Author Topic: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.  (Read 36240 times)  

Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #50 on: April 08, 2018, 03:03:24 AM »
This article quotes it as being hundreds of thousands of account closures, and also points out the risks of being dependent on a company that acts without warning.

http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-account-closing-shows-dark-side-of-growth-2018-4

It is quite possible there is a link between page reads being removed and these accounts being banned, but it doesnt help to know that.

Everyone, customer and suppliers alike, will have a different bottoming out point with Amazon when enough is enough. I walked out of KU during the tsunami of 2016, and no doubt therell be another walkout in 2018 unless Amazon change their approach toward suppliers. However, given their treatment of supposed bad actors, many of whom I suspect have done nothing wrong, clearly they dont think they need to operate any differently.

Maybe this is a new world order and companies can do whatever they want and we will be powerless. It doesnt have to end that way, but it remains to be seen if enough customers and suppliers will give Amazon the flick and their shareholders straighten up and demand real profit. Personally, Id hate to see this type of abuse of power become normalized, so I hope en mass people have the good sense to know when its time to take back the power theyre giving to a company that isnt treating them fairly.

Offline mawnster

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #51 on: April 08, 2018, 03:11:55 AM »
The number being talked about is 1000's of people being ejected, not 20-30. Completely different scale.

Those 1000's refers to customers who are shopping and reading books, not the people engaged in "book stuffing" or possible scamming/botting with scraped content books.

Considering that being around the 1500 rank in overall authors nets you about $630 a day, there's only 1499 authors at that point making more than you at that rank. How many of those 1499 authors are "book stuffing" or "scammers"? 10? 20? 30? It's very likely a small number, especially when you see the top earning authors list and many of them are verifiable people who open presences both here and with their fans.

Is it worth it, to catch a small number of people skimming from the pot, to see all these bystander authors have their earnings slashed in half? I don't think so.

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #52 on: April 08, 2018, 03:16:52 AM »
Those 1000's refers to customers who are shopping and reading books, not the people engaged in "book stuffing" or possible scamming/botting with scraped content books.

Considering that being around the 1500 rank in overall authors nets you about $630 a day, there's only 1499 authors at that point making more than you at that rank. How many of those 1499 authors are "book stuffing" or "scammers"? 10? 20? 30? It's very likely a small number, especially when you see the top earning authors list and many of them are verifiable people who open presences both here and with their fans.

Is it worth it, to catch a small number of people skimming from the pot, to see all these bystander authors have their earnings slashed in half? I don't think so.

Smart scammers (and most of them are smart) don't bot their books up that high. That makes them too visible. We're talking about a lot more than 20 or 30. Also since it's about the accounts, each of those scammers may have 1000's of Amazon reader accounts.

Offline mawnster

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #53 on: April 08, 2018, 03:22:47 AM »
Smart scammers (and most of them are smart) don't bot their books up that high. That makes them too visible. We're talking about a lot more than 20 or 30. Also since it's about the accounts, each of those scammers may have 1000's of Amazon reader accounts.

Okay so are we talking about scraped-content book botters? Or people who put bonus books in the back of their top 100 romance novels? Because 95% of the complaints I see from people like David Gaughran is "this list of bad boy romance authors is book stuffing and scamming!"

And those bad boy romance authors are definitely not skirting the line of invisibility. They're charting high, since DG frequently refers to being able to look at the top 100 of romance books to "find the book stuffers and scammers".

Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #54 on: April 08, 2018, 03:28:16 AM »
Is it worth it, to catch a small number of people skimming from the pot, to see all these bystander authors have their earnings slashed in half? I don't think so.

Yes, it's the fault of people asking Amazon to crack down on scammers, definitely not on Amazon or the scammers, LOL.
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Offline mawnster

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #55 on: April 08, 2018, 03:36:44 AM »
Yes, it's the fault of people asking Amazon to crack down on scammers, definitely not on Amazon or the scammers, LOL.

So, was it worth it?

Edit to remove names. Evenstar, Moderator
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 09:08:04 AM by Evenstar »

Offline W.R. Gingell

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #56 on: April 08, 2018, 03:48:56 AM »
I'm unsure why this thread is developing into a personal attack on David, who as far as I can see has always been on hand to help Indies. Especially by Anon posters who only came onto KBoards and only commented on the 2 threads talking about scammer and stuffers.

Perhaps time to get back onto topic instead of trying to eviscerate our own?

Offline mawnster

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #57 on: April 08, 2018, 03:52:03 AM »
I'm unsure why this thread is developing into a personal attack on David, who as far as I can see has always been on hand to help Indies. Especially by Anon posters who only came onto KBoards and only commented on the 2 threads talking about scammer and stuffers.

Perhaps time to get back onto topic instead of trying to eviscerate our own?

David spearheaded a campaign that has now hurt probably thousands of authors.

It's fine. I got the answer I expected to get.

Offline W.R. Gingell

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #58 on: April 08, 2018, 03:56:50 AM »
David spearheaded a campaign that has now hurt probably thousands of authors.

It's fine. I got the answer I expected to get.

The people who have been hurt have been hurt by the scammers. Not David.

And by Amazon's heavy hand trying to fix things. Not David.

The only people who are responsible are the people doing the wrong thing, not the people calling for change to a messed-up system that is cheating honest authors.

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #59 on: April 08, 2018, 04:15:46 AM »
Okay so are we talking about scraped-content book botters? Or people who put bonus books in the back of their top 100 romance novels? Because 95% of the complaints I see from people like David Gaughran is "this list of bad boy romance authors is book stuffing and scamming!"

And those bad boy romance authors are definitely not skirting the line of invisibility. They're charting high, since DG frequently refers to being able to look at the top 100 of romance books to "find the book stuffers and scammers".

I think there are two things being confuddled here.

The court case that David refers to deals with a single book stuffer.

The disappearing reads appear closely related to Amazon's nixing of thousands of accounts with their associated reads, that may or (as Amazon does these things) may not have been fake. Fake accounts are used by botters of all stripes (presumably including a subset of stuffers because some people don't stop at one shady tactic) to inflate page reads. They can (and do) this at all ranking levels, and I suspect there are quite a few more than 20 or 30.

Offline W.R. Gingell

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #60 on: April 08, 2018, 04:31:36 AM »
I think there are two things being confuddled here.

The court case that David refers to deals with a single book stuffer.

The disappearing reads appear closely related to Amazon's nixing of thousands of accounts with their associated reads, that may or (as Amazon does these things) may not have been fake. Fake accounts are used by botters of all stripes (presumably including a subset of stuffers because some people don't stop at one shady tactic) to inflate page reads. They can (and do) this at all ranking levels, and I suspect there are quite a few more than 20 or 30.

I do agree that they're two different cases, but I think it's no coincidence that they're both happening at once. And what I mean by that is that Amazon seems to be trying to crack down on scammers of all kinds at last; and although they're doing it in their usual heavy-handed way, at least they're doing it.

And yeah, from what I understand, there are quite a few more than 20 or 30. Enough to upset the ecosystem, so to speak, and enough to at last make Amazon realise they're losing money.

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #61 on: April 08, 2018, 07:31:26 AM »
I wonder if all this drama is also happening to trad published books, and if so, what the publishers are doing about it.  ::)

Trad pub books in KU don't get paid by page-reads. They get a flat per-book-borrowed.

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #62 on: April 08, 2018, 08:02:20 AM »
Trad pub books in KU don't get paid by page-reads. They get a flat per-book-borrowed.

Be interesting to see if their borrows suddenly disappear  ::)

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #63 on: April 08, 2018, 08:05:39 AM »
Considering that being around the 1500 rank in overall authors nets you about $630 a day, there's only 1499 authors at that point making more than you at that rank. How many of those 1499 authors are "book stuffing" or "scammers"? 10? 20? 30? It's very likely a small number, especially when you see the top earning authors list and many of them are verifiable people who open presences both here and with their fans.

Is it worth it, to catch a small number of people skimming from the pot, to see all these bystander authors have their earnings slashed in half? I don't think so.

1) The KU global fund is based on how many page reads total there are, and what Amazon thinks we will tolerate being paid. So if there's less pages being calculated, that doesn't mean the page rate will go up. It could just as well stay the same since we've all shown we're more than fine accepting less than .005 per page in payment. Why would Amazon pay us MORE? They don't have to.

2) You're always going to have someone cheating the system. That's life. You can try to fix it, and close up those loop holes, but if it just ends up costing a bunch of innocents and hurting EVERYONE, then it's not worth stopping the scammers. At least, not to me. I have seen so many people, friends, acquaintances, losing up to 50% of their page reads. A scammer or stuffer can afford a drop in page reads. Some of these people, making $10 a month, $500 a month, can't afford that drop.

Methinks thou protest too much. For someone who is afraid to show your face or your books, you sure seem to know a lot about Amazon. I am also reminded of the old adage that 76% of all statistics are made up. Since you have some issues with the truth, let me explain a few things. Number one, having had a book hit much higher than 1500 in the overall store in the past 30 days, I can testify that $630 is laughable. I never hit $250 in a day and I hit 886.

Also, the pot isn't contingent on how much people read, but on how many subscribers there are. And do I think that funding your yacht is worth it so that all us little people don't get hurt occasionally? No. That is the most specious and disgusting argument I've heard on this entire thread.

As to attacks on David, it sounds as though he's gored your ox. Good for him.

Now, on to the issues at hand. I have been reading and talking to people here and on facebook and Twitter, as well as what's in the press. Here is what I think is happening. Something of a perfect storm.

Amazon cracked down on the scammers and the bots. They have removed page reads for those scammers and bots they've identified. Those were revenues the authors were never entitled to. Some legit authors got caught because they were being used for camouflage.

Second thing that happened is Amazon cracked down on fake and paid reviews and deleted a lot of user accounts. The wailing and gnashing of teeth on Twitter sounds like people cut off from a revenue stream, not those upset because they have to find another source of shoestrings and dog food.

It's this second occurrence that screwed the pooch. The whole KU system is incredibly fragile. Trying to collect data from millions of different devices all over the world is one hell of a programming feat. I think that when they closed all those accounts, they unintentionally wiped out the page reads of those accounts. Since they probably didn't consider testing what happens when you close the account of someone who got paid to review a lawn mower, and they never deleted tens of thousands of accounts all at once before, they had no idea what the consequences would be off in that little corner of the Amazon empire known as Kindle Unlimited.

If this is the case, I would also surmise that they have no way of recovering those page reads. So, some authors have a sudden windfall removed and are upset. I understand why. A lot more authors are hurt due to a glitch in Amazon's glitchy system, and for those people I am truly sorry.

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Offline Usedtoposthere

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #64 on: April 08, 2018, 08:09:27 AM »
So, was it worth it?
Wow, it must be cool to be David and have Amazon finally crack down on botters, stuffers, and review-incentivizers just because you say so! I'll bet he's stroking his enormous beard (or perhaps his white Persian cat) right now and chuckling evilly. "Yes, yes, the game's afoot, my pretties."

If David, Phoenix, and all the rest of us who told our reps, "This is unacceptable" actually had any kind of impact--color me surprised. I do think KU lost some authors they really, really wanted to keep, though. I suspect that may have made an impact.

Edit of quoted post. Evenstar
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 09:12:50 AM by Evenstar »

Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #65 on: April 08, 2018, 08:21:10 AM »
So, I see possible oddities in one account that I, admittedly, have a very limited view into. And Lucey was able to discern that there were big discrepancies in her account that she attributes to bot reads.

If you're a low-to-moderately selling author* who's lost a substantial percentage of your page reads for March and are willing to share your ranks, sales and page reads with me, I'll run them through a quick analysis to see if there are any big tells regarding botted reads, such as Lucey ran across. I'll share results but will maintain your anonymity if you prefer.

( *Discriminating only because if you're a big seller with a large catalog who did a lot of promo, it's more difficult to pick through the cross-talk and static.)

And big kudos to Lucey for coming forward and sharing her story! One datapoint only, of course, but a very helpful one.

Could it be that the hundreds to thousands of closed accounts just happened to be the ones that read fully half of all the borrowed books in any one author's account, yet didn't read any books in the majority of authors who didn't lose page reads in March? Think about it. 192,000 out of 197,000 page reads (around 500 full reads and 97% of ALL the pages read) attributed to a few thousand closed accounts? $500 worth of page reads that mysteriously appeared without promo all read by closed accounts? How does that compute in an organic universe? Not saying it's impossible, just seems highly improbable.

Online Acheknia

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #66 on: April 08, 2018, 08:32:58 AM »

Second thing that happened is Amazon cracked down on fake and paid reviews and deleted a lot of user accounts.

I think that when they closed all those accounts, they unintentionally wiped out the page reads of those accounts. Since they probably didn't consider testing what happens when you close the account of someone who got paid to review a lawn mower, and they never deleted tens of thousands of accounts all at once before, they had no idea what the consequences would be off in that little corner of the Amazon empire known as Kindle Unlimited.

If this is the case, I would also surmise that they have no way of recovering those page reads. So, some authors have a sudden windfall removed and are upset. I understand why. A lot more authors are hurt due to a glitch in Amazon's glitchy system, and for those people I am truly sorry.

I fear this is it entirely. ^

My 1st thought was that legit reads would/might be reinstated (in the same way genuine people got their reviews or rankings back after being checked) but I think you're right, Amazon would probably have no idea who is genuinely entitled to what.
I say probably because I can't help thinking, surely they wouldn't delete all of that data completely? It might be deleted from our view but they may still have it.
Whether they would do the work involved in finding out who is owed what, might be a whole 'nuvver story. :)

Online Arches

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #67 on: April 08, 2018, 08:34:06 AM »
I'm sure it doesn't get said often enough, but thanks to everyone on the forum who's working to understand what's going on and explain it to everybody else.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 08:58:03 AM by Arches »

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #68 on: April 08, 2018, 08:41:33 AM »
I'm sure it doesn't get said often enough, but thanks to every on the forum who's working to understand what's going on and explain it to everybody else.

Adding my thanks too. :)

Offline Not Lu

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #69 on: April 08, 2018, 08:57:29 AM »

It's this second occurrence that screwed the pooch. The whole KU system is incredibly fragile. Trying to collect data from millions of different devices all over the world is one hell of a programming feat. I think that when they closed all those accounts, they unintentionally wiped out the page reads of those accounts. Since they probably didn't consider testing what happens when you close the account of someone who got paid to review a lawn mower, and they never deleted tens of thousands of accounts all at once before, they had no idea what the consequences would be off in that little corner of the Amazon empire known as Kindle Unlimited.

If this is the case, I would also surmise that they have no way of recovering those page reads. So, some authors have a sudden windfall removed and are upset. I understand why. A lot more authors are hurt due to a glitch in Amazon's glitchy system, and for those people I am truly sorry.

Amazon uses a transaction based system so they have the data in raw form (individual page count download) for each KU account. If they find that they've deleted legitimate accounts and associated page reads they can restore the reads by simply loading the transactions again. We'll have to wait and see if they believe they've got it right or if they need to restore some of the reads.

On the larger issue, I think it would be helpful to know if the issue was caused by a removal of review accounts or the removal of bot accounts (or both). If you've lost page reads due to bots they probably won't be restored. If you've lost page reads due to review accounts then there's a little bit of hope that Amazon will decide that the reads should be restored (although they could consider them "bought" pages from paid for reviews and not restore them).


Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #70 on: April 08, 2018, 09:10:49 AM »
Wow, it must be cool to be David and have Amazon finally crack down on botters, stuffers, and review-incentivizers just because you say so! I'll bet he's stroking his enormous beard (or perhaps his white Persian cat) right now and chuckling evilly. "Yes, yes, the game's afoot, my pretties."

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #71 on: April 08, 2018, 09:14:56 AM »
The problem with assuming theyre reads from now banned accounts is that wouldnt account for the uptick in page reads people saw in March. Assuming those accounts were bad actors, then you would have the usual page reads and then a reduction when their pages reads were removed.

The unusual uptick for March suggests there was a significant increase in bot/scammer activity, which might have been genuine scammers taking advantage of the temporary deranking of erotica books. If I were a scammer (and Im not) I might view that deranking as a convenient smoke screen to download and bot read more books.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #72 on: April 08, 2018, 09:19:42 AM »
The problem with assuming theyre reads from now banned accounts is that wouldnt account for the uptick in page reads people saw in March. Assuming those accounts were bad actors, then you would have the usual page reads and then a reduction when their pages reads were removed.

The unusual uptick for March suggests there was a significant increase in bot/scammer activity, which might have been genuine scammers taking advantage of the temporary deranking of erotica books. If I were a scammer (and Im not) I might view that deranking as a convenient smoke screen to download and bot read more books.

I'm currently assuming both. In conversations with authors who were hit, I'm seeing some themes. A number had new releases, a number had new or increased advertising/promotion campaigns. Often they had both. If you see a spike in reads at the same time you start a new campaign, the instinct is to double down on the ads that are working. As a result, not all of the damage shows up on the KDP dashboard.

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Offline dgaughran

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #73 on: April 08, 2018, 09:25:36 AM »
Around the same time that a dozen or so authors were incorrectly rank stripped by Amazon last September/October (when I first blogged about it), another author contacted me saying she had a huge number of pages reads - hundreds of thousands - retroactively removed by Amazon. They didn't notify her or explain it until she emailed them. Then they accused her of rank manipulation using the same form letter that those authors received.

She never got it resolved. It was the only case of its kind that I'd heard of until last month, when an author told me he had a large number of page reads removed too. Now that there are a few cases, I'll try and raise it with Amazon via the same channels as it appears to be a growing issue.
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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: Help! My KU page reads from last month have been retroactively halved.
« Reply #74 on: April 08, 2018, 09:36:41 AM »
I'm currently assuming both. In conversations with authors who were hit, I'm seeing some themes. A number had new releases, a number had new or increased advertising/promotion campaigns. Often they had both. If you see a spike in reads at the same time you start a new campaign, the instinct is to double down on the ads that are working. As a result, not all of the damage shows up on the KDP dashboard.

To analyze it you are better off taking the percentage increase from authors who had no new releases or increased marketing that also have 2 years sales numbers, otherwise its probably too difficult to unpick the numbers.

If anyone wants to make sense of this, then authors who fit the above criteria could post the percentage variation of page reads from previous to current for March. Thatll give you a real assessment of the percentage thats been lost and if its even across the board.

I still believe the reasons are not relevant in that Amazon have once again done something destructive to authors earning without any warning. How many times will an author let Amazon randomly rip up their pay check before they decide its not a tenable way to live?