Amazon: Synonym for ‘confusing’

December 22, 2011

Amazon have a ‘Big Deal’ sale on Kindle books until December 23, 2011. So I clicked the link for the Amazon store, and saw that a book I’d read through my local public library was on sale for $1.99 (I’ve used yellow highlighting to show the relevant bits) .

The price on the main page is $1.99

I quite enjoyed the book and thought my Mum might like it (she has a Kindle). So I clicked the book’s cover to find out more and to purchase this book for her. And I got this:

The price on the book's page is $14.37 for the Kindle edition

Confusing moment #1: The price is now $14.37 for the Kindle edition! What? The link I clicked had it at $1.99, so why is it now $14.37? It was only December 21 when I clicked the link, so the deal hadn’t expired.

Note: When I clicked the link for the Kindle edition, Amazon was happy to sell it to me for $14.37, not $1.99 as advertised on the Big Deal sale page. Guess what? I didn’t buy it.

Confusing moment #2: Below the title, author and star rating is a statement that pricing information isn’t available. Yet there’s pricing listed for three different editions and three different sources.

So I looked closer at the page to see what was going on, and spotted this:

An Australian book by an Australian author can't be purchased by Australians

Confusing moment #3: Amazon obviously knows I’m from Australia, so why did it show this book on the ‘Big Deals’ page in the first place if it won’t sell it to customers from Australia? Why does it show the pricing of the various editions etc. and allows a potential customer to click on those prices, yet shows this message that I can’t purchase this book in ANY edition because I live in Australia up in the top right corner of the page where I won’t see it? And why can’t I buy a book just because I live in Australia? It’s a Kindle book, NOT a printed and bound book, so the publishers’ agreements should have already been sorted for international distribution by electronic means. It’s unlikely I could buy this book in a bookstore as bookstores don’t sell Kindle books, only Amazon does! I’m getting confused…

Then add to this mix this gem from the official review:

Disher is an Australian author who has won Australian awardsConfusing moment #4: Disher is an Australian author. He’s won Australian awards. I’m an Australian living in Australia. I have an internet connection and an Amazon account. I can go to the Amazon site and buy books, as I have done for many years.  But I CAN’T buy THIS book because I live in Australia!

There’s something very wrong about that.

But equally, there’s something very wrong with the Amazon site too. Not only is it confusing regarding pricing, but if Amazon already knows I’m from Australia and thus knows that it can’t sell me that book, then why doesn’t it put that information on the book’s main page in a popup message or similar, right in the middle of the browser window where I can see it? Why hide the information in a little box in the top right corner of the window?

This is not the sort of user experience that would encourage a potential customer to buy from Amazon.

I’m pretty savvy around websites; my 80-year old Mum isn’t. She buys Kindle books, so this sort of experience would be very confusing for her. Hell, it was confusing enough for me!


  1. Comment received from ‘ppl0315’:


    “Where have you been? Lots of books are available (licensed) only in the U.S. through Kindle. That’s why Kindle has never really taken off in Europe and other places. Not enough books licensed outside the U.S. or translated into other languages. License agreements are not necessarily the same as publishing rights.”


  2. Yes, I’m very aware of the ridiculous publishing and licensing agreements regarding books as I used to work as a librarian, where we encountered the same restrictions with bound books from the UK and US back in the days before the internet.

    In this case, my beef isn’t so much with the publishing/licensing agreements in different countries (though I could rant about that for hours!), but with the fact that Amazon already ‘knows’ where I’m from, yet continues to offer me products that I can’t buy based on where I live. If it already ‘knows’ this, then why doesn’t Amazon apply that filter right from the beginning?

    The cynic in me suspects it’s because they think I might buy the book at the $14.37 price, even though I thought I was only paying $1.99 for it. It’s too late to change your mind after you’ve committed to the purchase.

  3. Not really related, but I gave up trying to understand Amazon when I discovered that, just because I’m not in the US, I have to pay $2.60 more for any book and I can’t get any free samples. It got my American friend really angry since we were sitting next to each other (in Bulgaria!) and my Kindle was showing me different things from hers. The device itself is great, but Amazon need to work on their customer service…

    (However, at least Amazon managed not to tease me. My friend has a link of Top 100 bestsellers on her main page, each of them with free samples; I can’t see that link and it’s a good thing since, when I accessed my friends’, I could only see a list of titles with no samples.)

  4. I have had the same experience with other books and didn’t end up buying them. As you did I went in and out a few times to try and find out why, I didn’t spot the message so I just closed and left dissatisfied.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: