Canadian Authors Beware – Amazon Kindle Launches in Canada

Good e-Reader posted a summary of my article below on their site.

You can read it at: Canadian Author Warns Against Amazon.ca.

My thanks to Mercy Pilkington for a terrific overview!

Good e-Reader is the largest digital publishing, eBook and e-Reader News Website in the world. The company currently employs eight full-time staff writers and video producers that travel all over North America, Europe and Asia to bring readers the essential industry news.

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Full article below:

Canadian Authors Beware – Amazon Kindle Launches in Canada

I’m an indie author and I live in Canada. This is not some strange admission; it’s a statement of fact. If you’re a Canadian author publishing via Amazon.com, this post is for you.

Since coming on the independent publishing scene in 2010, I’ve dealt primarily with Amazon.com as my ebook distributor. All my books are available on Amazon.com and its sister companies in the UK, France, and other countries where the Amazon Kindle (ebook) store is available. The majority of my buyers come from the US and the UK, so I was a happy camper. That was until Amazon set up shop with Amazon.ca as its new Kindle store in Canada.

You may wonder why this would not be a good thing for me, being that I am Canadian. I imagine Amazon Canada had some reservations as well. The launch of its Kindle store glided in so quietly I had no clue it even happened. They should’ve named it “Operation Stealth.” I only became aware it was up when I continued getting a message each time I touched my KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or Amazon.com account. Like the sound of an annoying cruise ship director blowing her whistle, a pop-up would appear on my screen announcing:

GREAT NEWS! You can now shop for digital content at Amazon.ca in Canadian dollars. Learn about transferring your account to Amazon.ca.

At the time, I was in the midst of publishing several books on KDP. The last thing I wanted was to change a process midstream. Soon thereafter, I noticed variances in the price of my books. Was the timing simply a coincidence with the launch of Amazon.ca? I think not.

Warning: The next few paragraphs contain complicated (sic) mathematical algorithms.

I published all my books through Amazon.com. When I listed my book at $4.99, I would see it at that price. Now I was seeing a discrepancy of a few cents on each of my books. $3.99 books were showing $4.04, and $4.99 books were showing $5.04 or $5.06. Considering the Canadian dollar was worth more than the US dollar at the time, I found this peculiar to say the least. I’d always purchased ebooks from Amazon.com with the understanding I was buying in USD, and I’d pay the applicable exchange rate at the time of purchase. I thought perhaps the variance I now saw took that into account, so I decided to test it out.

I bought a copy of one of my books I’d priced for $4.99, which now mysteriously showed $5.04 on Amazon.com. When the item appeared on my credit card statement, I was actually charged $5.16 Canadian. Seriously, what kind of hair-brained NEW math is this?

I went back and forth with KDP Help to figure out what was going on. They swore up and down my books on Amazon.com were at the prices I had set, but because I was in Canada, I was seeing them differently. They suggested I transfer to Amazon.ca, where the prices were closer (but not exactly) what I wanted. My $4.99 books were selling for $5.00, and my $2.99 books for going for $2.94. I absolutely despise the whole “nickel and dime” aspect of pricing, but I despise the lack of professional conduct more. I had a major headache after going around in circles with KDP Help for a few days. In the end, I settled for not getting a satisfactory answer – how pathetic is that?

So…as an author, I now simply refuse to transfer to Amazon.ca until they get their act together. The main problems for me are:

  1. Pricing ~ If I’m setting my book to sell for $4.99, I don’t want to see it for anything other than $4.99 – not one penny more and not one penny less.
  2. “Look Inside!” is unavailable ~ This allows sampling of the first few pages of the book, an important step in helping a reader decide whether or not to buy.
  3. Author Central.ca is unavailable ~ This provides a personal author page. Without it, typing in the author’s name will simply bring you to a page with their books, but no author bio.
  4. Product Description is incomplete ~ Fields such as Editorial Reviews, Q and A with the Author, From the Back Cover are populated from #3, ergo the book’s description will be incomplete.
  5. Insincere marketing ~ This is a big one for me. Amazon.ca is pushing me to change but provides no benefits to me as an author. As a matter of fact, I’m being punished by staying with Amazon.com, since the experience I used to have is no longer the same.

My final words to Amazon.ca: Don’t sell me something as being good for me just because I live in the country where you’ve launched your new product. Until your service can consistently meet that provided to me by Amazon.com — I see no benefit in switching over.

As a caveat, this article is not targeted to Canadian readers who purchase products from the Amazon.ca. site. I am unaware of any issues for buyers.

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19 Comments

Filed under Eden's Guest Blogs & Interviews, Revelations & Humor

19 responses to “Canadian Authors Beware – Amazon Kindle Launches in Canada

  1. Oh boy…. as a Canadian soon to go down that particular road, I’m getting a headache just thinking about this… and an impulse to swear.

    • Hi William, thanks for your comment. I started with Amazon.com and it’s worked out well. You are in a position to choose to go with .ca, or it’s possible you may not be given the choice. It seems Amazon really wants to build up the Canadian market, but not offer what its counterparts in US and UK do.

      I’d be curious to know your experience, keep me posted,
      eden

  2. I’m a Canadian author too and have published on Amazon.com. I too noticed the “funny” prices. eg $4.04 I have no intention of switching and I do appreciate your post. Thank you.

  3. You are so smart! I really can’t keep up with the international Amazon and they treat each site as different. Most multinational companies coordinate there efforts. With Amazon an independent author must go to each site and set up their information and reviews don’t travel.

    I will say that Amazon has treated me well when it groups my books with other similar books– increased my income. But they don’t make it easy for the people making them more money than the ‘big six’. Great article, Eden.

  4. Another factor you might need to take into consideration is ‘price matching’. Amazon.com are fairly quick to price match – usually within a month. Amazon.co.uk take nearer 5 months. it’s important if you are a series author and wish to make the first book of the series free as a taster. The process we use is to make our book 1 (A Vested Interest) free at Smashwords and hence free at B&N, iTunes e.t.c. I note amazon.ca still have not price matched our book – it’s still $0.99 CD so they seem to be even slower than amazon.co.uk at price matching.

    On the plus side – at least in Canada you get paid by EFT. There are a lot of unhappy UK authors who can only get paid by USD cheques (checks?) and end up paying hefty bank charges for depositing them.

    • Hi John, thanks for commenting and highlighting that price-matching is another issue with Amazon.ca.

      Suffice it to say, Amazon is not perfect across the board. What irks me is the haste to branch out and not provide a consistent experience. I can understand hiccups when a new platform is added, but at least provide support. Unfortunately, Amazon Help has been nothing but canned responses from service reps who are clueless.

      I choose not to frustrate myself further, and though I will publish with Amazon – I will no longer give them exclusivity.

      eden

  5. It almost sounds like they’re getting the exchange rate screwed up. It may seem hard to believe that a company as large as Amazon could make such a mistake, but after working with VERY large companies for decades, I can tell you that those things do happen.

    The old saying is that a computer program is always “90% complete”.

    The pros and cons of using KDP are something we always have to consider, particularly KDP Select. I’m still bumbling around, trying to learn, watching pros like you very closely.

  6. @JasonDarrick

    Stay away from .CA as much as possible. We’re getting the short end of the stick, but it’s sadly expected. Hopefully the ‘Zon will improve the system sometime this year, but I’m not holding my breath.

  7. The Zon — I like that. Yes, I’m not hopping on it anytime soon. Thanks for commenting hon,
    xo
    eden

  8. Pingback: 10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Being An Author

  9. Truly it’s crazy amazon is so screwed up.. books that should be free are .99 cents and others that should like you say be 4.99 are so out of wack. If it weren’t for the fact that amazon does sell 70 % of the market most people wouldn’t deal with them as they are a hassle and not very organized across the board I prefer smash words for their over all treatment. If I didn’t have to deal with amazon I wouldn’t. Eventually I will publish and like eden said earlier I most likely wont give amazon exclusivity. Eden Baylee is our author on top , as she is always on top of everything authors need to know. She is kinda like the the CNN of authors need to know..
    :=)

  10. so are you saying you only want a drop of me at a time lol. hehe xoxo

  11. :) You’re always welcome here xox
    eden

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