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When databases turn rogue

I’m a fan of Amazon.com. As a reader, I find it satisfying that I can search and find almost any title, even out-of-print ones. As a writer, I’m relieved that readers can find me even if their local bookstore doesn’t provide me with shelf space. (Let’s see: John Grisham, Stephenie Meyer, Oprah’s latest selection, me….which one is going to get sent back to the stockroom first?)

As a publisher, I have slightly more mixed feelings: I appreciate the ease with which we can sell through Amazon, although I wish they wouldn’t undercut us QUITE so much in their pricing, and I’m not a big fan of the fees we have to pay in order to keep our books featured in various categories.

As both publisher and writer, I can’t STAND it when their information suddenly mutates.

I don’t know what happens with the various databases, but the information on the books suddenly warps without warning. Last week, all of my books were listed under the name Susan Wise Bauer. This week, eight of them come up when you search for “Susan Wise Bauer,” three only come up if you search for “Susan Bauer” plus the title, and two have apparently been written by Susan W. Bauer, who is not the same as either of the previous persona. And there suddenly seems to be massive confusion over which titles are published by Peace Hill Press and which are published by Norton.

Have you ever tried to get a listing corrected on Amazon? Let’s see…to what shall we compare it? Telephoning the customer service number at the Division of Motor Vehicles? Writing to the I.R.S. with a question about your tax bill? Spitting into a bottomless well?

I’ve punted the problem over to Norton in hopes that they can shout loud enough to be heard within the Citadel.
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