Monday, March 24, 2014

Allergies of Amazon - Tamil e -Books?

When I decided to submit my book 7.83 ஹெர்ட்ஸ் ; 7.83 Hertz in Tamil, to Amazon, least had I expected that it would be rejected for the language ( I am bit uncomfortable with foul language).
Publishing was smooth as  I  completed all formalities and uploaded the .mobi copy of my work. Got  it published  and a few readers had  downloaded it too. It was for a price and I have not set the price low to attract many buyers. It was at par with hard copy price to be fair for all.

Two days ago,  I woke up with this mail from Amazon that said

"  You've submitted your book in a language that isn't yet supported and we have had to block it from sale. Please see for a full list of currently supported languages." 

 Shocked , I surfed the page in amazon which  showed the book with a alert message ,

"Item Under Review,

This book is currently unavailable because there is an issue with its description, content, or formatting.

We are working with the publisher to fix the issue. As always, we value customer feedback."

7.83 ஹெர்ட்ஸ்  is the link of the book. Please see for yourself.

I explained in vain in a reply to Amazon  that Tamil is a classic language that is still being spoken by millions in India and in other countries as well. The Cover image was clearly showing the tite in Tamil, my name in Tamil and the  Book's Title had  Tamil script 7.83 ஹெர்ட்ஸ் with the sub title 7.83Hz  and the description was in Tamil. I awaited their response and was sure that it would be considered.

Amazon's  ebook submission process involves the selection of a language for publishing and Tamil was not there. I choose English as in many sites you do not see your country's name , but forced to choose "others" . I thought it was a small error from Amazon's side. Also , to be on safe side, I changed the title as 7.83 Hz as well as the description in English.

Then came another mail from one Oscar,  this time straightly telling me ,

"I checked your book and noticed that you wrote the book description in English, selected the book's language as English and the title was also in English. This is the reason why it passed the review process when you firstly published it on our website.

However, our Kindle Content Quality team ran a review on this book and found it was published in a non-supported language, so they decided to remove it from our website until it is published in the language you selected. "

I was furious. What the hell is going on here? First I had given all details in Tamil and because they could not support ,  I had changed the description and title in English , still the  cover image showing details in Tamil. Now I am being accused of cheating the readers ?

Going down the mail , I found these gems.

"We will be able to reactivate the sales of your book until it is published in English or another supported language.

To find all of the languages supported by KDP, please visit:

Professional conversion translation are available to publishers seeking help with translating their work. You'll find a list of companies that specialize in these services here:"

Why on earth should I translate my work in English or another supported language ? - because , the almighty amazon says so? and what languages they support apart from Latin based ones? Japanese. Who in Japan would read my book? Or should I try Basque? Finnish? Swedish?

Then I saw this sentence that made me laugh.

"If the language in the content of the book doesn't match the language advertised on our website, this is misleading to our customers which may result in a bad reading experience.' 

I had thoroughly tested the work in Kindle ( old version with 5 point button), Kindle app on  Ipad with IOS7 was tested by my friends, Kindle App on PC by me many times, before I submitted to Amazon. I even bought a new IPAD Mini to be doubly sure. Many of my friends have bought the book and have given their review as well.
Where is the question of bad reading experience - unless they are not happy with the content?

In a reply  to that guy about what had happened and giving all the facts, I wrote the following words:
"It is surprising to see Tamil as a language is not supported by KDP while Kindle reader and app supports. This leaves me with  a  dissatisfaction and disappointment.

My book will be in Tamil and am not translating because KDP is not supporting it. When I am ready for English, I may consider KDP too for publishing."

Today morning I got a mail from Amazon. This time one M.Raja had written. Obviously they could find someone who could understand the savage language's script. He was too polite and professional. I liked the way he had put across the issues, not without some points to make me concerned.

"As previously stated, at this time "Tamil" language is not supported in Kindle. Although you're able to view the content in Tamil language in your Kindle or Kindle application, it is not applicable to all the Kindle or Kindle applications. So, we remove the book from sale which may result in a bad reading experience. I'm sorry if this may cause you any inconvenience."

I thought I was getting replies from people. This was more than auto reply mails. Have not I made clear the steps I had taken and I had personally checked the outputs?

 Would they make older versions of Kindle and Kindle Apps compatible with Tamil, going forward? Their old Kindle supports the old Tamil scripts ( that was stopped in late 70's) with a few bugs. How did they release that Kindle then? If the Paperwhite Kindle could support the newer Tamil version , how come they released without testing? Certainly some testing is done on support for Tamil.

There was one more sentence , the coup de grace 

"I understand that "Tamil" is read by millions of customers in India and around the world and do confirm you that we value our international customers and do our best to satisfy them. "

This was the best. Salutes to Amazon that they have realized that Tamil is read by people. But, their actions fail to convince me that they do their best to satisfy them.

Amazon India has office in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and they say " We understand that Tamil is read by millions" and they do not support Tamil.

With this, I have two options.

1. Stop buying from
2. Check with Apple, Google, Sony, Nook and Kobo whether they have any allergy for  Tamil.


Anonymous said...

Sudhakar ji..I dropped my plans of buying the kindle after knowing that i doesnt support tamil and wen i saw ur next book releasing in kindle,I felt for not having a kindle and it did not strike me at that time that tamil is not supported...

aavee said...

It's really interesting to know that amazon just checks the name of the book and not the entire content. It's so unfortunate to block someone after releasing their product. It's completely absurd!!

SABA said...



Anonymous said...

Really disturbing piece of information.

Sudhakar Kasturi said...

Thanks Saba. I shall initiate the voting. கோவை ஆவி அவர்களே, they do check the content once they get time. But, in my case I had given clearly everything in Tamil. Then I changed to English.

Paperwhite Kindle indeed renders Tamil well. Old Kindle supports old Tamil script. These guys do not believe!

Sankar said...

I did not buy a kindle just because I heard that it will not render Tamil. Now they are effectively blocking any new customers who are interested in reading Tamil e-books. I wrote this comment in English just so that it gets the attention of anyone from Amazon reading this.

Also, I have a different query to you. I loved your previous book. However, why have you kept the same price for the ebook and the hardcopy ? Don't you think that since the ebook takes a fraction of the cost to produce, the benefits and the increased profit margin should be passed on to the readers too ?

அ. இரவிசங்கர் | A. Ravishankar said...

My Tamil ebook is still there for sale in amazon and I haven't faced any issue like you. I can also see many other Tamil ebooks listed for sale.

May be the changing of language and description raised an alarm with them?

Still, we need to push them to have a clear policy on this.

Meera Prabhu said...

Sudhakar Ji,

Though I understand your anger, having been a customer for Amazon for years, I feel that Amazon will soon launch its Tamil support. Amazon always takes long to study and enter a market, especially India as it had burnt its finger in China. FYI, Amazon spent 4 years to launch the India specific site. If for the time being you want launch, why not through NHM android bookstore. Probably Badri might help.

Venkatramanan said...


Please check with Ravi ( & / 9943168304) - I think he can help you or atleast assure you whether its a known issue/behaviour.


Sudhakar Kasturi said...

Sankar P, I have mentioned in the post itself why it was priced at print edition " It was for a price and I have not set the price low to attract many buyers. It was at par with hard copy price to be fair for all." This I have to do as the hard copy is not put yet and my aim for e book was to reach out to friends in far flung areas who could not get paper backs of 6174.

Sudhakar Kasturi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.