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Monday, October 24, 2011

CreateSpace's reading robot is stupid and weird

Some of my books are printed by Lightning Source and some by CreateSpace (which is owned by Amazon.com).

I previously complained in this blog that CreateSpace was extremely paranoid about potential copyright violation. The company demanded that I show proof that I had permission to use every photograph I used in one book. I’ve never encountered this, or heard of this, with other publishers or printers. This delayed publication of the book and I had to delete and substitute some images. Maybe I should feel safer now -- less likely to be sued for copyright violation -- but I wasn't worried before.

With another book, CreateSpace did not question my photos, but rejected a book simply because it mentioned the name of corporate parent Amazon.com. I complained publicly and got a quick apolo­gy. Apparently, the robot censor was hyperactive and needed to be recalibrated.

The robot seems to have been stable for the last six months or so, but had a recent relapse.

A few days ago, I submitted a minor change to the front cover of my Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults). I made absolutely no changes to the interior text.







This morning I received this ominous warning: (left-click to enlarge)

The robot told me "We have noticed that the interior file submitted for this title contains text referencing Amazon.com on PDF page 314. In order to move forward, please update this text to include two additional outlets where your title is available."

The warning is weird for several reasons:
  1. Why should a printing company assume the role of editor?
  2. Why should a printing company that is owned by Amazon.com want me to promote competitors of Amazon.com? (Keep in mind that the robot was previously pissed off at me because I mentioned Amazon.com. Now Robo doesn't care if I mention Amazon -- as long as I also mention at least two competitors.)
  3. What would happen if a book was available ONLY at Amazon.com?
  4. If you left-click on the image below, you'll see that the cited page does NOT mention MY book. It does mention that books written by the late Don Martin are available at Amazon.com. I am not dead. I am not Don Martin. This line of text has been in books sold by Amazon.com (printed by Lightning Source and CreateSpace, and in an ebook) going back to 2008, and Amazon never objected before. Now Amazon's CreateSpace expects me to do research so I can plug competitors of Amazon. This is STOOOPID.


I'm waiting for an explanation from CreateSpace, and, while I am waiting for Robo to be restrained, my book is unavailable and I may be losing money.

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