Amazon— May They Choke on My Vomit

by wjw on March 4, 2016

So here I am running a sale on my Metropolitan ebook, as detailed a couple posts ago. And then comes a notice from Amazon Quality Control saying that they blocked my book from sale!

Now what horrible quality control issue was so urgent that they had to completely block my book from sale during the middle of a major promotion? Here it is:

“The HTML Table of Contents is present in the middle/back of the content. Please provide the Table of Contents at the beginning of the book as per the Section 3.3.6 in Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines”

WTF?? I put the TOC at the end so that people wouldn’t have to wade through chapter headings when they wanted to start the story, particularly if they had clicked for their sample 10% and only got a small percentage of the text anyway.

This doesn’t affect the reading in any way. When you click “Table of Contents” on your Kindle reader, the same Table of Contents shows up no matter where it is in the file.

This is a NORMAL way to organize an ebook. TENS OF THOUSANDS of Amazon’s ebooks are organized in just this way, including many from major publishers.

I’ve uploaded a new file with the TOC moved to the start, but Amazon is still blocking the book from being sold. It’s been blocked for over 24 hours now, during promotion THAT I PAID FOR.

Anyone who wants the book should go to Smashwords and download the Kindle-ready file there.

UPDATE: Amazon has restored my buy button.

John Appel March 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is suspending Nook e-book sales in the UK, transferring the DRM licensing to Sainsbury, through which users will be able to access “the vast majority” of content they already paid for.,2817,2500329,00.asp

Wondering when the US Nook business will go the same way.

E-books are clearly going to remain a big part of the future, but it’s also clear that the business model is going to evolve. My fear is it’s going to get stuck further into the realm of “stacks” – Apple, Google, and Amazon, primarily.

Richard Grant March 5, 2016 at 8:57 pm

It was absolutely wrong for Amazon to block your book – which I bought before it was blocked – during the sale.

Having said that, while the Table of Contents shows up in the Kindle (go-to-the) Table of Contents feature wherever the TOC is in the file, I believe that the TOC shows up in the book’s Look Inside feature on its Amazon webpage only when the TOC is in the front of the file.

When I consider buying an author’s story collection or an anthology at Amazon, I use Look Inside to check the TOC for which stories or which authors’ stories are in the ebook. But when the TOC basically consists of a novel’s numbered or titled chapters, it doesn’t provide any value there.

It would be better if Amazon modified its guidelines to require only the TOC for a collection or anthology to be in the front of the file.

Travis March 12, 2016 at 9:10 am

I’m working backwards through posts on my phone so just now seeing what the furor was all about…. I don’t see why amazon cares that much- interestingly I always want table of contents for ‘look inside’ but I’m annoyed when the sample contains TOC.

Anyway… I’m looking forward to rereading Metropolitan- my print version didn’t make the west coast move -no fiction did 🙁 and I remember enjoying it 🙂

Linds, I.Designs, Formatter March 30, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Someone posted this on Clean Indie Reads – and while I don’t really have time to get involved in the whole discussion there, I wanted to leave you a few comments real quick.

I believe that if you hadn’t used an HTML TOC at all, just an NCX one, you wouldn’t have been troubled by any of this at all. They are trying to weed out scamming authors who put HTML TOCs at the end of their ebooks to boost their number of pages read.

TBH, I think they should issue a warning, give you a chance to change it before they just yank it off of Amazon. It doesn’t sound like you put the TOC at the end with any ulterior motives. I don’t even know if you are signed up for Kindle Unlimited, lol.

They should have also informed you of exactly why this is an issue. Doesn’t do much for making you want to stick with KDP in the future, eh?

Bookbub is expensive and I am sorry that you had to go through all of that. Calibre makes it really easy to create a NCX TOC, eliminating anyone’s need for an HTML one, doesn’t clunk up any space, and it’s much, much easier on the eyes.

wjw March 30, 2016 at 4:20 pm

Amazon scammed authors (and saved themselves a bunch of money) by instituting the “we only pay for pages read” rule.

Then they were outraged when authors began scamming them back.

Serves them right.

Danny in Canada April 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm

unfortunately, those who “scam Amazon back” are rarely authors and more often just spammers who autogenerate markov-chain gibberish, then hire clickfarms to bulk-download the ‘books’.

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