Readers reporting typos in Kindle books can be a headache for authors, and a feature that’s easily abused

Authors have to attentively "fix" issues when often there aren't any actual problems with a book.

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Ursula Vernon, award-winning author, illustrator and podcast host took to Twitter with her frustrations about Amazon as a publisher yesterday.

In a chained tweet, she explained that someone had flagged typos in her book causing Amazon to warn potential buyers that this book is of “low quality”. She explained that “moreso” is indeed a correctly spelled word in informal English and that her Christmas Eve has become unnecessarily tedious due to what was probably good intent on the part of the user who reported it.

She later discovered, through someone’s response to her tweet, that this type of thing is often exploited maliciously by trolls that do it simply to bother the authors and keep them jumping through bureaucratic hoops, often even threatening to take down the book if corrections are not made within a set number of days.

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“I’ve gotten ones that give me 5 days to respond to KDP or they will pull down my book. Which basically means I need to carry a cell phone everywhere with data at all times and can’t be out of cell range for more than a couple of days,” said Krista D. Ball. “They ‘thankfully’ gave me a grace period for one of mine because I was dealing with my Dad’s funeral. It was just a missing space between two words; but I was using my phone in rural Newfoundland. 3 years before? They didn’t even have cell service.”

Many responded admitting that they have made such corrections in the past without knowing just how severe the consequences can be for the authors. Ursula V addressed this in a tweet: “Sigh. I’m sure they thought they were helping, except all that really happens is that Amazon puts flags on the sales page to tell people it’s a terrible book and the author drowns in a morass of old files in a half dozen formats trying to fix things. Amazon doesn’t exactly advertise that if you make too many notes, the system informs the author they’re pulling the book.”

A Twitter user said “Amazon should not be treating their authors as on-call software support.”

Carl Sinclair

Carl Sinclair is a technology reporter covering anti-competetive practices and privacy issues for Reclaim The Net. [email protected]