Author Topic: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video  (Read 23391 times)  

Offline dgaughran

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KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« on: January 04, 2018, 04:06:56 AM »
When the topic of KU gaming comes up, many people don't seem to understand what page stuffing (aka book stuffing or bonus stuffing) is and why it is so harmful. Author Heather C. Leigh has made a handy video explainer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX_OZtyzbnQ



(Before the usual suspects chime in, yes, this practice is against the TOS and KDP Executive Customer Relations has confirmed that explicitly to me in writing.)


Edit: New link for the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7xronSRNEU



Edited to change image to a link - further explanation in my post below, but do PM me if any questions. Evenstar, Moderator
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 04:11:45 PM by dgaughran »
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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 04:28:54 AM »
KENPC 3 doesn't count skipped pages anymore, though. This is kind of a moot point. The only way people get paid for "stuffed pages" now is if the person actually reads the bonus books. Whether you believe that bonus content is against KDP terms of service or not (I don't), there is nothing wrong with someone getting paid for pages a reader actually reads. There's nothing illicit about that at all.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 04:33:26 AM »
KENPC 3 doesn't count skipped pages anymore, though. This is kind of a moot point.

It's my understanding that this loophole was not successfully plugged, as many have assumed.
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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 04:33:48 AM »
KENPC 3 doesn't count skipped pages anymore, though. This is kind of a moot point. The only way people get paid for "stuffed pages" now is if the person actually reads the bonus books. Whether you believe that bonus content is against KDP terms of service or not (I don't), there is nothing wrong with someone getting paid for pages a reader actually reads. There's nothing illicit about that at all.

Leaving aside the first part, which seems to still be broken on some devices and in some situations, this isn't a question of bonus content, like a novella included in a box set. These are the same books, put together in multiple different ways, not marked in the product descriptions, etc. You're reading a book, hit 30%, and it ends, only to have a bunch of other stuff at the back. It creates a messy, unfavorable impression of the ebooks being sold on Amazon's store.

Also, my experience is that people are rarely breaking only one rule. They're squatting in inappropriate categories, they're stuffing keywords into their titles, they're cheating on the pub dates in order to try to game the hot new release lists, etc.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 04:37:05 AM »
Whether you believe that bonus content is against KDP terms of service or not (I don't)...

It's against the TOS. I emailed KDP Executive Customer Relations to establish exactly that. I'll copy the emails here for you.

My email to ECR in July:

Quote

Hi,

I would like to get some clarity from Amazon about whether a certain practice - popularly known as "bonus-stuffing" - is permitted by KDP.

Bonus stuffing is the practice of putting additional, full novels in the back of another novel to inflate page count (for the purposes of increasing KU payout) - usually paired with some kind of inducement for readers to click to the end, passed the content they likely own already (as it's novels already on sale in the Kindle Store). This inducement often takes the form of an exclusive short story, or special offer.

I'll give an example:

If I'm an author with four books - Title A, B, C, & D. I will publish my books like this:

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).

There is conflicting answers coming back from KDP Customer Support and the matter is causing huge debate. The practitioners feel they are just proving "bonus" content and it is permitted. Those opposed see it as a naked attempt to inflate page count, trick Amazon's page counting system into thinking the reader has read five or six times the amount of pages they truly have, and thus grab an inflated payout from the KU pot.

Ethics aside, it would quite obviously seem to provide a poor customer experience. If your Kindle is telling you that you're at 18% of the book file and the story suddenly ends, that will be an anti-climax. It also seems to clearly contravene existing KDP guidelines about Disappointing Content, specifically the provisions that forbid:

"*Content that is not significantly differentiated from another book available in the Kindle Store
*Content that is a non-differentiated version of another book available in the Kindle Store"

Nevertheless, it's Amazon's interpretation that matters here, not my own. So can we get a clear ruling? Is this practice permitted or not?

Kind regards,

David Gaughran

Their completely unambiguous response (emphasizing the most relevant part):

Quote
Hello David,

Thank you for your questions about bonus content. Generally, bonus content is permitted, so long as it and its placement do not create a misleading or disappointing customer experience, this applies to all books including books enrolled in KU.

To your specific example, authors are not permitted to publish the same work multiple times with only minor changes or a reordering of content, regardless of whether the book includes bonus content. When we determine authors are publishing undifferentiated titles like this, the titles are subject to removal from the Kindle store and the author is subject to potential account-level action.

If you have other examples you would like us to look into, please send them to content-review@amazon.com

Regards,

Executive Customer Relations
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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 04:38:24 AM »
All of the evidence I've seen is that the loophole has been plugged. (Except for possibly on the cloud reader on PC). It is no longer the issue it was, so videos like this are stirring people up for a non- issue.

As far as "if they're doing one thing, they must be doing other things", that's not the point here. Even if I agree with you, I think it's a bad idea to go after people for something that isn't true. It destroys your credibility. If you continue to throw anything you can against the wall and hope something sticks, no one is going to take you seriously.

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 04:42:38 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.

But what is unambiguous is that books that aren't mentioned in the description and that are included in different sets, merely reordered this way and that in a way to throw up all sorts of titles and confuse the lists, the algos, the readers, is violating the ToS. And in my experience, when you see something that looks scammy at the very first glance, those are the same authors who are up to all sorts of other garbage, too. It's not an innocent mistake, they are purposefully trying to defraud the system.

Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 04:47:00 AM »
But, they aren't getting away with it anymore because Amazon plugged the hole. It's time to move on to something else.

Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 04:48:43 AM »
But, they aren't getting away with it anymore because Amazon plugged the hole. It's time to move on to something else.

It feels like you're purposefully trying to muddy the waters.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 04:50:36 AM »
Hmmm, someone with one post before this thread goes up rushes in to say it's not against the TOS (it is) that it has been fixed (it hasn't) and that we should all move on anyway before our credibility is destroyed.

Seems legit.
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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2018, 04:51:21 AM »
I'm really not. I'm actually trying to be helpful. If I do agree that there are shady things going on, then the focus needs to be on stuff that's still happening. Drudging the bottom for old issues isn't going to stop the current nefarious stuff from happening. The focus needs to be on the things that are still affecting authors right now and not on the issues that Amazon has already fixed.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2018, 04:57:26 AM »
Drudging the bottom for old issues isn't going to stop the current nefarious stuff from happening.

It's not an old issue. These guys are still stuffing, and still leveraging those artificially increase page counts into greater payouts from the communal pot, All Star bonuses they don't deserve, and visibility they are taking from others.

The focus needs to be on the things that are still affecting authors right now and not on the issues that Amazon has already fixed.

It hasn't been fixed.
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Offline crow.bar.beer

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2018, 04:58:39 AM »
All of the evidence I've seen is that the loophole has been plugged.

It'd probably make more sense to share the evidence, then, rather than keep insisting Amazon fixed the problem despite what others are saying.  ;)

Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2018, 05:04:18 AM »
Sorry, I don't have screenshots of the tests I've seen people run.

One question, though. I've noticed that the books by the authors that all of this is referring to, the masterminds, have gotten significantly shorter. Instead of 1200 - 1500 pages, it seems that they are now 300 - 600 pages. Doesn't that indicate that the "stuffing" isn't working anymore?

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2018, 05:05:53 AM »
People deliberately upload shorter paperbacks and then get KDP to update the page count to reflect the print edition, and then go back and stuff the ebook edition.

Been that way for a while.
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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2018, 05:08:27 AM »
I guess they do that so it looks like a regular book?

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2018, 05:09:53 AM »
It's an attempt to cover their tracks, an indication they know they are doing something wrong.
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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2018, 05:10:50 AM »
Well, if I have incorrect information, then I apologize. Thank you for explaining it to me.

Offline SuzyQ

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2018, 05:18:26 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.

Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2018, 05:20:01 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.

What part is slanderous? It shows the stuffing that is taking place quite clearly.
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Offline MonkeyScribe

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2018, 05:23:36 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.

The bolded part is exactly what the video is showing.

Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2018, 05:28:13 AM »
So, I checked some of the books she's talking about in the video. I have a KU subscription. There isn't a link at the end of the epilogue in the Mia Ford or Joanna Blake book to skip to the "sneak peaks".

Regardless if what you are saying is true or not, this video does contain some misinformation about some of the authors mentioned.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2018, 05:36:07 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. They're saying it's not a problem, but if all the genuine authors leave KU because of the inherent unfairness of the system, then Amazon has to either deal with the issue, or continue to ignore it. If the readers complained about page stuffing, then Amazon would deal with it - but they don't and probably won't.

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

and from my point of view (from outside KU) the reader isn't getting a bad deal and there's little difference between calling it a boxset and having the pages stuffed. The reader gets a great VFM deal either way. The problem is purely using the links to jump from one end of the book to the other. Something anyone can do with any book at any time. The system's broken - so why continue to use it?


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2018, 05:50:10 AM »
Not everyone games KU in the exact same way.
  • Some use ghostwriters, others do not.
  • Some incentivize/manipulate reviews, others do not.
  • Some engage in mass-gifting, others do not.
  • Some squat in inappropriate categories, others do not.
  • Some steal photos of celebs to use for Facebook ads, others do not.
  • Some use click here inducements in the front-matter, others work it in to the actual narrative, others again use more subtle means to encourage that end-click, many take it out of their books when called out about it (then slip it back in when the heat dies down), some don't risk it at all these days, but have done it before, and I'm sure others may never have risked it at all given what a hot button issue it is.
 
They all have one thing in common that I've seen: stuffing.

(Note: not saying there is anything inherently wrong with ghosting, just mentioning that some do it, some don't. Also, many of these other behaviors are also against the TOS. Some of the others might be minor fouls in isolation, it's when combined with the stuffing that it becomes a real dick move, and much more problematic overall.)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 05:58:39 AM by dgaughran »
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Offline Evenstar

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2018, 06:43:02 AM »
We have received several reports and so I think it is best to clarify a couple of things.

As far as I am aware, we do allow links here to most content, providing it is "family friendly", what we try to avoid, however, is people naming names on this site, unless they are speaking of personal experiences (and even then we use as much discretion as we feel able). So please avoid any "naming and shaming" here or the posts will be edited.

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« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 06:49:07 AM by Evenstar »