“Noon is neither before or after noon; it is simply noon.”

“Noon is neither before or after noon; it is simply noon.”

At the moment I’m preparing the launch of my first picture book for children. I’m planning to kick it off with a free promo through Amazon. I’ve done it a few times before with other publications, and it can help to get the word out. All the exclusivity arguments against Amazon aside (don’t worry, I’ll follow up with eyeBooks, Barns & Noblesse, Kobbo and the rest), there’s a very concrete thing that’s bothering me about this process.

Amazon says:

“Free promotions will start at approximately 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time and end at approximately 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. Depending on system latencies, it may take a few minutes to several hours for the free promotion to end.”

Each time I switch a publication into promo-mode for a certain day, the brain racking starts. The combination of three things gives me a headache as predictable as a Swiss wrist watch:

  • 10 hours time difference from PST to my timezone
  • the latency: a few hours give and take doesn’t make it easy to time a launch
  • the horror of AM / PM

The last one is probably the most annoying. Every time I find myself asking: If I set a free promo for a certain date, does it start at midnight or noon?

Doing some idle googling, er… duckduckgo’ing… I found the following statement by the Time and Frequency Division of the NIST (an agency of the Department of Commerce):

[T]he terms 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. are wrong and should not be used.To illustrate this, consider that “a.m” and “p.m.” are abbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem.” They mean “before noon” and “after noon,” respectively. Noon is neither before or after noon; it is simply noon. Therefore, neither the “a.m.” nor “p.m.” designation is correct. On the other hand, midnight is both 12 hours before noon and 12 hours after noon. Therefore, either 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. could work as a designation for midnight, but both would be ambiguous as to the date intended.

Thanks Jeff!