Monday, December 21, 2009

Amazon fails again--and contributors to anthologies get punished

In the past year, Amazon has eliminated listings for contributors to anthologies. Their first stated rationale was that anthology participants are not "authors" and thus they were all deleted. Amazon instructed that participants should be listed as "contributors."

Now, apparently, Amazon is refusing to list such participants as "contributors." Such a position devalues those of us who write for anthologies, but then devaluing the writer is nothing new with Amazon.

A few days ago I noticed that Amazon had eliminated the listings for all the contributors to my anthology Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe--despite the fact that when Amazon eliminated all the "author" listings a few months back, I dutifully went back into Amazon and re-entered them as "contributors."

Noticing the listings were once again gone, I re-entered the contributors... and received this pleasant missive this morning:

==== This is an automated response message - please do not reply ====

Thank you for using the Catalog Update Form to send suggestions for

Myths for the Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (ASIN 1932265147)

At this time we cannot accept the correction you have submitted for one of the following reasons:
- Could not verify
- Incorrectly formatted
- Provided URL did not confirm
- Some data on high-profile items is not editable

To help us make sure your submissions are correct, use proper case and correct punctuation and spelling, don't add comments or questions and include a valid URL from an authoritative source for verification.

Attribute: Author function
Current value: Win Scott Eckert | Editor
Your suggestion:
Win Scott Eckert
Philip Jose Farmer
Matthew Baugh
Christopher Paul Carey
Peter M. Coogan
Rick Lai
Chuck Loridans
Jess Nevins
Dennis E. Power
John A. Small

Data accuracy is highly important to us. We appreciate the time you have taken to submit your updates to us.

Best regards,

Catalog Department

Amazon, enough is enough. I know who contributed to the anthology I edited. I submitted correct information, following your guidelines. I provided a URL listing the table of contents, and the contributors.

I've been playing ball with you, Amazon, entering, and re-entering, and re-entering correct information on both the anthology I edited, and other anthologies in which I've participated, only to have you constantly move the target.

Amazon's refusal to list
Philip José Farmer as a contributor to a book in which he has nine essays--Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe--is counter-intuitive at best and mean-spirited at worst. And it runs counter to Amazon's own self-interest by preventing readers from searching by authors, in order to locate anthologies to which their favorite authors have contributed.

I've tried Amazon's "customer service"... only to get the runaround and contradictory answers. Surprise.

Is it any wonder I do my damnedest to avoid purchasing from Amazon?

Please repost, re-tweet, re-fill-in-the-blank. Enough is enough.


ArcLight said...

For a place that started out bragging on themselves as the "Earth's biggest bookstore" they sure do like to make it tough on book readers. Maybe it's time for a "Boycott Amazon Until They List All The Authors" facebook group or something. Screw 'em....

Heidi Ruby Miller said...

I am flabbergasted by this.

You're right: it makes no sense that they would undermine viable searches like that.

Do they need to free up server space? ;)


Unknown said...

6 months ago, you could find the anthology I contributed to (The Black Garden, edited by Christopher Allan Death) by searching for my name on Amazon. Just yesterday, I noticed this was no longer the case as my name had been removed as one of the authors. I tried to reinstate my name, to no avail. I received the same e-mail this morning as you did, verbatim. I am really upset about this.

I also noticed that Barnes and Noble has a similar issue, only listing one author from that anthology on its website. You can't find it by any of the other authors on there. I don't know what more I can do about this. Should I contact the editor and bring this to his attention? He may not know what's going on.

Win Scott Eckert said...

Sure, contact your editor, but he may get as far as I did (nowhere). At this point, I'm asking folks to join our group on Facebook

and to write letters of protest directly to Amazon customer support, bypassing the Amazon "update product" link which seems to only generate these stock responses.