Thursday, November 10, 2022

Do I Have a Legal Case Against KDP?

A number of people have suggested getting a lawyer, perhaps demanding arbitration. My first reaction was that I didn't think I had, or should have, a case. One suggestion was that Washington state law might restrict Amazon in terminating the relationship. But while that's possible I wouldn't want to rely on such a law since I believe in freedom of contract. 

A better basis for a claim is detrimental reliance, that I bore the costs of spending time formatting my books for KDP in reliance on what they said their rules were, hence if they terminated my account with a false claim that I had violated their rules they owed me damages or a restoration of my account. So far I haven't found their rules, probably because the fact that I no longer have a KDP account prevents me from logging in for any purpose other than appealing my termination, but I can get someone else to do it.

A second question is whether it is worth the cost. Arbitration apparently would cost me two thousand dollars plus the cost of a lawyer. That's not a serious barrier in terms of my assets, since at this point we are pretty well off, but it's probably more than the monetary benefit of being on KDP instead of an alternative. As best I can tell, only KDP can get kindles of my books on Amazon, but other services can get print copies on Amazon and non-kindle ebooks on other platforms. 

There is also the cost of my time and effort to consider. Putting my books on Barnes and Noble would take some time too but so would putting them back on KDP if they let me, since they have apparently wiped all of the relevant files. 



Steamboat Lion said...

I've been very happy with Draft2Digital as a solution to publishing your ebooks to all the main platforms in a single process.

David Friedman said...

Someone downloaded their terms and conditions and sent me a link. They are free to terminate the account for any reason or no reason. But they also confiscated any outstanding royalties, and under their terms and conditions:

• If we terminate this Agreement because you have breached your representations and warranties or our Content Guidelines, you forfeit all Royalties not yet paid to you.

They have not even claimed that I had done either of those things, let alone offered any evidence, so I think they are in violation of the terms of their contract. The sums involved are not very large, however.

Rebecca J said...

Is it illegal to produce a mobi file (the format that kindles read) to sell elsewhere? Because we've made our own mobi files from pdf easily using software we got online. That was a number of years ago, and I see that there are many other options out there now. I also used when I did the formatting for my book, and they did a better job than Amazon did on the mobi version. I then uploaded my mobi copy to KDP for Amazon to sell, but perhaps you could use them to provide the files to use on some other platform.

As far as print copies go, you could always print your books yourself using a print service, and then sell them through your platform of choice. Check out I see they will do the printing too.

David Friedman said...

As best I can tell, producing a mobi file is easy and selling it elsewhere is legal. What I expect to do, assuming KDP does not reverse their decision, which they probably will not do, is use one of the other services to produce paperback and kindle versions of my books and put them up on multiple platforms, including Amazon. It's a nuisance and KDP has some advantages for books sold on Amazon, but that's all. At the moment I am mostly trying to figure out which of the services makes most sense to use.

Max Lybbert said...

I know you used to teach contract law. A contract that one party can disregard at will isn’t much of a contract. You’re right that fixing this injustice won’t be free, even if you had an attorney willing to take the case without charging you.

Even assuming you choose to not pursue a case, you can (and have) publicized their behavior. It might not reach all people considering whether to self-publish through Amazon’s contractor, but I’m sure it will warn some people away from self-publishing through Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Your question is -- should you sue? I'd say using the government in this way should be an absolute last resort. IF you have alternatives who would love to have your business, go there instead. Why would you want to force someone who doesn't want to do business with you to do so?

You might sue as part of a moral crusade, but moral crusaders usually end up getting Joan of Arc-ed. I suggest your time would be better spent writing and teaching and all the other great things you do.