Author Topic: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]  (Read 50079 times)  

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #175 on: April 06, 2018, 02:24:47 AM »
A number of reminders seem necessary as the usual obfuscation is going on:

1. Amazon has explicitly stated that stuffing is against the TOS in court papers. That is a matter of public record in black and white.

2. Amazon has stated that not only is this behavior against the TOS, it also harms all authors by taking money from their payment pool.

3. The notorious circle of stuffing authors referred to here and elsewhere engage in much more than that - I have personally seen evidence showing review manipulation and mass gifting, and nobody would be shocked if they were also using clickfarms and bots, given the above, and that Amazon has also previously accused them of rank manipulation.

4. Amazon has further stated in this court papers that such behavior isn't just harmful to authors and against their rules, it's also illegal.

Regarding the stuffer that Amazon is currently taking to court, yes, all his books are down from Amazon. His two publishing companies have been shut down - one in October just after arbitration was first filed, another in March just before this suit was filed.

I won't post his name and details, but that's all a matter of public record now, and you can verify that if you wish yourselves. There are four more arbitration cases in the works also.

Stuffers and review purchasers and clickfarm users and every other brand of cheat and weasel should be very very worried right now. This is only starting.
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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #176 on: April 06, 2018, 02:34:58 AM »
And, just so everyone is clear what we are talking about here, this isn't "cheating" in the sense of getting the answer for the test in advance. We are talking about millions of dollars which has been purloined from the author fund.

I'm sure this will be queried by the FUD Brigade so let me explain:

One of the Stuffing Circle I've been tracking pulls in 10m-15m page reads every month. Together with All Star bonuses, that's a Kindle Unlimited payout of around $100,000. Per month. One author.

This isn't jaywalking we're talking about.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 02:52:04 AM by dgaughran »
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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #177 on: April 06, 2018, 02:42:24 AM »
;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.

This is pretty infantile stuff. All of the authors who have been loud voices on this issue are huge contributors to the community, constantly lifting others up and celebrating their successes. Speaking personally, one of them in particular has been an incredible help to me throughout my career and has been equally helpful to dozens of others. This isn't just dumb, it's besmirching the name of a lot of good people.

It's dumb for another reason: many of the authors who have objecting to stuffing and other forms of cheating are huge bestsellers, NYT bestsellers, USA Today bestsellers, massive authors who couldn't possibly be jealous of anyone. Perhaps you are motivated by such petty concerns, but please don't project them onto the adults in the room.
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Online DonovanJeremiah

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #178 on: April 06, 2018, 05:05:36 AM »
A question I've always thought about:

Would the authors who are putting previously published content in the backs of their books continue to do so if they weren't in KU/exclusive?

Would it really be in their best financial interest to sell books across all platforms at $0.99 for 10 books?

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #179 on: April 06, 2018, 05:38:15 AM »
Can I take a second to say a big thanks to david, pheonix and others who make an effort to stand up for authors in these situations. It doesn't make them popular, but it's so important that we have people fighting our corner.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #180 on: April 06, 2018, 05:52:54 AM »
I've literally never seen this argued as being acceptable by anyone who's in the "yeah book stuffing is fine" camp.

What I have seen argued as being acceptable (that I agree with is probably just fine):

A/B/C/D

B/C/D/E

C/A/B/E

D/A/B/E

No one book is an EXACT re-ordering of one of the others, thus they are techncially (by the skin of their teeth) differentiated.

Why is this any more "acceptable" than the example I gave (A/B/C/D, B/C/D/A, C/D/A/B, D/A/B/C)?  The point is, there is no "new, exclusive" content provided that's not already available.  It's simply re-arranging books that are already available.  Same concept.
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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #181 on: April 06, 2018, 05:53:41 AM »
Can I take a second to say a big thanks to david, pheonix and others who make an effort to stand up for authors in these situations. It doesn't make them popular, but it's so important that we have people fighting our corner.

Oh I don't know. I'd say popular in the right circles. Albeit maybe infamous in the rest.  :)


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #182 on: April 06, 2018, 05:53:47 AM »
Would it really be in their best financial interest to sell books across all platforms at $0.99 for 10 books?

You know, tying the KU payout to the list price of the book may actually be a way to "fix" part of the problem. If the payout per read was capped at what the author would actually make for a sale, that would eliminate some of the motivation to do this sort of thing. If the payout was capped at the maximum profit the book could make on a regular sale, then there would be no motivation to stuff.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #183 on: April 06, 2018, 06:03:43 AM »
You know, tying the KU payout to the list price of the book may actually be a way to "fix" part of the problem. If the payout per read was capped at what the author would actually make for a sale, that would eliminate some of the motivation to do this sort of thing. If the payout was capped at the maximum profit the book could make on a regular sale, then there would be no motivation to stuff.

It might also encourage writers to price their books a bit higher. Not sure how this would impact on sales.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #184 on: April 06, 2018, 07:09:09 AM »
You know, tying the KU payout to the list price of the book may actually be a way to "fix" part of the problem. If the payout per read was capped at what the author would actually make for a sale, that would eliminate some of the motivation to do this sort of thing. If the payout was capped at the maximum profit the book could make on a regular sale, then there would be no motivation to stuff.
Whats to stop all the stuffers, who dont care about actual sales, from charging $9.99 for all their books under that scenario?

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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #185 on: April 06, 2018, 07:22:48 AM »
Whats to stop all the stuffers, who dont care about actual sales, from charging $9.99 for all their books under that scenario?

That would still be less than the max a 3000 KENP book earns now.  Of course, if they don't care about sales, then moving past $9.99 and getting the lower KDP % probably wouldn't faze them either.


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #186 on: April 06, 2018, 07:27:05 AM »
Whats to stop all the stuffers, who dont care about actual sales, from charging $9.99 for all their books under that scenario?

The key word was "capped." The max 3000 KENPC at recent page rates brings in about $13.50. If that was capped at the sale royalty for $9.99, it would be cut to $6.99, minus what I imagine is a substantial download fee. To get the same $13.50, they'd have to price at $38.57 (35% royalty), and then it becomes even more blatantly obvious their business model is scamming KU rather than selling books, and they'd be right out in the open for all to see.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #187 on: April 06, 2018, 07:35:34 AM »
I've now read all the posts and so far I haven't seen anyone mention what immediately occurred to me. People have said Zon finally did this because big-name authors are leaving KU.

Isn't it more likely Zon did this because of the threat of the upcoming  Walbo? I assume once Walmart and Kobo offer authors a genuine competitor to Zon, a place we can sell books and get more visibility than Zon's current competitors offer, KU will have to vanish. Or at any rate it will be mainly scammers who will still stay in KU.

Sounds to me like Zon is finally cleaning the store only because they know authors will leave in droves once they have a viable alternative. I mean, no one will leave Zon since the bulk of books are sold there, but people can very well leave KU if Walbo does a good job.

I'm dismayed by the number of people, some of them anti-scammers, who have said they don't expect Zon's latest move to make any real difference. Is that really possible?

On the other hand, if Zon is finally doing this because they fear the competition, I have more faith they'll get serious about stopping scammers.
The two ideas aren't mutually exclusive. Amazon could be trying to clean up its act both because big authors are leaving KU and because of the looming threat of Walbo.

In the final analysis, I don't care why Amazon is acting, as long as it gets the job done.

Will Amazon succeed? I'm going to be guardedly optimistic. There have always been good reasons for Amazon to act--but now some of them are becoming more immediately damaging to Amazon.


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Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #188 on: April 06, 2018, 09:00:31 AM »
The key word was "capped." The max 3000 KENPC at recent page rates brings in about $13.50. If that was capped at the sale royalty for $9.99, it would be cut to $6.99, minus what I imagine is a substantial download fee. To get the same $13.50, they'd have to price at $38.57 (35% royalty), and then it becomes even more blatantly obvious their business model is scamming KU rather than selling books, and they'd be right out in the open for all to see.

Some authors (usually the ones at the top of the sub cats) generally use $0.99 as a loss leader. They are looking at the big picture: keeping visibility, making more via pages read AND collecting a large bonus. There are limited spots for the bonus money. If everyone decided to do this same strategy, not everyone will be successful because there are limited spots and not everyone has a large back catalog to compete with those authors.

And I'm not referring to bundles of books for $0.99. I mean standalone single novels. I've seen authors who have their entire catalog (individual books) priced at $0.99 and their books are holding at excellent ranks.

My point is that it's not scamming to focus on getting pages read by legitimate people. That's using KU the way it was intended to be used.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 09:04:13 AM by dianapersaud »

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #189 on: April 06, 2018, 09:06:26 AM »
Some authors (usually the ones at the top of the sub cats) generally use $0.99 as a loss leader. They are looking at the big picture: keeping visibility, making more via pages read AND collecting a large bonus. There are limited spots for the bonus money. If everyone decided to do this same strategy, not everyone will be successful because there are limited spots and not everyone has a large back catalog to compete with those authors.

And I'm not referring to bundles of books for $0.99. I mean standalone single novels. I've seen authors who have their entire catalog (individual books) priced at $0.99 and their books are holding at excellent ranks.

My point is that it's not scamming to focus on getting pages read by legitimate people. That's using KU the way it was intended to be used.

I don't thing anyone here is equating the practice of using a loss leader to increase sales with scamming.  Also, outside of maybe War & Peace sized tomes, most single books aren't going to come near the 3000 KENP threshold. 


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Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #190 on: April 06, 2018, 09:09:29 AM »
Whats to stop all the stuffers, who dont care about actual sales, from charging $9.99 for all their books under that scenario?

I've come across some that were priced between $6 and $9.
They are getting sneakier.

The other day I found one that was translated into Spanish that looked suspiciously like a fake book, but I failed to bookmark it. After the wave of fake Russian books, I now expect a wave of carefully hidden translated to Spanish (probably public domain) books.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #191 on: April 06, 2018, 09:09:48 AM »
You know, tying the KU payout to the list price of the book may actually be a way to "fix" part of the problem. If the payout per read was capped at what the author would actually make for a sale, that would eliminate some of the motivation to do this sort of thing. If the payout was capped at the maximum profit the book could make on a regular sale, then there would be no motivation to stuff.

A million times this. Right now, the scammers can make nearly 10 bucks a borrow on a 99-cent book. This dynamic is unnatural and unsustainable. Nowhere in the real world does anyone receive more if someone rents a product than if they buy it outright.

Plus, that 10-buck borrow can purchase a ton of advertising (not to mention botting, click-farming, false-reading, etc.) which makes it nearly impossible for genuine authors to compete.

If Amazon wants many of these particular problems to "magically" go away, they should cap the amount an author can earn on a borrow to correspond with the amount an author can earn on an actual purchase.

But, some will say, that will only encourage the scammers to price their bucks at ten bucks. GREAT! With a ten-dollar cover price, it would be a lot harder for them to "gift card" their way to the rankings. Plus, they'd see more returns, complaints, etc., if the product doesn't justify the 10-dollar price point. Oh, and let's not forget that finally, authors who price their books at a regular market rates would finally be able to compete.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #192 on: April 06, 2018, 09:13:30 AM »
Can I take a second to say a big thanks to david, pheonix and others who make an effort to stand up for authors in these situations. It doesn't make them popular, but it's so important that we have people fighting our corner.

Yes! Thanks, David, Phoenix and others! We're lucky to have authors like you willing to tackle the tough (and often dangerous) issues like these.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #193 on: April 06, 2018, 09:25:34 AM »
A million times this. Right now, the scammers can make nearly 10 bucks a borrow on a 99-cent book. This dynamic is unnatural and unsustainable. Nowhere in the real world does anyone receive more if someone rents a product than if they buy it outright.

But not quite. It's more like if someone acquires your blender (assuming there were no marginal cost for building the blender) and keeps it on hand, just in case, and the producer doesn't get paid until it's plugged it. Even then, they have to work through all the different features before getting fully paid. Some unknown number of people will only use 10 or 50% of the blender's features.

In this model, a sale is far better than a borrow.

Offline Martitalbott

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #194 on: April 06, 2018, 09:41:09 AM »
You know, tying the KU payout to the list price of the book may actually be a way to "fix" part of the problem. If the payout per read was capped at what the author would actually make for a sale, that would eliminate some of the motivation to do this sort of thing. If the payout was capped at the maximum profit the book could make on a regular sale, then there would be no motivation to stuff.

I actually like this idea. If the page reads reached, say $7.99 and stopped, the author would still make a profit because he or she would get the full price and not just 70%.
       
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #195 on: April 06, 2018, 09:57:30 AM »
I think the gross thing about this KU scammer is how he took advantage of real people with his non-fiction titles. I don't know what else he published, but his name has weight loss books behind it. All these books about how to lose weight, etc. -- they take advantage of desperate people who want nothing more than a quick solution to their problems. How much do you want to bet this "non-fiction writer" has never actually lost weight himself? ::)

Hopefully Amazon will do something to get of more of these scammers who use bots and click farms to get ahead.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #196 on: April 06, 2018, 10:16:30 AM »
I think the gross thing about this KU scammer is how he took advantage of real people with his non-fiction titles. I don't know what else he published, but his name has weight loss books behind it. All these books about how to lose weight, etc. -- they take advantage of desperate people who want nothing more than a quick solution to their problems. How much do you want to bet this "non-fiction writer" has never actually lost weight himself? ::)

Fun fact: many of the Infamous Circle of Stuffers writing under female names are actually dudes who started off writing this kind of crap - scammy weight loss and health books. Those 12 page BS books that flooded the Kindle Store under KU1 - creeps from the murkiest corners of Warrior Forum.
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #197 on: April 06, 2018, 11:19:23 AM »
And, just so everyone is clear what we are talking about here, this isn't "cheating" in the sense of getting the answer for the test in advance. We are talking about millions of dollars which has been purloined from the author fund.

I'm sure this will be queried by the FUD Brigade so let me explain:

One of the Stuffing Circle I've been tracking pulls in 10m-15m page reads every month. Together with All Star bonuses, that's a Kindle Unlimited payout of around $100,000. Per month. One author.

This isn't jaywalking we're talking about.

Wow. That's nuts. Is that all fraudulent? And I get why to many the circumstances don't matter. The fact that new readers may just continue reading at their convenience is irrelevant because many think the TOS was crystal clear and if reads are achieved by breaking the rule, it comes down to an unfair advantage and it's all tainted. I'm just curious if bots and click-farms are that huge of a problem, or if all the reads are a big indiscernible mess.

At this point I've got two likely scenarios in my head of why people chose to do this:

a) with the understanding they were breaking the rules and with the intent to steal from the author fund by uploading large files in order to generate fake reads/huge payouts.

b) with the misunderstanding that they were not breaking the rules and with the intent to maximize their hold on the attention span of new KU readers at the expense of their back-list (or huge portions of it) going for free essentially when they got regular sales.

Not that there might not be other reasons, those are just the two I can plausibly work out with what people on all sides have shared.

A rules a rule. So obviously the discussion over the language of the TOS from that thread awhile back has been settled for good by Amazon. But I still see two camps, and if I were in KU, I would be extremely angry about one camp's thieving, and I'd have mixed feelings about the other's judgment. But again, that's because when this came up before and everyone was going back and forth about the language in the TOS, and what all the different reps told them, I found it confusing and inconclusive, and not just for my own benefit or a manufactured narrative I could profit on. Granted, I wasn't in a position to even consider this tactic myself, so I wasn't reading every post like I am now, but to me it wasn't farfetched that others might have seen leaders in their genre (leaders on the charts, at the very least) doing well with this tactic and ignorantly followed suit without understanding the ripples in the pond.

The last point I'll make is a general one, and not a response to any one person or post specifically.

The fact that people with less information, less inside knowledge in general, are hesitant to join what looks like a mob that seems to be indiscriminately labeling authors as greedy and evil for using a relatively new tactic we don't fully understand is not a bad thing. Even if the majority in the thread agree and are 100% right and justified. I know it tries the patience of people to explain what (to them) is plain as day, but from the POV of someone who's essentially just starting out (I've read kboards for years, but I'm a slow writer), the various issues raised in threads don't always have clear outcomes. People have argued about whether or not KU is destroying the market, argued whether or not free books are harming all indie authors... argued about multi-author box sets and the tactics of former letter-chasers... pretty much all the innovative tactics indies have come up with to compete with trad have been openly challenged and accepted in whole or in part. The fact that people need time to examine, consider and digest a relatively new tactic and all the possible repercussions before damning it and everyone who uses it isn't unreasonable. Putting us down, talking to us like we're stupid because we don't blindly agree at the onset, telling us we must also be doing something wrong, or must all be unethical at our core if we don't see what they see right away... well, I don't know what to say about that except I don't see how that helps anyone. If anything, it seems to me it would discourage people from asking questions and participating in the community.

Thanks to those who had patience. This thread has been illuminating and I'm sure extremely helpful for people considering KU at the moment.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #198 on: April 06, 2018, 11:34:24 AM »
Hello!

First post here, but I've been reading kboards for every day for the past 30 or so days. This is the most heated post I've seen here  :o.

First off, I'd like to say that Crystal_ makes very valid points, and it doesn't seem appropriate (actually, it seems rude) to label her as a "pro stuffer," when all she has done is raise the fact that current practices may continue despite this lawsuit that has been posted.

Secondly, I've now thoroughly looked through the top 20 paid romance books as well as my particular niche, gay romance, yet I haven't come across any of these thousand plus page books that are being discussed. All I've seen are "previews" of other books, and I haven't come across anything more than a 600 page total book, with maybe the average clocking in at around 300 pages. Can someone please point me in the right direction to find these examples of stuffing like BOOK A -> BOOK B ->, etc. all in one book? Thanks in advance.


Moderator's note:  if you wish to answer aliceashes request for an example, please PM as we ask that links not be posted here, thanks.  --Betsy
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 11:45:35 AM by Betsy the Quilter »
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« Reply #199 on: April 06, 2018, 11:34:47 AM »
tl;dr

In one of these previous threads I suggested a possible pseudo-solution*: limiting the KENPC cap to under 1k, maybe 750 or so. And then publishers are free to stuff their books as full of whatever as they'd like, but the pay-out isn't going to be affected. The down side is that authors who naturally write longer, like some of the epic fantasy folks, are going to get penalized. But they also have the option to publish slightly shorter books, slightly more frequently. Then again, 750 is over 150k, right? (Feel free to check my math).

*I think the only real solution is a review process managed by humans.