Don’t trust Amazon on book news: A cautionary tale

Or rather, a reminder. The other day Roqoo Depot discovered a listing on British Amazon for Star Wars: Big Trilogy no 1 (Hardcover) written by Alex Irvine. Today, someone took that news to the Star Wars Books Facebook (without attribution or any of RQ’s context, sigh) and posted as if it was a fact – only to be struck down in a comment from editor David Pomerico:

We’re not sure why is listing a Star Wars trilogy from Alex, but it’s simply not the case. He does have a book coming out with us, scheduled for Fall 2012, but it’s a stand-alone adventure.

This isn’t the first time that has been wrong about something like this: I myself took a jump on something similar (‘Star Wars 7 book series no 1′) back in December. It turned out to be the U.K. edition of Choices of One. (See the comments from Ewan for a possible explanation.)

There’s little doubt in my mind that ‘Star Wars: Big Trilogy no 1’ will turn out to be Irvine’s already-scheduled book, Mandorla.

Listings that appear on Amazon are fed from the publishers – and some are more specific than others. The Star Wars U.K. publisher, Century, is responsible for both the incidents related above. Their titles are probably meant for internal use only. (See today’s comment from Ewan for more detail. I bow to his expertise.)

We have discovered news from (U.S.) Amazon before: The first inklings of The Clone Wars novels from Karen Traviss and Karen Miller back in ’08. But such incidents are very rare – and we soon found the same listings on Random House’s own catalog, which tends to be more trustworthy.

I know the various fansites and regular news gatherers don’t need this reminder, but everyone else: Please exercise caution when dealing with early listings on Amazon, particularly the U.K. version – it’s highly unlikely to see a listing for a brand-new book appear in the U.K. before we’re clued in by the powers that be – particularly now, with folks from Del Rey in direct contact with fans.

8 Replies to “Don’t trust Amazon on book news: A cautionary tale”

  1. That’s very true. People often forget that information about pre-release products on Amazon is not always accurate.

    Take release dates, for example. Amazon will often say that something (like the Kinect Star Wars Xbox 360 bundle) is coming out on “December 31, 2012” when the item is actually coming out sometime in 2012. In this case, the release date is the last possible day it could be released in that year. Sadly, people often take it as a confirmation that said item is coming out on that exact day.

    Amazon is great, but titles and release dates for unannounced items are rarely accurate.

  2. Since the story of the “7 book series” broke last December, I have managed to get a definite answer as to why Amazon UK listed it with that title. It may seem a bit long winded but it does make sense and may also explain the new title “Big Trilogy no1”.

    All SW novels in the UK have been numbered, eg Shadows of Mindor is Star Wars #55 (nb both hb and pb editions share the same number and the numbering does not follow publication order, eg SW #64 will be published after SW #71); while the 9-book FotJ are SW #71 thru SW #79.

    Now, last December Amazon listed “7 book series no1” and “7 book series no2” and upon further investigation from my previous post, I found that in the numbering system there was a gap of unassigned numbers between SW #63 (Millennium Falcon) and SW #71 (FotJ: Outcast) – a 7 book gap! Hence Amazon UKs use of the title “7 book series”, when it wasn’t actually a series but rather 7 unassigned numbers.

    As it turns out SW #64 was Choices of One, #65 will be Darth Plagueis, #66 will be Red Harvest pb (UK didn’t have hb release), and #67 will be Scourge. Now Irvine’s novel was originally listed by Amazon UK as “7 book series no2” ie #65, but that place/number has been taken by Darth Plagueis novel BUT there are still 3 unassigned numbers: #68 thru #70. So it looks like Amazon UKs “Big Trilogy” is actually these 3 unassigned numbers – putting Irvine’s novel in at #68. So, what about #69 and #70? Well, Kemp’s duology hasn’t been assigned yet nor has JJM Lost Tribe anthology. (FYI the TOR novels don’t count has they are published in the UK by a different publisher, as are the RC novels by Karen Traviss). The only other unassigned numbers I know of are #81, #87 and #88.

    BTW Traviss’s second Imp Commando novel was going to be #83, it looks like that place will be taken by Allston’s Wraith Squadron: Mercy Kill novel.

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