Linking First and Second Editions of a Book in Amazon

When the Second Edition of Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist came out, I was baffled that the books were listed as two separate Amazon items. The biggest impact was that all the reviews for the first edition did not sync with the second edition, so anyone coming across the second edition wouldn’t see all the first edition reviews. There was also a bunch of other content missing from the Second Edition page. In frustration, I wrote a post titled The Mess of a Second Edition Book.

For several weeks I dug into this with Wiley (my publisher) to no avail. I kept hearing back that the Second Edition is considered an entirely new book. I accepted that (it has a separate ISDN number), but I still wanted the two pages to be linked. The First Edition pointed to the Second Edition, but the Second Edition didn’t point to the first edition. And – none of the content on the pages was synchronized. I kept thinking some version of “c’mon guys – this is just meta-data – how hard could this really be?”

Dane McDonald, who works for me, eventually just took it on himself to figure this out. He went to the Amazon Author Central site, found, and followed the instructions.

  1. Login to your Amazon Author Page.
  2. Click on the “Help” button in the navigation Bar.
  3. Click on the “Contact Us” button in left hand sidebar of your screen.
  4. Under “Select an issue,” select My Books.
  5. Under “Select details,” select Update information about a book.
  6. In the field that appears, select Update something else.
  7. In the next field that appears, select I want to link one edition of my book to another edition.
  8. Make sure to include your email address as well as both ISBN #’s for the two editions of the book you would like to link.
  9. It takes 1-3 business days for the link to take effect.

Voila. Several days later what Wiley had said was impossible now worked. The two editions were linked and all was good in the world. Until the other day, when the books magically unlinked. Boo.

Yesterday, I followed the instructions again to relink the editions. This time I got a disappointing email from Amazon.

I understand you would like us to link ISBNs 978-1118443613 and 978-0470929827.

The books requested for linking, Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist ISBN 978-1118443613 and 978-0470929827 don’t meet the qualifications to be linked. Please accept my sincere apologies for this disappointment.

In order to be linked, books must have the same content. Linking books such as the hardcover and paperback edition is meant to allow customers to choose between different formats, but customers should be able to expect to read the same content. Newer editions of nonfiction books generally have additional primary content, and therefore aren’t considered materially the same.

Books that are different parts of a set, or derivations of one another can’t be linked, even though they may be similar.

Thank you for contacting Author Central. We hope to see you again soon.

Double boo. I guess I should be frustrated, but pretty much everything about the old school publishing process baffles and perplexes me. Almost none of it is from a reader or author’s perspective. The publishers and distributors have their own magic language, special rules, and byzantine processes. Everything is harder than it needs to be, doesn’t work quite as expected, and has a bunch of extra words around each step.

I’ve let go of my frustration. Now I’m just amused. And I’m glad stuff like Bookshout exists – hopefully it’ll stimulate another wave of reader-centric disruption.

  • Lura


  • StevenHB

    You’d think that they could qualify the link between two editions. It’s not like the concept of a second or subsequent edition is new. In fact, wouldn’t Amazon want to advertise on the page for the first edition that there’s a newer one? And wouldn’t a shopper want to see a page listing all the editions of a book, just as I can click on the author’s name to see all books written by him/her? They already qualify reviews by indicating that a review shown for a given edition was actually posted for another.

  • One option that Amazon should consider comes from the App and iTunes Stores from Apple. You can view an average of all versions of an app and then switch between the current version and all past versions. Nice way to maintain reviews/comments/stars but have some separation for the differences in versions.

    • Right. I thought of this when Brad posted about this before. And linking the books would be an additional feature – a way to see the difference between the versions. Perhaps a way to compare the TOCs would be a nice feature too.

      But the problem is that those are things that are good for the readers and authors. Apparently, what “we” want is not being considered at all.

  • DaveJ

    Actually, this is a deeper problem than you may think. The problem is that “linking” is too simplistic a notion. As pointed out in the email, it is not at all uncommon for new editions of books to have significantly different content – and it’s not always clear which one is better, either. This also happens in non-book products – they have a new version, and the reviews get all mixed up, and you can’t tell what you’re looking at. There is no easy and general way to determine whether the reviews written for a previous edition are actually applicable to the new one.

  • I think even AirBnB’s implementation could work. They have reviews of the specific place, and then an option to see reviews of the host’s other places. I could see a similar interface that lets you see reviews of the existing edition or a tab to view reviews of the previous edition. Too bad they can’t do something so simple.

  • Book publishing is such a weird world. I worked at Simon & Schuster in the late 90s, then left to join the internet revolution. A few years later (less than 5) I interviewed at HarperCollins for a marketing position. The publisher’s comment was that I’d have to “relearn” publishing. I thought “Sweetheart, it’s ain’t brain surgery.”

    All’s well that end’s well, however. HC’s loss was Return Path’s gain and ten years later I’m *so* glad I didn’t go back to ink-on-dead-trees. I still love books, but it’s a bad business, for many reasons.

  • Hey Brad, your link to your book is broken. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist – Goes to Page Not Found. It looks like eliminating the path from your blog makes it work –

  • Strange that the price for Kindle edition is only 56 cents less than print.

  • Wish there was an upgrade path for ebooks..