Love it or hate it, there's no denying that Amazon has changed the publishing landscape.
Some of these changes are arguably for the good of authors and readers. The ability for authors to self-publish and sell their books using a preexisting sales platform has certainly helped democratize publishing and provides readers with far more choices than before. However, by removing publishers--traditionally the gatekeepers of quality--from the equation, an abundance of poorly crafted stories and terribly executed books have flooded the market.
Legitimate authors who once were able to make full-time livings as writers have been forced back into the 9-5 workforce partly because price point is no indication of quality, and choices abound. Therefore, many readers are unwilling to pay more than a few dollars for a book.
I don't blame them. As a publishing professional, I see every day the lack of respect we have for our own craft. Anyone can call themselves a writer, author, or editor. And anyone with Photoshop and Adobe can call themselves a book designer. Few even talk about interior layout. That seems to be an afterthought, if a thought at all. Quality and quality control measures are not an industry-wide priority.
Amazon--largely to blame for this quality vacuum--is about to implement corrective action in what appears to be an attempt to repair the damage done to its brand by the abundance of low-quality ebooks.
Starting February 3rd, 2016, Amazon will begin posting warnings to prospective readers that a book contains spelling and/or formatting errors. Those books with significant formatting problems will not be available for purchase through Amazon.com.
Some authors have raised concerns about intentional spelling errors related to diction or words that, depending upon one's country, vary in their spelling-color versus colour, for example. According to the Good E Reader report, this is not a cause for concern. The system is not dependent upon an algorithm like a spell-checker but on reader reports of errors. Warning messages will only be posted after the reports by readers are verified.
Bogus reviews, both good and bad, have made Amazon's rating system untrustworthy. Verified warning messages offer protective measures for all legitimate players in the publishing industry as well as the readers we serve.
It's time for people who call themselves authors to act like professionals.
It's time for editors who charge money for their services to be professionals.
It's time for small presses to vet projects and reject those that do not meet minimum standards of excellence.
It's time for authors, editors, and publishers to partner with design specialist who have the knowledge and ability to elevate a project to its full potential.
And it's time for readers to expect and demand excellence from all of the above by pointing out our deficiencies.
Accountability for quality control is what is going to bring respectability back to the publishing industry, wages up for legitimate authors, and value back to readers.
Kudos to Amazon for doing something that promises to build up our industry, not further degrade it.