There are many awkward and antiquated things in the book industry, from product classification to the enormous size of hardbacks (apart from ours, of course!), but nothing, and I repeat, nothing, comes close to the incompetence of Amazon when it comes to the book trade.

I ranted a little bit too much on this to our email list last week (sorry). Basically, those pre-orders you see on Amazon from publishers are there because we have to submit all the book data to Nielsen, the company that registers the ISBN and links it to all the info to do with that book. They then feed that info out to retailers and libraries (1000s of them, to be exact), including Amazon.

Any pre-orders through any retailer should then be sent through to the assigned wholesaler, who then sends the books to fulfil those orders. Still with me so far?

But in Amazon’s case, they didn’t do that. They reported those pre-orders to no one, and left those customers in limbo. Nor did they update their feeds on several of our books to show they are actually in stock. I even ordered one of our own books myself to see if that would trigger their feed into working. Nope.

And do you think I could get in touch with anyone to help? Customer service went through 4 (!) agents who all struggled to comprehend what I was asking. They then finally directed me to Author Central (I’m not the author, I explained). Then the next effort had me directed to Seller Central (we don’t sell direct through Amazon, I explained through gritted teeth).

I am still trying to sort this matter, trying to contact anyone in tech there who has even a small understanding of how their company receives book feeds from the industry in order to rectify this. It’s like pulling teeth and they are genuinely about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

I am immensely envious of authors using KDP right now as my experience with them (for our ebooks) has been nothing but positive (even when I discovered missed payments, it was sorted very quickly by someone who knew exactly what they were doing).

How a business can survive (and be worth billions) by being so out of touch and unknowledgable about its products is beyond me! Imagine walking into a bookshop and asking for a book, only for them to charge you for it but then tell you that they don’t have it in stock and have no idea when it will be in stock, and that they’ll keep you updated, but then never actually do, and then completely ignore you!

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