a wishlist, I use it a lot.

    At home in Oz I also use because I can pick books up from them on the way to work.  They are more like a shipper – they buy from publishers and warehouses and pass on to you.  The prices are better than local bookshops but worse then bookdepository however they have been able to get books (mostly Oz ones of course) that bookdepository can’t get.

  30. ghn says:

    I haven’t bought any electronic editions from Amazon. Nor am I likely to do so – most of my e-book-needs are covered by Baen and Fictionwise – and what Fictionwise refuses to sell me just because I live in Europe, well, Google is useful for many things. 😉

    ‘When it comes to the Dead Tree stuff, I prefer to use my local bookstores. When it comes to particular titles that I want that they might not order on their own initiative, I ask first, and then decide if I should order the book through Amazon. Considering the amount of time my latest order has taken, I am considerably more likely to _not_ order through Amazon next time I desperately, as in, _likely to go into withdrawal if I don’t get the book ASAP_.

    Capcha: present64 I am sure my favorite bookstore would like the present of a sale of 64 books 🙂

  31. Suze says:

    I don’t get why alleged business people can’t seem to understand the concept of customer service.  In the business I work for, we’re constantly having to comp things to people because we screwed up or miscommunicated, and ended up costing the customer time and money.

    I’ve been a lone voice in the wilderness for YEARS, trying to convince people who make more money than I do that, with a little up-front effort, we can offer better service and a) not have to give so many freebies to placate angry customers and b) have non-angry customers, who will tell their friends how good we are, rather than how much we suck.

    Is it really such a hard concept?  Get your shit figured out, and advertise AFTER you know what the fuck you’re talking about, and AFTER you’ve got your systems set up to handle customer requests.

    theory79: yep.  I have a lot of theories about why people don’t do things my way.

  32. Termagant 2 says:

    Per my current e-publisher, Fictionwise takes a high percentage of the sale price also, and also takes quite a while to pay. Why, I wonder, have publishers and writers let these people get away with this? We do 99% of the work for 10-20% of the income.

    Have been boycotting Amazon for quite some time now & don’t see myself changing that anytime soon.

  33. Emily says:

    Hmm.  There is not a blog on earth interesting enough to sign up to read it on my Kindle.  And as a book-buying customer I’m perfectly happy with Amazon and don’t see any need to hunt out alternatives.  I’ve been buying books from Amazon for over ten years now and their customer service has always been excellent.  I have no complaints.

  34. @Leslie Dicken (or anyone else in the know):

    Did I understand correctly that authors receive less money from an Amazon sale than from one in a regular bookstore? If so, that’s something I did not know and it doesn’t impress me!

    Highest royalies are from ebook sales.  Period.  I make a lot of money purchasing the print book from my publisher and then selling it at list price.  I can also make a decent royalty if the book is purchased at the publisher’s own website.

    But anytime there is a third party involved, that third party gets a cut of the money.  Typically, Amazon pays the publisher less than 50% of the cover price.  An author’s royalties are then paid after that 50% cut.

    I have to say there is ONE BENEFIT to Amazon.  The book is listed there forever.  A brick store will send it back after a short time.

    Basically, it’s the rare author who makes a lot of money of book sales!

  35. Suze says:

    Basically, it’s the rare author who makes a lot of money of book sales!

    You mean, book sales in that you’re selling retail copies of your own book?  As opposed to selling a book you’ve written to be published?

  36. Walt says:

    After reading the story on Techcrunch about _anyone_ being able to publish _any_ blog, we registered RTB and Blaze Authors blog, just to have it registered before Amazon figures out they screwed up and locks the registration process down to have people who can prove they control the blog.  (which from reading an update to the link at Techcrunch, Amazon claims they already have locked down the process)

  37. Mary Winter says:

    @Leslie Dicken

    But anytime there is a third party involved, that third party gets a cut of the money.  Typically, Amazon pays the publisher less than 50% of the cover price.  An author’s royalties are then paid after that 50% cut.

    Not to take away from the suckage, because that is major suckage (considering that they keep sending me spam mail after I’ve asked them to stop is just par for the course)…. I have to say to say that if a publisher pays you minus the distributor’s discount that’s paying on net and I did a lovely blog post on why that is adverse to authors except in very limited circumstances.

    To get back to the blog…definately sounds like status quo Their marketplace program is very detrimental to publishers who don’t use a distributor or one of their own programs. Hence, the Booklocker lawsuit.

  38. Trix says:

    @Zebee and other Aussies (and Kiwis) – I recommend It’s a search engine that searches book titles on a couple of dozen sites and finds you the best price including shipping. So, as well as Better World Books (great charity) and Book Depository in the UK, it searches Dymocks, A&R, Collins, and the various Amazons for the best price. In Australian dollars.
    Personally, I wouldn’t order books from all of the options (I want to avoid Amazon as much as possible, and I don’t want to maintain umpteen accounts), but it’s handy to see if a book is available from Collins for only $5 more than BWB. At present, I’ve been ordering from BWB and BD for the stuff that’s not available at a reasonable price locally.

  39. Azure says:

    Every so often, I look longingly at the number of ebooks available for Kindle readers that no one else, not even Sony, offers, and I whine, “I want, I want.”  Then I read about how Amazon is pulling crap like this and I remember why I will never own a Kindle.  My eBookwise is still holding up after three and a half years, and when it dies, there’s a Sony Reader out there with my name on it.  As for those ebooks I can’t find anywhere else, well, I’m making do with the paperback versions.

  40. Sounds like business as usual for Amazon. I have a Kindle and I love it but I won’t be sticking with the 800 pound gorilla due to Amazon’s business tactics. Now I’m just waiting for an ereader that blows my skirt up.

    Can you say COLOR?

    My security word is ‘justice82’ – damn straight!

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