Are We Amazon’s Foreign Aliens? I mean WE: readers and writers, Amazon customers/book suppliers, from Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland … Why are we treated by Amazon as second-class citizens in this global Internet world? Sounds just like Donald Trumps’ slogan: Make America Great Again (and let others pay for it).
Do foreign customers/writers not have the same value for this American company? Here are several issues that writers and publishers encounter at Amazon.
AMAZON is NOT International!
The company is touted as one of the world’s largest suppliers and a pioneer in the online business. In many aspects, such as eReaders and eBook uploading they really are. Amazon also insists on being customer-service centric – which I mostly agree with. However, the way their foreign suppliers (writers), who are also all Amazon customers, are treated – compared to American writers – is not right! So many perks that US citizens receive from Amazon are not available for the rest of the world.
Countdown Deals ONLY for US and UK Customers!
When authors place their books into the Kindle CountDown program, the promotion is only available for U.S. and U.K. citizens. I remember when I ran my book Conflicted Hearts on that promo that I had no evidence of it being on sale. The deal was not showing up, even when I went over to Amazon.com.
I questioned Amazon and all that I was told that it was on sale, and they sent me a screenshot to prove it.
This doesn’t help us when we are putting our books on promotion and paying for advertising to help boost sales and ALL THE OTHER COUNTRY’S readers are told it’s on sale, but they can’t have that Countdown price. Read the whole story here.
Amazon Rules: Can I use Kindle Countdown Deals if I live outside of the U.S. or UK, like Italy or Japan?
Yes, but your Kindle Countdown Deals promotion will only be available for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Customers for example from Germany, India, and Australia will not see the promotions at this time…
Let me give you seven more examples:
Issue #1 Gift Cards
NEVER, ever send a gift card from the USA to a friend in another country when they don’t have an Amazon.com account. This gift card cannot be redeemed!
You spend money, Amazon makes money – and your friend is out of luck and mad at you or Amazon, or both.
You could sue Amazon theoretically for a number of reasons (e.g. for unfair business practices) or report them to the FTC. After all, if they cash in, they have to deliver, otherwise, it would be fraud!
Or you could try to talk to them, what a writer friend did. She got a much higher complementary gift card thanks to an empathic rep. See her blog about this ordeal.
However, she is not alone: Browsing the Amazon forums, I found many similar stories like this:
“Amazon, I have an issue as people keep sending me gift cards from different countries:
– my account is from the UK, the UK account has some balance
– I ship to NL where I used to live (this was before Amazon.nl existed.)
– I received an amazon.de card recently which cannot be added to the UK one.
– currently, I live in Japan and cannot order with my UK account
So the bottom line is: I have money from an Amazon.de gift card someone sent me.
The rest of my leftover gift money is on the UK account and I cannot order something from the Amazon Japan website!
What’s going on and why is Amazon naming itself Amazon when it’s so local. It’s actually a local store and nothing global to it.”
Several forum members answered:
“This is an international organization! Why isn’t it possible to transfer amazon gift cards and money between different accounts? Of course, I cannot ship from UK or DE to Japan. This is a great con and I cannot see any pro’s here whatsoever.”
“If Amazon is watching this: please allow gift cards to be interchanged and used in all of your different global sites, e.g. https://amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.co.uk, amazon.it and so on. This will increase your revenue as well as your customer satisfaction. Thank you”
“Unfortunately, the gift card will likely not be usable. I got a gift certificate from Amazon Germany and it will not let me spend it without a valid German bank account which, as an American, I obviously don’t have. The sender tried to get a refund, but it said it was “already redeemed” despite my not being able to spend it. So Amazon.de basically “absorbed” the money and now no one can use it.”
“Amazon, like Apple, is embarrassingly incompetent when it comes to handling international transactions like this. You would think that in a world where almost everyone has friends in other countries, international powerhouses like Amazon and Apple would jump at the chance to allow people to send gifts to their customers abroad. But they make it almost impossible for normal users. I’m sure this is not intentional, maybe just incompetence on the part of Amazon’s managers and programmers.”
And sending a book as a gift from Canada? No luck here either! What’s easy and frequently done by US customers is not possible for Canadian Amazon customers…
Issue #2 Book Reviews
One of the most unpleasant issues for authors are the book reviews: they are only showing up in the countries where the reviewer has an account.
Book Reviews are possible only “by country”. Unless the reviewer goes into the other country sites. However, this might not be possible anymore, since Amazon requires now a $50 purchase – done at least 48hrs (and earlier) before the review.
How can anyone get a sufficient amount of reviews in Canada or Germany or India when 95% of all books are sold in the USA, and only customers of these countries can review? I get all my reviews in the USA and almost none anywhere else.
The book content and the reviews/critique are not less valid, just because they are sold, read, and reviewed in other countries. Amazon seems to take care only for their American authors.
Issue #3 “Amazon Categories” vs. BISAC
Amazon makes even a difference in the categories for books!!! between USA, the UK, and other countries. See a genre screen shot by author Derek Haines: Great Britain has fewer categories than the USA.
Issue #4 Services by Country
Amazon states: “When you enroll your title in KDP Select, it will be included in Kindle Unlimited for customers in the U.S.A., U.K., Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and India.
The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) is for customers in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Japan.”
Which means only readers in these countries can lend a book for 14 days, but not the readers in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands or Italy for example.
Issue #5 Author Pages in Other Countries
“Published Authors” or those who go through a distributor service have tremendous difficulties to create author pages on other country sites than the country where they live. USA (home country) and the UK are fine, but what about France, Germany etc.
I am just trying to challenge this with Amazon. Not sure if the issue will be successfully concluded.
Issue #6 Amazon Prime
The company currently offers Amazon Prime (renamed Amazon Premium in several markets) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria. While US customers get the full program, Canadians don’t have access to Amazon Instant Video (as are customers in France), music streaming and free Kindle books or magazines. Germany: in some locales, Amazon Prime offers same-day delivery, but it costs U.S. $54 yr – it’s not free like in the US.
Italy and Spain: Amazon Prime consists only of photo storage, free delivery, and not much else. Great Britain gets mostly the same benefits as US Prime customers, but for a much higher price. Read the full comparison here.
Issue #7 CreateSpace, an Amazon Company
by Derek Haines
“If you live for example in South Africa, Brazil, India or like me in Switzerland, CreateSpace does not offer electronic payment of royalties (EFT), and will only pay by check for royalty balances over US$100, £100 or Euro 100. This is archaic, discriminatory and close to predatory. For EFT, where it is offered, the minimum payments are US$10! (Update: There is now no limit, so all balances are paid in full each month by EFT.) Not only are these balances uneven, as US$100 is only worth about half of £100, paying by check means that authors suffer from bank clearance fees, so they lose a lot on the deal. In my case, every US$100 check I receive costs me $10 to clear. With EFT, there are no charges whatsoever. This is UNFAIR!
Worse still is that CreateSpace is sitting on a huge pile of unpaid royalties that have not managed to get to the minimum amounts payable by check. So how many books do I sell in France, Spain, and Germany? A few, but at my current balance of around Euro 20, I’ll be waiting ten years to see a check.
I imagine a lot of authors have similar outstanding balances. But if EFT were available, I would have been paid already. Theft? Hoarding? Stupidity? Ineptitude?”
This is not an isolated problem either, as I have written before about International Self-Publishing Hurdles, and Is Self-Publishing Only For Americans?
Issue #8 Goodreads, an Amazon Company
Are Goodreads Deals available for international users? Nope!
***Currently, Goodreads DEALS are only available for U.S. members***, and we’re working closely with a number of partners to make sure that we can consistently offer the best Deals.”
What this means: Goodreads/Amazon members in the USA get great deals on books, while readers in other countries – and certainly the book’s authors – are left out. Why should authors and readers from other countries join Goodreads? To be treated that unfair?
If Amazon doesn’t go really, earnestly global and doesn’t see www for what it is: the Worldwide Web, they will lose customer trust. Amazon just improved the book pre-order process for authors, making it easier for self-publishers. There might be hope they will be one day become a truly international company, and iron out these dividing issues between local and international.
Oh, yes, and while we are at it: Please improve your KDP “support” – which is notoriously clueless and unhelpful. Start with a training program for your reps, in order to have your much-touted customer-centric service spread to your suppliers (authors) as well! Thanks!