Amazon Tags for US Kindle Ebooks are Back!

Amazon kindle tags they're backGood news for Indie authors who want to sell ebooks; Amazon Tags have returned for US Kindle ebooks. They disappeared about two weeks ago, oddly just for the US Kindles but not for paperbacks, hardcovers or for any versions in other countries. Understandably, there was much speculation as to why from both readers and writers alike. In fact, this blog posted an entry on the subject of where did they go? and listed the main (assumed) reasons.

Interestingly enough, there still hasn’t been an official announcement from the world’s largest bookseller. We’re still wondering what the heck happened? Was it really just a glitch? A glitch that took two weeks to fix after speculation of so much tagging abuses? Strange indeed.

The reasons tags are a great way to help indies sell ebooks is because they’re a search term many customers use when looking for a book on something like SEO, for example. And so if a reader searches products tagged with SEO, they’ll find books like Get On Google Front Page. Works for me.
Welcome back, my little friends. We missed you.

***Update June 9, this just in from Amazon as an announcement on the issue:

“All –
We’d like to provide a little more information about the Tag feature on Tags are not intended to be used as a method to promote your titles. The tagging activity occurring in this thread does not follow the terms of use for the Tag feature on and could be considered abusive. You can learn more about the Tags feature by visiting
For this reason, we are locking this and all threads that organize this type of tagging, and future threads of this nature will be deleted from our Community. We encourage you to share your work with each other and discuss marketing and promotion ideas, but organized manipulation of any feature is not something we will permit on our boards. Website features and tools should be used as intended.
We understand that you have put a lot of time and effort into this thread and that it can be quite a challenge to increase the visibility of your work. We hope you will check out the tips we provided which may help improve your titles’ searchability on and continue to support each other’s success.”***

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Amazon Kindle Tags, Where’d They Go?

extinct tags for Amazon Kindle ebooks*Update June 9th, tags are back!*

*Update Update Dec. 2012 Tags Gone Forever?*

For Indie authors who want to sell ebooks and for readers who like to browse by subject matter, the tagging function for Amazon Kindle ebooks is… or should we say, was…  a nice feature. Maybe a little too nice. Just last week this blog posted an entry on Indie writers using tags and even joining tag parties for compiling lots of tags quickly and making any ebook more visible to Amazon search engines. That may all have changed entirely, or at least for the near future.

Why? Because Amazon has removed the tag section from their Kindle ebooks for US authors. While the tag function still exists currently for Amazon UK, Germany and other countries, it is presently not existing here in America. Interestingly enough, the Amazon US paperbacks are still functioning as usual with tags, so perhaps this is either a temporary thing or perhaps those will soon disappear as well.

We don’t really know the exact reasons, and Amazon hasn’t come out with an announcement, but there are a few obvious possibilities being widely discussed in the forums. Here are the most accepted Kindle-tag-killing culprits:

1. The boycott anything over $9.99 thread and others like it. Kindle readers often complain about the high price of some ebooks, especially those from the big publishing companies, which tend to represent best-sellers and tend to be similarly priced to paperbacks. These ebooks also cost the publishers hardly anything to produce – so the obvious complaint becomes, why should an ebook cost the same as a paperback? Some of the more outspoken readers promoted boycotts and left tags for high priced ebooks including “9.99boycott,” “ripoff,” “agency 5 price fixing,” “kindle swindle,” etc. Their efforts were not small ripples in the pond either, as many readers simply refused to buy ebooks with high prices, especially if they were tipped off with these tags. Result: big publishers complaining to Amazon.

2. Indie authors and tagging parties. A verified book purchase is not required to tag a specific book. Since any purchase (ever) on Amazon is the only requirement to be a customer in good standing and to enable tagging, many authors (including yours truly) participated in tagging parties to boost the number of tags by subject matter and (hopefully) appeal to more customers. Done with integrity, this seems like a rather harmless practice to help the small self-publisher compete with the traditional publishing houses. Done without integrity, this practice can be riddled with abuses. For example, fake tags, like award winner (for books without awards), romance (for a book that is not romance genre), Harry Potter (when the book has nothing to do with Harry Potter), or Stephen King (you get the picture), or any misrepresentation of a book to capitalize on all the common searches that occur for popular subjects and authors is a bad practice. Once a book is tagged with a misleading tag, and all the Indie authors are blindly copying and pasting tags to help each other… a book may rise to top of search results under false premises. Result: disgruntled readers complaining to Amazon.

3. Mean-spirited tags. It’s a shame that people can become bitter enemies through forums and online chats, but it happens often. When that occurs with authors and readers, one way for readers to lash out is to leave bad tags on an author’s book. These could be anything from “spammer,” “Christian crap,” “author fakes 5 star reviews,” “author behaving badly,” “shameless self promoter,” etc. Of course, sometimes the tags are true while sometimes they aren’t. It’s hard for a reader to know what to believe these days when it comes to tags (reviews too). But when mean-spirited tags get left on an author’s book (especially to a self-published author), it hurts. Result: Indie authors complaining to Amazon.

What’s the future for all these tags and all these complaints? Don’t know but interested. One solution echoed by many is to design a system which only allows verified purchasers of a book to leave tags for it. That should cut down on the tagging done without integrity. In the meantime, readers and authors and publishers will be watching Amazon closely to see how this pans out.

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Tagging Books-Tag My Book, Does it Help with Amazon Search Results?

tags for books, book taggingFor authors who want to sell ebooks or paperbacks, having their Amazon books tagged seems like it can be a big deal. Tag-my-book parties are even common at forums for writers including Goodreads, Authonomy and more although they have been banned from Amazon forums for “gaming the system.” But regardless of the ethics or lack of  ethics, does tagging really help?

What exactly are tags for books, you might ask? If you visit any book at Amazon, try one of mine for example, and scroll down past the product description and reviews, you’ll find a list of tags that customers (or others) have used to identify genres and subject matter of a book. This is meant to be helpful to browsers searching for books of similar nature and for Amazon to group books accordingly. In my example some of the tags will be: self publishing, sell ebooks, ebook business, writers, kindle, online marketing, etc. You can click on an individual tag and find a huge list of books with the same tag, usually ranked from highest number to lowest. Therefore, the consensus of many authors is–having more tags is great and having lots of commonly used tags–even better.

What are commonly used tags? Words like Kindle, adventure, fantasy, romance, humor, fiction, science fiction, history, young adult, vampire, christian fiction… the list goes on. Amazon has a page of commonly searched tags here. But tags don’t have to be so general; they can be much more specific as many of mine are like social marketing and ebook publishing.

How does a Tag Party work? A collection of authors (and sometimes readers/family/friends) agree to add tags, up to 15 per person, to each others books. A forum list develops with an agreement to tag everyone on the list and get tagged too. The more people in the party, the better. Once several dozen people are tagging each others books, in little time a book can achieve a fair number of tags.

However, at first glance it appears this helps with visibility and book sales, but that really hasn’t been proven to me yet. For example, currently my book has more tags for the tag term “epublishing” than any other Amazon book and will come up very high if you click a tag that says “epublishing.” But if you type the same term “epublishing” into an Amazon search box, my book doesn’t even appear in the top 100 results. Odd, isn’t it? The question becomes; what percentage of Amazon buyers really search for new books by using tags? Conversely, we know that many book buyers, myself included, search for books by typing terms into the search box.

The tag term “sell ebooks” currently places my book #2 in a tag search, but if you type that into a book search it comes up as #1 probably because those words are a part of the title. So, I’m still in the school of thought that keywords in the title are far more important than a huge number of tags. I’d still like to know, do the tags help? Maybe. I know of at least one reader, from her forum comments, who says she uses tags to search for new books of a certain subject. Maybe there’s more people like her, but I believe she represents the exception and not the rule.

Still, when it comes to selling both ebooks and paperbacks, Independent authors (Indies) should try a bit of everything and hope it helps. There are several good places to join tagging parties. You can find them on Amazon Kindle discussions at the Meet Our Authors Forum and currently at the Kindle Book Forum, though that might get moved to the former due to Amazon’s restructuring of what they consider to be blatant self-promotion. You can also find taggers at Goodreads, Authonomy and even some of the Indie groups on Facebook.

By far the best place I’ve found to date is at Kindle Direct Publishing New April 2011 Tag My Book. This group is serious and selective on who they accept. You will have to get your tagging act together, however, or you will not be tagged. This means you will have to learn how to copy and paste the author’s preferred 15 tags and do it for everyone on the list before you will be added to the list. There’s a thorough explanation for newbies at the start of the thread. Once that’s done, the tags on your books will increase by HUGE amounts. If you think you can handle that, try this exceptional tagging group.

Also for trans-continental efforts, notice that for a US Amazon author to tag a UK Amazon book, she/he must have made a purchase from UK Amazon. This rule is true regardless of the country of the author’s origin and the country of Amazon products (US, UK, Germany, Japan, France, etc.)

Any other highly recommended groups or opinions on this? Please share them in the comments section.

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