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Monday, January 7, 2013

TAGS - Amazon Playing Selective Game.... AGAIN.

What, no tags? But they've still got them. What gives, Amazon?
by  JoAnne Kenrick, author of the bestselling Irish Kisses series.

If it wasn't enough reviews were being slashed through unfair reasoning, if at all any, we now have a serious tagging-or lack of-issue; one by one, authors are being ripped from the tagging system at Amazon without rhyme or reason. One could almost imagine  Jack the Tag Ripper lurking in Kindle Lane. 

I find myself in the center of this little Amazonian mystery.
I never went click crazy with tags, nor did I attend a million and one tagging parties, so I don't know why Jack the Tag Ripper singled me out. I do however tag up friends books and of course my own. On a regular basis. Maybe four or five books a week on average. I know authors who have had the tagging feature removed and the only books they've ever tagged were their own. The Amazon forums are full of folks complaining they can't tag anymore.
Yet, surprise surprise, those big NY published books/authors can still tag.
A coinkydink?
Maybe.
Maybe not.
Who knows? 
Because as usual, Amazon are not being transparent.

I contacted them the day my tagging features no longer worked (three weeks back). The dude on chat didn't really understand my problem or what I was even trying to say. It's was as if we were speaking a different language. Oh yeah, probably because we were. I asked to be forwarded to someone who would have a better chance at understanding me. He refused, yes refused, to pass me on, instead saying he would forward my problem to the technology department and promised they would email me with a response. I didn't hear back.
Some authors did hear back after contacting Amazon on the tagging problem, though, and they shared their response across Facebook and Twitter. All got the same, very vague answer that seemed like a fob-off to me.

Paraphrased:
"I'm sorry for the concern caused by trying to tag an item. 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; Wish Lists, Customer Reviews and Recommendations. (note: wish lists were around well before the tagging feature was - hmmmm WISH LIST 1989 - TAGs 2005)
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. " (erm, you mean the features already available BEFORE tags were? OKAY)

The above response might have been more than adequate if tags had been removed for everyone and not just a select few, because they are putting said tag-disabled authors at a disadvantage when it comes to visibility for our books. You are not playing fair. As they say...all or not at all.

Amazon seem adamant in their response that tags were to allow customers to simply organize their purchases or to-buy/wish lists. Really? Even though we already had wishlists? More over, they tell authors on Amazon Author Central that it's to help raise product visibility. Conflicted message?

Paraphrased:
"Categories and tags can help readers find your book more easilyA tag is a keyword or term people assign to a book that helps them to find the book again within the Amazon community by browsing or searching - Customers can search for products with a given tag from any product detail page or from any tag page - Because people's tags are visible to others by default, a great effect of tagging is that customers can navigate among items through other people's tags."
While they don't directly affect search results for books/kindle titles, they do help get your book in front of more readers. So it seems a little unfair that only a select amount of Amazon customers are not allowed to tag kindle books. FYI print books have had the tag feature removed completely. 

I buy books from clicking through those tags. Bet I'm not the only one. But, look, if Amazon want to get rid of tags, then fine. Whatever the future holds for Amazon, I'll be 100% on board if all members (authors/customers/sellers) are all cast with the same stone. But currently we're not, are we? Tagging and reviewing rights are being removed left and right, but not center. And without any equality or real transparency.

If anyone has any sort of a clue as to what the game is, please do comment. Also, comments are welcomed and encouraged from anyone who has a say on the matter. 

As a customer and a client of Amazon, I'm making them money. I should count. Right? As should YOU!



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