UPDATE: Kindle’s Response to New Formatting/Spelling Error Warnings for Ebooks

A few days ago I posted a report that Amazon Kindle would start alerting its customers about spelling and formatting issues in ebooks. Several people who have commented on the post have also asked questions that are critical for self-publishing authors and independent publishers to understand. Most important among these are how Amazon

  • Determines the difference between American, UK, and Australian English
  • How it deals with nonstandard or technical terms
  • Whether Amazon contacts the publisher as well as the customer about such issues
  • What the author or publisher can do to rectify the issues.

Here is the original email I sent to Amazon KDP:

Subject: Seeking More Information about Amazon's New Error Messages for Kindle Ebooks

Hi,

I recently learned that Amazon will start flagging Kindle titles that have spelling and formatting errors beginning in February. Amazon may convey information about spelling and formatting errors to customers of Kindle titles. I posted an article to my blog and social media contacts recently about the topic, and a great many of my contacts are curious to know more about the process, particularly about the "dictionary" used to flag misspellings. Some authors write using different variations of English (UK, Australian, etc.), and still others invent words (names of places, persons, etc.) that appear in their books.

Is it possible to learn more about the process, so that I can convey the information to my readers? Many of them are self-publishing or independently published authors who use KDP for ebook publishing and distribution.
 

A representative from KDP replied to my questions within twenty-four hours. The KDP representative confirmed that Amazon would begin “showing customers an error message on the Amazon.com Kindle store detail pages for ebooks” beginning on February 3, 2016, that contain “several validated quality issues.” KDP said that customers will be able to see the error message “near the top of the detail page next to the star ratings. A small warning icon will appear with hover text providing basic details about the issues found in the book.

One of the key determining factors in error messages is previous customers, who have reported spelling or formatting issues directly to Amazon. These, as well as any others Amazon discovers in its validation process, are what constitute an error message on a Kindle store detail page. Amazon KDP will begin sending emails to publishers in February with a list of these errors, asking them to make adjustments and to resubmit a new file. The KDP rep said that the validation process would take up to two days. KDP promises to remove the error messages from details pages after the review but, “books with more serious quality issues will continue to be suppressed from sale.

In an attempt to answer the questions posed by commenters on this blog, I have provided the short answers here (italic section comes directly from KDP).

  1. How does Amazon make determinations between American, UK, and Australian English? Our resources are designed to evaluate errors based on type of English used in different parts of the world and the commonly invented words.
  2. How does Amazon’s review process deal with nonstandard, technical, or oddly spelled words—in other words, if the rendering is an editorial choice? We respect author intent. If the reading experience is as you intended, please contact us immediately.
  3. With whom does Amazon discuss these issues? Amazon sends an email to the publisher. If you would like a copy of the email notification, please contact us, and we will forward it to you.
  4. What can the author/publisher do to rectify the issues and remove a warning label from book details pages? Publishers will have to fix the issues and resubmit the Kindle file. Amazon will review the corrected file and determine if the issues have been resolved. Amazon recommends contacting them if there are issues with editorial choice. (Amazon KDP contact page)

To learn more about KDP error message for ebooks, please visit Amazon’s Guide to Kindle Content Quality Errors.