Author Topic: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]  (Read 52373 times)  

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #125 on: April 05, 2018, 04:58:15 PM »
Yes, we just got a stone tablet from Mt. Sinai saying no bonus content, but because Amazon is clear as mud, I even suspect this.

They didn't say "no bonus content" though.

From reading this thread, it seems to me like those defending stuffing are refusing to acknowledge the difference between what most reasonable people would consider "bonus content" (previews, a short story, stuff along those lines) and stuffing or what might be called stuffing-light (putting only one otherwise-published book in the back instead of several).

As someone who doesn't do KU and doesn't have the back catalog to stuff even if I wanted to, this seems to me like a weird semantics game used to justify what most people would understand to be well beyond the intention of "bonus content is okay", done only because in certain corners of one marketplace, it's become common practice despite being against the TOS (thanks to Amazon's lack of enforcement).

I think the "is this something I would not be surprised to see in a paper book?" standard someone else put forth is very reasonable and easy to understand.

In KU, authors get paid according to pages read, a device for Amazon to squeeze money out of authors. Instead of being paid per download, as they were at the beginning of KU, authors now receive a pittance. The joke is that no one is ever certain how many pages are read by a KU subscriber. Imagine a manufacture that makes lamps getting paid not a flat fee for each lamp, but getting paid according to how many times the lamp is turned on. KU is merely a way to cheat authors. The affirmation of the arbitration should be denied. KU is a stupid subscription system and should be abandoned.

Yeah, as many have pointed out, the entire KU system is the problem. We're going to keep having people scamming it as long as it exists. IMO, KU's end can't come soon enough.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 05:00:41 PM by Puddleduck »

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #126 on: April 05, 2018, 05:03:19 PM »
I just want to point out that there many, many books for sale right this second with bonus content. I read so many books with bonus content at the end it's nothing to me now. I finish book one, and then there's another book offered (or two!) this is COMMON. Legit authors. Big time authors. Constantly.


I think we've established it's not a legit practice unless it's a boxed set and advertised as such.


Offline Mr. Sparkle

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #127 on: April 05, 2018, 05:09:14 PM »
I think the baseline difference here is that a lot of us view this as Amazon's fault, and then the other half view this purely as other authors' fault. Like other authors need to be ethical and police themselves. I get that. I personally don't include bonus content in my books because I decided it's not my thing. But, I don't hate my peers for choosing this, or put them down. I see why they do it. I'm just not (to be truthful because I'm prob being snooty and want my books to look more "trad"). But yeah, I'm leaving money on the table for extra page reads, so it's hard...

 I think this is Amazon's fault. If they would just have perfectly clear rules and then do something shocking- police those rules- this thread wouldn't even be happening. They wouldn't need to do some weak lawsuit that will only stop one person.

[...]

Also, I guess this boils down to another fundamental difference. When some of you say Amazon has clear rules - all forms of bonus content is wrong beyond excerpts at the back of a book, I'm like, no it isn't clear. NO IT ISN"T. This is exactly why there are hundreds of books on the kindle store, in the top 100 of categories with one, two or three extra books put into the back after the new release RIGHT THIS SECOND. Because to those authors, it isn't clear. Again, this isn't happening because these authors are unethical and evil, its because they are interpreting the TOS to say this is okay and in addition to the fact that Amazon is letting them do it and in fact rewarding them with all star bonuses. If Amazon sent all authors, tomorrow, a super clear email that said something like you can only have brand new content in each new release (or however they want to word it) and gave a seven day or thirty day deadline to take extra content out of your books. And then after that deadline came down hard on books. Well, that would change everything.

And I'm sorry, but Jeff Bezos is the richest man on the planet right now. I think he can spend some money to hire a department of people whose only job is policing our books to make it all legit. How about he does that instead of pitching us against each other, making us police ourselves, or feel we have to?

I'm glad they stopped a botter, but I think people are celebrating the downfall of so-called "bad boy stuffers" prematurely.

[...]

Even this Dryan guy clickbotted, farmed and linked with the same content over and over, judging from the wording of things. They didn't go after him because he had bonus content tacked onto the end of new books, they went after him because of multiple accounts and the clear cheating of clickfarming all those duplicate titles.

I know what the court document says, but for all practical purposes, it doesn't mean a lot until they take action on more than a handful of people at a time. None of us knows if anything much will actually change in those bestseller charts going forward. I'm in the "believe it when I see it" camp.

What Michelle and Shelley said.

I do not stuff my books. I neither have an opinion on whether it is ethical NOR know whether it is against Amazon's KDP TOS. "Non-differentiated" is a wide gate through which a lawyer could drive an Airbus.

Also, to play devil's advocate, a company's TOS is not the law; it's the rules of that sandbox. Against Amazon TOS /= unethical /= illegal. Insert Venn diagram here with one section with all three overlapping, some parts with only two circles overlapping, yada yada yada.

I don't do it because it annoys me as a reader, and IMHO, it provides a bad customer experience.

Basically, this is Amazon's fault. They leave their language vague until they decide whether a certain tactic is annoying enough to customers before they do anything. Also, subscription models guarantee one party will always lose, as someone else said.

Meanwhile, it would be great if people would not conflate ghost writing with "scamming." Ghost writing has been a legitimate profession as long as writing has been. It's definitely a more reliable way to make money than by being the author or publisher. Most ad content, glossaries, dictionaries, many news stories, and many blog posts are de facto "ghost written." Any writing can be good or bad irrespective of whose name is on the cover.
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #128 on: April 05, 2018, 05:11:31 PM »
In KU, authors get paid according to pages read, a device for Amazon to squeeze money out of authors. Instead of being paid per download, as they were at the beginning of KU, authors now receive a pittance. The joke is that no one is ever certain how many pages are read by a KU subscriber. Imagine a manufacture that makes lamps getting paid not a flat fee for each lamp, but getting paid according to how many times the lamp is turned on. KU is merely a way to cheat authors. The affirmation of the arbitration should be denied. KU is a stupid subscription system and should be abandoned.

KU works as intended for most on both sides of the equation.



Offline Mr. Sparkle

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #129 on: April 05, 2018, 05:13:07 PM »
I think we've established it's not a legit practice unless it's a boxed set and advertised as such.

I don't think we have.

Who is "we?" There is no standard set of ethics for thousands of self-publishers, and establishing one will require more than simply proclaiming it so. I've seen that lesson learned the hard way before.
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Offline Atlantisatheart

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #130 on: April 05, 2018, 05:14:54 PM »
. Legit authors. Big time authors.
 

It would be interesting to see just how well those authors would be doing without stuffed books. They'd certainly be a lot poorer with their .99c books and unable to afford all that marketing so visibility would be way down, as would their sales and author ranks.

Offline Mr. Sparkle

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #131 on: April 05, 2018, 05:15:43 PM »
Would have included this in the last post if I'd seen it in time.

KU works as intended for most on both sides of the equation.

The way it's currently formulated, it doesn't work for me. It hasn't ever worked well, but it worked a heck of a lot better in 2015 before my novellas started making half of what they used to.
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #132 on: April 05, 2018, 05:22:32 PM »


Who is "we?"

Those of us who have read and understand Amazon's TOS?


Offline EB

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #133 on: April 05, 2018, 05:24:37 PM »
Quote from: Usedtoposthere link=topic=262307.msg3647908#msg3647908

It was real clear to those of us who got the initial response from Executive Customer Relations that stuffing was not OK. I'm aware of the sort of "workaround" people have used to justify it. But if, after reading those documents, you STILL think stuffing is OK by Amazon, I think you're running a risk with them. My own judgment/opinion only.

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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #134 on: April 05, 2018, 05:24:52 PM »
Quote
And IMO, there are a few people that owe David an apology.

I agree, but I doubt he'll get it, especially reading the usual responses in this thread. There are people who will defend to the death -- of their accounts -- their shady business practices for whatever reason, and most of them will deliberately "misunderstand" what the difference is between bonus content (which is allowed under certain conditions) and stuffed books, most of which are bot read and have nothing to do with pleasing actual readers.

Maybe Amazon is getting serious about fixing some of the issues with KU, but I'm not holding my breath.
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Offline Mr. Sparkle

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #135 on: April 05, 2018, 05:28:43 PM »
Those of us who have read and understand Amazon's TOS?

Classy.

I've read it, I've got no stake in this, and I disagree.
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Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Yes, Virginia, Amazon really does object to book stuffing
« Reply #136 on: April 05, 2018, 05:31:35 PM »
The usual gang won't admit they're wrong. I'm sure they'll come up with something else to do to "compete" with the other authors. But this case may slow them down some, make them regroup until they find another loophole. (Why, yes, I am cynical. Why do you ask? ;P )
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Offline boba1823

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #137 on: April 05, 2018, 05:35:37 PM »
It would be interesting to see just how well those authors would be doing without stuffed books. They'd certainly be a lot poorer with their .99c books and unable to afford all that marketing so visibility would be way down, as would their sales and author ranks.

I think this is a good question. There was another thread a while back, where one of our resident stuffers (I forget who) said that in his experience, stuffing content generally only adds about 10 percent to overall page reads.

I don't know if that was true, or if his experience differed from that of others. Something in that range sounds plausible to me, assuming we're talking about actual genuine page reads - how many readers, really, are going to just keep on reading a bunch of 'bonus' books after they finish the one they borrowed? Some, sure, but I would guess that many/most would have another borrowed book they are eager to move on to. Especially if the author is recycling old books that the reader has perhaps already read (or passed over). The rationale put forth in the old discussion, as I recall, was that backlist books of this type basically sold nothing anyway, so might as well stick some in and get that extra 10 percent.


Of course, now we hear about some big shenanigans going on, ranging from tricks that yield full reads from getting actual readers to click on to the back of the book, all the way to full-on robo-reading. People doing this are surely going to benefit much more from the stuffing. (Old newsletters and translated cookbooks, oh my. ???) But I don't know how many of the big-name stuffers fall into this camp. 


Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #138 on: April 05, 2018, 05:40:38 PM »
I think this is a good question. There was another thread a while back, where one of our resident stuffers (I forget who) said that in his experience, stuffing content generally only adds about 10 percent to overall page reads

Thats still 10% ill gotten gains.

I think a better question would be: if KU went away tomorrow, would you (general you) leave that bonus content or would it disappear so fast our heads would spin?
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 05:49:12 PM by Rick Gualtieri »


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Offline sela

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #139 on: April 05, 2018, 05:46:39 PM »
You're 100% wrong. You could not be more wrong. I desperately want bonus content to be against the rules. I hate bonus content. If I had a magic wand and could make it against the rules, I would do so in a heartbeat. If I was reading this to see what I wanted to see, I'd see it as the end of bonus content. That is what I want.

But I live in reality. And, in reality, bonus content has clearly been allowed for the last few years.

The policy is right here, and it says nothing about bonus books not being allowed. There's no mention in the Content Guidelines. There's also no mention of duplicate content or bonus content (other than it should not appear before the main content) under the Guide to Kindle Content Quality.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202018960
Bonus Content
If you choose to include bonus content (e.g. other stories, or previews of other books), it should be relevant to the customer and should not disrupt the reading experience. To meet these guidelines, we require placing additional content at the end of the book, listing the bonus content in your books table of contents, and including a note in your book description if a significant portion of your book's content is not from the book listed in the title field.

Primary and bonus content must meet all program guidelines (e.g., bonus content in KDP Select titles must be exclusive). Translated content must be high quality and not machine generated. Disruptive links and promises of gifts or rewards are never allowed.

Where does it say it's not allowed anywhere on the KDP site?

1. bonus content is different from stuffed or duplicate content. The rep is right that bonus content is allowed, but it can't be duplicate content that is already available in KU -- with the exception of legitimate boxed sets that are labeled as such.

Again, bonus content -- as in unique content not already available in KU is allowed. Stuffed content -- as in duplicated content -- is prohibited. You have to distinguish between "bonus" and "stuffed" definitions. Having this show up in legal documents might finally settle this debate but for most of us who don't stuff, it was already clear.

2. Based on the TOS, duplicate content is not permitted. That's why I never stuffed books. I tend to want to follow the rules because they are there to protect the system from fraud and deception. In other words, the rules are a public good -- in this case, for the good of readers and authors -- and Amazon.

Just because Amazon has not cracked down on stuffing doesn't mean it's okay to stuff. It means that Amazon is not expending the resources needed to police its own TOS. Well, shame on Amazon in that case, but we authors are still held to the TOS regardless of whether Amazon polices them effectively. Think of it this way: just because the police lack the human resources and budget to patrol every street doesn't mean that it's okay to break and enter on streets that they rarely patrol.

I still see stuffers in the top 100 romance novels in the usual subcategories. The stuffing by some of them appears to have been dialled back a bit, but I haven't checked my entire list of obvious stuffers.

I gave up caring about this months ago out of disgust that nothing was being done, but maybe things are looking up.

One can hope...

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Yes, Virginia, Amazon really does object to book stuffing
« Reply #140 on: April 05, 2018, 06:01:12 PM »
Like the page-count on this puppy? lol .. Awesome books, but I was excited when I first saw it and it wasn't even close to that!  :(

I wonder if that effects his KEMP! I still don't know if that's stuffing or just an accident...
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Offline lilywhite

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #141 on: April 05, 2018, 06:12:24 PM »
You left out the last line on that link

Shocking.

I refuse to believe that this very large group of authors, professional people, my peers, are unethical you-know-whats just because they've added an extra book, when they've been told "Yeah, Amazon sent me an email saying bonus content is fine." We've already gone over in previous threads how the TOS about bonus content can be read as - yes bonus content is okay. And then they saw all the other authors who are doing this and nothing is happening to them.

Someone once told me that "character is what you do when no one is looking." I believe that to be true, with all my heart and soul.

The fact that Amazon doesn't police the rules properly is utterly irrelevant. You know how to do math. You know that if people are finding ways to double-dip and get paid from the same content twice out of a fixed pool of money, they are stealing from other authors[/a]. This is basic math.

If you want to have a discussion about whether Amazon should police the store, I'm happy to have that conversation. If you want to have a discussion about how the pool is an artificial construct and a stupid way t pay people, I'm down for that as well. But this is the situation we find ourselves in, so while we are in it, people shouldn't steal. It's really that simple.

Offline lilywhite

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #142 on: April 05, 2018, 06:15:05 PM »
As someone who doesn't do KU and doesn't have the back catalog to stuff even if I wanted to, this seems to me like a weird semantics game used to justify what most people would understand to be well beyond the intention of "bonus content is okay", done only because in certain corners of one marketplace, it's become common practice despite being against the TOS (thanks to Amazon's lack of enforcement).

Very well and succinctly put, IMO.

Quote
I think the "is this something I would not be surprised to see in a paper book?" standard someone else put forth is very reasonable and easy to understand.

I really liked that too. But I assure you someone would show up to tell us how trad pubs are always putting full novels in the back of other novels, and they might well even be able to find an example or two. Amazon needs better, clearer rules, to be sure. (Though I still believe that honest, rational adults should be able to figure out what the moral thing to do is, even in the absence of a rule.)

Edited to fix wonky formatting.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 06:18:15 PM by lilywhite »

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #143 on: April 05, 2018, 06:19:34 PM »
I'm kinda rolling my eyes.

We've had Amazon say bonus content (books! stuffed books!) are allowed, and then we've also had them say it's not allowed.

The people who scream "scammy scammy cheating scammers!!!!!!!" and encourage doxxing of authors etc will always insist that they are right and happily ignore all the times Amazon has said bonus content is fine.

The people who say "ugh bonus books are annoying but they're allowed" will never agree that Amazon is banning them because Amazon blatantly and regularly allows bonus content to stay along with having stated that bonus content is just fine and dandy with them.

Nobody here is saying "YAY BONUS BOOOOKS!!!! LETS PUT THEM IN EVERY TITLE I LOVE THEM!" in fact even the people who think that bonus books are allowed all are annoyed by them, and nobody posting here uses them as a regular tool.

Personally, I don't use them either since I'm 99.9% wide with m titles and it doesn't benefit me - but I see no problem with them. If me, as a reader, reads your book, and there's another book tucked in the end and I keep reading because *gasp* it's a good book and I'm enjoying it, then the author deserves to be paid.

If the bonus book sucks, I'm going to click out. I know, because I have done so in the past. And in the past I have kept reading cause it was super convenient to have another book lined up right away, and I liked the author and the second book was interesting to me.

It's not like readers are being physically forced to read onward. They're doing so willingly. This isn't like, non-consensual reading going on here. Readers are continuing to read because they WANT to.

And honestly, maybe it comes down to that: people are p*ssed because an author is getting more page reads because *shock!* the readers actually like them enough to keep reading their work.

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Re: Yes, Virginia, Amazon really does object to book stuffing
« Reply #144 on: April 05, 2018, 06:20:00 PM »
Like the page-count on this puppy? lol .. Awesome books, but I was excited when I first saw it and it wasn't even close to that!  :(

I wonder if that effects his KEMP! I still don't know if that's stuffing or just an accident...

That's not a stuffed book. It has something like 8729 Kindle locations, and Chapter 20 and a brief list of characters are at the end of the book at 8701, nothing else. And no, if the page count is inaccurate it shouldn't affect KENPC.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 06:23:09 PM by Shelley K »

Offline lilywhite

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #145 on: April 05, 2018, 06:22:33 PM »
And honestly, maybe it comes down to that: people are p*ssed because an author is getting more page reads because *shock!* the readers actually like them enough to keep reading their work.

LOL. Yeah, that's what this is, jealousy. Funny how it's always some Dr Seuss with no books in their sig turning up to tell us stuffing is great and we all should calm down about it.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #146 on: April 05, 2018, 06:28:03 PM »
LOL. Yeah, that's what this is, jealousy. Funny how it's always some Dr Seuss with no books in their sig turning up to tell us stuffing is great and we all should calm down about it.

 ;D It's pretty obvious from several comments i've read over the last year like "wahhhhh if only these cheaty scammers would stop stuffing, my super obscure totally not written to market book with a bad cover would get so many reads!!!!" are not grounded in anything but plain old green-eyed monsterism. I'm not saying that's all of it, but a lot of it is. The rest is just selectively-cherry-picking of what Amazon's said and done in regards to bonus content.

I don't think it's against the TOS - they've said clearly that bonus content is allowed, as has been outlined mulllltiple times in this thread.

One side says it aint, the other says it is. Amazon is vague and doesn't care to clarify. They don't ban the many authors who book-stuff, so clearly it's not a big deal to them.

Offline kw3000

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #147 on: April 05, 2018, 06:28:35 PM »
Anyone wondering why laws become hopelessly complex need only read this thread. People are just the worst. They will push and push forcing you to come up with ever more rigid and detailed wording to nail things down to the level of a quark.

I could start a club for table enthusiasts and institute a rule stating: When attending meetings, you may only bring a blue painted table.

Most club members will come to the meeting with what is clearly a blue table, but sure enough someone will show up with a green painted table.
When other members tell this person they're acting in contravention of the rule, they'll argue that the green paint contains 18% blue pigmentation and nowhere in the club's rules does it stipulate the percentage by which the table's paint must be blue even while admitting to themselves they know they haven't brought a blue table and know they're not acting within the spirit of the rule.

But outwardly, they'll make their argument and even cast shade on the club leadership for not having the foresight to more clearly nail down the rules as to what pigmentation percentages the blue-colored paint should have. Meanwhile, everyone knows what a blue freakin painted table looks like! And it will just go on from there. Then what started as a simple rule you'd think everyone would understand and have no problem following becomes a multi-page document full of legalese.

People. are. just. the. worst.

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Offline L_Loryn

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #148 on: April 05, 2018, 06:32:00 PM »
Anyone wondering why laws become hopelessly complex need only read this thread. People are just the worst. They will push and push forcing you to come up with ever more rigid and detailed wording to nail things down to the level of a quark.

I could start a club for table enthusiasts and institute a rule stating: When attending meetings, you may only bring a blue painted table.

Most club members will come to the meeting with what is clearly a blue table, but sure enough someone will show up with a green painted table.
When other members tell this person they're acting in contravention of the rule, they'll argue that the green paint contains 18% blue pigmentation and nowhere in the club's rules does it stipulate the percentage by which the table's paint must be blue even while admitting to themselves they know they haven't brought a blue table and know they're not acting within the spirit of the rule.

But outwardly, they'll make their argument and even cast shade on the club leadership for not having the foresight to more clearly nail down the rules as to what pigmentation percentages the blue-colored paint should have. Meanwhile, everyone knows what a blue freakin painted table looks like! And it will just go on from there. Then what started as a simple rule you'd think everyone would understand and have no problem following becomes a multi-page document full of legalese.

People. are. just. the. worst.

Second. Beautifully said.

Offline Pandorra

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Re: Yes, Virginia, Amazon really does object to book stuffing
« Reply #149 on: April 05, 2018, 06:32:24 PM »
That's as close as I have ever seen but I don't buy bundled books often (which is I guess where stuffing is the worst) unless its something like Sword of Shannara or The Cleric Quintet etc. (which, by the way, is a monster in print..) which is odd since I go through a LOT of books in a year.. thanks for clearing that one up, it has bothered me since I first saw it and got to the end so quickly..I thought for awhile he had finished the series in the third book.
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