Saturday, 13 July 2019

New front cover for Eden's Revenge

Well, given the problems with Amazon over the original front cover for Eden's Revenge, the artist (John Harris), agent (Alison Eldred) and I decided to design a new front cover in any case, shown below. This third book opens on the planet Esperia, where the remnants of humanity are overseen by the Assyrians, who live in a 'pyramid-ship'. Well, a picture paints a thousand words, so, here it is (thanks John & Alison):

Friday, 12 July 2019

How Amazon killed a best-seller...

As some of you have noticed, my science fiction eBooks suddenly vanished from Amazon a couple of weeks ago. This was during a sale when I was selling 150 books a day and around 4000 a month, with the first book, The Eden Paradox, occupying five #1 Best-Seller slots on in scifi genre categories such as Cyberpunk, Colonisation, Alien Invasion, etc., and hovering around the top 500 books for around a month.

Someone - I don't know who, as Amazon won't tell me - contested copyright of the front cover of Eden's Revenge, book 3 in the series. Amazon KDP reacted immediately and shut down my account, accusing me of copyright violation, 'which they take very seriously.' Note that they removed all four books. I received the email at 2:11 am, asking for proof, but by the time I awoke at 7am my account was already shut down. By 8am I'd sent them the proof, but to no avail.

Since then I have written to them with further proof that I have the necessary rights to use the cover, as has the artist's agent and even the artist. I have also offered to change the front cover at my own expense, though I shouldn't have to. So far there has been no shift in Amazon's position. It is under final review now, with a decision due early next week. After two weeks of 'robot replies', I have to say I'm not very hopeful.

What is frustrating is that I cannot speak to the people inside Amazon KDP who have made this decision. I don't know what 'evidence' they have, and get no reply when I ask what more I can do or what else they need. I have pointed out that the artist and agent would very much like to know who exactly this third party is who believes they have copyright...

In the meantime, I have had readers writing to me on a daily basis asking where the books have gone. I explain what has happened, and that they can also find them on Apple, Nook and Kobo. Some have switched, others are waiting. However, if Amazon uphold their decision, I'm not quite sure what I do next. I am currently banned from opening a new KDP account.

In scouring the net, I find I am not alone. It is very easy for someone to accuse someone else of violating copyright, and then suddenly your products are de-listed. Getting them re-listed seems to be near-impossible. Someone else pointed out that Amazon has smart lawyers - the 'safe play' is to treat all allegations of copyright infringement as valid, then they cannot be sued by either party...

On a happier note, the books are coming out in audio format later in the year via a separate publisher. I will almost certainly change the cover for the third book.

There is a broader issue here. Amazon is a near-monopoly for eBooks, and authors make Amazon a lot of money. Amazon should reciprocate and have a charter on how it respects and protects those same authors. This could be part of Amazon's corporate social responsibility. As the biggest company in the world, it has a duty of care to all its communities, authors included.

© Barry Kirwan |
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