Author Topic: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video  (Read 23357 times)  

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2018, 06:58:18 AM »
So this is where David and I might have a slight disagreement. If there's a box set, and it says "includes the bonus novella: SOME COOL BOOK", and that novella isn't here, there, and everywhere, I think that's okay. So sure, "bonus content." David is stricter on this than I am.

I didn't get the sense that he was saying any bonus content at all was wrong, so I'm not sure you're really disagreeing with him.

As a reader (not KU), I've decided not to get some books I was looking at because of comments essentially saying they're stuffed. It is incredibly annoying to look at something that is presented in all ways as a single novel, only to find out it's actually one short novella and one (or two or five) other, completely unrelated novellas. I look at the page count, usually, when choosing to buy a book. I like novels and don't read a lot of short works. And if I'm reading a short work, I darn sure want to know it's a short work going in, because page count gives me some idea of how intricate and meaty a story will be. So I would definitely agree that book-stuffing like this (bundling without giving any indication that a book is a bundle) makes for a poor customer experience. That it could lead to me unknowingly buying the same book twice (because it's included as a "bonus" in another book I've already bought) makes it worse. For one thing, I like to keep my library fairly streamlined, so even knowingly buying a book separately and then in a bundle (usually because of promos on boxed sets) kind of irks me, but it's something I did with full knowledge of what I was doing, so that's just something I have to deal with. From an organizational perspective, stuffed books are a huge PITA.

I think a small amount of clearly labeled bonus content is fine. But not too much, otherwise it inflates the page count and makes the reader think they'll be getting more of the core story than is actually there. For a lot of us, length is definitely a factor that we consider when we're looking to see if a book appears to be worth the asking price. I might pay $7 for a novel. I would almost certainly not pay $7 for a novella and a bunch of random stuff I didn't ask for and didn't know I was getting. And I know these don't usually sell that high, but the same concept applies even for cheap books. Not everyone subscribes to KU, so it's worth looking at how page-stuffed books affect readers who only buy (not borrow). Selling what are actually bundles as if they were single novels is, IMO as a reader, completely unacceptable.

And that's my response to the argument that even if it weren't against TOS there'd be nothing wrong with doing this.

Offline Dpock

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2018, 07:04:41 AM »
The system's broken - so why continue to use it?

KU is 48% of my Amazon income.


Offline blubarry

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2018, 07:10:33 AM »
I'm glad there are people out there taking a stance on this like Heather and David. If only Amazon would take notice and actually do something, but from my experience, even the KDP reps don't really understand the issue. Maybe KU4 will bring about real change.

It might be my tired brain this morning, but there seemed some misinformation in her video. It's not the number of pages read that gets visibility, it's the borrows that influences rank. Stuffing for more pages read earns them more money (both pages and All Star bonus - max of 25k not 50k for author bonus, could be higher if book bonuses, other stores).

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2018, 07:12:22 AM »
The answer is to not play Amazon's game. Leave KU to the page stuffers and scammers. If Amazon won't do anything about it then it's up to you to deal with it yourselves.

Honestly, this chestnut has been roasted so many times it's wizened and dry as a bone.

You've hit the nail on the head. Anyone in KU deserves everything they get at this point, which includes having their royalties subsidizing stuffers and botters and bonus scammers. I've come to the view that yes, they deserve it. If you know all this bs is going on and still join the program, then you're agreeing to selling in that environment. It was one thing to complain when we all assumed zon was looking to run an honest shop; but at this point it's clear they don't care about applying consistent effort to achieve that. It was clear when they started deranking people as a slap on the wrist when they should have been banning them from selling on the store entirely. Zon is 100% A-OK with scumbags doing business on its platform... not just with books, but with all sorts of products. It's a flee market mentality (KU is just the epitome of this mentality).

The only thing I didn't like with the video, though, is this notion that visibility equals increased sales. I don't think that's true in the least. Sales generate rank, not the other way around. Rank doesn't even make a book sticky (unless zon picks it up and starts pushing it in front of people; but simply being high in the charts does basically nothing on its own). And these books aren't reaching the top of the charts because they are stuffed, they are getting there through some other function and they'd still be there if they weren't stuffed. The stuffing (assuming the loopholes still exists) merely enables them to steal from the KU pot.

There are probably millions of readers outside of KU who are happy to buy books. If you can't build sustainability off them, then that's what you have to consider in terms of your future efforts.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 07:17:43 AM by Seneca42 »

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2018, 07:14:49 AM »
KU is 48% of my Amazon income.

It's probably 60% of your income, just that 12% of your KU royalties are going to pay off the botters and scammers.  :P

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2018, 07:35:50 AM »
Its an outdated concept that if we all got what we thought we deserved, we'd get it all, if we all got what everyone else thought we should have, we'd get nothing.

Reality is a harsh employer. You have to fight for what you can get, but whingeing never made anyone any money. It seems to me that there are some very clever people out there fighting for their share (and getting it in spades). What they can do - you can do - and if Amazon isn't doing nowt about them, they probably won't do anything about you either. As long as the reader ends up with a smile on their face while paying Amazon their monthly tithe nobody is going to rock the boat.  No, I wouldn't do it, but then I refuse to belong to KU [any more] because it's a scam and the author is the victim. The responsible and best way to get even with Amazon, is to keep your books wide and support their competitors wherever you can. One day KU will collapse and if you're in there dependant on their handouts, then you will be the loser and Amazon and the scammers will not twitch a muscle to help you.


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Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2018, 08:00:41 AM »
You've hit the nail on the head. Anyone in KU deserves everything they get at this point, which includes having their royalties subsidizing stuffers and botters and bonus scammers. I've come to the view that yes, they deserve it. If you know all this bs is going on and still join the program, then you're agreeing to selling in that environment. It was one thing to complain when we all assumed zon was looking to run an honest shop; but at this point it's clear they don't care about applying consistent effort to achieve that. It was clear when they started deranking people as a slap on the wrist when they should have been banning them from selling on the store entirely. Zon is 100% A-OK with scumbags doing business on its platform... not just with books, but with all sorts of products. It's a flee market mentality (KU is just the epitome of this mentality).
It's important to note that not everyone knows what's going on in KU. A lot of newbies don't read Kboards or similar forums and have no idea what kind of problems the program has when they sign up.

Your criticism might be more valid for someone like me who does know about the problems and doesn't depend on writing as my primary means of support. I could leave KU without taking a huge financial risk. However, it's a much more difficult choice for someone who is dependent on that writing income. Not everyone makes a success of going wide. Not everyone has enough overall income to say, as I've seen some authors do, that they lost money leaving KU, but it was worth it. Not everyone can take a 20% drop in income in stride. (And yes, I've heard people cite that kind of loss--and even more--as worth it.) Saying that people like that are getting what they deserve because they are reluctant to put their financial well-being at risk doesn't seem fair to me.

I'm sure you're going to say that KU isn't a reliable source of future income, and you could well be right. That still doesn't mean it's easy for someone to abandon a good revenue stream right now and hope that wide distribution can compensate.


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Offline Evenstar

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2018, 08:08:17 AM »
This question is mere curiosity as I personally dislike stuffing as a reader, but wouldn't it make all the difference if the front cover simply added the line: Includes bonus content?

That way there would be no terms broken and no one being misled?

Offline Atlantapug

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2018, 08:08:34 AM »
Including bonus material is not against TOS. It is unethical when it is multiple 'free' books that exceed the length of the original book or when the author tries to trick someone into reading something 'at the back.' This video is dangerously slanderous IMO.


Good thing the video qualifies that not all of the authors shown are page stuffing and that bonus content and excerpts arent against TOS.

Offline Atlantapug

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2018, 08:15:59 AM »
This question is mere curiosity as I personally dislike stuffing as a reader, but wouldn't it make all the difference if the front cover simply added the line: Includes bonus content?

That way there would be no terms broken and no one being misled?

Possibly. If the bonus content is unique it is allowed. If its merely another book already listed in KU or for sale somewhere else, its against TOS

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2018, 08:16:47 AM »
Anyone in KU deserves everything they get at this point, which includes having their royalties subsidizing stuffers and botters and bonus scammers. I've come to the view that yes, they deserve it.

So, you don't sell on Amazon? Because yeah, if you are, you're losing money to this, too. You think these people are only stealing visibility from the exclusive writers?

Offline Atlantapug

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #36 on: January 04, 2018, 08:18:44 AM »
Its an outdated concept that if we all got what we thought we deserved, we'd get it all, if we all got what everyone else thought we should have, we'd get nothing.

Reality is a harsh employer. You have to fight for what you can get, but whingeing never made anyone any money. It seems to me that there are some very clever people out there fighting for their share (and getting it in spades). What they can do - you can do - and if Amazon isn't doing nowt about them, they probably won't do anything about you either. As long as the reader ends up with a smile on their face while paying Amazon their monthly tithe nobody is going to rock the boat.  No, I wouldn't do it, but then I refuse to belong to KU [any more] because it's a scam and the author is the victim. The responsible and best way to get even with Amazon, is to keep your books wide and support their competitors wherever you can. One day KU will collapse and if you're in there dependant on their handouts, then you will be the loser and Amazon and the scammers will not twitch a muscle to help you.

I would agree with you except this is specifically against amazons own rules. Then they turn around and harass other authors for ridiculous things like reviews or demanding their copyright letters. They pick and choose which rules to follow and sorry, that isnt okay.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2018, 08:27:13 AM »
I would agree with you except this is specifically against amazons own rules. Then they turn around and harass other authors for ridiculous things like reviews or demanding their copyright letters. They pick and choose which rules to follow and sorry, that isnt okay.

The point is by staying in KU you accept that you're a willing participant in this harassment. You become party to it and are therefore complicit. Writing emails to Amazon and making videos is all well and good, but in the end you all KNOW it's totally ineffective. If people really wanted to do something about it, they would leave KU in droves. I'm not unaware that people derive their income from this, but then so do workers in sweatshops in Pakistan. you don't dare risk being expelled, or worse killing the goose yet you realise someone somewhere has to ride to your aid. The bane of being an Indie is you're an army of one.


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #38 on: January 04, 2018, 08:33:21 AM »
I didn't get the sense that he was saying any bonus content at all was wrong, so I'm not sure you're really disagreeing with him.

As a reader (not KU), I've decided not to get some books I was looking at because of comments essentially saying they're stuffed. It is incredibly annoying to look at something that is presented in all ways as a single novel, only to find out it's actually one short novella and one (or two or five) other, completely unrelated novellas. I look at the page count, usually, when choosing to buy a book. I like novels and don't read a lot of short works. And if I'm reading a short work, I darn sure want to know it's a short work going in, because page count gives me some idea of how intricate and meaty a story will be. So I would definitely agree that book-stuffing like this (bundling without giving any indication that a book is a bundle) makes for a poor customer experience. That it could lead to me unknowingly buying the same book twice (because it's included as a "bonus" in another book I've already bought) makes it worse. For one thing, I like to keep my library fairly streamlined, so even knowingly buying a book separately and then in a bundle (usually because of promos on boxed sets) kind of irks me, but it's something I did with full knowledge of what I was doing, so that's just something I have to deal with. From an organizational perspective, stuffed books are a huge PITA.

I think a small amount of clearly labeled bonus content is fine. But not too much, otherwise it inflates the page count and makes the reader think they'll be getting more of the core story than is actually there. For a lot of us, length is definitely a factor that we consider when we're looking to see if a book appears to be worth the asking price. I might pay $7 for a novel. I would almost certainly not pay $7 for a novella and a bunch of random stuff I didn't ask for and didn't know I was getting. And I know these don't usually sell that high, but the same concept applies even for cheap books. Not everyone subscribes to KU, so it's worth looking at how page-stuffed books affect readers who only buy (not borrow). Selling what are actually bundles as if they were single novels is, IMO as a reader, completely unacceptable.

And that's my response to the argument that even if it weren't against TOS there'd be nothing wrong with doing this.

If everything that is in a book is listed in the Table of Contents, all you need to do is look at the TOC to know what is in the book before you buy it. If you don't bother to look at the TOC, that's your choice, but then it's caveat emptor. So in general, I think "stuffing" may be relevant in KU because it has an effect on author payout, but for direct sales, as long as there is no mass repeated duplication of content, it can be a problem only when texts are not in the TOC. If a reader chooses not to look at the TOC, that is equivalent to a someone in a supermarket buying a box without knowing what is actually inside. As far as confusion about the length of the title text, if the description on the product page says it's a short story or a novella or a novel, any serious reader knows the difference.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #39 on: January 04, 2018, 08:35:19 AM »
Saying that people like that are getting what they deserve because they are reluctant to put their financial well-being at risk doesn't seem fair to me.

I'm sure you're going to say that KU isn't a reliable source of future income, and you could well be right. That still doesn't mean it's easy for someone to abandon a good revenue stream right now and hope that wide distribution can compensate.

If I stick my hand in a wood chipper I deserve to lose my fingers :P

At this point, there are no victims anymore. The nature of KU is no longer in question and the realities of the program are stark and in everyone's face. So anyone joining is accepting those realities (whether said realities contradict the TOS or not; the TOS is essentially a joke at this point).

Joining KU is neither right nor wrong objectively speaking (subjectively we can all have opinions), but at this stage of the game, no one is a victim. Even new authors, unless they don't do any research before joining, will quickly find out all about KU's flaws with a little googling.

I think when people accept that and stop hoping for Amazon to clean up its act, they'll make better decisions for themselves. And that may not mean leaving KU (I don't disagree KU may still be the right choice for many authors). But at least they'll stop concerning themselves with things that 1) they can't control and 2) are never going to change. :)


Offline Puddleduck

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2018, 08:40:50 AM »
This question is mere curiosity as I personally dislike stuffing as a reader, but wouldn't it make all the difference if the front cover simply added the line: Includes bonus content?

That way there would be no terms broken and no one being misled?

Just how I feel about it as a reader: No. That wouldn't be enough. Only saying "Bonus Content" would, to me, imply maybe 10 pages or so worth of like an author Q&A, maybe a short story at the end. If the "bonus content" amounted to more than 5, maybe 10 percent of the book, that little tag would do nothing at all to mitigate my displeasure. To me, even one more full book that's over 10k words or so is much more than generic bonus content. Even a short story, really, should be more specific about what it includes. If all it said was "bonus content" and not listing titles and saying whether the extra stories are novellas, novels, or whatever, I'd think it meant something other than another story. (Story snippets maybe, like an alternate ending or something, but not another full story.)

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2018, 08:40:53 AM »
So, you don't sell on Amazon? Because yeah, if you are, you're losing money to this, too. You think these people are only stealing visibility from the exclusive writers?

No I don't. What is visibility? Rank? That does zippo for generating sales. 

You know what steals my visibility? An AMS system tilted to favor KU authors. An Amazon algo that promotes KU books over non-KU books.

Whatever "visibility" one KU member is losing to another, is still less than non-KU authors are losing to KU-authors in general.

But honestly, I could care less about all that because rank does not generate sales. Sales generate rank.

And none of my royalties are going to scammers or stuffers or botters... they all go into my pocket. I've said it before, on the direct side I think zon is running a good operation. On the KU side it's a total gong show.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2018, 08:45:37 AM »

And none of my royalties are going to scammers or stuffers or botters... they all go into my pocket. I've said it before, on the direct side I think zon is running a good operation. On the KU side it's a total gong show.

Yep! I'm not exclusive with Amazon yet I get a good deal so long as I don't try and compete with those in KU. Should we demand a level-playing field?


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Offline PhoenixS

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2018, 08:56:11 AM »
This question is mere curiosity as I personally dislike stuffing as a reader, but wouldn't it make all the difference if the front cover simply added the line: Includes bonus content?

That way there would be no terms broken and no one being misled?

Intent to defraud is a thing. Adding "includes bonus content" while stuffing the same books over and over in your catalog is scamming the system. It is misleading. It is breaking terms. And it's not OK.

No I don't. What is visibility? Rank? That does zippo for generating sales. 
...
But honestly, I could care less about all that because rank does not generate sales. Sales generate rank.

Initially, that's true. Rank, however *can* help sustain visibility [ETA: visibility=sales]. That, too, is a thing. A demonstrable thing.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 09:01:03 AM by PhoenixS »

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2018, 08:57:36 AM »
Yep! I'm not exclusive with Amazon yet I get a good deal so long as I don't try and compete with those in KU. Should we demand a level-playing field?

We've got a better playing field :)  Sure, zon tilts everything toward KU, but it's really inconsequential. It used to bother me when I thought rank generated sales to some degree. I no longer believe that's true (it's really been a paradigm shift to how I view the industry). So being top of the charts is more of an ego thing than it is a money or sales generator. 

Once I went wide I started to really accept that rank means nothing. The only metric that matters to me now is sales and revenue. Some of my best months I had crappy rank, because my sales were spread out across different vendors and different countries.

So I think the playing field is ultimately level, it's just that there are so few of us who are wide and who do better wide that it doesn't seem that way on public forums.

Offline Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2018, 09:03:44 AM »
Intent to defraud is a thing. Adding "includes bonus content" while stuffing the same books over and over in your catalog is scamming the system. It is misleading. It is breaking terms. And it's not OK.

Initially, that's true. Rank, however *can* help sustain visibility. That, too, is a thing. A demonstrable thing.

But it is "OK" if amazon doesn't enforce its TOS.  :P  That's what I'm saying... is that amazon's rules aren't actual rules, they are simply artifacts that they can choose to use/enforce if they want, but rarely do. It's abundantly clear at this point that zon really doesn't care what's going on with the KU stuffers/scammers/borrow botters, etc.  Sure, if you and David and a ton of other folks blast them, they'll maybe do something about a handful of authors. But otherwise, it's utterly irrelevant to them what's going on. 

And yes, of course, rank can sustain rank, but rank doesn't generate sales (at least I don't believe it does to any degree worth valuing). So this obsession with visibility that KU members have, I just don't get anymore. And zon purposely gives a borrow bump because they know people are obsessed with their rank.

All I care about are sales and revenue  :P


edited; PM if you have questions -- Ann

 

« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 10:14:51 AM by Ann in Arlington »

Offline andycat

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2018, 09:22:12 AM »
I think one major issue in this discussion is that most people don't stuff in the manner David describes in his email to Amazon (which seems to be what he references and what other people in this thread are alluding to when they say it is against Amazon's TOS.)

David describes the stuffing as being (quoting directly from his email):

Title A (with B, C, D in the back also, and then an exclusive short to get readers to skip the content they have already read previously, so that the full page reads are counted by Amazon).

Title B (with C, D, and A in the back also... and so on across my catalog).



BUT in my experience (and I write romance so I see this day in and day out! lol) this is not actually how it works. The first title is always an original one. So the pattern is more like this:

Title D (with A, B, C in the back)

Title E (with A, B, C, D in the back

Title F (B, C, D, E in the back)


etc.

So in each case, there is always a new title. The response David received from Amazon said that "authors are not permitted to publish the same work multiple times with only minor changes or a reordering of content" but in the VASSST majority of cases, that is not what's happening. There is always SOME new content, even if it's just a 25K novella back-ended with 150,000k of previously published content.

I don't like stuffing either, and even though I write romance, I don't do it. I write 80K novels and I price them at 3.99 (except for launch/sales). I'm ALLLL for training readers to value good content and I honestly believe stuffers are eroding the marketplace. But I don't think it's helpful to accuse people of being 'scammers' or whatever when they are working within the very system Amazon created.

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #47 on: January 04, 2018, 09:29:04 AM »
If everything that is in a book is listed in the Table of Contents, all you need to do is look at the TOC to know what is in the book before you buy it. If you don't bother to look at the TOC, that's your choice, but then it's caveat emptor. So in general, I think "stuffing" may be relevant in KU because it has an effect on author payout, but for direct sales, as long as there is no mass repeated duplication of content, it can be a problem only when texts are not in the TOC. If a reader chooses not to look at the TOC, that is equivalent to a someone in a supermarket buying a box without knowing what is actually inside. As far as confusion about the length of the title text, if the description on the product page says it's a short story or a novella or a novel, any serious reader knows the difference.
I think it's better for bonus content to be clearly listed in the product description. The Look Inside typically opens at the beginning of the actual content, so a customer has to scroll backward to see the TOC. Also, the TOC listings could be misleading. If you think you're looking at one novel, you might interpret the any divisions you see other than chapters as parts of that novel. (Some novels are divided into parts, each of which has chapters within it.)

Also, keeping in mind an ebook TOC has no page numbers, a prospective buyer might not be able to tell how long the bonus material is, leading to the scenario that was discussed earlier. It's one thing to buy a novel and have a little related bonus content, quite another to buy a handful of novellas.


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Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2018, 09:36:57 AM »
But I don't think it's helpful to accuse people of being 'scammers' or whatever when they are working within the very system Amazon created.

Yeah! that would be me and I admit I'm using a 'catchall' phrase because everyone seems to consider anyone bending the rules is taking advantage or 'scamming' the system. When I say 'scammers', I really mean 'lovely people with misguided views on being fair and considerate to others' all good ? :D


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2018, 09:39:37 AM »
There is the law and then there is what is ethical and the two do not always coincide.

Stuffing, in my view, is when you add bonus content to a title with the hopes that, because of glitches in the matrix, aka the way Amazon inexpertly calculates page reads, you will garner money from the KU pot for pages not read.

Period.

Any tactic (using the print length to pretend the book is only 300 pages, sending out only the actual title to reviewers and then uploading a new book with all the stuffed content so that it looks like the book is only 300 pages, reordering the same content over and over with a special bonus epilogue at the end, etc.)  -- anything that tries to get page reads for pages not read is unethical, even if there is no actual statement against it, or if the TOS don't explicitly prohibit it.

If you know that someone left their back door open and money on the kitchen floor and go in wearing muddy boots which accidentally pick up the money off the floor you are robbing and trespassing even if you didn't have to break in and even if you didn't actually pick up the money with your hands.

Come on, people! This is a simple ethical issue.

If you are willing to take what you do not rightfully have a claim to, you are behaving unethically even if there is no law or TOS bullet point against it.

People who see a loophole and use that to get paid for content that is not actually consumed are scammers.

Scammers who scam in one way have an ethical system in place that means they may be more likely to look for other ways to get something that they are not legally or ethically entitled to. So I agree with David on this point as well.

This should be simple for most of us, but some of us don't have the same moral or ethical system in place.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 09:42:04 AM by sela »