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Taerak's Void
by M. R. Mathias

$ 3.99
Kindle Edition published 2017-07-09
Bestseller ranking: 8023

Product Description
Taerak's Void
(Book One of Fantastica)
A new series by multiple award winning author, M. R. Mathias

After finding a strange medallion and some maps with markings that no one in his village can understand, Braxton Bray decides to take it all to the Hall of Scholars in the kingdom's capital. But greed is everywhere. Braxton and a tough young female caravan guard named Nixy are forced to run for their lives, for someone else wants what Braxton found and is willing to go to great lengths to take it from him.

With a hefty, kingdom wide, bounty on their heads, not even the great wizards of the Sorcerious can help them. Left with nothing but each other, Braxton and Nixy have no choice but to get on a ship and go on an adventure that will take them places they would have otherwise never imagined. Elves, dwarves, giant gothicans, and trolls, treacherous forests on distant shores, love, death, terror, and magic all await...

Author Topic: Amazon's fake book problem  (Read 14105 times)  

Offline Doglover

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #25 on: June 15, 2017, 04:10:12 AM »
Let's call the bonuses what they really are, a bribe to top sellers to stay exclusive.

Yep. Not that I'm immune to that sort of bribery! Seriously, it is a daft idea, especially as it is a scam waiting to happen. And I'm not just saying that because I don't sell enough to get there.


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Offline Dolphin

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2017, 04:40:03 AM »
Let's call the bonuses what they really are, a bribe to top sellers to stay exclusive.

Sticking with a lucrative business partner isn't corrupt. It's rational. There's no such thing as a "bribe" outside of the context of corruption.

The sales ranks may have gone, but those books are still there and still in KU.

They are indeed, and I wonder how that's working. We don't know whether she's earning anything off of them, and she may not know either for another month or two. I don't see why Amazon would've gone out of their way to pull her books from her dash and pull her ranks, only to turn around and pay her anyway. We know they'll take steps like halting payments and canceling accounts.

Online AlecHutson

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2017, 04:46:40 AM »
.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 12:55:52 PM by AlecHutson »

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Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #28 on: June 15, 2017, 04:47:24 AM »
To you and the original poster: You mean this is only happening to authors enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, and not to those publishing out of it? Important to me, because at the moment I don't have a single book in KU.

Thanks.

It's happening to everyone. KU is a huge boost to visibility. It simply can't be denied. And that boost helps/hurts those within and without KU as rankings consider both.

So even outside of KU, scammers inside are hurting those on the outside.

I'm not sure there's a single thing we can do about it. Being in KU is a boost. Being out garners nothing except the ability to go wide. In fact, I'd say being out of KU hurts the author seeking visibility. Other than "wide," being out is nothing more than a protest Amazon won't hear.

It's up to Amazon to fix KU's scamming problem. But so far they don't seem particularly caring.

Offline Dolphin

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2017, 04:59:55 AM »
It's up to Amazon to fix KU's scamming problem. But so far they don't seem particularly caring.

I would really like it if everybody could get a sense of how big the problem is, from Amazon's perspective. I certainly don't know. None of us properly know.

My suspicion is that they've actually marshaled considerable resources to deal with this stuff. I mean they must be spending millions upon millions annually just to combat the real barbarians at the gates--the people who want your credit card info and your social security numbers or EIN/TINs. They are up against technical challenges and a volume of attacks that I literally cannot imagine.

That's another big part of my ambivalence about all of this: I suspect they're already doing all they can justify. They will never defeat this threat entirely, I assure you of that. You're going to have to annihilate humanity altogether if you want to stamp out internet scammers. Might make a good motivation for your next genocidal villain.

Online Patty Jansen

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #30 on: June 15, 2017, 06:02:32 AM »
Don't tell me that Amazon are doing all they can, because they're not even remotely trying. In fact, they're doing as little as they can get away with. They will only do something (and do it haphazardly, without much of a systematic approach) when a lot of people complain. Because they're "all about customer satisfaction" and all that BS.

I wonder how much "customer satisfaction" they're going to get from the hands-off approach that they've touted for so long, from the total 100% lack of transparency in dealing with just about anything. We can't even get some sort of CEO to make a frigging *statement* about this to us. Or even acknowledge that it happens. Or heaven forbid, that they're doing something about it.

Customer complains? Oh yeah, the customers get their money back, because that seems to be Amazon's only solution to customer complaints. But you know what, that's a pretty shallow excuse for decent customer service, because as a business, your income is generated not only by your customers, but also by your suppliers. If the suppliers supply you with scams, the customers won't be happy. Word of mouth is extremely powerful and can, over time, destroy a company. Mostly, they're just too big to care. They need to employ people who communicate and who display that they care to protect their suppliers as well as their customers.

For the customer, there comes a time that just refunding money is not good enough. Because if you buy something, get scammed and get your money back, you may stop complaining loudly on Facebook, but you sure as hell won't buy there again.

As for myself and my author business, I'm kinda surprised that no one has even mentioned working hard to be less dependent on KU payouts, because yano, it seems like the obvious solution for long-term income protection and stabilisation.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2017, 06:16:01 AM »
Sticking with a lucrative business partner isn't corrupt. It's rational. There's no such thing as a "bribe" outside of the context of corruption.

Excuse me? What dictionary are you using? Bribes are certainly used in many instances where no corruption is involved.

From Webster:

Definition of bribe

    1
    :  money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust police officers accused of taking bribes

    2
    :  something that serves to induce or influence - offered the kid a bribe to finish his homework

  While the first definition fits your constrained definition, the second does not. And even with the first, politicians the world over have declared that taking campaign contributions is not a corrupt practice.

Whether you call the KU bonus payments bribes, incentives, or inducements, they amount to the same thing. I didn't say it was wrong, or a poor business practice. Get off your high horse.

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Offline ivyquinn

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #32 on: June 15, 2017, 06:32:00 AM »
There are three types of scams at least:

1) Gibberish books
2) click farm purchase
3) cabals of marketers hiring ghosts to create romance books every 2-3 weeks

In the third type of scam, the marketeers are all using the same arc list of reviewers to guarantee 100s of five star reviews their first day of release and stringing the new book together with old books in one mega 1000-page file with incentive to "skip" TJ the end for bonus material like epilogue to first book to up page reads. They all even theme the same, using the last two months teal lettering on covers. But they are also flooding keywords and subcategories of romance (sports, psychological, holidays) where they can gain traction as top 100 authors. They're flooding out the romance by real authors with the omnibuses and "just click to the end" angle.

So, really, Amazon has at least three levels of scammers who are ruining KU and visibility and earnings for real authors and they don't seem to care :(

Online Herefortheride

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #33 on: June 15, 2017, 07:04:32 AM »
Did they never take down "Smart man" or "boy and horse"?
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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #34 on: June 15, 2017, 09:03:41 AM »
I've been watching a book that's been top 10 of scifi now for about 5 months. Clearly a botted book. Horrible cover. Questionable writing skill. Never any new reviews (despite its visibility I don't think anyone was reading it because of its cover and topic).   

Finally, the book seems to be gone.  ;D  It's nowhere in the top 100 anymore of either scifi or small sub cats. So looks like they finally got caught. I'm not sure it's even on amazon (it had a strange name that I can't remember, so I can't search for it).

There was also another book that was top 20 of scifi for about two months. It too seems to have been caught and has recently disappeared.

Amazon eventually catches these people, but it takes a LONG time.

We all know after the PR disaster Amazon had last year with the guy scamming $3M they went overkill and started banning a few honest authors.

So I think all this basically comes down to a threshold issue with the algo. If they turn the threshold up too much, they catch innocent people. They turn it down too much, scammers sneak through for a long time. So they constantly have to tweak and refine it trying to find that sweet spot where they nail the scammers, but not honest authors.

The problem, obviously, is the scammers turn around and try to confuse the algos. We've seen that recently with them botting legitimate authors, making the bot accounts that much harder to identify.

KU is a model begging to be scammed, and so it is. I don't see this ever changing. But the scammers do get caught eventually, it might just take months or years.

Online Herefortheride

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #35 on: June 15, 2017, 09:09:18 AM »
I've been watching a book that's been top 10 of scifi now for about 5 months. Clearly a botted book. Horrible cover. Questionable writing skill. Never any new reviews (despite its visibility I don't think anyone was reading it because of its cover and topic).   

Finally, the book seems to be gone.  ;D  It's nowhere in the top 100 anymore of either scifi or small sub cats. So looks like they finally got caught. I'm not sure it's even on amazon (it had a strange name that I can't remember, so I can't search for it).

There was also another book that was top 20 of scifi for about two months. It too seems to have been caught and has recently disappeared.

Amazon eventually catches these people, but it takes a LONG time.

We all know after the PR disaster Amazon had last year with the guy scamming $3M they went overkill and started banning a few honest authors.

So I think all this basically comes down to a threshold issue with the algo. If they turn the threshold up too much, they catch innocent people. They turn it down too much, scammers sneak through for a long time. So they constantly have to tweak and refine it trying to find that sweet spot where they nail the scammers, but not honest authors.

The problem, obviously, is the scammers turn around and try to confuse the algos. We've seen that recently with them botting legitimate authors, making the bot accounts that much harder to identify.

KU is a model begging to be scammed, and so it is. I don't see this ever changing. But the scammers do get caught eventually, it might just take months or years.

Funny that they flag our books if it has the word "KU" but can't catch a book full of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" for a thousand pages. AFTER WE ALL report it for months!
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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2017, 09:16:09 AM »
Clearly a botted book. Horrible cover. Questionable writing skill. Never any new reviews (despite its visibility I don't think anyone was reading it because of its cover and topic).   

I see what you mean. You're talking about that George Orwell guy, right? Covers look like his kids drew them with crayons. Ya just can't ever tell what will sell. :P

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Offline Seneca42

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2017, 09:41:31 AM »
I see what you mean. You're talking about that George Orwell guy, right? Covers look like his kids drew them with crayons. Ya just can't ever tell what will sell. :P

Nope. One was a religious-themed book of some kind.

Interesting...i had forgotten the name, but did some digging and found the book. It's still on Amazon and in KU. But it has no rank now. Actually, all four books in the series no longer have a rank.

So who knows, maybe I'm wrong, maybe they didn't catch them but rather the book is experiencing a rank glitch.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2017, 10:04:43 AM »
For those who think scammers aren't taking money out of our pockets, the May KU payout comes to $0.0043. I think that's the lowest ever.

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Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2017, 10:11:07 AM »
For those who think scammers aren't taking money out of our pockets, the May KU payout comes to $0.0043. I think that's the lowest ever.

I knew it had to be, because May was my highest month ever. >:(

Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2017, 10:11:47 AM »
For those who think scammers aren't taking money out of our pockets, the May KU payout comes to $0.0043. I think that's the lowest ever.

It's the second lowest ever. It was $0.0041 in January 2016, just before Amazon started cleaning up some of the scammers.
   

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Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2017, 10:13:56 AM »
Nope. One was a religious-themed book of some kind.

Interesting...i had forgotten the name, but did some digging and found the book. It's still on Amazon and in KU. But it has no rank now. Actually, all four books in the series no longer have a rank.

So who knows, maybe I'm wrong, maybe they didn't catch them but rather the book is experiencing a rank glitch.

It's not a glitch, Amazon has taken those books out of the ranking system. They've done this to a bunch of botted books. It cleans up the bestseller lists nicely, but those books are still live and still in KU and presumably still botting their way to a fortune every month.
   

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Offline elizabethbarone

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #42 on: June 15, 2017, 10:21:04 AM »
In my previous life, I was a web designer. My constant battle was creating organic SEO and competing with people using black hat methods. This was especially a problem with people using Google Ads, which was the best way to monetize your website or blog. People who got in early were making good money and were playing by the rules. People who came in later still made money but significantly less. Then there were the black hat marketers who raked in the cash.

Whenever there's a way to make money, there will always be people cheating. I'm not saying so to excuse the behavior; eventually, the field evens out. Google changed their algorithms and lots of honest people lost a huge chunk of monthly income. It leveled out the number of people who were cheating the system. Of course, people adapt. Google had to keep employing updates that almost always took out honest people along with those abusing the rules.

I don't think Amazon is impassive on this. There's a difficult balance between keeping out scammers and keeping honest people happy. Some more transparency would be nice, but think about it: Amazon has to keep their cards close because if everyone knows what they're doing, it'll be that much harder to weed out the scammers. Amazon is also a business; they're always going to put their best interests first. Only Amazon can decide what that means.

I know people hate hearing this, but it's just another reason to not keep all of our eggs in one basket. KU can be great, but like Google Ads, it's super competitive. Not only are you fighting for a piece of the pie, but you're also fighting people who don't play by the rules. For a long time, Google Ads was really the only way to make money. We're fortunate because that's not the case. There are other retailers. It does take time to gain momentum with them, but once you do, they're very good to you. (Just don't lose that momentum, because then you're a hamster on a wheel like me right now, sigh.)

Don't rely on just Amazon. Use KU strategically rather than dumping all of your eggs into that basket. Set up plenty of honeypots so that when Amazon updates their algorithms or more scammers pour in, you're not hit as hard. Think like a business; look ahead for the long game rather than the immediate moneymaker.

Amazon's gonna do what Amazon's gonna do. Scammers gonna scam. Don't play their game. Play your game; do you and what's best for your business.

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Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2017, 11:05:19 AM »
KU is a license to scam, because you can make an almost infinite amount of money by paying $9.99 a month for a bot to read your books.

I don't see how it can be fixed, because it's broken by design. Any change they make to restrict bots (e.g. you can only read $9.99's worth of books each month) will hurt legitimate customers.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #44 on: June 15, 2017, 11:09:24 AM »
KU is a license to scam, because you can make an almost infinite amount of money by paying $9.99 a month for a bot to read your books.
You're going to have to explain that one to me. I'm having a very difficult time figuring it out.

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Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2017, 11:13:44 AM »
You're going to have to explain that one to me. I'm having a very difficult time figuring it out.

KU eliminates the pricing mechanism that makes economics work. The bot costs $9.99 a month, and earns $0.004 every time it 'reads' a page. So it can trivially generate far more income than it costs.

Giving scammers the ability to print money is not something that can be fixed. KU is broken by design, as anyone could have told Amazon before they created it.

You can't do the same by having bots buy your books, because Amazon takes a 30% cut.

Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #46 on: June 15, 2017, 11:40:29 AM »
It's not a glitch, Amazon has taken those books out of the ranking system. They've done this to a bunch of botted books. It cleans up the bestseller lists nicely, but those books are still live and still in KU and presumably still botting their way to a fortune every month.

I hadn't thought of it this way, but yeah, stripping the books of their rankings but leaving them on the site and in KU just makes the scamming invisible to us.

KU is a license to scam, because you can make an almost infinite amount of money by paying $9.99 a month for a bot to read your books.

I wonder if click-farms even pay the $9.99/month. The first month of membership is free, so maybe they just continually open new accounts.




Offline Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #47 on: June 15, 2017, 11:48:04 AM »
Just to throw another wrench in the scam talk, there is another scam. This one doesn't promise page reads. It just promises a ranking jump. That way the authors aren't risking their accounts with money changing hands. The theory behind it is that, if the authors get the rankings jump, they will get organic sales because of the new visibility and those sales would be considered "legitimate." How well it's working, I don't know. I think some of these books (although clearly not all) are doing that scam. My guess is, Amazon is stripping rank until they can figure out who is doing what. We will have to watch and see.

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Offline KevinMcLaughlin

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2017, 12:02:01 PM »
Since KU is a zero-sum game, every dollar to those gaming the system is a dollar out of my pocket. .0045 instead of .005 is significant. But even if you're not in KU, the loss of visibility, the interference in searches, the bad taste left for anyone who buys a scam book hurts all legitimate authors. Amazon has a problem with counterfeit goods in areas other than books. They just don't pay enough attention to those, like us, who market our goods through their platform. It will bite them eventually, and more from bad publicity.

I completely agree that this sort of thing is a major problem - mostly because it negatively impacts visibility.

But it's important to recognize that KU is *not* a zero-sum game. Amazon sets the per-page payment each month, based on what *they* want to pay. It has little to do with how many pages are actually read, although they certainly go to great lengths to make it *seem* that way.

If Amazon wants to pay out $0.043 per KENPC in May (growl), then they will do so. Doesn't matter how many pages were read. They simply set the payout. So no - these scammers are not *directly* impacting the per page payout at all. Amazon is constantly tinkering with that number to see how little they can pay us and have us still stick around in KU. The scammers do have a large *indirect* effect via loss of visibility for legitimate books, though, and in some cases they win all-star bonuses (which means some legit book did not).

Offline Laran Mithras

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Re: Amazon's fake book problem
« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2017, 12:03:47 PM »
KU eliminates the pricing mechanism that makes economics work. The bot costs $9.99 a month, and earns $0.004 every time it 'reads' a page. So it can trivially generate far more income than it costs.

Giving scammers the ability to print money is not something that can be fixed. KU is broken by design, as anyone could have told Amazon before they created it.

You can't do the same by having bots buy your books, because Amazon takes a 30% cut.

Makes sense. You upload 100 "books" of 1000 pages. Open a "trial account" and have your bot click through the pages. $5 per book X 100. Open another trial, have your bot do the same. Endlessly. Even if they pay the $9.99, it's still far worth the effort of the scam. $500 per month for a $10 investment?
 :P

And while the payout gets smaller and smaller, aren't the Amazon infusions getting larger and larger?