April 17th, 2009

tilting @ windmills

DEAR MR. BEZOS, I HAVE SOME HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS

An Open AND CONSTRUCTIVE Letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

Dear Mr. Bezos:

Since I coined the term "#amazonfail" and fired the first tweet, I thought you might be interested in what I had to say. I'm never one to criticize without offering up potential solutions.

I don't have any problem with marking some literature "adult", but it can't be implemented with an algorithm. Mathematical formulae have proven themselves to be indiscriminate and homophobic. Who knew?

Here's what I suggest, instead.

1. -- Ask *me*, as an author (or at least my publisher), to flag my book as adult. LiveJournal does. It lets me mark my posts "adult" or not, as appropriate. Most people are responsible adults. Don't let a few spoil it for the many. For example, my book, GYM DANDY, is a humourous gay romance with less sex than Sherrilyn Kenyon's books, and yet you keep sending out emails promoting those. I don't actually consider GYM DANDY as adult. Now my het scifi book, TECHNO THRALL, is erotica. I'd hit the "adult" button for that one. I trust you with my credit card info, trust me to rate my own books. It serves no one if I lie.

2. -- Ask *me* as a customer if I want to opt in or out of seeing adult items. Google has 3 levels of filters. Why can't Amazon?

The advantage to the above, is, that it takes most of the workload off your programmers and all of the responsibility off your shoulders. Authors complain they don't like their status? Send 'em back to their publishers. Not your problem anymore.

Define "adult" somewhere I can find it. It'll help me with the above decisions.

And here's an "out of the box" idea. How 'bout striking an ADVISORY COMMITTEE, comprised of the posse that took our complaints to the streets: Vashtan, Erastes, Alex, Chris, Elisa, Lee, Mark, me. Angela James of Samhain and literary agent Colleen Lindsay might be interested. Even if we don't accept, it wouldn't hurt to ask us.*

You could even invite some of the others whose books you delisted, like, say, Ellen DeGeneres and Stephen Fry. Sure you can fly us all to Seattle (or London where the majority seem to live (No, Lee. The other London.) Or we can meet online. After all, that's your sandbox and ours.

You could add a system whereby people could complain if they thought a book was wrongly ranked; and an appeal system for anyone who objected to their changed status. Foist that on us. We'll also work with you to develop the definition of "adult".

Oh, and while we're talking, may I please have a ranking for my 3 Kindle books? I make money for you; please help me to do so.

And also? I want my sales figures for the different versions combined. If you have the little box that says "also available in these other formats", then you are capable of adding up the sales numbers. I do not wish to have my $5 Kindle book competing with my $15 print copy. My sales ranking should represent a true sales figure of how GYM DANDY is selling.

And by the way, Jeff, you still owe me an apology. Something with the word "sorry" would go down well right about now. You cost me days of sales by delisting me, and days of writing by making me take you on. And many people are refusing to use your services now, so my book may well be selling well on other sites, but on Amazon? Not so much.

Thank you for your time.
~ Storm Grant

* No, I didn’t check with any of these people before posting this.