Another Day, Another Amazon Change

I just knew that when I wrote a guide about self-publishing (i.e. this one), it would be mere days before the things I’d described in it changed. In fact, it wasn’t even days – CreateSpace installed a shipping costs calculator, thus removing the element of mystery their shipping costs had been enjoying, while I was writing it.

And now Amazon have gone and changed something too.

In Self-Printed, I talk about using the information Amazon collects about its customers to your advantage. For example, its “What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?” is an excellent way to gauge whether or not your listing is convincing people to buy your book, or if it’s just convincing them to buy someone else’s. 

That screenshot is from Mousetrapped‘s paperback listing on Amazon.co.uk. All is unchanged over there. But below is a screenshot taken of Mousetrapped Kindle listing on Amazon.com, and as you can see it’s no longer about what customers buy after they view my listing, but what other items they buy. It sounds the same, but it’s actually very different. For one thing, my book has now been taken completely out of the equation.

And while this mucks up a part of my book, I think it’s a great idea.

A couple of weeks back the self-publishing evangelists were up in arms over the sudden disappearance of Kindle tags. (They’ve since returned, with a crackdown on tagging parties.) Amazon, AKA The Man, was discriminating against us poor little marginalized self-publishers again. Boo-hoo. But in doing so, they were not only making me roll my eyes so much they were in danger of disappearing forever, but they were forgetting why Amazon exists, or rather who it exists for: Amazon customers.

When Amazon does something, it isn’t because they’re thinking, “How can we p— off those darn self-publishers some more?” No. (No, really – it’s not.) They’re trying to improve their customers’ experience on the site so that they buy more and so Amazon, who are a business, make more money. And that’s why I think the change above is a great idea.

What does it matter to me, as a customer, what percentage of people end up buying the item I’m already looking at? I can’t think of a single way that enhances my shopping experience, other than to introduce me to some similar titles, based on other customers’ tastes, that I might be interested in. Amazon have clearly now realized this, and removed (i) the title you’re already looking at and (ii) the percentages, and instead are offering this information as a sort of concentrated form of their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” which appears higher up the page and can go on for a hundred titles.

If I had one wish, it would be that self-publishers would recognize how good they have it and quit all the bitching and moaning. (Well, maybe if I had two wishes. There is Josh Groban to consider, after all.) Last week we all read about John Locke becoming the first self-published e-book author to sell a million Kindle books. What struck me most about the official announcement though was this quote from John:

“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry. Not only did KDP give me a chance, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”

Do you detect any bitching or moaning in there?

Read more about Self-Printed here.

4 thoughts on “Another Day, Another Amazon Change

  1. Candice L Davis says:

    When I was just a customer, I adored Amazon. As an author, I’m head over heels with the company! I’m just starting out on this indie publishing journey, but if it weren’t for Amazon, I wouldn’t be doing it AT ALL. In fact, I’d be at least a couple of years away from getting my work to readers.

    I’m still working as a collaborative writer with a traditional publisher, but it seems to me that what’s good for Amazon’s customers is good for me, as long as I write high quality books that serve readers in some way.

  2. David Wright says:

    Thanks for the update. And I agree about Amazon being awesome for writers. They’ve done arguably more for indie writers than any company in history.

    By the way, I bought your Self-Printed book and LOVE it! I wish I’d read it BEFORE I started putting out books, it would have saved me many hours and headaches. But it is the most thorough and easily the funniest I’ve read.

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