- Has been a best-selling, award-winning novelist.
- Is superbly connected in the writing world. (Two terms as a director of the Author’s Guild, past president of Novelists, Inc., etc.)
- Taught college courses on both English and neurobiology.
- Was a top-two independent expert on search engines (her only peer was Danny Sullivan).
- Wrote better SQL than I did.
In other words, she’s no dummy.
I emphasize that because she’s my source about some screw-ups at Amazon.com and other online booksellers that at first seem a little hard to believe. In no particular order:
- Publisher-submitted price changes (specifically, temporary price cuts and then reversion to usual levels) are a massive industry problem, because certain online sellers don’t propagate them promptly, and Amazon then price-matches down to other sellers’ levels.
- Barnes and Noble had a two week (!) outage posting sales results for publishers, at least for some accounts, after which a whole lot of sales wound up being posted the same day,
- Metadata assigning books to categories on Amazon.com was recently lost (and in some cases spuriously created). Around the same time …
- … aggregate author-facing sales ranking were borked as well.
- Weeks after Linda uploaded a new book cover image to Kobo, they’re still using the old one.
My basic takeaway is — the whole thing’s a mess.
What could explain all this? Technically, I doubt it’s any one or two things. Online booksellers smaller than Barnes and Noble may generally lack development resources. Barnes and Noble evidently can’t get its data silo connectivity act together (among many other technical shortcomings). Amazon probably suffered multiple snafus — part was surely an “upgrade” gone wrong — since different kinds of raw and derived data got corrupted.
But I do have one business explanation for it all — contempt for suppliers. To these booksellers, independent author/publishers are small suppliers. And computer systems that face small suppliers are commonly awful. (The same goes for business practices.) The meta-reason that so many publisher-facing systems are so bad in the bookselling world is probably just that online booksellers don’t make it a priority for them to be any better.
- A rather confused message board thread discussing part of the Amazon mess.
- Fires of Destiny, Linda’s magnificent historical adventure/romance.