Amazon Specifically Mentions Warnings Appearing on Product Pages



I posted more about this a few days ago:

The only direct evidence we have gleaned from Amazon is on their KDP help pages:

This page appears to have updated in the past couple of days.

I and others had read this page carefully and thoroughly when we first noticed the updated KDP help page about a week ago.

But now there appears to be new information on the page:

“A moderate amount of Distracting or Destructive Issues can result in the book remaining available for sale, but with a temporary quality warning displayed on the detail page of the book on until corrections are made.”

There had been mention of Critical Issues previously, and there had been mention of possible removal of the book.

But there hadn’t been mention of Distracting or Destructive Issues. (I updated my post from a few days ago to reflect the new language.)

And there hadn’t been an explicit notice that a quality warning would be displayed on the book’s product page. (We had specifically searched for this language when the product page first updated.)

There has always been a KDP help page mentioning quality issues like formatting. But the page that had been there for years was much shorter and more vague. The current page is much more thorough, mentioning more specific details and consequences.

So it’s not so much a new KDP help page, as a greatly updated one. (Updated at least twice in recent days.)

If you read the recent KDP email newsletter, you will see specific mention that the KDP help pages have recently updated.

It’s not a public announcement from Amazon, describing new quality control practices and consequences, but finally we do have writing from Amazon clearly mentioning quality warnings displayed on product pages for Kindle e-books.

But it doesn’t answer all the questions that we have about this.

They do classify three kinds of issues:

  • Critical Issues result in the removal of the book from sale (until corrections are made). Critical issues render the book incomplete or unusable.
  • Destructive Issues (don’t you love the language?) “prevent the reader from understanding the author’s intended meaning.”
  • Distracting Issues “briefly remove the reader from the author’s world.”

If Destructive or Distracting Issues are deemed “moderate,” the book will remain available for sale, but with a warning message displayed on the product page.

If they are “excessive,” the book will be removed from sale until corrections are made.

Now for the big questions:

  • Exactly what is considered moderate, and what is considered excessive?
  • Exactly what constitutes a Destructive Issue?
  • Exactly what constitutes a Distracting Issue?

The KDP help page mentions a dozen possible issues, such as typos, formatting, duplicated text, problems with links, and even a vague Disappointing Content.

But it doesn’t come right out and say exactly when each of these issues will be deemed Critical, Destructive, or Distracting.

We hope that Amazon will be reasonable in assessing issues, deciding on a course of action, and considering an author’s possible explanation.

I have no reason to expect otherwise.

But it’s hard for writers, especially fiction writers, not to imagine several hypothetical scenarios gone wrong.

If there happen to be any issues with your book, you should receive an email from Amazon KDP, and you should have an opportunity to fix them. Hopefully, you’ll have an opportunity to respond with an explanation, if needed.

In the meantime, the best you can do is keep writing and keep marketing.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

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32 comments on “Amazon Specifically Mentions Warnings Appearing on Product Pages

  1. I actually think this is good. Amazon needs to keep the quality up there or their reputation suffers. Authors should be concerned about quality too. My guess is Amazon is going to be very fair and authors will appreciate the opportunity to fix any serious problems with their books 🙂

    • It’s odd though. If they want to improve the self-publishing brand, an announcement might help. But maybe they don’t want to call attention to existing problems, or cause panic among authors. If quality improves, eventually the brand will be better for it.

    • I agree with you, D. Wallace Peach. I have read so many self-published books on Amazon that annoyed me intensely with their spelling and grammar. These ‘authors’ have given the whole self-publishing community a bad name.

      One thread on LinkedIn that I was following had one person in particular who had not a single good word for self-published authors, tarring them all with the same brush, and that was ‘all are bad.’ Perhaps this will help to get over that problem and be useful in the end. If it helps to ‘redeem’ the image of self-published authors, then I will welcome it.

  2. If a problem is found with a book, wouldn’t it be easier and more efficient to notify the author and give them a chance to fix it before applying a warning to the product page?

    • The KDP help page makes it seem like they will do both. Whether they will be synchronized, or which will come first, appears unclear. If they don’t give the author sufficient warning first… then here is my thinking: To be worthy of the warning in the first place, Amazon evidently feels that the problem is significant enough to deter customer satisfaction, so much so that they feel reluctant to sell the book until the problem is resolved (at least, without a warning message so customers know of the problem up front).

      From the author’s perspective, there are certainly concerns. Especially, if the issue seemed very minor (but hopefully it won’t)… Any customers who see that message are likely not to be regained.

  3. Thank you for this helpful post Chris. ◾ “Destructive Issues (don’t you love the language?) “prevent the reader from understanding the author’s intended meaning.” So will Eliot’s “The Wasteland” be removed from sale? It is one of the greatest poems in the English language, however there is much debate as to the poet’s intended meaning with many readers being wholly perplexed as to what his intention was! With poetry much is down to interpretation and one can only hope Amazon is sensible about this. Kevin

    • Hopefully, they will be concentrating on obvious problems, like a formatting issue that makes it hard to follow the author’s intent, like important details that can’t be gleaned from a picture because of poor formatting. I don’t imagine them getting into literary interpretations, though the vague language seems to leave much potential freedom.

  4. I have two concerns over this new approach by Amazon: I have seen reviews that mention spelling errors when US readers fail to appreciate that English has spelling differences in its natural homeland, and when I write dialogue I use some dialect, as do other writers. I do wonder how Amazon will approach these issues.

    • There is specific language on the KDP help page, clarifying that differences between UK and US spelling are not considered errors, and similarly for the author’s intention with regard to dialect. So we ‘should’ be safe here.

  5. Editing by algorithm. Now we know how R2D2 and C3PO stay busy between movie gigs. Another reason why I’m glad I didn’t publish on Kindle, because I wrote my USA-published book in Commonwealth English. That would make a robot pop a rivet.

    • I don’t think it will be entirely automated. It will evidently involve a human checking the errors and sending notice to the author, and some of this will be mistakes pointed out by readers. It does mention that the author’s intent isn’t considered a mistake, though at some point an interpretation or judgment must be made. We can hope that they will focus on more obvious and more frequent issues.

  6. Pingback: Amazon Specifically Mentions Warnings Appearing on Product Pages – Kawanee's Korner

  7. Pingback: Why Amazon Is Doubling Down on Lobbying | Digital Book World

  8. I’ve never had a problem with Kindle or Createspace. My books are carefully proofed and properly laid out. They should be. I do that for a living. I don’t write, edit or publish junk.

    From what I seen, I suspect most authors don’t have to worry if they do what lawyers call ‘due diligence.’ Don’t be sloppy. Don’t be lazy. Don’t create junk. Take what your do seriously. You should be doing that, Amazon or not.

    The spell-checking that the Kindle team uses doesn’t seem to have problems with obscure or technical words. I have never had those flagged. Instead, it seems to know how to spot the more common typos, such as “teh” for “the.” It’s looking for sloppy, poorly proofed or badly OCRed text. Those books deserve to be flagged.

    That said, Amazon should release a more specific set of standards to make life easier for authors and publishers. Meeting unstated standards can be frustrating. But being open and straightforward has never been a part of how Amazon does business. It likes to play with its cards close to its chest.

    Heck, Amazon would rather play card games in which its opponents don’t even know the game they are playing. It is that secretive.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

  9. One additional comment. Just like there are website that check the validity or HTML or epub, Amazon should create a website where authors can upload their drafts and have Amazon tell them what it doesn’t like. Correcting at that stage is easier cleaning up an already or almost published book.

  10. And I am just wondering as a science fiction writer if I feature, say, an alien speaking with broken English as part of its dialogue how Amazon is going to interpret that? What about the use of invented words or slang, such as those featured throughout The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey with its “belter patois”?

      • One would hope. But I am assuming this will all be flagged by the infamous “algorithm”. there is no way Amazon can read every book submitted and I am skeptical that they can eyeball check the majority of algorithm flagged sections.

        Google uses a a similar concept for copyright violation takedowns and as it is implemented now, someone says, “Hey–that stuff is copyrighted!” and it gets taken down. Then the owner of the channel has to come back and show, “No it isn’t.” and it gets put back (though sometimes it takes a real battle).

        If persons/publishers with an axe to grind can repeatedly target works or authors with nuisance takedown complaints, this is big problem for authors.

  11. Ah, clear as mud! Still, the takeaway I have is twofold: 1) Amazon WANTS to sell books (and other products) so they don’t want to scare away buyers or authors 2) Like any other mammoth online corporation, they do make mistakes. So let’s hope that takeaway 1 is sufficiently paramount to reduce the magnitude of takeaway 2.

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