Author Topic: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits, Amazon Taking Action (MERGED)  (Read 117963 times)  

Offline notenoughcoffee

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #175 on: June 04, 2018, 03:03:45 PM »
Since you're newish, I'll recap.

Merely putting in bonus content was never the problem. The problem is stuffing of 1) multiple copies of things into a 2) KU book that 3) would get lots of extra "reads" that were never actually read, merely skipped by legitimate readers, thus creating "free" page reads and 4) creating a file that could easily be botted and 5) the file was multiplied in rearrange format in order to do the same thing repeatedly.

The core of the problem is not a retail sale. The core of the problem is KU page read manipulation via stuffing.

I don't know what "created a file that could easily be botted" means.

I guess I'm assuming the stuffed books look like:
Beginning content is new book.
Proceeding content is older books.

If the new book was BEHIND the old books, then the issue is obvious to me. But of it's not, then...? ? ?

Let's say I buy a book that's one new book, four old books. I've read all but one of the old books. I use the Table of Contents to jump to the book I haven't read yet. Sure any pages I leaped over aren't getting counted as read?

Otherwise, some of the non fiction books I read are gonna look really wonky on page reads as I jump to the back to look up included references/explanations. Am I causing issue for the author by doing that? If so, why the puck does Amazon allow such books to be in KU?

Offline Puddleduck

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #176 on: June 04, 2018, 03:06:45 PM »
Amazon has a new ToS that bans the use of bonus content.

No, it doesn't. It has new TOS which limits bonus content to something that any rational person-on-the-street would consider bonus content. That's a very, very far cry from "banning" it.

An author with an extensive glossary or appendices in their fantasy novel, for example, could get dinged over Amazon counting those things as "bonus material" while the author considers them an integral part of their novel.

I have a hard time thinking that any book long and complex enough to need an extensive glossary would not also be long enough to offset the length of the glossary such that the glossary does not make up more than 10% of the book. And in the very unlikely event that that happened, the author would need to make a decision whether or not to put that book in KU (put it in KU without the glossary or take it out to keep the glossary in). They're not saying these books can't be sold in the Amazon store. Unless there was some part of this that I missed. It just seems like some people treat KU like it's the only way to publish your books and anything that KU doesn't allow means you can't publish your books, which is not true at all. There's not ever going to be a perfect solution that works for every single legitimate book under any conceivable circumstance. The goal is to find something that works the best for legit authors and de-incentivizes cheating. If the KU rules are such that your book isn't right for KU, then your book isn't right for KU. That doesn't mean you have no other publishing options.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 03:14:47 PM by Puddleduck »

Offline Edward M. Grant

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #177 on: June 04, 2018, 03:10:46 PM »
Otherwise, some of the non fiction books I read are gonna look really wonky on page reads as I jump to the back to look up included references/explanations. Am I causing issue for the author by doing that? If so, why the puck does Amazon allow such books to be in KU?

Amazon claim to be able to count page reads, but they really can't, and it's a fundamentally complex problem to solve. Unless, maybe, they restrict KU books to tamper-proof Kindles and put a face-tracking camera on the front to check you're actually reading the words.

Hence scammers exploit that to make more $$$$$.

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #178 on: June 04, 2018, 03:27:46 PM »
I just checked and it seems as if the stuffer in question has unstuffed a couple of his books. No stuffing in the first couple on his author page. No link to the back. Just an offer for a free story at the end and a link off site.

ETA: The next book in the list appears to still be stuffed.

All the books in his also-boughts are also stuffed. If Zon is serious, it shouldn't be too difficult to track this crap down.

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Offline Shelley K

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #179 on: June 04, 2018, 07:31:31 PM »
Bonus. Content. Has. Not. Been. Banned. It. Was. Never. Banned.

The rule change is pretty simple. You CAN STILL have bonus content in your ebook. But keep it to 10% or less.

If your novel is 100,000 words, your bonus content should be 10,000 words or less. If your novel is 50,000 words, keep it to 5,000 words or less.

This effectively eliminates the possibility of entire novellas or novels being used as bonus content without them spelling it out. You can't fit one now, let alone five.

But if you have a short story that's less than 10% of your novel's word count, you can use that as a bonus content. You can put a few chapters of another book in there to entice people to buy. You can put a concordance, maps, whatever the heck, just don't go over 10% of the length of the title book.

But, for the people in the bleachers, bonus content was not and has not now been banned.

Offline Crime fighters

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #180 on: June 04, 2018, 07:42:19 PM »
Which, btw, none of The Bling Ring are following. A new release two days ago has a book, followed by a "never seen before novel from a friend". That's labeled in the sham they're (the book is co-written, presumably outing both "authors" as being the same person) calling a compilation. What's not worded (on cover or description) is that there are five more books in this "complilation". Now, you can sign up for their mailing list (again, shouldn't there be two of those?) and receive a feee book that can't be bought anywhere else, but I'd wager that book belongs to the third pen name (the one who so willingly allowed these two co-authors to use her book as bonus material).

Will they get away with it? Yes. If someone here puts bonus content totaling 15% in their book, will they have their page reads cut in half? Yes.

If the day ever comes when these "authors" finally face consequences for what they're doing (preferably being sued for millions), I'm dusting off the baking drawer and baking the most magnificent cake that'll be STUFFED with a triple layer of icing.

Edit: it seems the highest ranking member of The Bling Ring is working on branching off to her fourth name, which would explain why she so graciously offered to stuff her book into the back, 5 days after releasing a book as a co-author.

On a slightly more serious note, I notice they're all publishing much faster. Is there any hope they see the writing on the wall that Amazon is about to bring the hammer down so they're trying to collect as much cash as possible and GTFO of town? Wishful thinking I'm sure.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 07:52:16 PM by K.B. »

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #181 on: June 04, 2018, 07:59:56 PM »
If Zon is serious, it shouldn't be too difficult to track this crap down.

I doubt there's an automated, algo-driven way for Zon to police stuffers. Only a human can make the final call, and we know how Amazon feels about hiring humans.

I don't think it's as huge a job as we may think. Only the Top 100 lists need monitoring. If those are kept clean, the suffers will have no incentive to scam KU. As they only infest a few select genres, those genre's author communities can single out offenders. The question is whether Amazon will respond to their reports of abuse.

We now have evidence they will respond if the author community makes enough noise. Mr. Diamond is an isolated case. In time we may look back upon it as the tipping point. There are many reports of significant de-stuffing activity in progress. I suspect Amazon will give them some time to comply before bringing down the hammer. Any who don't ultimately comply will deserve to be treated like a nail.


Offline Phxsundog

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #182 on: June 04, 2018, 08:31:52 PM »
Which, btw, none of The Bling Ring are following. A new release two days ago has a book, followed by a "never seen before novel from a friend". That's labeled in the sham they're (the book is co-written, presumably outing both "authors" as being the same person) calling a compilation. What's not worded (on cover or description) is that there are five more books in this "complilation". Now, you can sign up for their mailing list (again, shouldn't there be two of those?) and receive a feee book that can't be bought anywhere else, but I'd wager that book belongs to the third pen name (the one who so willingly allowed these two co-authors to use her book as bonus material).

Will they get away with it? Yes. If someone here puts bonus content totaling 15% in their book, will they have their page reads cut in half? Yes.

If the day ever comes when these "authors" finally face consequences for what they're doing (preferably being sued for millions), I'm dusting off the baking drawer and baking the most magnificent cake that'll be STUFFED with a triple layer of icing.

Edit: it seems the highest ranking member of The Bling Ring is working on branching off to her fourth name, which would explain why she so graciously offered to stuff her book into the back, 5 days after releasing a book as a co-author.

On a slightly more serious note, I notice they're all publishing much faster. Is there any hope they see the writing on the wall that Amazon is about to bring the hammer down so they're trying to collect as much cash as possible and GTFO of town? Wishful thinking I'm sure.

If you mean Masterminds by Bling Ring, yes they are publishing faster. That started earlier this year before the bonus content changes. Some of them are trying to expand. For others it's probably desperation since their books aren't performing as well. They're slowly oversaturating their own niche of romance readers who will forgive paper thin storylines and no editing. The content mills publishing faster is good news for slower authors and publishers. It means they'll be forced to divide their promotional efforts between more books rather than putting them all behind a few large stuffed releases every month.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 08:33:42 PM by Phxsundog »

Offline MmmmmPie

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #183 on: June 04, 2018, 08:49:10 PM »
They're slowly oversaturating their own niche of romance readers who will forgive paper thin storylines and no editing.

On a similar note, I signed up for one of their mailing lists over 200 days ago. During this timeframe, I've received one email a day, sometimes TWO emails a day, and that's just from one of these pen names. Unless they're adding new subscribers like crazy, this seems like a good way to burn through their lists.

Offline Dragovian

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #184 on: June 04, 2018, 08:52:40 PM »
I have a hard time thinking that any book long and complex enough to need an extensive glossary would not also be long enough to offset the length of the glossary such that the glossary does not make up more than 10% of the book. And in the very unlikely event that that happened, the author would need to make a decision whether or not to put that book in KU (put it in KU without the glossary or take it out to keep the glossary in).
You can focus on the specifics of my example, but my larger point was that, if Amazon is going to be punitive about bonus content, and strict about the 10% rule, then they need to be very clear about what constitutes bonus content. They have given us a rule, and it's a good rule, but legitimate authors will still have valid reasons to need to know where the "book" stops and where "bonus" content begins.


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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #185 on: June 04, 2018, 09:12:30 PM »
legitimate authors will still have valid reasons to need to know where the "book" stops and where "bonus" content begins.

A legitimate author should be able to use their good judgment. Anything after "The End" that relates to the titled content, such as an epilogue, an index, a glossary, maps, authors notes, or mailing list information should be fine.


Offline JRTomlin

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #186 on: June 04, 2018, 09:22:21 PM »
Things like a glossary, historical notes, or 'other books by this author' are normally called back matter rather than bonus content, but it would be nice if Amazon clarified that. I always have back matter, I can't imagine that it ever comes anywhere near 10%, but clear rules are always helpful.

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Offline Dragovian

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #187 on: June 04, 2018, 09:43:35 PM »
Things like a glossary, historical notes, or 'other books by this author' are normally called back matter rather than bonus content, but it would be nice if Amazon clarified that. I always have back matter, I can't imagine that it ever comes anywhere near 10%, but clear rules are always helpful.
The more I think about it, the more I have questions. Are "back matter" and "bonus content" going to be conflated as the same thing? How will 10% be calculated. Word count? "Page" count? KENPC, that mysterious number Amazon calculates, but nobody can figure out the criteria of? Is an epilogue bonus content? Is a prologue? Author's Notes/Author's Foreword? Glossary? Preview chapters?

It's easy to say "no legitimate author would hit 10%", but without knowing what counts and how it's calculated, I can absolutely see an author with a prologue, an epilogue, and a teaser chapter from book 2, inadvertently going over the limit.


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Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #188 on: June 04, 2018, 10:15:39 PM »
I can absolutely see an author with a prologue, an epilogue, and a teaser chapter from book 2, inadvertently going over the limit.
If anything is going to do it, it's the teaser chapter.
If in doubt, lop it out.

Offline David VanDyke

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #189 on: June 05, 2018, 01:25:25 AM »

I guess I'm assuming the stuffed books look like:
Beginning content is new book.
Proceeding content is older books.

If the new book was BEHIND the old books, then the issue is obvious to me. But of it's not, then...? ? ?

Let's say I buy a book that's one new book, four old books. I've read all but one of the old books. I use the Table of Contents to jump to the book I haven't read yet. Sure any pages I leaped over aren't getting counted as read?

Otherwise, some of the non fiction books I read are gonna look really wonky on page reads as I jump to the back to look up included references/explanations. Am I causing issue for the author by doing that? If so, why the puck does Amazon allow such books to be in KU?


All of these have been answered extensively in other threads, but again, a simple recap:

Amazon never counted page reads since KU started. It only counted where you left a KU book. So if you closed the book at 87%, it counted 87% as read.

This may or may not have been fixed on some platforms, but it appears it's still the old way on the cloud reader, allowing easy botting (bot account skips to the end, counts the 3000-KENPC stuffed book as "read" in seconds).

Other stuffed books put 1 real book, a bunch of extra content (often copied from other books) and a "bonus" story at the end to get the legit reader to skip to the end and trigger a full read. This may have been fixed on some platforms, but not all. This is the essence of stuffing--putting in content never intending to be read, in order to trigger false page reads.

Why does Amazon allow such books to be in KU? We've been wondering the same thing for years.


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Offline dgaughran

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #190 on: June 05, 2018, 03:13:30 AM »
I've said it a bunch of times but it gets lost in the noise: click-to-the-end scams are still in play, there are several varities. Not going to put the techniques in the public domain for obvious reasons, but it should be obvious it still works for one simple reason: stuffers are still stuffing and putting EXCLUSIVE FREE SHORT STORIES at the end of the stuffed content.

And for anyone going to trot out the tired lie that it is for the readers, you know what's funny? When I caught one stuffer giving out supposedly exclusive KU books on Facebook, guess how many books were stuffed inside that file when they don't get page reads for it?

None.
Stuff for writers thisaway

Offline 9 Diamonds

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #191 on: June 05, 2018, 03:43:01 AM »
They posted an announcement to the KDP Community Forum, which is often how they do such things. An email would be better of course: https://www.kdpcommunity.com/s/article/Updates-to-KDP-Bonus-Content-and-eBook-Metadata-Guidelines?language=en

Slightly o/t but you'll notice there that the Metadata Guidelines were also changed. Some really, really welcome changes that could help clean up the store considerably and reduce other annoying things like title keyword stuffing and category squatting and so on.

IF enforced of course, which is the perma-necessary caveat.




I agree -- some very welcome changes here ... let's hope they have a widespread effect.

Offline caitlynlynch

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #192 on: June 05, 2018, 04:38:59 AM »
Amazon are starting to make moves. I've redacted identifying information, but an author I know about shared this in a group today. While this author had made changes to 'unstuff' the updated content hadn't yet gone live when she received this in an email.

"Hello,

On June 1st we updated our Bonus Content and eBook Metadata Guidelines:

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202018960

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G201097560

During a review, we noticed book(s) in your catalog do not comply with our guidelines. Below is an example of a book that does not comply with our guidelines.

Title: REDACTED ASIN: REDACTED

Please review the new guidelines and ensure that all of the books you've published are in compliance. Compliance with our policies and guidelines is required to qualify for programs such as the KDP Select All Stars Bonus.

For any questions, please reply to this e-mail: content-review@amazon.com.

Regards,

Amazon KDP"

Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #193 on: June 05, 2018, 05:44:10 AM »
Compliance with our policies and guidelines is required to qualify for programs such as the KDP Select All Stars Bonus.
I wish it said....

Compliance with our policies and guidelines is required to qualify for payments for page reads.

No page reads, no bonus.

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #194 on: June 05, 2018, 06:05:11 AM »
Quote
It means they'll be forced to divide their promotional efforts between more books rather than putting them all behind a few large stuffed releases every month.

Good. Make them spend more money and more time for less payout. Sooner or later, the ROI isn't worth it, and most of them will find something else to do.

I've said it a bunch of times but it gets lost in the noise: click-to-the-end scams are still in play, there are several varities. Not going to put the techniques in the public domain for obvious reasons, but it should be obvious it still works for one simple reason: stuffers are still stuffing and putting EXCLUSIVE FREE SHORT STORIES at the end of the stuffed content.

And for anyone going to trot out the tired lie that it is for the readers, you know what's funny? When I caught one stuffer giving out supposedly exclusive KU books on Facebook, guess how many books were stuffed inside that file when they don't get page reads for it?

None.

So much this. If skipping to the end didn't work, why is it still done? If there's not a click farm involved, where are these people finding readers to go through every page of the crap they're uploading? If none of the stuffing and incentives worked anymore, why is stuffing getting worse and worse?

I think the reason Amazon is saying stuff like "to qualify for All Star bonuses" is because that's a huge chunk of money, and it will hurt these people to not get it. I'm not sure what the biggest payout is, but it's like $25K, right? That's huge. Every month. Author bonuses and book bonuses. Don't forget, the majority of these people aren't writers, as we consider them, they're Internet marketers, out for the easy money. Make it harder to get it, and they'll go away.

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Offline GratefulWriter

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #195 on: June 05, 2018, 06:06:49 AM »
I read through most of the posts on this thread and don't think this was covered.  I am a wide author who is NOT in select/unlimited and include some bonus content at the end of my books.  From what I can see, the new policy effects me as well even though i am not being compensated on the pages-read model correct?

I had understood that as long as you were not in select the bonus book thing was kind of a non issue because you were taking the loss and not taking funds from other authors.  I used to include just a bonus chapter but after trying out a permafree book as a bonus I noticed a huge uptick in sales so I started offering a permafree bonus at the end of my books to introduce people to my other series.

Anyways, just curious if anyone had clarified whether this was just a Select thing or an everyone thing before I go emailing Amazon and and get one of their rote email responses.  Thanks, and happy Tuesday!

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #196 on: June 05, 2018, 06:08:27 AM »
Another thought I had was that there's a reason we see this almost exclusively in Romance, and that's because those readers are voracious. It's not unheard of for someone to read a book a day, every day. Maybe more. And yes, it's possible. I've done it myself, though I tend to read SF. With that amount of turnover, it's easier to hide huge page reads. But in a genre like horror? It would stand out, and the last thing they want is for Amazon to finally really look at something and begin to ask questions.
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Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #197 on: June 05, 2018, 06:10:34 AM »
I read through most of the posts on this thread and don't think this was covered.  I am a wide author who is NOT in select/unlimited and include some bonus content at the end of my books.  From what I can see, the new policy effects me as well even though i am not being compensated on the pages-read model correct?

I had understood that as long as you were not in select the bonus book thing was kind of a non issue because you were taking the loss and not taking funds from other authors.  I used to include just a bonus chapter but after trying out a permafree book as a bonus I noticed a huge uptick in sales so I started offering a permafree bonus at the end of my books to introduce people to my other series.

Anyways, just curious if anyone had clarified whether this was just a Select thing or an everyone thing before I go emailing Amazon and and get one of their rote email responses.  Thanks, and happy Tuesday!
Nothing I've seen indicates anyone is exempt.

Interesting thing is though, will they go after people not in KU? Or will the bots not know the difference? Have to wait and see. If you get a love note from KDP, let us know.

Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #198 on: June 05, 2018, 06:27:36 AM »
I'm not an author so maybe I'm not understanding.

To me, the concept of 'all star bonus' is something like "wow, you sold so many books this month, you're like a rock star and we're going to give you extra money because of it, because, after all, you made us a bunch of extra money too." Seems perfectly reasonable.

That said, if it was MY money I was more-or-less giving away, I think I'd go one step beyond just letting a computer pull the top 5 books in the category or whatever and cut those folks a check. Knowing there's the possibility of jiggery pokery in the system, I'd want to actually look at those books and make sure they're 'real' books.

Further, I'd make note of any I found to be in violation of the rules and that author/publisher would be off the list of ever being allowed to get a bonus. Maybe even banned from publishing through the system, period. Sorry, 1 strike and you're out in this game. I wonder if the recent change/clarification in the rule about bonus content is in preparation for a move such as this.

Point is, they don't need to review every one of the thousands of books that are uploaded each day -- which, from a cost/benefit point of view would probably be nearly impossible anyway.They just need to look monthly at the top books and see if they got to the top by less than honorable means, and deal with those publisher/authors. Even if they're checking a hundred books a month, that shouldn't take very long for an actual human to do. A team of 10 could probably do it in about an hour.

The system gamers would pretty quickly learn that if their plan works and they get into the top spots, they're going to get a closer look and be shut out for good. Sure, they can open new accounts, but if it's harder work to get less money, at some point -- as someone else noted -- perhaps they'll move on to some other 'get rich quick' scheme.

Again, not an author, and not a KU user. Maybe not even a typical Zon/kindle customer. Anyway, I never see any of these books you all talk about recommended to me. And when I do get a book recommended, I go through to see what sort of extras there are in the back . . . . frankly, if it's more than the book and some relevant backmatter, I'm not interested. I absolutely don't want a whole 'nother book back there, or even a short of some sort. I don't ever read 'the first chapter of the next installment', which is actually pretty common. I'll read that chapter when I buy that book, thankyouverymuch. If I liked this one well enough to do that, I mean. ;) I also don't like buying more than one book in a set even on purpose, because I like to know when the end of THIS story is and it's too hard to tell when there's more than one novel in the file. :)

Anyway, just my perspective. I suspect this change is as much from reader/customer complaints as from author complaints.

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Re: NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #199 on: June 05, 2018, 06:44:44 AM »
If they're going to do that, especially if there's any kind of punishment, then they need to offer more information than, "offending material." They need to tell you, at minimum, what percentages they're showing as main content vs bonus content (and an appeals process just in case their bot declares everything after chapter 50 bonus content in a 56 chapter book). An author with an extensive glossary or appendices in their fantasy novel, for example, could get dinged over Amazon counting those things as "bonus material" while the author considers them an integral part of their novel.
Yes, that kind of clarification would be highly desirable.

Glossaries and appendices raise somewhat the same questions with respect to KU that nonfiction reference books do. There's a lot of jumping around. Reference books aren't read cover to cover, and not every fantasy reader is going to read all the appendices. In the latter case, it would probably make sense for Amazon to stop counting KENP when the appendices begin, but I don't know if that's really how the situation is handled.

Perhaps Amazon needs to make a distinction between bonus content (other complete works) and back matter. I would argue that back matter is an integral part of the work, not a bonus. If Amazon doesn't count the back matter for KU purposes, I'm fine with that.

I have a book on Greek mythology that I wrote for my former school. Though the text is geared for the average reader at which the book is targeted, the appendices provide additional material for students who want to know more, as well as reference aids like genealogies, Greek to Roman name conversion, and annotated bibliography. Together, the back matter is 11.3% of the total length of the paperback, though it might be somewhat less in the ebook (genealogies are omitted because they didn't work well). I guess I'll just have to wait and see if that's a problem. The book is not in KU, and the school uses the paperback, not the ebook, so I could in theory just drop the ebook if there's an issue with it. However, my situation is unusual. No fantasy author with lots of appendices is going to want to drop the ebook.


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