An update on Amazon’s paperback rule change in regards to the word “books” in a title.


I first published my Black Cat compilation book five years ago, in 2014, via CreateSpace (Amazon). The book’s official ISBN (ID number) has the title “Black Cat Volumes 1-31”. ISBNs are set in stone when a book is created. I recently had to update this book – and Amazon is refusing to let the edit through with the word “Volumes” in the title. They are requiring me to change the title to “Stories”. They said they’d assist with the required Bowker change (Bowker controls all ISBNs in the US).


Why did Amazon make this rule change for paperbacks? Apparently a few customers were complaining when they placed an order on Amazon for something called “Books 1-5” and they just got one book. They believed they were going to get multiple books. Amazon therefore required, as of about a year ago, all authors loading new paperbacks to not use the term “books” in their titles.


I understand that.


But, due to that new rule, Amazon now puts a block on the editing of any EXISTING paperback title and does not not allow the change to go through. Amazon requires the paperback title to be altered – in a world where book ISBNs are supposed to be permanent and final – in order to soothe their buying public. Amazon could have handled this concern in a variety of other ways. They could have an indicator on the book detail page showing how many physical items the customer would receive. They could have made the length and width and page count far more visible. And so on.
Instead, Amazon is in essence censoring the book title in order to fix a customer service perception issue.


Until now my Black Cat series was still OK because it said “Volumes 1-31” and not “Books 1-31”. But this weekend, Amazon blocked my edit on this book because of the word “Volumes”. I talked with them in person on the phone. Their new policy is to not let the word “Volumes” show up on a paperback book. And, again, let’s remember this book has been live and selling on their system for 5 years without issue. The only reason this came up was because I had to change it.


So that seems iffy. They should either make the change across the board to all CreateSpace / KDP paperback books or they should grandfather in pre-rule books. Otherwise it’s only authors who need to update their books who get penalized by this loss of link functionality and search engine traffic and so on. Because, since a paperback book URL contains in it the name of the book, I am assuming the URL is going to change when the title changes, meaning all my old links are going to break.


Just another item for authors to be aware of. Amazon has a tendency to change their rules for their own benefit. They rarely worry much about how it’s going to impact authors. Because they’ll change rules to be easiest for them, the aftermath is often unfairly felt by different groups of authors. We’ve seen this happen before with the table-of-contents-up-front issue and so on.


Ask with any questions!

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