Amazon KDP

Amazon USA vs the Rest of the World

Amazon


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 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.

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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.
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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:

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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…

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Issue #7 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?
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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!

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2 Exciting New Amazon Features

 

 

New-Amazon-Features

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It looks like Amazon will compete with Google’s YouTube Video platform and Udemy – an online education marketplace with over 7 million students enrolled in more than 30000 courses,taught by 19000 instructors.
Amazon’s other new feature on Goodreads, the eBook-Giveaway function is also a competition to LibraryThing.

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FINALLY: eBook-Giveaways on Goodreads in the US!
Goodreads, an Amazon company, has established a giveaway program for Kindle ebooks, currently in beta version, and initially only be available in the US.  All authors or publishers can now offer Kindle ebook giveaways and choose how long it will run.  Goodreads will choose winners randomly and automatically send the Kindle e-books to the winners device.

During the beta period, Goodreads will work with Amazon Publishing to host Kindle ebook giveaways.  Once the program is out of beta, it will be open to any author or publisher who sells e-books on Amazon.

The downside?  The cost of listing a Kindle ebook giveaway on Goodreads will be $119 for up to the 100 e-book giveaway limit – however you save the costs of print books and shipping fees. LibraryThing e-book giveaways are free, but authors and publishers don’t have the same huge amount of potential readers as Amazon has.  Listing a print book giveaway on Goodreads will continue to be free.
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Amazon Video Direct
Jeff Bezos started “Amazon Video Direct“, a platform, comparable to Kindle Direct Publishing and offers Videos producers a direct way to millions of Amazon-Video customers.  The new Video Direct service will be open to anyone.

The WallStreet Journal wrote: “Amazon account holders can upload original or their own licensed videos to the Video Direct service, the Seattle-based online retailer said. Such users can designate whether their videos are free to everyone, available to rent or own, offered through a subscription channel, or behind Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime paywall.  With Video Direct, Amazon says it is targeting “creators and storytellers,” giving it a cheaper way to stock up on professionally made video other than purchasing licensed content.”
“Amazon said it would keep 45% of revenue it takes in from ads appearing during free broadcasts, which matches YouTube’s arrangement. It will keep 50% of revenue from channel subscriptions and video purchases or rentals. For ad-free Prime videos, the company will pay content holders 15 cents for each hour of streamed content in the U.S. and six cents overseas.”
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Not Geared Towards the Average Joe who Wants to Upload a Cat Video.
“For most publishers, the need is for ad revenue to be associated with video content, not to charge for video (though a few publishers are certainly moving in this direction). Hell, it seems everyone wants to take advantage of publisher’s content and profit from it. The problem, of course, is publishers rarely make much in return. So, like its eBook programs, Amazon is not cutting its take, but instead throwing money into a pot to be shared by participants: Amazon will distribute a share of $1,000,000 per month as a bonus to the Top 100 titles included with Prime through Amazon Video Direct” writes TalkingNewMedia.

Initially, videos will be viewable in the US, Germany, Austria, Japan and the UK.  Amazon: “We’re excited to make it even easier for content creators to find an audience, and for that audience to find great content.”

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Open Letter to Amazon – How to Improve KDP

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Open-Letter-to-Amazon

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I always meant to write to Amazon – not to their “customer-service” email – but as a registered letter, addressed to their CEO, responsible for customer / supplier relations or Jeff Bezos. Being too busy, I never got around it.  Just now I found by chance a former blog post by David Gaughran who had done exactly this: At a London Book Fair, he took the opportunity to meet representatives from Amazon and present a list of feature requests and complaints.  This list sheds a light on a lot of the issues that authors have with Kindle Direct Publishing and reasons how and why KDP and Select should be improved.
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David Gaughran: “I was merely the conduit, a lot of these suggestions came from the comments on my blog and KindleBoards.  I also had lists for CreateSpace and Kobo.  In the case of the latter, the stuff was a lot more basic (i.e. fix search, give us freeload numbers, improve discovery etc.) but everyone was very open to feedback.  The good thing about bringing these issues up face-to-face is that it can help get stuff prioritized when they realize it’s a real issue rather than people grumbling about a minor inconvenience.”
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Excerpt from David’s List:

1. More Data!
I appreciate that lots of stuff is proprietary and that there might be privacy concerns surrounding what can be shared, but KDP could at least share conversion rates.

2. Coupons
Smashwords and Apple both have a coupon system and it’s a handy way to give a free copies to readers, reviewers and competition winners.

3. Full Territorial Pricing
At the moment we can set different prices in each country, but only within certain restrictions.

5. Customer Service
There are many things I love about KDP, but the customer service isn’t one of them. Reps often seem to scan the email until they get to the first issue, enter a canned response, and ignore the rest of the email.

6. Payment
KDP has expanded electronic payments to lots more countries, which is a welcome development, but there are still many authors in places like Australia who can only be paid by check. They are quite ubiquitous still in America, but not so in the rest of the world. When I was living in Sweden, where checks are also being phased out, the bank wanted to charge something like $125 to cash a foreign check (the check was for around $300!).
Read the rest of his suggestions how Amazon can improve.

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Snippets from the Reader’s Comments/Suggestions to Amazon:

  • Customer service would be a priority. And data! I second all of these suggestions. These are things KDP has desperately needed for a long time.
  • The canned responses from an Indian call center will only be worse if you expected a phone call. They will simply tell you the same thing they would in an email.
  • As for sales reporting, their Excel spreadsheet is from the last century.
  • There is no accurate reporting, and any questions about sales data are ignored. Finally, Amazon (and KDP) treat the content as their property, not yours, and they decide what gets sold, when and for how much.
  • It would be great if Amazon and other retailers would auto-post reviews across their different sites, at all of their countries’ sites.
  • Electronic payments don’t work for all bank accounts at all banks, even in the UK – I have had repeated problems with mine and when they are investigating I can’t use my account. Ouch. So I am back to checks which, as pointed out, is a nightmare.
  • As a result of Goodreads and Amazon sheltering and protecting review trolls and absurd rules, the value of any reviews on either site is zero.  Goodreads even goes so far as to threaten authors who speak out against reviews that are personal attacks with the destruction of their career. This has to be stopped.
  • I’d love for audiobooks to be available to the customer straight from the main book page on Amazon instead of being redirected to Audible. Let’s make it all one-click shopping! (it works for mp3 files).
  • I’d be happy if they could extend the electronic payments to New Zealand. Seriously, who still uses cheques today, apart from Amazon? I also agree on expanding the category fields on the interface itself. It makes so much more sense and I think Amazon knows it.
  • The KDP dashboard needs a real makeover all around, it’s incredibly difficult to find what I need and the books that can’t be deleted really clutter things up too.
  • Coupon codes and more categories would be awesome.
  • If an author is making minor changes that do not involve uploading a new version of their book — such as changing the blurb, adding tags, or changing the price — it shouldn’t take twelve plus hours for a) the changes to go into effect and b) the book to again be available for sale.
  • There are several categories that you can select but that do not exist in other countries’ Kindle store.
  • Amazon is a huge organization and to a large extent a law unto themselves. But they still need to take care of independent authors, because they are where most of their products comes from.
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Kindle Direct Publishing has a lot of room for improvement that would help us as well as them.  Again: customer service would be a priority.  And data.  And acting as a joined up company worldwide rather than different author sites in different countries… After all: we are the ones who provide them the content they are selling – for free – until we get eventually paid for our work.
P.S. At least some new category options are available now.

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Editorial Reviews on Your Amazon Sales Page

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Editorial-Reviews

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Browsing through the Amazon sales pages of a successful independent multi-book author, I discovered that on each of his book’s pages instead of the “Editorial Review”  only a short description “About the author” was placed.  As there is already a section for an author bio on the page, he could have placed either or all of these:

  • Product Detail Page
  • Updated Book Description
  • An Author Message
  • From the Inside Flap
  • From the Back Cover
  • Magazine / Newspaper Reviews
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How to update Editorial Reviews
Amazon explains:

  • Log in to Author Central.
    Click the Books tab at the top of the page.
    Click on the book you are updating editorial reviews for and select the applicable edition as each can be updated separately. Under Editorial Reviews, there are three possible links:
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  • If there is no review yet:
    Click Add and follow the instructions at the top of the Add review window to enter the text of the review.
    If you are entering a Review, you must also enter the review source. This is the name of the person who wrote the review and the name of the publication, website, or forum in which the review appeared.
    If you are entering From the Author, From the Inside Flap, From the Back Cover, you do not need to enter a source.
    Click Preview and review your entry.
    When you’re satisfied, click Save changes.
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  • If there is a review you can edit:
    Click Edit and make the desired changes to the text.
    Click Preview and review the entry.
    When you’re satisfied, click Save changes.
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  • If your review has been manually edited by Amazon in the past:
    we may ask you to send us your updates. In these cases, we will make the updates for you, and they will appear on the website within 5 days.
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Got a message that Your Content is Too Long?
The character counts (including spaces) for Editorial Review fields are:

  • Review—600 characters
  • Product Description—2400 characters
  • Words From the Author, From the Inside Flap, and From the Back Cover—8000 characters
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What about Customer Reviews?
Customer Reviews are written by customers about your book. They can be found near the bottom of a product detail page and are NOT editorial reviews.
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Pete Nikolai Has the Following Advice:

“To make edits, you must first claim your Author Page and make sure your book is listed there so that it is clear that Amazon recognizes that you are the author.

_ click the link for the book on which you want to add editorial reviews
_ in the Review section, click the Add button
_ go to the site that has the review to select and copy it into memory
_ go to the Amazon page for editorial reviews of your book and paste as plain text in the text entry box (in Windows: right-click to select “Paste as plain text”)

On a paperback or hardcover: add one review at a time to avoid exceeding the 600 character limit for each review.  On an ebook: you must add all reviews at one time and the character limit for all those reviews combined is 1,750 characters
_ edit the review to put the source after the review as per the Amazon Guidelines
_ click the Preview button
_ if review is acceptable then click the Save Changes button
_ if you have another review to add then click the Add button and continue through the steps again

If you have made any edits on the Amazon pages for both the print and ebook editions of your book then you will probably need to add the reviews on both editions too–just repeat the steps above to add each review on both editions.  On the rare occasion that Amazon has made changes to a section, a “Request a Correction” button will be shown and you must click it and follow the instructions to have Amazon make the corrections you request.

You can add several “Editorial Reviews” and each one is important in confirming the quality of your book and removing a potential impediment to sales.

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How to Set Up Your Amazon Author Central Account
Amazon explains: once published, expect to receive an email from Kindle Direct Publishing announcing the news and inviting you to create your Amazon Author Central Account.  Note your book’s ASIN enclosed in the email.  You will need this to locate your book later and associate it to you as the author. Just sign up for free accounts on both sites, and follow the instructions to set up your page:
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Use all the Space Amazon Gives You:

Add a professional author photo & biography
Add all your books
Add videos (e.g. trailers for your books)
Add up to seven additional photos, e.g. you writing your books or scenes from your book
Add images or graphics from your books content
Add a biography – make sure to update it frequently
List events, such as book readings or book launches
Add your Twitter address so people can see your latest Tweet and easily follow you
Set up the “Search Inside/Look Inside” feature
Add an RSS feed, linking to your blog – a great way to get your blog in front of new people and encourage them to follow you

View and edit the list of books you have written – the Amazon system doesn’t always get it right. If you have written more than one book, it will link your titles together, and allow your readers to find all of your work.  Edit your product description and “about the author” section, add any professional reviews you have had.”

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You need a separate account, both for the UK and US versions of Amazon.  I might add: and for Germany, France, Japan etc. if you publish worldwide;  you have to do it separately for each country, and be aware that the versions vary slightly.  You can also use an English version and one in the language of the country if you speak it or have a professional translation (not Google!).  Beside for Japan I was able to place it in each language on the pages for these countries.

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Fazit:  Before creating an author page, check out the ones from famous writers / publishers to see how it is professionally done.  There is a lot you can copy.  I am not saying that these sites are always perfect, but it will help you tremendously to avoid rookie errors.

Read more about creating a professional Amazon author page:
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/12-tips-for-your-professional-amazon-author-page/

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If you would like to get a mentor and our support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer for three months all this and more for only $179 – or less than $2 per day!  Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars

To learn more about professional book marketing and publishing, please read also
“Book Marketing on a Shoestring”
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UAVL3LE

 



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