Author Topic: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]  (Read 50077 times)  

Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2018, 10:16:49 AM »
To say it another way... The language could be a little clearer, but it's also likely condensed for better layman understanding. What is clear is:

1) It says including works previously included in "other" works is manipulation. So, having a book in several collections at once is manipulation. This does not preclude any one title being included in any one box set.

2) Combining books already published in these other works into "purportedly new books" is manipulation. That means that taking, say, 10 books and putting them into one file and maybe shuffling them around a bit ,and then publishing that same content under 10 different book titles is manipulation.

Typical box sets with contents clearly noted on the cover and in the metadata where that content is not replicated multiple times = OK.

Book stuffing as has been defined on this board many times = Manipulation and possible lawsuit.
______________

Of course, there are now a LOT of bonuses and page reads that have been paid out to people who've been stuffing and/or engaging in other manipulative behavior. Will Amazon claw all those payments back if/when the arbitration decision gets certified in federal court?

The TOS goes both ways. Will the authors who've made less money because of the scamming that Amazon has not been policing get reimbursed? Those of us who've abided by the TOS have expectations as to what results our participation in the programs we've agreed to should be.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2018, 10:21:10 AM »
The thing I have been the maddest about is seeing the crappy ghostwritten content appear to sell as if it were exactly the same to romance readers. This seems to support the idea that these, call them chancybooks have NOT in fact actually been selling, that their rank is artificially supported. I hope that ultimately gives romance readers more confidence in looking at reviews and rank and trusting that they are legitimate. To me, that has been the big theft from legitimate indie romance writersthat readers do not want to take a risk anymore because they cannot trust what they see.

Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2018, 10:23:54 AM »
Of course, there are now a LOT of bonuses and page reads that have been paid out to people who've been stuffing and/or engaging in other manipulative behavior. Will Amazon claw all those payments back if/when the arbitration decision gets certified in federal court?

The TOS goes both ways. Will the authors who've made less money because of the scamming that Amazon has not been policing get reimbursed? Those of us who've abided by the TOS have expectations as to what results our participation in the programs we've agreed to should be.
i am not holding my breath but it sure would be nice.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2018, 10:36:14 AM »
Most of the top sellers in New Adult are stuffed books, even blatantly so. If first impressions hold true, and Amazon really is drawing the line, a lot of best selling authors are about to receive notice.

Most of us know the serial abusers so there's no point in naming names. If their books are still sitting on the top lists a week from now we'll know whether or not Amazon is serious.


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2018, 10:44:21 AM »
Most of the top sellers in New Adult are stuffed books, even blatantly so. If first impressions hold true, and Amazon really is drawing the line, a lot of best selling authors are about to receive notice.

Most of us know the serial abusers so there's no point in naming names. If their books are still sitting on the top lists a week from now we'll know whether or not Amazon is serious.
Amazon typically rolls out changes, so I'm betting it will take more than a week. Perhaps Amazon will want to finish the current legal process before casting a wider net.

That said, I'm optimistic that the situation will get better, though it may take a little while. Since Amazon tends to be more reactive than proactive, I'm guessing either that Amazon was getting a growing number of customer complaints, seeing a customer behavior change (a lot of people have reported doing their browsing on Goodreads and only popping on to Amazon to complete a transaction--not the patter the Zon really wants), or experiencing the loss of some well-performing authors in KU. Any or all of those things might have been a wake-up call.


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Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #30 on: April 05, 2018, 11:03:41 AM »
That said, I'm optimistic that the situation will get better, though it may take a little while.

For a little while. Then the scammers will find another scam, while legitimate authors will suffer from random enforcement of Amazon's arbitrary rules introduced to stop the previous scam.

The fundamental problem is that KU literally gives scammers a license to print money. Amazon will just keep playing whack-a-mole until they shut the thing down.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2018, 11:12:27 AM »
Amazon typically rolls out changes, so I'm betting it will take more than a week. Perhaps Amazon will want to finish the current legal process before casting a wider net.

That said, I'm optimistic that the situation will get better, though it may take a little while. Since Amazon tends to be more reactive than proactive, I'm guessing either that Amazon was getting a growing number of customer complaints, seeing a customer behavior change (a lot of people have reported doing their browsing on Goodreads and only popping on to Amazon to complete a transaction--not the patter the Zon really wants), or experiencing the loss of some well-performing authors in KU. Any or all of those things might have been a wake-up call.

The most common complaint I've read in reviews concerns books ending "at 17%" or similar in their Kindles (I've noticed books that come to the end within the "Look Inside" feature).

Anyway, Amazon most likely has a broad list of suspects. Maybe they'll wait to see if they respond to this news of pending litigation on their own before bringing the hammer down. I'm sure they'd preferred to avoid legal action (on both sides) if it can be helped.

Only the customers buying their leisure reading by the pound will really be affected. Their $.99 will no longer buy 1500 pages at a time, and scheming authors will no longer make $7 selling their 100-page novellas.


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #32 on: April 05, 2018, 11:16:56 AM »
Anyone trying to upload a new title will be in for a big wait for the foreseeable future as the stuffers upload new content.  Will amazon be banning author accounts, raking back two months money and distributing it to authors? Not likely. Amazon are just tinkering again.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2018, 11:33:01 AM »
The future and what this means for it is definitely too vague to foretell, but for now Amazon - for once - clearly stating that book stuffing is a no no is nice to see. 

Agreed that the scammers will find something new to exploit, but maybe this will at least send the Im just doing this for the benefit of my readers apologists scurrying back to the shadows for a while.


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Offline AWritersLife

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2018, 11:38:00 AM »
I've yet to encounter book/bonus stuffing in genres other than romance. Is this just a romance thing?

(Note: I'm talking about actual writers stuffing books (people who can ACTUALLY WRITE), not those scammers who cram together a bunch of nonsense "books" to make a quick buck.)

Offline Stewart Matthews

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2018, 11:39:25 AM »
I've yet to encounter book/bonus stuffing in genres other than romance. Is this just a romance thing?

(Note: I'm talking about actual writers stuffing books (people who can ACTUALLY WRITE), not those scammers who cram together a bunch of nonsense "books" to make a quick buck.)

It is typically found in romance, but by no means is it restricted to romance.
 

Online Hope

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #36 on: April 05, 2018, 11:39:55 AM »
I'm excited to hear this. At least Amazon is finally taking this seriously.

Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2018, 11:58:09 AM »
I've yet to encounter book/bonus stuffing in genres other than romance. Is this just a romance thing?

(Note: I'm talking about actual writers stuffing books (people who can ACTUALLY WRITE), not those scammers who cram together a bunch of nonsense "books" to make a quick buck.)

Why does it matter if they are real books or garbage? I could argue that a real book has some value to a customer while garbage has no value to anyone except the scammers.

I've found fake books in non romance genres. But people only seem to want to mention Romance.

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Offline Randall Wood

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2018, 12:28:02 PM »
Long overdue.

And before we give praise to Amazon lets not forget that we've been telling them about this, flagging the books, sending countless emails, and basically raising hell, for years concerning this, and in all that time they responded with ZERO.

Today they chose to take down ONE guy. They spent the money on lawyers instead of a small staff to stop the problem at the door.

Is it a positive step? Yes. But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for any further action.


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Offline AWritersLife

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #39 on: April 05, 2018, 12:33:58 PM »
Why does it matter if they are real books or garbage? I could argue that a real book has some value to a customer while garbage has no value to anyone except the scammers.

I've found fake books in non romance genres. But people only seem to want to mention Romance.

It matters to me for my own reasons, which I'm not interested in explaining to you, a stranger on the net, sorry.

And I only mentioned romance because I can only speak for myself, and I've never encountered the kind of in-your-face bonus book stuffing being discussed here in other genres. If you've seen it elsewhere, feel free to mention them.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #40 on: April 05, 2018, 12:44:21 PM »
Romance has by far the highest percentage of voracious readers. Look at how Scribd (was it?) who had to limit the originally unlimited model of their subscription service? So romance is the low-hanging fruit with the highest ROI for stuffers.

Also, it's very competitive, so it stands to reason that in a tough market, there will be a higher percentage of real authors who will nevertheless be tempted to push the boundaries on techniques to make money--and the more they got away with it, the more they convinced themselves that what they were doing wasn't wrong or even against TOS--and some flat-out didn't care.

Any ecosystem will encourage certain behaviors, and when that ecosystem doesn't have sufficient penalties for bad behavior, bad behavior will abound. Look at, say, Italy, where tax evasion is a universal sport even among otherwise law-abiding citizens, or Russia and IP piracy.


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #41 on: April 05, 2018, 12:54:39 PM »
I've found fake books in non romance genres. But people only seem to want to mention Romance.

I think part of the issue is that while such schemes crop up elsewhere, it hurts Romance authors the most because Romance readers tend to be the most voracious. Romance is genuinely the only genre where it is completely normal for the typical reader to read one or more books a week, and it is not uncommon for them to read a book a day. You just don't see that level of normalized mass consumption in other genres. YA comes in second, but it isn't a real close second. But outside those two genres, you just don't see the extreme reader pop up normally. They exist, but they are rare. In romance and YA, they are the norm.

Because of the voraciousness of those audiences, romance writers compete on price more than most other genres. Which makes page READS in KU that much more valuable.

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Online Bill Hiatt

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #42 on: April 05, 2018, 12:56:52 PM »
For a little while. Then the scammers will find another scam, while legitimate authors will suffer from random enforcement of Amazon's arbitrary rules introduced to stop the previous scam.

The fundamental problem is that KU literally gives scammers a license to print money. Amazon will just keep playing whack-a-mole until they shut the thing down.
There's no question that KU as currently structured leaves a lot of room for abuse. I guess the question is whether a better system can be designed. I've seen programmers argue on both sides of that issue, so I'm not sure about some key variables, like whether or not Amazon can develop a routine that actually counts pages and is not as easily gameable. I suppose a bot flipping pages at the speed of a normal reader could probably get around any enforcement system, but it would also be less convenient.

Perhaps the key is making cheating difficult enough--and risky enough--to encourage scammers to find something else to scam. I believe Amazon could do that if it had the will to do it. Whether it actually does depends on how valuable KU is to Amazon. Do the KU subscribers end up buying other things, as some have speculated? If so, Amazon has to do something to keep decent content in the system so those subscribers will stick around. Part of that is eliminating scammers, and part is keeping strong authors in the program. Does Amazon value Select? If so, KU is about the only incentive there is to stay in the program. If an author can make more in KU than in going wide, that author may stay. If not, that author will probably go.

I suppose other motivations could be ascribed to Amazon, but the ones I've mentioned seem the most obviously beneficial to Amazon. There can't be that much profit from killing off Scribd, for example.


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Online Crystal_

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #43 on: April 05, 2018, 12:58:45 PM »
Can't wait to see what all the stuffer-defenders have to say about this.

I'd imagine there's a lot of formatting going on right now :)


Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca

Personally, I'd be happy as a clam if Amazon truly banned stuffing. But I'll bet good money that they won't do anything to actually stop it.

I've never defended the practice as a good thing, only as allowed by the rules, which I know, bc a rep told me "bonus content is allowed." It doesn't get more cut and dry than that. Even if I'd never heard from a rep, I've watched stuffed books soar up the chart for two years now. It's clearly been okay with Amazon, as they've done nothing to stop it.

If Amazon is going to continue to be cool with stuffing, and romance readers are going to continue buying/borrowing stuffed books, authors are going to continue doing it. Many legitimate, bestselling romance authors regularly use bonus books. It's not *just* people publishing gw schlock. I hate stuffing, but if Amazon keeps allowing it, I will use the strategy on occasion. In the current ecosystem, not stuffing puts you at a huge disadvantage.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 06:25:01 PM by Becca Mills »

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #44 on: April 05, 2018, 01:05:24 PM »
I hate stuffing, but if Amazon keeps allowing it, I will use the strategy on occasion. In the current ecosystem, not stuffing puts you at a huge disadvantage.

 :o

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Offline FelissaEly

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #45 on: April 05, 2018, 01:10:17 PM »

I've never defended the practice as a good thing, only as allowed by the rules, which I know, bc a rep told me "bonus content is allowed." It doesn't get more cut and dry than that.

Bold is mine, I really don't understand this. If a book is already readily available for sale on Amazon, is it TRULY "bonus" content just because it's stuffed in the back of another totally unrelated book by the same author? To me, bonus content is something that cannot be found or bought elsewhere. So I don't think it's as cut and dry as people may think.


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Offline Randall Wood

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #46 on: April 05, 2018, 01:13:10 PM »
:o


"I assign my own definitions to the rules in order to support my preconceived narrative."   ::)


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #47 on: April 05, 2018, 01:18:31 PM »
I just read a lot of another thread as well as this one and I'm still not sure I know what's meant by "stuffing."

I understand the use that refers to reordering content, maybe even renaming it, and then reselling it as something different. That definition of stuffing is clear to me. Or putting material in the Kindle edition that's incomplete or falsely advertised.

But if there's a book with a bonus novella in the back, and the bonus novella isn't included in any other book that author has published, is that stuffing? Or is it stuffing only if that same bonus novella, whether or not it has the same title, is put in the back of several of the author's books? Trad publishers do this--they put the same preview of Book X in the back of several different books all getting published at the same time. So, if I have several stand-alone books and put the same preview or novella in the back of them, is that stuffing?

Anyway, I'm just confused about this. Especially since, as I understand it, unless someone reads--and not using page flip--the pages in a KU book, the author doesn't get paid for the pages read. Are readers actually reading content that they've already read? Or is something else going on here?

I'm just trying to understand this so I won't accidentally engage in this practice. Right now I have a box set of a series, and I assumed this is okay. It's clearly stated in the listing that it's the box set of these three books, which are also available individually. Or is that "stuffing" as well?


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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #48 on: April 05, 2018, 01:24:19 PM »
Bold is mine, I really don't understand this. If a book is already readily available for sale on Amazon, is it TRULY "bonus" content just because it's stuffed in the back of another totally unrelated book by the same author? To me, bonus content is something that cannot be found or bought elsewhere. So I don't think it's as cut and dry as people may think.

It was in the context of a conversation. A friend and I were actually professing our dislike of bonus content and wish that KDP would do something about it. That was a year ago, so, clearly they have not done anything about it.

 People tend to use "bonus books" and "stuffing" as interchangeable terms. The typical practice is something like this:
New Release
Backlist Book 1
Backlist Book 2

It may be one backlist book or it may be ten.

I'm not interested in arguing with anyone about whether or not bonus content is allowed. IMO, Amazon's continued lack of action proves that it is. Every email I've ever seen from KDP has also shown that it is allowed. I'm not happy about that, but it is what it is. I've tried it a few times, because I'm pragmatic, and why should dozens of other authors who continue to use bonus books again and again with no repercussions make money that could be mine? Sometimes, it's worked well. Other times, it's worked less well. I don't really like the practice and prefer not to do it. But I also prefer to maximize my profits.

Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #49 on: April 05, 2018, 01:25:04 PM »
I think part of the issue is that while such schemes crop up elsewhere, it hurts Romance authors the most because Romance readers tend to be the most voracious. Romance is genuinely the only genre where it is completely normal for the typical reader to read one or more books a week, and it is not uncommon for them to read a book a day. You just don't see that level of normalized mass consumption in other genres. YA comes in second, but it isn't a real close second. But outside those two genres, you just don't see the extreme reader pop up normally. They exist, but they are rare. In romance and YA, they are the norm.

Because of the voraciousness of those audiences, romance writers compete on price more than most other genres. Which makes page READS in KU that much more valuable.

I know Romance is extremely popular in KU but whenever these threads pop up, it always turns into a dump on Romance, either the genre as a whole or niches.

The scammers are still stuffing and by doing it in smaller genres, like BIOGRAPHICAL, they are getting away with it. No more botting to the top so that they are easily spotted. Occasional borrows for 100 PD translated books (at 3000 KENP) is easy money.

I've been tracking dozens of "pen names" since last year and a handful of those books are still up. (well over 150 books are no longer in the store. Doubt KDP took them down, or the pen name would have been completely gone.)

As Randall said above, they went after ONE guy. I'm not expecting any changes that makes our life easier or for the scamming to stop.

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