Margaret Atwood doesn’t escape my fate

My book released exactly two years ago (if you haven’t read it yet, you can buy it here). Rather, it was supposed to release two years ago, on 6th of September 2017. As it happened, people who had pre-ordered the book got deliveries a few days early. Amazon had messed up with the release date.

I remember getting in touch with Amazon Customer Care. They didn’t seem to care. I spoke to friends and relatives who worked there, and they suggested a “Jeff B escalation” (an email sent to Jeff Bezos – apparently he reads them). There was no response to that either. And so my book came out in a trickle, being sent to people as they ordered them, rather than with a bang.

I’m possibly feeling a sense of schadenfreude that it’s not just first-time authors like me who got screwed over like this by Amazon in terms of early release of the book. I am in illustrious company – Canadian author Margaret Atwood suffered the same fate this week.

Amazon, the biggest book vendor in the United States, recently started shipping preorders of Margaret Atwood’s book Testaments. The problem, notably, is that Atwood’s book is not supposed to launch until Tuesday, September 10. Amazon is violating the embargo that all sellers of the book have agreed to. And its indie bookselling rivals are pissed.

In my case, Amazon had exclusive sales on the book – thanks to using a small first-time publisher, we didn’t have the network to go wider and get the book into more stores. In that sense, apart from me, there was possibly nobody pissed off at the early release of the book.

Then again, this early release of pre-ordered books was an endemic problem to Amazon, and a high-profile leak such as this one was bound to happen some time or the other. Hopefully this will lead to the retailer to put enough measures in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening again (mainstream publishers have strong relationships with bookshops, so they are likely to put pressure on Amazon).

In any case, I’m glad to have such good company!

PS: If you haven’t listened to Atwood’s conversation with Tyler Cowen, you should do so soon. It’s fantastic (and I say this as someone who hasn’t read any of her works)

4 thoughts on “Margaret Atwood doesn’t escape my fate”

  1. You know i can give you a very detailed explanation of why this happens at Amazon, and its an utterly shameful manual process that manages delivery post release date.

  2. Congratulations, you are in elite company! ?

    Unlike Ex-Amazonian, I can’t give an explanation of why this happens. However, it’s easy to guess why Amazon isn’t in a hurry to fix this issue.
    Every time Amazon accidentally early ships a book, it subtly sends a message to the readers—that you’re likely to be the first to read a book if you pre-order on Amazon, instead of waiting for it at a store. This reputation is clearly good for Amazon’s business, so there’s no hurry to change it.

    I’m not saying that Amazon deliberately early ships pre-ordered books. Just that when it happens, it tends to be a pro-Amazon mistake, not an anti-Amazon mistake (like, say, delaying shipping to a month after store release).

    1. Not entirely true, it’s cost Amazon huge business with gaming companies who are far less forgiving. But all these decisions are revenue based, and Media is just one part of their business, so no one’s in a hurry to fix it.

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