Amazon, authors, writing

Amazon to pull books for formatting errors (confirmed)

Yesterday’s News: Badly-Formatted Kindle eBooks Will (Continue to) Display an Error Message

4126266273_1a61f772ff_bAn old story cropped up yesterday as “new” news when it may be anything but. According to one of my competitors:

Starting February 3, 2016 Amazon will begin showing customers a warning message on the Kindle store detail pages of books that contain several validated quality issues. The warning message will be removed as soon as Amazon received an updated file from self-published authors or publishing companies.

Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks. If an e-book only contains a few spelling mistakes, but is still readable, a simple warning message will appear on the details page of that specific title. It will make the average book buyer aware that there are some issues. If the book has bad formatting issues, and basically renders it unreadable Amazon will suppress it and the book listing will be removed.

At least half of this story is old news, and I am still waiting on confirmation of the other half.

Amazon has been pulling ebooks for egregious errors for over four years now, and replacing the listings with warning messages like the following:

kindle type warning message

I reported on this story in October 2012, and cited a discussion from 2011, so it’s not exactly a new story in 2016. In fact, it wasn’t exactly news in 2012; I had heard reports going back as early as 2010 that Amazon would pull ebooks for serious errors.

Amazon has continued to pull ebooks in response to reader complaints since then, so the only possible new news today is that Amazon might be adding a second error message.

But I am still waiting for confirmation.

I want that confirmation because because I don’t see it as very likely that Amazon would post a notice  over “a few spelling mistakes” when those mistakes could just as easily be valid alternate spellings or words which aren’t listed in the dictionary used by Amazon’s bot.

False positives are even more likely now that the Kindle Store stocks ebooks in several dozen languages, but it is still possible that Amazon will warn readers about minor issues.

Have you seen one of those warning messages? What did it say?

Update: And now I have confirmation. Over on KBoards an author has posted the email he received from Amazon:

Our shared goal is to provide the best digital reading experience for customers on Kindle. When customers contact us with quality issues in a book you published, we validate the issues and send them immediately to you to fix.

Starting February 3, 2016 we will begin showing customers a warning message on the Kindle store detail pages of books that contain several validated quality issues. We will remove this message for a book as soon as we receive the fixed file from you and verify the corrections — typically within 2 business days.

We understand that even with the best quality controls, defects sometimes make it through. That’s why we’ve limited this messaging to books with several issues. Books with more serious quality issues will continue to be suppressed from sale.

So the new two-tier warning system is real.

11 thoughts on “Amazon to pull books for formatting errors (confirmed)”

  1. Poor Shakespeare. Amazon won’t like his manuscripts because, get this, he MADE UP WORDS. Seriously! Stuff like accused, addiction, advertising, amazement, arouse, assassination, champion, cold-blooded… 1700 words in all. People better hurry up and get Romeo and Juliet before it’s suppressed.

    I wonder, though, with manuscripts where a large number of words are made up, such as in fantasy or sci-fi, how they’ll vet those? Or is it done by the readers complaining and then Amazon investigating? I’m not against that at all. Spellcheck? Yeah, you should use it before publishing. Right? Punish those who don’t… yeah. Good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it said they would investigate, and yes I have a lot of made up words in mine. It’s scifi/fantasy and I used a lot of Mayan in it.

      So I do hope the great and powerful Az would figure that out or I can clear it up for them.

      We’ll see. I personally have read quite a few Indie Authors who have serious spelling issues, chapters missing, sections of repeated text or formatting issues. I know it’s a problem but most of them I muddled through to the end.

      I love to read (when I’m not writing) so for me to put your book aside and not finish it? It has to be bad. I mean B.A.D. And there are some that I had to put aside, leave a bad review and feel bad about.


  2. I’ve been reading a number of indie books about horses, since my ebooks are horse racing mysteries that I republished as online editions after getting my rights back. I’ve actually been pleased with the spelling, formatting, etc., of the books I’ve read, although my ex-teacher’s eye catches grammar issues like plurals formed with apostrophes, incorrect or missing possessives, and those ubiquitous “between you and I” case errors,. But I can read past those, and who knows whether Amazon would notice them when so many otherwise strong writers don’t. In any case, plotting problems and flat voice are more likely to lead me to abandon books. I’ll read past a lot of violated conventions if I’m caught up and seduced! I doubt Amazon pulls books for these kinds of flaws. It’s up to reviewers, I guess. But I, too, hesitate to review the books I just can’t finish. Am I shirking my duty to readers?


    1. I don’t think so… If I can finish the book I’ll try to shoot the author a kindly worded bit of advice rather than trash them on a review for all to see. I try to be encouraging and give them examples of how they can fix something or what not then and how they lost me.

      I figure it’s nicer to give constructive criticism rather than just trash someone. They composed a book, took the time to type it up and it meant something to them. That’s impressive and I won’t denigrate them.


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