Monday, August 22, 2011

Oz has Spoken! And "Oz" is the Reader! The New Trend in Kindle Tags

"This new trend of using tags to boycott traditional publishers' high Kindle prices is quite telling of the times."  - Heather Hummel

Anyone with enough online experience knows that when you "tag" something - such as a blog post - you're providing a searchable word related to the tagged content. For example, a blog on what to pack for a summer picnic might use the tag words "summer" "picnics" "sandwiches" "blanket" "basket" "flies" - you get the idea.

Any author knows that when their book is listed on Amazon (or other online bookstores) tags can be assigned to describe their book by using the  "Tags Customers Associate with This Product" feature. A John Grisham book would likely be tagged with words like "legal" and "lawyer" whereas a Jennifer Weiner book would be tagged with "Chick Lit" and "Women's Lit" etc. When a book is tagged on Amazon, other readers have the option to "agree" with a tag. The higher the number of "agrees" to a particular tag results in better odds of it moving up the ranks in search results for that word. For example, if someone searches "Chick Lit" and one of Jennifer Weiner's books is tagged "Chick Lit" and hundreds or thousands of readers agree, it will rank high in a search. Another author might have "Chick Lit" as a tag, but only a few people check on its box to "agree," causing it to rank lower in search results. It's all very word and click driven!

That was the original concept for tagging. However, what I'm seeing now is an interesting trend in readers using tags to boycott high Kindle prices set by traditional publishers. A Jennifer Weiner paper back might be tagged with "Chick Lit" "Funny" "Women" "Beach Read" and "Relationships" and yet, her Kindle version of her recent book Then Came You is tagged with: "too expensive for kindle, waiting for kindle price to go down, ebook overpriced, outrageous kindle price, publisher greed, 9 99 boycott, jennifer weiner, kindle swindle, no sale, agency 5 price fixing."

This new trend of using tags to boycott traditional publishers' high Kindle prices is quite telling of the times. Naturally, this use of tagging hurts the author because the tags that ought to represent their book aren't being used, but the tags such as the ones above are. Ultimately, the anger being directed at the publishers is punishing the author. My belief is that the publishers aren't even noticing this! A good publisher would ensure that their authors' Kindle books have the proper tags listed since it's such a powerful tool for books sales,  but they don't seem to be. Yet, if they did, they'd notice what tags are there instead.

One common misunderstanding that I'll dispel is that Kindle does NOT set the price for its eBooks. The publishers do. I hear many people complaining about Kindle setting prices too high, when in fact the price is set by the publishers. And, clearly the readers aren't happy with any eBook priced over $9.99.

Heather Hummel,The Gypsy Writer, is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series featuring Whispers from the Heart and Write from the Heart.

Her nonfiction titles include:

GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe  (PathBinder, 2011)
Gracefully Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008)

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million.
Visit Heather's website at:
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Robin Sullivan said...

I suppose using a tag to voice your pricing displeasure is preferable to giving the book a 1 star review (which is the other thing I see a lot).

I feel bad for authors whose publishers price their books too high. In many cases the readers take it out on the author and cry "author greed" when authors almost always have zero say over the pricing of their books.

Robin Sullivan | Write2Publish | Ridan Publishing

SL Clark said...

The publisher sets the price, sometimes this is the Indie author.

As we've just seen in the John Locke contract with Simon & Schuster, authors have a choice - accept the miserable contract just "to be published" or negotiate everything to Nth degree.

John kept his eBook rights, unheard of until a million seller came along - and he is NOT about to give up on his $0.99 price that brought him to the dance. S&S would never give up their right to setting a HIGH price. Boycotts can work, but authors need to set the tone in negotiating *everything*, including getting the prices in writing.