Author Topic: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits, Amazon Taking Action (MERGED)  (Read 117679 times)  

Offline she-la-ti-da

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The latest thing with making the stuffed books look like box sets is only going to end up with a further reduced cap on payouts, and also no bundles/collections/box sets in KU. What the scammers come up with next could make a good drinking game, if you're into that. If I was the drinking sort, I'd already be comatose from calling this.
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Offline Phxsundog

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New update to KDP language today specifically aimed at what they're calling multi-work books:

Quote
If you're publishing multiple stories as one book, ensure the contents of your book are accurately reflected both in the title field and on the cover, by including terms such as "Boxed Set," "Bundle," "Collection," "Compilation," or "Series." Stories that are part of a series must be in sequential order within a book and collections of individual stories must have all stories listed in the metadata.

Collections of works and numbered series may include content you've previously published in your catalog. However, in order to provide an optimal customer experience, the same content may not be excessively reutilized across multiple books. We consider "excessive" any amount of content repetition that would create a poor shopping or reading experience.

It sounds like the door is now closed on duplicating content beyond normally labeled series and themed boxed sets. Probably one time. If the ex-stuffers had big plans to start recycling the same books in boxed sets over and over again, Amazon has gotten ahead of them for once.  Anyone who wants to push the lines is welcome to find out what KDP considers "excessive." I don't think any normal author wants to take the gamble.

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Good to hear. Tapping foot, waiting to hear how stuffing is still, somehow, OK with Amazon and always was, that that wasn't why authors lost their accounts, et cetera.

As you say, I'm sure it'll be tested, because people who do this kind of stuff always test the limits. They find out where the edge is by seeing at what point they go over it, and counting on Amazon's slowness to act. Appetite for risk and all that. Better them than me.

Online Dpock

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Anyone who wants to push the lines is welcome to find out what KDP considers "excessive." I don't think any normal author wants to take the gamble.

I don't know. That "We consider "excessive" any amount of content repetition that would create a poor shopping or reading experience" seems pointlessly vague, like they're not sure what even they mean by it.

But I agree. I wouldn't want to be the one who finds out.


Offline kcmorgan

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I don't know. That "We consider "excessive" any amount of content repetition that would create a poor shopping or reading experience" seems pointlessly vague, like they're not sure what even they mean by it.

But I agree. I wouldn't want to be the one who finds out.
No, it's purposely vague. It means they can enforce the rule whenever they want, however they want. They do the same thing with their definition of "obscenity". The rule is basically, "you know what we mean", which means they can delete what they want. Amazon has a tendency to leave themselves as much wiggle room as possible.

Online Rick Gualtieri

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No, it's purposely vague. It means they can enforce the rule whenever they want, however they want. They do the same thing with their definition of "obscenity". The rule is basically, "you know what we mean", which means they can delete what they want. Amazon has a tendency to leave themselves as much wiggle room as possible.

I figure it means: most of us will assume that means a stand-alone book and one box set, while a few come in here every now and again to argue that they personally dont find 20 to be excessive and neither does Amazon (until such time as Amazon does). 


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Online KelliWolfe

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I figure it means: most of us will assume that means a stand-alone book and one box set, while a few come in here every now and again to argue that they personally dont find 20 to be excessive and neither does Amazon (until such time as Amazon does).
Isn't that how it always works?

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Offline Crystal_

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New update to KDP language today specifically aimed at what they're calling multi-work books:

It sounds like the door is now closed on duplicating content beyond normally labeled series and themed boxed sets. Probably one time. If the ex-stuffers had big plans to start recycling the same books in boxed sets over and over again, Amazon has gotten ahead of them for once.  Anyone who wants to push the lines is welcome to find out what KDP considers "excessive." I don't think any normal author wants to take the gamble.

I don't know. The language is intentionally vague. It could mean one. It could mean ten. I have an idea of what excessive is, but it might be different than yours.

Online RPatton

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Tapping foot, waiting to hear how stuffing is still, somehow, OK with Amazon and always was, that that wasn't why authors lost their accounts, et cetera.

Seriously? Where did I ever say that stuffing was okay. I called it excessive and aggressive use of bonus content, but I never said it was okay. What I said is that the authors whose accounts were terminated, didn't get terminated because they stuffed a bunch of books with excessive bonus content. It started with the removal of one author's book because of what amounted to an illegal lottery, which led to his account being terminated, then to other authors closely tied to him getting their accounts suspended and then terminated. (And the author who everyone claimed was an innocent victim, was likely as involved with the tom-foolery as the others, just under a different pen name.) Not to mention all the suspension letters specifically said manipulation.

If this was ever primarily about stuffing, then they would have included the duplicate content clause when they changed the bonus content clause and a lot more authors would have had their accounts terminated.

Offline Ann in Arlington

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RPatton -- not sure what you read in the post you quoted that made you think the poster was talking about you specifically? I saw it as a general comment that, while this latest development is good news, there are very likely going to be people who put the language through a series of calisthenics to show that it doesn't really mean what most people think it does.

I don't think anyone outside of Amazon KNOWS why certain accounts were terminated or suspended. We can all speculate about it, and some may be pretty much on the mark. It's reasonable to me, for example, to assume that bad stuff flies under the radar until someone sticks his head out of the foxhole, to mix a metaphor. If that's what happened with the illegal contest within the book, and it lead Amazon to look more closely at a whole bunch of other stuff, and other people, well, I don't think anyone is arguing that's a bad thing?

I also think people aren't all using the word "stuffing" to mean the same thing, and that's a big part of the confusion in this thread. ::)

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Offline sela

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Stuffing:

1) duplicated content available elsewhere on Amazon
2)  that is not labeled properly in the book's metadata
3)  that creates a bad customer experience

So, I imagine by this measure, one could create a boxed set of a series, then include those books in a collection of all your books (a meta-collection for example), and then you could probably do special collections that were theme-based (first in series, themes that are particular to your genre, etc.)

A simple repetition of the same 30 books in collection after collection, merely reordered, with different titles, content not labeled in metadata, and especially with incentivized links intended to game the KU system would not be kosher.

Am I missing anything?

Online Dragovian

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Anyone who wants to push the lines is welcome to find out what KDP considers "excessive." I don't think any normal author wants to take the gamble.
Typical Amazon circular logic. Disappointing content is content which disappoints. Excessively published is any number of times which is excessive. I know they love their wiggle room, but sometimes I just wish they'd give a concrete answer rather than making us figure out "how long is a piece of string".


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Online JWright

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I think Amazon does keep things vague to use to their advantage, and maybe for legal purposes too, but I also can see some logic in it.  The set number of times a piece of content is published doesn't tell the full story. 

There is one writer I have read in KU where I have read single books of a series, and then sometimes get the box set of several books in the series and she also has had samplers where the first book in several series are boxed together so people can try them out.  I in no way feel there is anything wrong with this and as a reader I clearly know what I am getting and can skip the books I have already read if I want to while still getting something new. I don't feel she is trying to publish the same stuff over and over - each one serves a different purpose and the reader is in no way fooled.  On the other hand, someone could bury the same story 3 times in 3 "books" or "compilations" in a way where it isn't clear what I am getting or thinking I'm getting a long novel when in fact there is a bunch of short stories I've already read before. So there could be a big difference in reader experience even though they technically had some of the same material published the same number of times. 

If the "stuffers" wanted to just give people large box sets with clearly marked content they could have done that from the very beginning.  Obviously, there are reasons why they didn't.

It does make it difficult to follow the TOS, however, when things are so vague.

Online Dpock

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Am I missing anything?

No, but Amazon is missing an opportunity to clarify its terms.

When it gets down to tackling the "bonus stuffers" gaming KU, Amazon could simply mandate the following publication guidelines for KU eligibility:

Single Titles May Be Published:

1. In a "Collected Works Edition" which include all or simply selected titles from a single author (revised as more books are added or substracted). One "Collected Works" only per author.

2. In "Series Collections", which may include titles from "Collected Works" editions.

3. As "Single Titles" (obviously).

With those guidelines, a single title could only be published three times (or twice if not part of a series).

Amazon needs to nix everything else. As it is, stuffers are now doing "romance compliations" bound only by the niches they serve rather being individual titles in a connected series.



Offline Crystal_

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Stuffing:

1) duplicated content available elsewhere on Amazon
2)  that is not labeled properly in the book's metadata
3)  that creates a bad customer experience

So, I imagine by this measure, one could create a boxed set of a series, then include those books in a collection of all your books (a meta-collection for example), and then you could probably do special collections that were theme-based (first in series, themes that are particular to your genre, etc.)

A simple repetition of the same 30 books in collection after collection, merely reordered, with different titles, content not labeled in metadata, and especially with incentivized links intended to game the KU system would not be kosher.

Am I missing anything?

Yes. We've all agreed that reordered content is against the rules for months. However, bonus books were okay until the recent changes. They are now against the rules.

The latest change limits bundles in an unspecific way. Reordered bundles were already against the ToS, so I don't really see why we're still taking about them.

Offline caitlynlynch

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Amazon have taken another mighty swing with the banhammer. Over 100 more authors are gone from the store, including several known stuffers who missed being scooped up in the last round.

Online Hope

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Amazon have taken another mighty swing with the banhammer. Over 100 more authors are gone from the store, including several known stuffers who missed being scooped up in the last round.

How do you know it's over 100?

Offline caitlynlynch

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How do you know it's over 100?

The unconfirmed number I have been given, by a source I am declining to name, is a lot closer to 200, actually. I've spent the last hour checking on a number of authors and books previously identified as in breach of ToS and a LOT of them are gone.

In compliance with KBoards policy, I'm not naming names, but at least one BIG name in the Bad Boy Romance genre is gone, plus a fantasy author who was inside the Top 100 authors on Amazon just last week.

Online Hope

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The unconfirmed number I have been given, by a source I am declining to name, is a lot closer to 200, actually. I've spent the last hour checking on a number of authors and books previously identified as in breach of ToS and a LOT of them are gone.

In compliance with KBoards policy, I'm not naming names, but at least one BIG name in the Bad Boy Romance genre is gone, plus a fantasy author who was inside the Top 100 authors on Amazon just last week.

Okay, I was just wondering. Thanks.

Online Shelley K

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Two hundred? If that's true, they must have removed a ton of not-so-successful authors in addition to the handful of top-ranked ones, which raises a lot of interesting questions.

Online RPatton

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It's probably more accurate to say pen names. Several authors swept up could have multiple pen names so it looks s though 200 have been removed when it's really a fraction of that number.

Offline caitlynlynch

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It's probably more accurate to say pen names. Several authors swept up could have multiple pen names so it looks s though 200 have been removed when it's really a fraction of that number.

Let's call it author profiles then, if you want to be specific. With no way to know what pen names belong to which marketing mastermind, for the most part, we can't know how many KDP accounts have been hit. Or whether they will STAY gone.

That said, as far as I know, nobody who was swept up in the last round is back in KU. Though some authors have books back up, they seem to be wide or at least not in KU and are possibly published through an aggregator such as D2D.

Online MmmmmPie

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Amazon have taken another mighty swing with the banhammer. Over 100 more authors are gone from the store, including several known stuffers who missed being scooped up in the last round.

Interesting. It begs the question... Were these latest accounts banned as a result of anything they've done recently? Or is Amazon playing catch-up on longstanding investigations? I realize we'll never know, but it's struck me as strange that pen names would still stuff after so many stuffers have been banned.

(Yes, I realize that we haven't established that stuffing alone causes the ban hammer to come down. It just seems odd to me that anyone would risk it in the current environment.)

Offline caitlynlynch

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Interesting. It begs the question... Were these latest accounts banned as a result of anything they've done recently? Or is Amazon playing catch-up on longstanding investigations? I realize we'll never know, but it's struck me as strange that pen names would still stuff after so many stuffers have been banned.

(Yes, I realize that we haven't established that stuffing alone causes the ban hammer to come down. It just seems odd to me that anyone would risk it in the current environment.)

Unknown as to why they are gone, for stuffing or otherwise. The big name in 'bad boy romance' I personally confirmed is gone was definitely a major stuffer and one of CC's insiders, though I believe they'd done their best to clean up all titles in the last few weeks. The Top 100 fantasy author who I'd never heard of before I was told he got taken down (but then I don't read much fantasy), I couldn't tell you. He's been named in another KBoards thread and I've seen (very legit) authors panicking and saying 'if HE'S gone, I can't risk having all my eggs in one basket - I'm going wide' so I'd have to assume he was a non-stuffer and may have lost his account for other reasons which we will likely never know.

I follow on Twitter a reader (NOT an author) who has elected to do some investigating of current bookstuffers and still, even today, is posting DAILY finds of stuffed books on Amazon with not even the faintest attempt to conceal what the author is up to. Yes, the very top of the charts is looking a lot cleaner, but there are plenty of people who seem to think Amazon won't look deep enough to find them.

I cannot find any rhyme or reason to Amazon's decisions. There are several major 'former' stuffers out there who have hastily cleaned up and are carrying on as though nothing ever happened, and others who cleaned up but got banhammered. Still more who haven't bothered cleaning up and are still stuffed to the gills!

Offline Ros_Jackson

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Interesting. It begs the question... Were these latest accounts banned as a result of anything they've done recently? Or is Amazon playing catch-up on longstanding investigations? I realize we'll never know, but it's struck me as strange that pen names would still stuff after so many stuffers have been banned.

(Yes, I realize that we haven't established that stuffing alone causes the ban hammer to come down. It just seems odd to me that anyone would risk it in the current environment.)

I expect there's going to be a lag as stuffers take a while to catch up with the new reality. Some of them may have been on holiday, or experiencing life events that meant they're out of the loop. Some may have dozens of books and may need to take a while to format them. The formatters may be backlogged...


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