Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why I love

Okay. This is definitely pushing it. I stand by everything I said a couple of posts ago. But there's more to this story than there was last Saturday. And now that Q&Q and Good Reports have made this more than my own semi-private rant, I better take a few minutes and spell out the rest.

As I said, I stand by everything in my LOATHE post. One of the main reasons I in the end joined LITDISTCO was that I seemed unable to get my books onto as an independently distributed publisher. And the truth is, though joining LITDISTCO has resulted in innumerable benefits -- not the least of which is not spending anywhere between 5 and 40 hours a week packing and chasing down orders -- has not been one of them. There's been headache after headache, almost exclusively tied, by their own admission, to problems with their system. It's bothered me more, perhaps, than it should, but bother me it has.

This last event, the proverbial tipping point, however, it turns out, was not amazon's fault at all. Though we've been dealing with this problem for a month, it turns out the bibliographic data being sent to amazon did "not have an imprint or publisher code in (the) ONIX feed to us (amazon). Without this code," it was explained to me, " our ordering system does not know where to place the product."

What this means, of course, is that this instance was not amazon's fault, but my distributor's. It was reasonable for my distributor to assume that this was merely another example of the regular bibliographic snafus we've been experiencing -- along with many other publishers and distributors across the country -- but it was not. And in the interest of fairness, it's important that this be understood. This last instance was not yet another example of amazon-related issues (though to be fair to my distributor: perhaps the reason the error in my bibliographic info was not noticed was because it had all the markings of one): it was our own.

One further thing. After ranting in the LOATHE post, I felt no better. Instead, I dug up the email address of the one amazon employee I've ever had any professional dealings with, and I sent him an email expressing my frustration with amazon over this, and suggested that they buy all of our front-list titles so as to ensure that they have them in stock, so as to solve this problem once and for all. This gentleman looked into it, and brought the real reason for the problem to my attention. He still proceeded to agree to buy all of our titles anyway. Moreover, a couple of other employees who were copied in on the email by another party contributed to the solution in quite a graceful, generous and satisfying manner. Which just goes to show: find the people within the bureaucracy, tough as that may be, and good things will happen. As with Chindigo, there are those who will help you if and when they can.

This does not mean, of course, that the larger issues of amazon (& Chindigo) do not stand: the discounting, price-cutting, the steeper and steeper discounts, the returns ... but it does serve as a reminder that there are those out there working at these companies who are aware of the problems and are working to rectify them.

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