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Amazon, a glitch? Really?

November 9, 2012


Last night, Twitter was abuzz with news that all the buy buttons had disappeared–poof gone–from the kindle version of all the Big 6 New York publishers (Macmillian, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, Random House and Hachette). Fifty (50) of the top 100 kindle books on Amazon could not be purchased. Yeah, that’s a real pickle. What was left? Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks, Scholastic, epublishers and self-published books.

Initially Amazon was mute on the issue despite many many attempts by users and publishing publications to find out what was going on. Crickets chirped from Amazon for a few hours. They finally came out at approx 3:00 AM EST to say they were experiencing technical difficulties and were working on the problem.

But here’s the thing apart from the fact that the problem only affected the above publishers, if you live outside the U.S. the buy buttons were there and the book could be bought. Now I’ve worked in IT for almost 20 years and I’ve been wracking my brain to figure out how such a technical difficulty would or could occur, especially given it was so very specific to the publishers Amazon appears to be having contractual issues with.

This buy button “glitch” did get me thinking though. If I’m an ereader and I have a kindle but I’m unable to purchase books from authors like Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Rachel Gibson, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Lee Childs, James Patterson, Syliva Day (Bared to You, Reflected in You), E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey), Scott Turow, basically 80% of the top selling books out today, how much is my kindle really worth?

So here’s my question to you:

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  1. Fortunately, I don’t have this problem. I can use the nook app or other apps to get my books. Hope they come to their senses otherwise there is going to be a lot of unhappy people.

  2. I’m Australian. What Americans experienced with that glitch was what it is *always* like for Australians – almost nothing is ever available to us on Kindle!
    Nook doesn’t exist here either.
    I have to buy paperbacks from The Book Depository!

  3. I think Amazon is taking over the world! lol. Just kidding. This sure makes me think less of Amazon. Big businesses are so full of dishonesty. It really is sad.

  4. While I know there could be a loss of sales, a few hours of a technical glitch is not going to stop me from buying a Kindle, nor using a Kindle. And if a book I wanted wasn’t for sale at Amazon, as some of them aren’t currently, I just buy it at the other etailer in a format that my Kindle can use, or I load the PDF to my Kindle using Amazon’s free conversion process.

    I worked in IT for several years as well and making an upgrade with one thing can inavertantly cause issues elsewhere. It depends on how they have their databases setup, how much testing is done, and frankly how good their project managers are to foresee possibly issues before going live.

    I think a lot of people are jumping to conclusions and making assumptions based off of a few observations. Obviously the books they were looking for were from the big six, but you can’t say categorically that is was ONLY the big six that were affected. And I don’t know that your questions are exactly fair since you didn’t give an option to say “I believe it was just a technical glitch, but it won’t affect my decisions to buy from Amazon” or something like that.

    I don’t work for Amazon, I’m just a consumer, and I frankly love the services that they offer and their competitive prices. If they were to stop selling what I want to buy, I would just buy that item from someone else. They aren’t going to stop me from buying what I want. A couple of hours of technical problems doesn’t warrant this kind of reaction….at least IMO.

    • My question wasn’t about whether it was a glitch or not but about what people would do if they couldn’t buy those publishers book from Amazon and what they would do.

      While I’m skeptical about it being a glitch, I can’t know for sure. I do know that Amazon is having contractual issues with the publishers whose digital books I confirmed were missing their buy buttons. All the books I checked for other publishers did have buy links. It could be a coincidence, who knows. I’m sure beyond Amazon itself, the publishers do.

  5. Sounds like an odd glitch, you’re right. I’m fortunate that my library has many digital offerings, including those for Kindle.

  6. I’ve been a long-time reader long before digital books came along and I even knew about Amazon so I would always find another way to buy and read books. I definitely wouldn’t stop reading. Though, I often buy from Amazon because of convenience and service, if I couldn’t find what I needed there are other places to turn to. I also try to aware of my own buying habits (not just at Amazon) but everywhere so that may it be a glitch, a security breach, etc. can, and does occur.

  7. I think Amazon is trying to keep the cost of the books down, which I am in favor of. They tried to do that years ago before Ipad came out, but then Apple came in and colluded with the publishers to raise the prices. If this is what they are doing, they have my support. I like Amazon’s service and variety.

  8. For me, like everything, Amazon has its good and its not so good. They’re convenient with fabulous customer service and their pricing is great. But like Walmart, they’re big and intimidating and can be fairly ruthless in trying to take their competition out. This scares me more as an author than anything else. I like variety and want the ability to be able to have lots of choices when it comes to not only buying but where I can earn my money. I don’t ever want to have all my eggs in one basket.

    • I am more scared of Apple when it comes to wanting to control the world. Everything has to go thru’ Itunes, and you own nothing even when you bought the music. The point was the Apple were the ones who colluded with the publishers to raise prices, not Amazon.

  9. I keep wondering what will happen if one of the big ereaders go out of business. If the books can’t be transferred, then that will be inconvenient.

  10. I am not sure what Amazon is up too. I do use Amazon a lot for my purchases! But this does seem odd.

  11. Read about this issue and thought it was only an international problem (with book licensing and such) — didn’t realize that US customers were also affected.


    I voted on the survey. I am actually thinking of getting a Kindle because Amazon has the best selection of e-books (and very good promos) — but now that this “technical difficulty” happened, I realize just how important Amazon’s library is to them. Their selection will really make or break the Kindle’s future success.

  12. Interesting….

  13. I bought a Kindle Fire earlier this year and am very happy with it as e-readers go. While I have lots of books stored on my Kindle, over 90% of those were freebies, gifts or contest prizes. I have purchased very, very few books out of my own pocket! Until I totally abandon my print book supply, I won’t be in the market to purchase 100% of my reading material in e-reader format. So whatever Amazon does or doesn’t do or whatever glitches they experience, doesn’t really affect me nor does it bother me. I know that price on an ebook is a HUGE factor to consider when I am in the market to purchase an ebook.

  14. If Amazon continues to overreach, they may start losing customers.

  15. I’m not hooked on my Kindle as yet so I still mostly read print books. I hear there are suppose to be a lot of sun spots this coming year which may interfere with a lot of our technology. The more we depend on it, the worse it’s going to be for us. If it wasn’t just a glitch, why didn’t they say they were having technical difficulties right up front and right away! Just saying…

  16. I think most people who own a Kindle stick to buying from Amazon for simplicity’s sake . However, you can buy books from a wide variety of other sources and still read them on the Kindle. You just have to be willing to use your computer for converting and/or side-loading the files. Just because you own a particular e-reader you are not obligated to purchase all your e-books from the associated e-tailer.

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