Author Topic: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]  (Read 52374 times)  

Offline Just Griff

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #50 on: April 05, 2018, 01:26:29 PM »

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

Is that fair? From what I've read, and of course people might be fabricating exchanges with Amazon reps, but authors have received different or vague answers on this issue... add that to stuffed books topping the romance charts and I understand why people make the decisions they do. I have a day job, but some people have to compete in order to pay their bills. Ultimately, if Amazon was clear on their policy, and enforced it consistently, there wouldn't have been years of gray area affecting the decisions of legit authors who survive on royalties.

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #51 on: April 05, 2018, 01:28:42 PM »
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.

No. The whole concept is fundamentally broken.

Any subscription model requires that at least one of the writer, the reader and the middleman gets screwed. Amazon won't screw the reader, which means any scammer can pay $9.99 and 'read' as many of their own books as they want, thereby paying themselves far more than the cost of the subscription (if they didn't just get it for free).

Amazon can't stop that without restricting the amount a reader is allowed to read. Which they won't do because KU exists to encourage more people to go to Amazon and buy toilet paper while they're borrowing books.

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #52 on: April 05, 2018, 01:31:55 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'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?

This isnt about clearly labeled box sets, or a small story / chapter at the end of a big one.

This is about putting multiple other books (usually also for sale on their own or in multiple stuffed books), at the end of the one being advertised / sold.   

These arent sold as box sets or anthologies, usually just with a vague includes bonus content note (if anything) on them.  This isnt a case of the main book ending at, say, 80% and the rest being bonus material. This is a case where the bonus material itself takes up the vast majority of the file space.


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Offline Randall Wood

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #53 on: April 05, 2018, 01:32:27 PM »
Is that fair? From what I've read, and of course people might be fabricating exchanges with Amazon reps, but authors have received different or vague answers on this issue... add that to stuffed books topping the romance charts and I understand why people make the decisions they do. I have a day job, but some people have to compete in order to pay their bills. Ultimately, if Amazon was clear on their policy, and enforced it consistently, there wouldn't have been years of gray area affecting the decisions of legit authors who survive on royalties.

There's a difference between going with the common definition of a rule and shopping for the definition you want/need to justify your behavior. 

Edited to add: if you're in a competitive genre that's dominated by stuffers and you see no alternative but to stuff your self, then just say that. Don't try to convince us that the rules allow it in some head-in-the-sand circular argument. I'll at least have some respect for the former, but never the latter.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 01:38:53 PM by Randall Wood »


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Offline Monique

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #54 on: April 05, 2018, 01:34:21 PM »
Is that fair? From what I've read, and of course people might be fabricating exchanges with Amazon reps, but authors have received different or vague answers on this issue... add that to stuffed books topping the romance charts and I understand why people make the decisions they do. I have a day job, but some people have to compete in order to pay their bills. Ultimately, if Amazon was clear on their policy, and enforced it consistently, there wouldn't have been years of gray area affecting the decisions of legit authors who survive on royalties.

Knowing what you're doing is wrong and doing it anyway because you feel it's justified to earn money is unethical. There's no confusion in doing it. It's rationalized because they want to make money and will do *whatever* it takes to do that. They "have" to do it to compete. No, no they don't.

Ugh.

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Offline dianapersaud

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2018, 01:36:02 PM »
Is that fair? From what I've read, and of course people might be fabricating exchanges with Amazon reps, but authors have received different or vague answers on this issue... add that to stuffed books topping the romance charts and I understand why people make the decisions they do. I have a day job, but some people have to compete in order to pay their bills. Ultimately, if Amazon was clear on their policy, and enforced it consistently, there wouldn't have been years of gray area affecting the decisions of legit authors who survive on royalties.

(IIRC, Last year) There were some Romance authors who briefly had their ranks stripped and it was assumed that it was because of stuffing. But their ranks were restored, so at that point, KDP didn't have a problem with it.

Does anyone know the facts surrounding this case?
Is it botting? Multiple accounts?

I found an old article dating back to Sept 2017 but it didn't have much info.

ETA:
Found it on DGaughran's second post with the links.

It's not just duplicate content, but using click farms/bots.

I thought I read somewhere that there was an issue of multiple accounts, so I'm wondering if that's where the "duplicate content" comes in.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 01:44:21 PM by dianapersaud »

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2018, 01:36:45 PM »
It's in black-and-white in filed court documents that Amazon says stuffing is against the TOS.

Of course, the usual suspects argue otherwise.
Stuff for writers thisaway

Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2018, 01:38:08 PM »
I have a day job, but some people have to compete in order to pay their bills.

Is is really competing or is it cheating?  If a business owner finds something morally or ethically repugnant, yet still does it to compete, Im not sure what that really says about a business.

I have bills to pay, but choose not to sell drugs or run an illegal lottery to do so. Extreme examples compared to what were talking about, true, but trying to get my point across.

There comes a point where youre not really competing, so much as lowering yourself to the others who are breaking the rules.


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Offline Just Griff

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #58 on: April 05, 2018, 01:42:17 PM »
There's a difference between going with the common definition of a rule and shopping for the definition you want/need to justify your behavior.

Right. My point was that there wasn't a common definition. I think the only people who don't want a common, enforced definition are scammers.

The way I see it, Amazon reps created confusion with conflicting responses on the matter. Amazon also allowed for this tactic to succeed on their platform for years. So why turn on each other? None of us make the rules.

Offline joesmithx

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #59 on: April 05, 2018, 01:45:39 PM »
Is is really competing or is it cheating?  If a business owner finds something morally or ethically repugnant, yet still does it to compete, Im not sure what that really says about a business.

I have bills to pay, but choose not to sell drugs or run an illegal lottery to do so. Extreme examples compared to what were talking about, true, but trying to get my point across.

There comes a point where youre not really competing, so much as lowering yourself to the others who are breaking the rules.

I think we've all known people in real life who are always coming up with the latest "brilliant idea" to get rich fast. They're usually the ones always trying to rope you in because this time their idea can't possibly fail! But it always does and they end up back at square one. You start thinking, "Gee, if they'd just get a regular 9-to-5 job like everyone else, they'd probably make the same amount (if not more!) money, with less effort." But they don't see it that way.

If Amazon plugs this, the people doing it will just look for another way to exploit the new system. I doubt if it's all about the money. As I said before, some of these people are good to decent writers and I believe they could make the same amount, if not more, just by writing and releasing and not messing with this stuff.

But, again, it's just not how they're hardwired.

Offline Bill Hiatt

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #60 on: April 05, 2018, 01:48:32 PM »
No. The whole concept is fundamentally broken.

Any subscription model requires that at least one of the writer, the reader and the middleman gets screwed. Amazon won't screw the reader, which means any scammer can pay $9.99 and 'read' as many of their own books as they want, thereby paying themselves far more than the cost of the subscription (if they didn't just get it for free).

Amazon can't stop that without restricting the amount a reader is allowed to read. Which they won't do because KU exists to encourage more people to go to Amazon and buy toilet paper while they're borrowing books.
Is the problem really just a scammer reading his or her own books? Clearly not, but botted reads would be fixable if Amazon wanted to put some personnel behind it. Eliminating the garbage that probably only bots ever actually read would go far toward solving some of those issues. At the very least, that would force scammers to make more effort to get the same result. No more gibberish, no more endless regurgitation of public domain stuff, etc.

As far as stuffing is concerned, a simple rule change to only allow the same content in KU once would solve a large part of the issue. Amazon already has the technology to check for identical content; all they need to do is repurpose it. Box sets would still be allowed, but the box couldn't be in KU if the individual titles were. (As an alternative, box sets could be virtualized as suggested earlier in the thread. As far as stuffing itself is concerned, people could put their whole catalog in each book if they felt like it--but only if they took all those individual works out of KU. That would pretty well kill the practice.


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Offline Rick Gualtieri

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #61 on: April 05, 2018, 01:49:15 PM »
If Amazon plugs this, the people doing it will just look for another way to exploit the new system. I doubt if it's all about the money. As I said before, some of these people are good to decent writers and I believe they could make the same amount, if not more, just by writing and releasing and not messing with this stuff.

But, again, it's just not how they're hardwired.

I dont disagree. Theres definitely that subset out there who enjoys the rush of breaking the rules and/or getting one over on THE MAN.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 01:55:33 PM by Rick Gualtieri »


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Offline kw3000

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #62 on: April 05, 2018, 01:50:04 PM »
Great news!  8)

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #63 on: April 05, 2018, 01:52:50 PM »
No. The whole concept is fundamentally broken.

it is fundamentally broken BY DESIGN. KU was never meant to be profitable. It is a loss leader for Amazon designed to get people into the ecosystem and gain control of the larger market. And that is ultimately the problem. The entire payment structures to authors is arbitrary and based on what Amazon thinks our tolerance level is, not actual profit and loss. This has only become an issue for Amazon because of the volume of noise being made by customers. AUTHORS have been complaining from the beginning, but it is only recently that you are starting to see actual customers notice what is going on and start complaining.

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Offline GeneDoucette

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #64 on: April 05, 2018, 01:54:14 PM »
My definition of bonus content is "things I wouldn't be surprised to find at the end of a print edition". My definition of stuffing is "things I would never expect to find at the end of a print edition." In a print edition, I would expect to find multiple stories in an anthology, a teaser chapter for a new book by the author at the end of a single-story volume, a (perhaps lengthy) other-books-by-the-author section. I would never expect, in a print edition, to find a bunch of other full novels by the author.

Offline Phxsundog

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #65 on: April 05, 2018, 01:57:59 PM »
Truth is most authors would be ecstatic to see bonus books end. There's no proof in this lawsuit anything is changing there. More authors are stuffing, and stuffing more, as long as the practice is allowed. I can't blame them for one simple reason: it's survival. The same group you see forcing horribly ghostwritten content to the top in romance for the past year is able to support $1000-2000 per day ad spends. They can only do that because they stuff every release to near 3000 pages. Often their formatting is intentionally poor on top of the stuffing to get even more pages. Triple spaced lines, huge fonts, click-to-the-end tricks, 'exclusive' stories shoved behind several other bonus books. You name it. I'm surprised there's never any uproar over this part when books are intentionally being badly formatted for page reads. That's something Amazon should do something about, whatever they decide to do with bonus books. The ugly truth is, every romance author should be stuffing until Amazon ends the practice if they want a prayer at competing with this group. There's no other way to afford the same ad spends they do unless you stuff, meaning better authors will be permanently trapped in a lower tier under this junk unless they stuff to support more ads. Like it or not, stuffing is here to stay until Amazon outright says no more. Not stuffing to compete is just surrendering every high rank and KU bonus to low quality content mills with enormous ad budgets.

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #66 on: April 05, 2018, 02:00:26 PM »
(IIRC, Last year) There were some Romance authors who briefly had their ranks stripped and it was assumed that it was because of stuffing. But their ranks were restored, so at that point, KDP didn't have a problem with it.

Does anyone know the facts surrounding this case?
Is it botting? Multiple accounts?

I found an old article dating back to Sept 2017 but it didn't have much info.

ETA:
Found it on DGaughran's second post with the links.

It's not just duplicate content, but using click farms/bots.

I thought I read somewhere that there was an issue of multiple accounts, so I'm wondering if that's where the "duplicate content" comes in.

No one really knows why those authors were rank stripped, but the commonly accepted reason was botting. I don't think everyone was intentionally botting. I think some people had done so unwittingly by using a shady promo series, but there's no way to really know.

Even this case seems to be more about botting.

I'd be very (pleasantly) surprised if Amazon did anything about bonus books/stuffing.

Truth is most authors would be ecstatic to see bonus books end. There's no proof in this lawsuit anything is changing there. More authors are stuffing, and stuffing more, as long as the practice is allowed. I can't blame them for one simple reason: it's survival. The same group you see forcing horribly ghostwritten content to the top in romance for the past year is able to support $1000-2000 per day ad spends. They can only do that because they stuff every release to near 3000 pages. Often their formatting is intentionally poor on top of the stuffing to get even more pages. Triple spaced lines, huge fonts, click-to-the-end tricks, 'exclusive' stories shoved behind several other bonus books. You name it. I'm surprised there's never any uproar over this part when books are intentionally being badly formatted for page reads. That's something Amazon should do something about, whatever they decide to do with bonus books. The ugly truth is, every romance author should be stuffing until Amazon ends the practice if they want a prayer at competing with this group. There's no other way to afford the same ad spends they do unless you stuff, meaning better authors will be permanently trapped in a lower tier under this junk unless they stuff to support more ads. Like it or not, stuffing is here to stay until Amazon outright says no more. Not stuffing to compete is just surrendering every high rank and KU bonus to low quality content mills with enormous ad budgets.

This, basically.

Offline C. Gockel

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #67 on: April 05, 2018, 02:03:27 PM »
I've always wished they'd just say one title, one book, period in KU and be done with it. Like when you file a single-title copyright with the copyright office. Crystal clear, easy to enforce. Sadly, they don't ask me for my fabulous suggestions! But I wouldn't be surprised if that happens. Single title, max 1,000 KENPC or the like.

Right now my only KU exposure is multi-author anthologies (exclusive content only, so it doesn't violate TOS.) I really love short stories, and one of the only ways to make them profitable is through KU anthos. I would hate to see them go away, and by extension, shorts.


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Offline Just Griff

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #68 on: April 05, 2018, 02:07:16 PM »
Is it too late to tiptoe out of this thread? ;D

Knowing what you're doing is wrong and doing it anyway because you feel it's justified to earn money is unethical. There's no confusion in doing it. It's rationalized because they want to make money and will do *whatever* it takes to do that. They "have" to do it to compete. No, no they don't.

Ugh.

I don't stuff. I haven't written enough titles to stuff. So forgive me if it's just my own ignorance, but aren't romance writers stuffing so that people keep reading books conveniently at the back? I know scammers are using bots, but aren't the legit authors just doing it so they can capitalize on a new readers attention? Using bots is clearly wrong, but I thought legit authors for doing it for reader convenience. If new stories are there, they can just continue on without needing to browse. Reader convenience = more page reads. No?

It's in black-and-white in filed court documents that Amazon says stuffing is against the TOS.

Of course, the usual suspects argue otherwise.

Clarity is great. I'm not a usual suspect nor someone who profits on any of this. Just someone who's been reading the threads on this issue and empathizing with legit authors who were confused by what they were seeing and hearing.

Is is really competing or is it cheating?  If a business owner finds something morally or ethically repugnant, yet still does it to compete, Im not sure what that really says about a business.

I have bills to pay, but choose not to sell drugs or run an illegal lottery to do so. Extreme examples compared to what were talking about, true, but trying to get my point across.

There comes a point where youre not really competing, so much as lowering yourself to the others who are breaking the rules.

Using bots is cheating, clearly. Bonus books by legit authors in an effort to maximize the attention span of new readers... I'm not sure. Bonus books by legit authors seeking to be paid for duplicate reads... cheating, but it really shouldn't be in my opinion. If someone actually rereads a title because they love it that much, I've always wondered why the author shouldn't be paid like a band or singer on a streaming sub service. But that's another matter.

I see your point. From what I've read not everyone sees this as a clear cut right and wrong. For some it's a allowed or not allowed argument. This tactic was used by different people with completely different motives, so I think that's also part of the problem as well.



Offline Lefevre

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #69 on: April 05, 2018, 02:10:08 PM »
Thanks David G. you rock!
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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #70 on: April 05, 2018, 02:11:43 PM »
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.

I read the sections that David highlighted from the court papers. It seems pretty darn clear that book stuffing is against the TOS regardless of what anyone told you from the customer service department before this suit was made public. Relying on what some random person said instead of Amazon's lawyers ... that's sort of crazy to me.  It seems like you're just hoping that Amazon won't come down on everyone who is stuffing and you're willing to roll that dice. I get that its hard out there with a lot of other people stuffing but you're risking being sued by Amazon or having your account banned, etc.  Are you REALLY willing to risk it for more page reads? The quoted material that David has pointed out makes it crystal clear that book stuffing isn't allowed. It's not a matter of opinion anymore, if it ever really was. So you can't say if they come after you: well, random customer service person said it was okay!  They'll say you had notice because of this case that it wasn't.  I'd be very nervous if I was a stuffer. Seriously nervous.

Offline lilywhite

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #71 on: April 05, 2018, 02:12:35 PM »
Sadly, they don't ask me for my fabulous suggestions!

Mine either, dang it!

Offline AgnesWebb

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #72 on: April 05, 2018, 02:13:09 PM »
FINALLY!!!

Offline Atlantisatheart

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #73 on: April 05, 2018, 02:18:04 PM »
Is it too late to tiptoe out of this thread? ;D

 This tactic was used by different people with completely different motives, so I think that's also part of the problem as well.

I don't think so. If people wanted to do this for legit reasons then they could have bundled their books once and been done with it. Readers would have found those bundles with a link.

Did they really think readers wouldn't start to complain? Give them something free once and they're happy, keep giving them the same books over and over and not so much happy as cheesed off. Then there are the readers who expect full length books and end up with a hundred pages. It had to come back to bite them eventually.

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Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers
« Reply #74 on: April 05, 2018, 02:18:34 PM »
It's in black-and-white in filed court documents that Amazon says stuffing is against the TOS.

Of course, the usual suspects argue otherwise.

Yes, THIS. Why is everyone on the pro-stuffing side acting like Amazon wasn't crystal about this in the court documents?  It's not just an opinion about book stuffing. It's a FACT. Seriously, book stuffers (and I'm not in KU so I don't have quite the dog in this race) should be freaked out by this ruling. They should be reformating their books NOW to eliminate the stuffed material.  Yes, the guy botted and did other stuff, but there's paragraph after paragraph about how STUFFING in and of itself is harmful to KU, Amazon and other authors in KU who don't stuff. This is Amazon saying this, not just other authors.  It can't get any clearer than this. Waiting to see if Amazon does anything is a bad move.  Because they don't ask you nicely to do something, they simply ban your account, rank strip you, or worse, sue you.