Tuesday, October 26, 2021

On Medium: The Curse of Bureaucratic Myopia at Kindle Direct Publishing

Here are a case study in how a bureaucracy can lose touch with reality, and some reflections on how a Kafkaesque catch-22 might be a tragic blessing in disguise.


  1. I commiserate you for your digital ordeal. The inefficacy and stupidity of the Amazon board is really stunning. I guess the bureaucratization of society to such dystopian levels is the price we pay for technological advancements. I fear the human cost doesn't make those advancements worth it. Not a very promising sign for the future of our species, to put it mildly.

    The farcical aspect of the situation reminded me of an aphorism of Cioran, where he says that the most profound thing Hamlet ever says is to consider the "law's delay; the insolence of office" as one of the justifications for suicide. There's comfort in the tragicomical aspect of it.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. The ordeal continues. As soon as the article appeared on Medium, I emailed the content review team to notify them that they've been checkmated, and I asked if they could finally unblock my book or whether they'd keep hiding robotically behind their KDP talking points. And I used those words.

      This was their reply so far:

      "At this time, it is not possible to completely remove an unpublished book from the Bookshelf. I'm sorry if this may cause you any inconvenience. However, I've changed the status of your book to "Blocked" in your Bookshelf.'

      That nonsense prompted me to email them back with this: "I'm asking for the book to be unblocked so it can be edited and published. You didn't change the book's status. It was blocked before and it's still blocked. Is this a human or some kind of chatbot I'm talking to?"

      And that last question may be the most pertinent one. When I spoke to the supervisor, he made it seem like there are multiple humans working as reviewers, and they indeed sign human names to the end of their email messages. But they exercise no more commonsense than a cheap chatbot could be expected to have.

      This last email of theirs is baffling. I ask for the book to be unblocked, and they say they couldn't remove the book entirely but are doing me the favour of "changing" its status to "blocked." I mean, am I being trolled here? Are they deliberately obtuse? Or are they literally just algorithms posing as humans?

      This is the heart of the Kafkaesque nightmare. Luckily it's only a silly book at stake in this case. But imagine what more monumental bureaucratic screwups are currently going on all around the world.

    2. By the looks of it, I'd say it's more than likely they're bots.

      I found a link to the KDP "community" where writers can pose questions. Maybe another author went to something similar and can shed some light on the issue, from outside the company.


      I hope it's not such a waste of time as trying to communicate with the company itself.

    3. If they're bots, the supervisor straight-up lied to me over the phone. Regardless, they might as well be bots, considering how inefficient their review process is, at least for the more complicated copyright cases.

      There's no need to check a forum for guidance. I just got an email saying the book has passed the review process. So the printing of the emails did the trick. All they had to do was ask for proof up-front. Instead, they tried to entangle me in a pointless catch-22. At least I got an amusing article out of that nonsense.

    4. For the record, I added a postscript to the article.

    5. All's well that ends well, I suppose. Kudos.

      It's interesting that what appears to have been the senseless bureaucracy's achilles' heel was simply the fact of being exposed as such by your article on Medium. No wonder philosophy, or the art of speaking truth, is seldom welcomed. It goes against the ludicrous nonsense that permeates many hierarchical systems which make society "function".

    6. Good point. A bureaucracy may well be a paper tiger. Red tape is still just tape, after all. Unless you're mesmerized by it, you can see that can just cut your way through the nonsense.

    7. I stopped using red tape once I found out about it's dark side :p