Hmm. I didn't know about this. What is the problem? Are there too many names to list? I think the book should appear with the editor's name, but the names of contributors should be listed in the description.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Amazon fails again--and contributors to anthologies get punished
In the past year, Amazon has eliminated listings for contributors to anthologies. Their first stated rationale was that anthology participants are not "authors" and thus they were all deleted. Amazon instructed that participants should be listed as "contributors."
Now, apparently, Amazon is refusing to list such participants as "contributors." Such a position devalues those of us who write for anthologies, but then devaluing the writer is nothing new with Amazon.
A few days ago I noticed that Amazon had eliminated the listings for all the contributors to my anthology Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe--despite the fact that when Amazon eliminated all the "author" listings a few months back, I dutifully went back into Amazon and re-entered them as "contributors."
Noticing the listings were once again gone, I re-entered the contributors... and received this pleasant missive this morning:
==== This is an automated response message - please do not reply ====
Thank you for using the Catalog Update Form to send suggestions for
Myths for the Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (ASIN 1932265147)
At this time we cannot accept the correction you have submitted for one of the following reasons:
- Could not verify
- Incorrectly formatted
- Provided URL did not confirm
- Some data on high-profile items is not editable
To help us make sure your submissions are correct, use proper case and correct punctuation and spelling, don't add comments or questions and include a valid URL from an authoritative source for verification.
Attribute: Author function
Current value: Win Scott Eckert | Editor
Win Scott Eckert
Philip Jose Farmer
Christopher Paul Carey
Peter M. Coogan
Dennis E. Power
John A. Small
Data accuracy is highly important to us. We appreciate the time you have taken to submit your updates to us.
Amazon, enough is enough. I know who contributed to the anthology I edited. I submitted correct information, following your guidelines. I provided a URL listing the table of contents, and the contributors.
I've been playing ball with you, Amazon, entering, and re-entering, and re-entering correct information on both the anthology I edited, and other anthologies in which I've participated, only to have you constantly move the target.
Amazon's refusal to list Philip José Farmer as a contributor to a book in which he has nine essays--Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe--is counter-intuitive at best and mean-spirited at worst. And it runs counter to Amazon's own self-interest by preventing readers from searching by authors, in order to locate anthologies to which their favorite authors have contributed.
I've tried Amazon's "customer service"... only to get the runaround and contradictory answers. Surprise.
My suggestion is to get on Twitter and raise a stink. That's what it took for me to reach a human being at Lulu.com. Albeit, my contact was by email, but it saved me from the endless recursions of being directed to useless FAQs that didn't solve my problem.
Nope. I like Amazon. They've played fair with me -- unlike book stores.
Usually the publisher makes sure the information is listed correctly. It strikes me that an anthology sells not because of the editor but precisely because of the contributors. Those names need to appear somewhere in the book description.
I agree with I.J. Amazon has been good to me. But I do wish they'd list the anthology contributors somewhere. I'm already in the CHESAPEAKE CRIMES anthology, and in March, I'll be in another called CHESAPEAKE CRIMES: THEY HAD IT COMIN'. The credit wouldn't hurt. :)
Because anthologies are often marketed based on their subject matter, not who's contributing to them. For example, the Greatest American Short Stories anthologies are a collection of the best stories from a given year, as determined by the editor(s) of the anthology. On the spine of the book, anthologies list the editor(s). The contributors will be on the table of contents and on the first page of the story, and maybe in a bio somewhere, but the "who" is secondary to the "what". The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction contains 50 stories that the editors feel best represent contemporary short fiction. It's not intended as a vehicle for a given author's work.
Anyway, on Amazon, you can see who is contributing to a work by looking at the table of contents (if the book offers that feature, which is up to the publisher, I believe, not Amazon).
The "who" is not always secondary to the what. In the example given earlier, one author contributed seven of the essays, so that would certainly be a primary attribute of any marketing. also when there is a celebrity anthology with a lot of well-known authors, the who is definitely the most important thing.
Even beyond those, though, is that if I search for an author, I'd like to see anything to which that author contributed. Anything less is certainly Amazon shooting themselves in the foot. I don't know enough about Amazon's current policies and searching ability to know how well they accomplish that now.
And like some others, I am generally happy with Amazon. I don't really have the time or inclination to go out of my way to drive to a good independent bookstore, although I occasionally stop at one if I happen upon it.