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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Amazon Tagging Is Going Bye-Bye

It never fails. As soon as someone tries to abuse the system, Amazon reacts.

In the same spirit of the uproar of removing reviews, the Kindle Boards are aflame over Amazon removing the tagging system. Among the accusations is that Amazon is trying to get rid of indie authors. That indie authors make Amazon less money, therefore they are being hidden. Basically, the usual paranoid BS (one of the reasons I don't go on the boards much, and I sure as hell don't post).

One person at least tried to find out what was going on. When Amy E. Barker asked Amazon, here's the reply she received:

I'm sorry for the concern caused by not being able to edit or add any new Tags. The original idea of Tags was to allow customers to tag items they were considering buying (for example, tagging items for a specific person as a gift), tagging products that they have purchased for later recommendations and tagging products to suggest better organization of them for Amazon. Over time Amazon has introduced new features that have replaced the TAGS functionality, including Wish Lists, Customer Reviews and Recommendations. Since the introduction of those features the usage of Tags, and therefore their value to our customers, has declined. We have removed TAGS in favor of the replacement features. Tags that you created are still available under Your Profile page.

What I think it really comes down to is that once again, just like reviews, there are writers AND readers abusing the system. Some books had been marked with some ugly labels that had nothing to do with the book itself: 'fag', 'n*****', 'Nazi', etc.

Sometimes, writers would tag someone else's book with their name in order to make the rival's book disappear or to grab onto the coattails of a super successful author.

I've seen the second issue happen. I was the victim of issue one.

One of Alter Ego's books was tagged by Author X under her name. Eighty-eight of her friends also tagged it, which meant if anyone clicked on the tag 'Alter Ego', that particular book would not appear. What these people didn't realize is that ANYONE could see who tagged which books.

You see, only five people KNOW that 'Suzan Harden' and Alter Ego are the same person. (Okay, I'm pretty sure a private investigator friend has deduced the truth, but he's wise enough not to say a damn word.) So when I checked who'd done the malicious tagging, I was shocked to discover several people that I know had participated. Unfortunately, I strongly suspect account hacking was not the case with these people. I also suspect they didn't view this action as harming someone they knew.

I would give more details, but since GK is underage, I plan to keep Alter Ego under wraps for five more years.

This incident saddened and disappointed me because I held these people in high regard. I was also confused by their actions because several mutual friends had been victim of these kind of attacks on Amazon lately and on e-mail loops, these same people agreed our friends had been abused. So why do this to someone else?

What most writers can't seem to get through their heads is that readers can go through books faster than we can write them. We are not rivals. Just because Mrs. Smith bought my book today, it doesn't mean she won't buy your book tomorrow or next month.

So something that had been a useful feature is gone thanks to some boneheads. I don't blame Amazon. I blame the readers and writers for not acting like adults.


  1. Oh, good grief. :/

    You know, I've seen books tagged with some other writer's name before but never knew why. It was just a WTF? sort of thing. Knowing now why it was being done makes me wish the tags still showed so I could go back and... well, at the very least put those writers on my Never-Ever-Buy list. [mutter]

    What most writers can't seem to get through their heads is that readers can go through books faster than we can write them. We are not rivals. Just because Mrs. Smith bought my book today, it doesn't mean she won't buy your book tomorrow or next month.

    Exactly! This kind of dirty-tricks competitiveness isn't only nasty, it's stupid. Writers who do it aren't just assholes, they're also brainless idiots. I don't need to waste my time on books by these people.


  2. What's even worse, Angie, now agents like Kristin Nelson are advocating putting super-successful authors's names (like E.L. James) in the e-book metadata. This directly violates Amazon's TOS, not to mention it's a shitty thing to do to readers.

  3. Seriously? Good grief. :/ I can't imagine this actually benefits anyone. If I'm searching and something completely unrelated comes up, I'm just all ??? and keep going. If I thought/knew the writer/publisher or whoever had set it up deliberately, that'd be another line on my Never-Ever-Buy list.


  4. Oh, even better, Nelson's justification is that's what the indies do!

  5. So... indie writers are the shining beacon when it lets you justify slimy tricks, but the doormat to wipe your feet on for anything else Ahh, okay, now I get it. [huge freaking eyeroll]