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Author Topic: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video  (Read 24307 times)  

Online lilywhite

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #75 on: January 04, 2018, 11:25:57 AM »
Sure. But who determines what is right? Or ethical? At least what is allowed, or the law, is explicit.

I will grant you that sometimes it can be difficult (or at least not simple) to determine what's right -- though not near as much as people like to say when they're skirting the boundaries -- but in this circumstance, an argument for moral relativism just doesn't work at all. It's not at all tricky, ethically, to figure out that getting paid from the KU pot more than once for the same content is wrong, or that getting paid for content that was not actually read is wrong. That's actually really, really simple.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #76 on: January 04, 2018, 11:28:27 AM »

these are authors who have been in the business for a long time (some are successful and well-known in other genres), who know the self-pub industry well, and have figured out a way to monetize their product in an extreme way. They know the key ingredients to sell a book: genre-appropriate cover, good blurb, interesting sample, and customer reviews. The stories are common tropes, quick, easy, steamy reads, generally enjoyable. The content is minimally edited, but they don't care; they get those reviews up, sell a bundle in a week or two, and then abandon any promo on that book because the next one is ready to release. Books are unpublished, rewritten, and republished; the same stories are rotated as bonus material between the books. Most of the shenanigans teeter on the edge of Amazon's TOS.

When you consider it, it's a lot of work, fast turnaround, plenty of chances to screw up and high overheads with big rewards. Like a fast-food outlet compared to a standard-fare restaurant. Or a 'stack-em-high-sell-em-cheap' supermarket. Either way, they knock the competition on the head.
 

Are they getting Amazon All Star Bonuses? Yes. Make of that what you will.


Which tells you exactly why they are winning.


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Offline Crystal_

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #77 on: January 04, 2018, 11:28:42 AM »
To me, the ethics are pretty clear. If they aren't, it says a lot about those who don't get the ethical issues.

Don't steal. Don't cheat. Don't lie.

Anything that equals stealing or cheating or lying is unethical. And wrong. People should know this just from growing up in our society. These things shouldn't have to spelled out in elaborate detail in the TOS so that people don't scam.

In moral development terms, sticking to the letter of the law rather than being informed by the spirit of the law is at the school-aged kid level.

In KU, we are supposed to be paid for actual pages read. That's our contract with Amazon. If a book with a KENP of 300 is read in full, we expect to be paid $1.35 when the payout is $0.0045 per page. We trust that Amazon can count the actual pages a customer reads. Whether it can or not is another question entirely.

That is our legal contract.

An ethical author would believe that if a customer only reads 100 KENP, we should get $0.45. If the customer reads the whole book, the author expects to get paid for the full KENP. An ethical author would want what was their rightful due and not more -- or less.

Now, the unethical author sees that Amazon can't actually count real pages read. So they stuff their books full of bonus content, other books that are already published, translations of those books, and material that has no relationship to the titled content. They do not describe this content in the product page. They also include a special never-before-seen epilogue at the end and a link to that bonus content in the TOS -- KNOWING that their readers will skip to the back of the book to read that special epilogue. Their book is now 10,000 KENP. The unethical author gets paid for a full 10,000 KENP even though the customer has not actually read those pages. They get $45 instead of $1.35.

SCORE!!!!

If anyone thinks that's kosher, they are ethically challenged.

I don't know about anyone else, but my mother and father -- and the Bible -- teach us not to lie, cheat or steal.

- knowingly including unlabelled bonus content, hiding content, bad translations, etc, to get around TOS. Lying.
- knowingly including stuffed content with incentivized link to the end to get unread pages? Cheating
- knowingly getting paid out of the KU pot for pages that were not actually read? Stealing.

Seems pretty darn clear to me.

I didn't watch the video, so maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see what this has to do with the current state of bonus content. Skip to the back epilogues are against the ToS and people did get take down notices for them. Low quality content is also against the ToS.

Arguing with straw men distracts from the current issues of bonus books. What is happening now, everywhere in romance, is that authors are placing backlist books behind their new releases as "bonus books." So you'll see NEW RELEASE with Backlist Book A behind it as a bonus book.

I'm not a fan of this practice, but I have tried it, because readers seem to like it, and it seemed like a good way to put the spotlight on a backlist series. Most of the feedback was positive. A few people criticized the bonus book's content (didn't like the book), but I didn't get any reviews complaining that there was a bonus book. I was surprised by that, as I hate bonus books as a reader and as an author, but it is what it is.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #78 on: January 04, 2018, 11:30:31 AM »
or that getting paid for content that was not actually read is wrong.

That's an assumption. How do you know people don't read those extra books?


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #79 on: January 04, 2018, 11:31:12 AM »
I will grant you that sometimes it can be difficult (or at least not simple) to determine what's right -- though not near as much as people like to say when they're skirting the boundaries -- but in this circumstance, an argument for moral relativism just doesn't work at all. It's not at all tricky, ethically, to figure out that getting paid from the KU pot more than once for the same content is wrong, or that getting paid for content that was not actually read is wrong. That's actually really, really simple.

Maybe yes. But not all things here are simple, or even well-defined. What are you going to do about the things that are not simple? Maybe it's best to stop making personal value judgments about things that are not simple.

Online lilywhite

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #80 on: January 04, 2018, 11:33:49 AM »
That's an assumption. How do you know people don't read those extra books?

When they are incentivized to skip them to get to some other content, I think it's a fair assumption. Might there be exceptions? Sure.

Online lilywhite

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #81 on: January 04, 2018, 11:35:30 AM »
Maybe yes. But not all things here are simple, or even well-defined. What are you going to do about the things that are not simple? Maybe it's best to stop making personal value judgments about things that are not simple.

Hard to stop something I'm not doing. The ethics of this issue, as I said, are very simple. I'll judge anyone I like, and if you don't care for that, Kboards has a function that will allow you not to see my posts.

Offline TobiasRoote

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #82 on: January 04, 2018, 11:37:51 AM »
Ah well, it was a good while it lasted. Good night everyone :D


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Offline Atlantisatheart

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #83 on: January 04, 2018, 11:38:34 AM »
You can put all your shorts in one volume; you can use your shorts as extra content at the back of other books.

If you put 10 shorts in one volume, then change the order around for the same 10 shorts 10 different ways and publish it as 10 different books, that is likely to get you into trouble.

Interesting. Thanks. I certainly don't want to do anything wrong, but with about fifty short books hanging around doing nothing, a short at the end of a book seems like a logical way to go, and they are same genre and same style of book.


Offline andycat

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #84 on: January 04, 2018, 11:40:09 AM »
I will grant you that sometimes it can be difficult (or at least not simple) to determine what's right -- though not near as much as people like to say when they're skirting the boundaries -- but in this circumstance, an argument for moral relativism just doesn't work at all. It's not at all tricky, ethically, to figure out that getting paid from the KU pot more than once for the same content is wrong, or that getting paid for content that was not actually read is wrong. That's actually really, really simple.

So by that logic, no one should put ANY bundles or boxsets in KU, because they might accidentally get paid for pages people haven't read. Say I wrote a four book series and then put out a bundle. Reader A read book 1 and 2 through KU separately when they were first released, and now she sees I have a bundle so she borrows that to read book 3 and 4. She skips over books 1 and 2 because she's already read them -- but I get paid for them anyway. Is that stealing? Is it not stealing because it wasn't intentional? What's the point of even having bundles in KU -- yes, it's slightly more convenient for some readers, but it also can result in authors being paid more than they're owed, so we should just not do them, right? Because it's unethical / stealing?

I'm not trying to be difficult -- I honestly hate stuffing, don't do it myself, and actually DO think Amazon should just make KU so that it's one title per ASIN and that's ALL -- I just honestly find it baffling that people get soooo upset about stuffing. I'm genuinely curious as to whether there'd be this reaction if there was just a flat payout rate for page reads and not a "pot" -- do people feel that they're personally being harmed by stuffing? That these authors are stealing from them?
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 11:42:14 AM by andycat »

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #85 on: January 04, 2018, 11:44:50 AM »
KU is a rental system.  If I rent a movie on Amazon Instant Video and then want to watch the movie again a week later, I have to pay to rent the video again. Amazon and the movie people are getting paid twice for me watching the same content.

How or why should books be any different?

Online Seneca42

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #86 on: January 04, 2018, 11:45:06 AM »
Ethics are irrelevant at this point. KU is NOT an ethically-driven platform. Zon pretended like it was, wagging their finger at botters and fake reviews and all the other stuff. But they've done next to nothing to stop any of this (and possibly attacked more innocent authors than guilty ones, although we'll never really know the truth on that front).

KU is the equivalent of a church that chastizes promiscuity while running a brothel in the back. 

So expecting anyone to behave ethically within KU at this point, I dare say, is asking too much. :)  The platform is there to be abused and will be, the only question is whether you're stealing other people's royalties or they are stealing yours.


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #87 on: January 04, 2018, 11:48:04 AM »
KU is a rental system.  If I rent a movie on Amazon Instant Video and then want to watch the movie again a week later, I have to pay to rent the video again. Amazon and the movie people are getting paid twice for me watching the same content.

How or why should books be any different?
That's not really the same thing. It's more apt to compare KU to Netflix, where you pay a monthly fee for access to content. Do you have to pay twice when you watch the same episode of 'The Ranch' more than once? Do the show runners of 'The Ranch' get paid for each time you watch it?

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Offline sela

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #88 on: January 04, 2018, 11:52:01 AM »
Ethics are irrelevant at this point. KU is NOT an ethically-driven platform. Zon pretended like it was, wagging their finger at botters and fake reviews and all the other stuff. But they've done next to nothing to stop any of this (and possibly attacked more innocent authors than guilty ones, although we'll never really know the truth on that front).

KU is the equivalent of a church that chastizes promiscuity while running a brothel in the back. 

So expecting anyone to behave ethically within KU at this point, I dare say, is asking too much. :)  The platform is there to be abused and will be, the only question is whether you're stealing other people's royalties or they are stealing yours.

Nope. That does not excuse unethical behaviour on our part.

Each of us have to make an ethical decision to act in certain ways.


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #89 on: January 04, 2018, 11:54:39 AM »
Hard to stop something I'm not doing. The ethics of this issue, as I said, are very simple. I'll judge anyone I like, and if you don't care for that, Kboards has a function that will allow you not to see my posts.

It has a couple features that will do this.  One of these is called moderation, which can run the gamut from deleting posts to post moderation to forum timeouts.  You are responsible for your own posts, and we expect you to conduct yourself in such a way that the "ignore" feature that I think you meant is not needed.  Let's keep it civil.

In other news, TobiasRoote and Modi Gliani, you are banned from this conversation due to pushback against Evenstar's moderation, those posts now removed.   

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Offline SaraBourgeois

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #90 on: January 04, 2018, 11:57:55 AM »
That's not really the same thing. It's more apt to compare KU to Netflix, where you pay a monthly fee for access to content. Do you have to pay twice when you watch the same episode of 'The Ranch' more than once? Do the show runners of 'The Ranch' get paid for each time you watch it?

Netflix pays an upfront licensing fee, so that's different from KU. It would be awesome if they did pay us an upfront licensing fee, but that's not how the business model works. On the other hand, Prime Video does pay out everytime someone watches a video. Not just once. Every time.

So, why should KU be any different?

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #91 on: January 04, 2018, 11:59:14 AM »
Nope. That does not excuse unethical behaviour on our part.

Each of us have to make an ethical decision to act in certain ways.

Well, the ethical thing to do is when you find out the church is running a brothel, is to stop going to the church. But no one is willing to go that far to support ethical behavior (ie. actually leaving KU). So even the people who are using KU properly, are enabling (in their own small way) the unethical actors by supply KU with content and enabling zon to keep KU the way it is. So everyone in KU is, if only a teeny weeny little bit, engaged in unethical behavior (if only by participating in a system that is okay with said behavior). 

But at this stage, I really can't judge anyone who is being unethical on a platform that all but says such behavior is absolutely fine. I don't even know how you begin to define what's ethical in such an environment. 

Offline sela

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #92 on: January 04, 2018, 12:01:25 PM »
That's an assumption. How do you know people don't read those extra books?

I am sure they weren't reading the bad Polish translations...

The key is that when certain authors learned about the loopholes in Amazon's ability to calculate actual page reads, they jumped at the chance to scam the system and began stuffing, botting and incentivizing clicks. The really sociopathic ones put in bad Polish translations. The less sociopathic ones merely reordered bonus content ten ways with links. There may have been some panicked authors who thought they had to include stuffing in the bird because everyone else was doing it, but that doesn't work when we're talking ethics.

I don't trust the top 100 books in the hot categories any more as a result. Not only were some authors republishing smut shorts and labelling it Women's Classic Fiction, they were adding 9500 KENP extra of bad translations and unrelated content, incentivizing links, using contests, etc. AND using bots and buying reviews to get to the top of the Kindle store. 

It's all tainted now, and while those authors are raking in the dough, I have to look myself in the mirror each day and so I won't do it.

Thing is, those who scam don't care because they don't have the capacity to act ethically. To them, all they care about is the $$$ in their bank accounts.

Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #93 on: January 04, 2018, 12:04:12 PM »
Netflix pays an upfront licensing fee, so that's different from KU. It would be awesome if they did pay us an upfront licensing fee, but that's not how the business model works. On the other hand, Prime Video does pay out everytime someone watches a video. Not just once. Every time.

So, why should KU be any different?
How do you know Prime Video pays out every time someone watches a video? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm simply curious. That's not how it was explained to me regarding a project but I'm always looking for enlightenment. As for being paid every time in KU, I think that's pie-in-the-sky and not even remotely feasible. If you want that, you should definitely get out of KU because it's not monetarily feasible. When you rent a movie from On Demand and whatnot, what happens? You get the movie for a set period of time (usually twenty-four to forty-eight hours). You can watch the movie as many times as you want in that timeframe. Do the studios get paid each time people watch them during that timeframe? I get what you're trying to argue but it's simply not the same thing.
Personally, I'm all for personal ethics. I'm incapable of understanding why people want to screw over others in this manner. I'm also incapable of understanding why anyone would argue for a lack of ethics. I just can't wrap my head around it.

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #94 on: January 04, 2018, 12:12:24 PM »
How do you know Prime Video pays out every time someone watches a video? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm simply curious. That's not how it was explained to me regarding a project but I'm always looking for enlightenment. As for being paid every time in KU, I think that's pie-in-the-sky and not even remotely feasible. If you want that, you should definitely get out of KU because it's not monetarily feasible. When you rent a movie from On Demand and whatnot, what happens? You get the movie for a set period of time (usually twenty-four to forty-eight hours). You can watch the movie as many times as you want in that timeframe. Do the studios get paid each time people watch them during that timeframe? I get what you're trying to argue but it's simply not the same thing.
Personally, I'm all for personal ethics. I'm incapable of understanding why people want to screw over others in this manner. I'm also incapable of understanding why anyone would argue for a lack of ethics. I just can't wrap my head around it.

It was in Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/amazon-lets-creators-upload-video-and-get-paid

It's also in the TOS for videodirect.amazon.com

I don't think it's a big deal for an author to get paid a couple of times for the same content if a reader really loves the book and reads it again. I do think it's a big deal to skim page reads by using link bait. It's not a black or white issue for me because most of these issues mean different things in different contexts.

I have an ARC team that reads my books, and they leave honest reviews. (I know this because they've left me bad reviews before.) I don't think that's unethical. I do think paying 1000 people to leave a review or getting reviews by holding contests where a review is the entry is immoral.

There has to be room for nuance in this discussion.

Offline sela

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #95 on: January 04, 2018, 12:17:12 PM »
So by that logic, no one should put ANY bundles or boxsets in KU, because they might accidentally get paid for pages people haven't read. Say I wrote a four book series and then put out a bundle. Reader A read book 1 and 2 through KU separately when they were first released, and now she sees I have a bundle so she borrows that to read book 3 and 4. She skips over books 1 and 2 because she's already read them -- but I get paid for them anyway. Is that stealing? Is it not stealing because it wasn't intentional? What's the point of even having bundles in KU -- yes, it's slightly more convenient for some readers, but it also can result in authors being paid more than they're owed, so we should just not do them, right? Because it's unethical / stealing?

I'm not trying to be difficult -- I honestly hate stuffing, don't do it myself, and actually DO think Amazon should just make KU so that it's one title per ASIN and that's ALL -- I just honestly find it baffling that people get soooo upset about stuffing. I'm genuinely curious as to whether there'd be this reaction if there was just a flat payout rate for page reads and not a "pot" -- do people feel that they're personally being harmed by stuffing? That these authors are stealing from them?

Some of us are angry because the stuffers poisoned the well for everyone.

Some of the stuffers have changed their tactics because of changes in Amazon TOS and because some of them were caught, but someone who would be happy to cheat the KU pot in one way, will be willing to do it in the next new way.

The plain fact is that these stuffers wouldn't stuff if they weren't in KU. That should tell you plenty about the motives for stuffing. They would divide up those books, publish each title separately and charge separately for each book to maximize their earnings.

Because it's in KU and Amazon didn't really know how to count pages, they knew they could get money -- for free.

I get paid $2.03 for my 450 KENP book that is read to the end. If someone stuffs 2550 KENP-worth of material in the back of their 450 KENP book and includes a link to a bonus story at the end, and the customer clicks to the end without reading ANY of the material, they get paid $13.50.

That's patently unfair.

Amazon has tried to address some of this by being more careful about what content is included in the KENP, but there are still ways to scam the KU pot and people are still doing it in new and different ways.

I think Amazon created a monster with KU, but that doesn't make it right for people to cheat.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #96 on: January 04, 2018, 12:17:16 PM »
So by that logic, no one should put ANY bundles or boxsets in KU, because they might accidentally get paid for pages people haven't read. Say I wrote a four book series and then put out a bundle. Reader A read book 1 and 2 through KU separately when they were first released, and now she sees I have a bundle so she borrows that to read book 3 and 4. She skips over books 1 and 2 because she's already read them -- but I get paid for them anyway. Is that stealing? Is it not stealing because it wasn't intentional? What's the point of even having bundles in KU -- yes, it's slightly more convenient for some readers, but it also can result in authors being paid more than they're owed, so we should just not do them, right? Because it's unethical / stealing?

Maybe it's just me, but I think it's usually pretty easy to deduce probable intent by how something is presented.

In your example of someone buying book 1 and then a bundle: did I as the author make it clear what the bundle is?  If so, then I'd say that's on the customer.   Maybe they bought book 1, then realized they could still save money by buying the full bundle.  The author getting paid by KU in this case is less a case of them trying to scam the system and more a result of a broken page read mechanism.  I'd like to hope the author in question here is perfectly fine with not being paid for those extra reads when said shoddy system is finally fixed.

Conversely, if I open book 1, find a completely different story up front, then see a mysterious link that tells me "Hey, if you want to read the story you paid for, Click here", which conveniently takes me to a spot near the back of the book, well, personally I wouldn't feel all too bad about making a judgement call as to that person's true intentions. 


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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #97 on: January 04, 2018, 12:22:23 PM »
It was in Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/amazon-lets-creators-upload-video-and-get-paid

It's also in the TOS for videodirect.amazon.com

I don't think it's a big deal for an author to get paid a couple of times for the same content if a reader really loves the book and reads it again. I do think it's a big deal to skim page reads by using link bait. It's not a black or white issue for me because most of these issues mean different things in different contexts.

I have an ARC team that reads my books, and they leave honest reviews. (I know this because they've left me bad reviews before.) I don't think that's unethical. I do think paying 1000 people to leave a review or getting reviews by holding contests where a review is the entry is immoral.

There has to be room for nuance in this discussion.
I will have to read the article later (still have 1400 words to write). That is not how it was explained to me by an Amazon rep but I will definitely ask about it. As for stuffing, I think it is a black or white issue. Would people stuff if they didn't get more money out of it? No. Where is the money coming from? The pot. Does stuffing affect the rate? Yes. So, is that taking money out of other author's pockets? Yes. How is theft not a black and white issue? I don't think it's that difficult.
As for ARCs, I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. I happen to be against all ARCs (whether paid or not), but that's neither here nor there. ARCS aren't really stealing money from other author's pockets. Stuffers are, for sure, but I'm not sure how ARCs would work in that manner.
Let's put it another way. Say a bunch of high-selling authors each have catalogs of 100 books. Say they inflate their books and stuff them to the point where they get a bigger piece of the puzzle (say twenty top authors take over 50 percent of all reads, which is feasible) but those who don't have 100 books to stuff get even less page reads now because people are too busy reading stuffed books and now they're getting even less per page. Say the per page readout drops to the point where it takes 10K out of your pocket every month. How do you feel then?
Now, give me one reason why people can't just not stuff. Just one feasible reason why they can't just not stuff.

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Offline sela

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #98 on: January 04, 2018, 12:23:47 PM »
Maybe it's just me, but I think it's usually pretty easy to deduce probable intent by how something is presented.

In your example of someone buying book 1 and then a bundle: did I as the author make it clear what the bundle is?  If so, then I'd say that's on the customer.   Maybe they bought book 1, then realized they could still save money by buying the full bundle.  The author getting paid by KU in this case is less a case of them trying to scam the system and more a result of a broken page read mechanism.  I'd like to hope the author in question here is perfectly fine with not being paid for those extra reads when said shoddy system is finally fixed.

Conversely, if I open book 1, find a completely different story up front, then see a mysterious link that tells me "Hey, if you want to read the story you paid for, Click here", which conveniently takes me to a spot near the back of the book, well, personally I wouldn't feel all too bad about making a judgement call as to that person's true intentions.

Bingo.

Authors create boxed sets because some readers like the ease of having all three or five books in a series or collection together so they can start reading and read in the single document until the end.

Others prefer to go one book at a time, and decide at the end of book 1 whether to download book 2.

Amazon is okay with boxed sets being in KU.

They are not okay with the stuffing, botting, and any other deceptive or scamny tactics to get downloads, page reads, or rank. They have clarified the TOS to make it crystal clear for those who have any adult level of reading comprehension. The fact that they cannot actually really police the TOS is not license to act unethically.

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Re: KU Page Stuffing Explained - Helpful Video
« Reply #99 on: January 04, 2018, 12:28:24 PM »
That's not really the same thing. It's more apt to compare KU to Netflix, where you pay a monthly fee for access to content. Do you have to pay twice when you watch the same episode of 'The Ranch' more than once? Do the show runners of 'The Ranch' get paid for each time you watch it?

For me, the biggest needle-across-the-record moment of the thread was realizing I have yet to watch The Ranch.
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