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The Amazon Game: Are Books Disappearing from Amazon’s US Site?

Lately, indie authors have noticed something hinky with Amazon’s e-books. They seem to be disappearing from the Amazon US site.

When my novels fell victim to this crime, I tried to find them via my Bookshelf in KDP. Here’s what I found, using my novel Poison Pen as an example:

I’d never seen this “feature” before, but today I noticed that when you hover over “Live” on your KDP book, you get this:

PP_Availability

When you click on “See title availability details” you get this:

PP_AvailabilityReport

When you drill down into “View details” in the row pertaining to Amzon.com (notice the Status for it says “Limited availability”), you get this:

PP_USAvailability

Notice how in Canada it says “Unavailable”?

Scroll back up to the image with the Availability Report for Poison Pen. Notice how the row for Amazon.ca says “Live”? When I view the details on that, I see this:

PP_AmazonCAAvailability

It seems Amazon isn’t removing e-books and making them unavailable for purchase. They are mucking around with visibility depending on the country you’re in. This is causing frustration amongst authors who want to check their pages on countries they don’t reside in.

What’s scary for us non-US residents is the fear that users searching for books to read will no longer find these books in the search results. I’ve often searched in Amazon US for something and then clicked on the CA link to view it on the Canada site. Now that I understand (I think) what’s happening, I’ll do those searches on the Canadian site.

I’ve also noticed that direct links will get you the book’s page in the US even if it’s unavailable for you to purchase there.

While this new feature *cough* bug *cough* will take some getting used to, we’ll have to see how it shakes out and affects sales.

Amazon: unilaterally moving the goal posts for authors once again.

4 Responses

  1. Thank you for that – but while the authors are beginning to understand how it is going to ‘work?’ readers won’t.

    • I agree. They’ve messed up results lists for non-US readers. Seems to me if you don’t live in the US, you won’t get all the results in your search if you are on the US site–and many readers use the US site even if they’re not in the US.

  2. Thanks for that clarification, Val. In one way, at least, it makes sense – you can’t actually shop in A.com if you are outside the US. Whenever I find something there that I want to buy it advises me to “carry on shopping at Amazon.uk” so it makes sense to start from there in the first place!

    • I agree it does make sense–in theory. In practice, when they implement such logic into the system without considering how users use the site, it results in problems for readers and authors. As a former software/web application developer, I learned that one of the most important things in the planning phase is to understand how end users use the application. What Amazon has done thwarts customers and authors (who are also customers) from finding all possible products (I’m sure it’s not just books that have been ghosted by this).

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