The Amazon HTML Fix

November 2nd, 2013 brought new changes to the Amazon Author Central publishing platform.  A lot of people had questions about what to do with their existing Author Central book descriptions.  Last month, if you were using Amazon HTML in your Author Central account, you received this message.

The book description contains unsupported HTML tags. While we’ve allowed this HTML in book descriptions before now, after November 2, 2013, we no longer support it. For more information about what’s allowed in book descriptions, please see:

Once you’re familiar with what you can include in a book description, log in to KDP and update what you have there. If you leave your book description as is, it will appear as plain text, which creates a poor experience for prospective buyers.

If you’ve updated your book description in Author Central, you can solve this in either of two ways. You can either update it in both Author Central and in KDP, or you can update it in KDP and delete your Author Central posting. For help with deleting descriptions from Author Central, please contact Author Central Customer Service.

Thanks for updating your book description—please do this by October 31 to avoid having HTML appear in your content as plain text. If you have any questions, please contact Kindle Direct Publishing Customer Service.

Previously, Author Central users could “trick” the Amazon Author Central editor to allow any type of HTML codes in the book description. It was a loophole that a lot of authors were able to exploit to add images, add tracking scripts and even embed complete Javascript into their Kindle book listings. Amazon eventually caught on and started to close the loophole.

However, Amazon did indicate a small set of HTML codes were allowed in their book descriptions. Authors were confused by the message because once the book description is edited Author Central, the book description updates can only be made in Author Central. Amazon also indicated the nice orange H2 heading tags were supported in Author Central yet the editor didn’t have a heading option.

How does an Author get HTML into their book descriptions?

I emailed Amazon several times and asked the following questions.

1. If I add a book to Author Central and edit the Editorial Review section and I don’t modify the book description, can I still update the book description in KDP?

2. If I add the book to Author Central and modify the Editorial Review section, can I still update the book description in KDP?

3. I wanted to add a H2 tag to my Author Central book description. I added the tags in the my book title in the Compose view. However, Author Central strips it out. How do I add the H2 tag using Author Central?

4. What if I just leave the book alone? With the HTML really be displayed?

5. Can HTML be added to other sections in Author Central?

Amazon response was an interesting one including the key findings I found from the tests I ran.

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One Response to The Amazon HTML Fix

  1. Sunil Visvambaram November 10, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    Great work on the follow up with Amazon on this issue Andrew!

    Sometimes I just wonder whether do we all need an Author Central account in the first place.

    I rather create an author blog about myself as an author and place a link in the beginning part of my book where the link will appear when visitors click the “Look Inside” feature.

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