Angry With Amazon

So there has been a lot of bad press for Amazon lately. From tax dodging to domain hogging, they seem to be moving from everyone’s favourite online store to the sort of greedy conglomerate that leaves you feeling a bit dirty every time you give them your money.

Well, I have another gripe to add to the growing pile.

Why, Amazon, do you not have a price filter for Kindle books?

No, seriously. I’m not just being cheap here. In a growing market of self-publishing and indie authors who rely on free promotions to get their work out there and in the hands of readers – a market which Amazon claims to be at the forefront of with their Createspace endeavour – why does Amazon not gives us the option to view only free books??

I’ll freely admit that my view of self-published novels remains coloured by some previous bad experiences. I like that authors put their first books up for free, or give us a free promotion, as it gives me a risk free chance to try them out – a bit like getting a book from a library that I’m not convinced enough I’ll like it to buy. If I read something that’s free and good, I’ll be much more likely to buy the next book. It’s a great way for readers to discover indie authors, and long may it continue, but Amazon isn’t making the ‘discovering’ part easy.

There is the option to scan through the 100 Free Bestsellers, but what if I want to look for a book to download on a whim that perhaps I’ve never heard of before? There’s no facility for this. My knowledge of self-published books has to come from knowing the author on twitter, or being recommended it by someone, I can’t make an impulse browsing purchase. Perhaps this is only a problem with the .co.uk site, I don’t know, but it’s incredibly annoying.

You can use the advanced search feature, input ‘Createspace’ into the publisher slot to browse Amazon’s titles. If it’s free impulse purchases you’re looking for, you can then put the price filter from low to high to pull up all the free ones. But from the fact that this only finds 9000 odd titles, I’m going to say that it’s only a tiny proportion of the self-published books available on the site. Many self publishers use other platforms. Searching ‘smashwords’ brings up just over 1000. But what about the people who publish under their own name, or the multitude of small companies that do some of the formatting work for a price?

The other option, of course, is to use the multitude of genre filters, then use the ‘low to high’, but as someone who reads in a lot of genres and doesn’t necessarily go to a bookshelf in order to pick a specific genre. I like to be taken by surprise and read things that I wouldn’t necessarily normally pick.

I really think it’s poor form from Amazon, and just another nail in the coffin containing my opinion of them. Unfortunately, with a Kindle ereader on the desk beside me, not a Nook or Kobo, I can’t see that I’m going to stop using Amazon any time soon, which means my pledge to read at least 12 self-published books this year is going to rely on giving more publicity to the best sellers, rather than the notion of giving something back to lesser known authors out there that I romantically set out with.

Unless of course any self-published authors out there want to direct me to their titles. Feel free to leave me a comment 🙂

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