Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Cautionary Tale

I found this story of an uphill grind on the Internet this afternoon, but instead of shrugging the whole thing off as not my problem, I decided to respond and maybe save someone else a headache.

Screen Shot on 4/20/16 at 2:00 PM EST

This is the latest release from Amanda S. Green a writer with a significant amount of talent, intelligence, and education.  Note the little blurb in the bottom of the screen shot, then ask yourself about the number resources that Amazon is devoting to fixing whatever is wrong here, and this problem's position on the daily priority list of things to do.  I'm betting that it's sitting somewhere between lunch and the mandatory afternoon meeting with the personnel department staff on trigger warnings and their importance in today's workplace.

Here's what happened, partly in Amanda's own words (used without permission) and partly summarized by Yours Truly.  Amanda slaved over the keyboard until her eyes glazed over, and she produced Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3.  Just as she was about to finish it, all the copies of the final version became corrupt.  Even the back up of the back up was corrupt.  Read all about it in the Dear Murphy link below.

Dear Murphy, please go home
Amanda explains that the most recent version of Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is corrupt, and that includes all the back up versions, even The Cloud.
Undeterred by this harbinger of the calamity just over the horizon, Amanda presses on and publishes a notice of her intent to release this critter into the wild on April 18th.  Check the next link as it amuses you to do so.

Honor from Ashes — Snippet 1
Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is available for pre-order and will go live April 18th.
The emphases is mine.  You can pre-order this book, although since it's a digital work I'm not sure why you'd want to (no shipping involved, unlimited quantities).  But people do these things.  Then the fertilizer hit the fan blades.
Amazon tribulations — Day 3. Are they over?
On April 9th, I uploaded the final file for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3). I did my usual checks of my file before uploading it as well as checking the preview file. Amazon says I uploaded the wrong file. My records say I didn’t.
I guess I'd reluctantly side with Amazon on this one.  They upload and download thousands of files every single second of every day, and the process is not nearly as buggy as the rickety structure I have to put up with from my credit union, whose site must have been designed by an SJW working with a team of howler monkeys.

No matter who's at fault here, and frankly at this this stage it really doesn't matter, what's missing is a roll-back process.  You see, the sequence of events is that the eBook was published on Amazon.  When the author pressed the publish switch, I'll assume that the friendly technical support staff at Amazon did their requisite Hominy Domini over it, and flipped the big green go switch.  Shazam, Sam, everyone who pre-ordered the work got a copy the instant their reading device was connected to the Internet, and their credit account was charged the required sum for the purchase.  Nice, huh?  But there's no way to reverse it in case something goes wrong.

Amazon does, in fact, have a way to reverse it.  But it takes work, and they don't want to do it.  Consider the following stories:

New York Times: Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle by Brad Stone
In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.
The Guardian: Amazon Wipes Customer'S Kindle and Deletes Account with No Explanation
An Amazon Kindle user has had her account wiped and all her paid-for books deleted by Amazon without warning or explanation.
So Amazon is able to take away that which it has given.  Or loaned, if you read the fine print.  But instead of doing a roll back, they put the eBook off-limits and sat on their hands.  All the customers who bought the eBook, and who opened it, and who subsequently discovered that the wrong book was in their possession, went bat-shit crazy, demanded their bread back, and posted derogatory one star reviews along with a host of complaints over a trivial error.

So what's a poor author to do?  Not much, but I suppose you might try making a few screen shots during the publishing process and then decide just how to do your own roll back when something goes wrong.  And whatever else happens, know with a solid certainty that Amazon won't help you, and that you, as an individual, are not important to the e-commerce giant.

You know, American Telephone and Telegraph was a commerce giant...

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