Saving the Children

So, earlier today I discovered that the paperback version of my book Love in a Time of Zombies was no longer coming up on Amazon.com search results.

It has all the symptoms of the de-listing of adult material that brought about the Amazonfail situation.

While people have been decrying the de-listing of books that should not be considered adult, my book falls firmly into the section of “Things Children Shouldn’t Read.”

My complaint is not that Amazon.com has decided children should not read my book, but rather that the method they’ve set up is such that many potential readers who are of age won’t buy it.

Here’s the scenario:

You go to Amazon.com and search for “Love in a Time of Zombies.” The Kindle version shows up, but not the paperback version.

The first conclusion one might reach is that the paperback version is not available.

All is not lost. A search under the name “Paul Gude” will bring up my paperback version as the eighth result. A search for “Love in a Time of Zombies Paperback” will bring up my book.

However, that only works if the potential reader is intent on finding my book. I want to reach people who only *casually* want to read it, people who *sort of* want to check it out.

It’s been noted that I can simply link to it, and people can find and buy the book off of my web site. Still, though, if someone has no idea who I am but sees someone reading my book on the bus, I want them to be able to type in the title and find it the next time they’re on Amazon.

As I mentioned above, this de-listing is geared towards making more “Family Friendly” search results. Several of my friends agree with this logic.

I pointed out that I understood if they wanted to keep people from stumbling on it accidentally, but that if typing in the exact title didn’t bring up the book, they were limiting my sales unduly. It was then pointed out that the de-listing was perhaps meant to confound children who were looking for Love in a Time of Zombies INTENTIONALLY.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not always a humble man but I can assure you that absolutely no children are aware of my book at this time, nor are the vast majority of readers I seek to reach. Even if they were, if the schoolyards were abuzz about the wonderful horrors contained therein, a computer savvy child would be less daunted by these tactics than the casual buyer I am trying to reach.

There’s nothing about the cover or title of my book that is offensive, so hiding it from the search results so it can’t be seen seems to indicate that they feel children would be able to complete the order process and actually buy the book without the participation of an adult.

Could that really be it? If not, there are two possibilities I can imagine:

1) Amazon.com is doing this to demonstrate to some organization(s) that they’re taking steps to be more “family” oriented, and are therefore adopting tactics that restrict the existence of “naughty” books for *all* eyes. The question of “What if my child saw that?” doesn’t get raised if YOU don’t see it either. If Amazon.com is doing this on their own with no prompting from anyone they either have stopped caring about selling books or are drastically changing their philosophy from when I used to work there.

2) Amazon.com’s “Look Inside!” feature *could* allow children searching the web to read a naughty book, perhaps. Maybe someone noticed this and tried to think of a way to limit their liability of such an occurrence. Of course, “Look Inside!” isn’t enabled on my book at the moment, so this doesn’t work right now.

Either way, this means I’m going to have to work even harder to get potential readers aware of my book and then somehow guide them to the right page. If they skip my site and go looking for it on Amazon, I hope they have enough interest to try more than one search. If not, Amazon.com just cost both of us another sale.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that a kid could just one-click the book if their parents stay signed in, hopefully the parents would either notice the charge or the package. Parents! Set up your One-Click to get delivered to work. That’ll show ’em.

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About paulgude

Paul Gude writes small books, makes stupid music, draws silly pictures, and does weird things on stage.
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