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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Cindy Borgne on October 30, 2016, 04:54:46 am

Title: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Cindy Borgne on October 30, 2016, 04:54:46 am
I'm just wondering if this is for real?  https://www.amazon.com/gp/movers-and-shakers/digital-text#3

And how are these people doing this? Click bots?

Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Chris Lord on October 30, 2016, 05:03:00 am
Comment deleted due to new TOS on 27/08/2018
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 05:05:56 am
I check the movers and shakers list often and I was wondering why all those books had suddenly taken over the chart. I did not even click on them to see what they were.

As one reviewer said, look inside and you'll see the same two paragraphs repeated. Why did Amazon not see this?

The price  :o. Do people actually buy these books?

Check out the review on the title 'The Brave Donkey'
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Word Fan on October 30, 2016, 05:23:40 am
So, have any of you reported this to Amazon on the book's marketing page?

I did.

That's one way to bring their attention to it.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Jena H on October 30, 2016, 05:24:56 am
Wow.  Charging $9.99, and being so high on the seller list.    :o    >:(
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 05:29:11 am
So, have any of you reported this to Amazon on the book's marketing page?

I did.

That's one way to bring their attention to it.

Yep, I just did. This kind of nonsense spoils my experience of using Amazon. I want to find good books in the HNR and movers and shakers lists.  Taking over 2-3 pages of the chart makes me >:(
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Cindy Borgne on October 30, 2016, 05:37:15 am
It seems to me that they like to rely on their programs to find problems, rather than a real person.
Meanwhile, the hard working legit author suffers.  :(
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: lauramg_1406 on October 30, 2016, 05:37:24 am
Anyone notice that a lot of them are by the same author?

And that the covers are pretty bland.

Sent from my SM-G800F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: MissingAlaska on October 30, 2016, 05:42:41 am
This REALLY irritates me.  I had thought that the recent shakeups in KU would at least to help weed out this type of spam - but it seems to be worse now while burying legitimate authors.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 30, 2016, 05:46:16 am
i like how this happened right after the don't give authors 1-star thread.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Jena H on October 30, 2016, 05:55:45 am
Anyone notice that a lot of them are by the same author?

And that the covers are pretty bland.

Sent from my SM-G800F using Tapatalk

I think there are at least three author names doing the same thing--all pen names of the same person, or more than one person using the same exact scam.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Word Fan on October 30, 2016, 05:58:31 am
I like how this happened right after the "Don't give authors 1-star" thread.

Yeah. Apparently karma ain't all it's cracked up to be.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: lauramg_1406 on October 30, 2016, 06:10:36 am
Yeah. Apparently karma ain't all it's cracked up to be.
This made me laugh far more than it should have...bad karma is coming my way! [emoji28]

Sent from my SM-G800F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 06:32:03 am
Yeah. Apparently karma ain't all it's cracked up to be.

 ;D
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: VincentZandri on October 30, 2016, 06:38:02 am
What I don't understand is who in their right mind would buy this crap? Who could possibly be suckered into this?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on October 30, 2016, 06:39:05 am
Richard Blakeney entire catalogue is scam books. Same para repeated over and over.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: lauramg_1406 on October 30, 2016, 06:42:02 am
Richard Blakeney entire catalogue is scam books. Same para repeated over and over.

Would people returning the books affect the sales rank or not? Because I'd be returning something like that and it makes me wonder how their sales ranking manages to stay high.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 06:43:32 am
What I don't understand is who in their right mind would buy this crap? Who could possibly be suckered into this?


That's what I want to know. Are real people buying these books?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on October 30, 2016, 06:44:48 am

That's what I want to know. Are real people buying these books?

Doubtful, but click farms will grab then, flip through the pages, and get nice pages read payout.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: VincentZandri on October 30, 2016, 06:48:22 am
What, on God's earth, is a click farm?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 06:50:14 am
This isn't the first time this has happened. And there are at least 9 titles in the Top 40 Free right now that have botted their way there as well.

The books have been reported, and likely Amazon will move to take the paragraphs-repeated books down. The ones in the Free list are mostly by the same two publishers I've been reporting now for months. The books are not obvious scams -- just mediocre, scraped content books that are packaged semi-professionally -- enough to make them look legit on first glance. I keep hoping that Amazon is building a case against the publishers/accounts, but it's been going on long enough now (with one of the publishers having been around nearly a year now) that a lot of money is hitting their scammy pockets.

And that's what's most irksome. Some of these accounts slide for months. And even if Amazon does act quickly -- which I think is likely -- to take down the books in M&S list, it still means a day or more of visibility lost for honest authors working legitimately to eek out their own visibility. And when the Top 20 or Top 50 in the Free list is made up MOST DAYS of 20-30% scam titles, that's a HUGE loss of visibility to 20 or 30 legitimate titles, many of which are getting just ONE SHOT every 90 days to gain visibility, while these scummy scammers are repubbing and rebotting the same books up the list every few weeks.

Amazon doing take-downs AFTER the fact -- and, in some cases, not at all -- isn't the answer when it punishes legit authors so profoundly.

What I don't understand is who in their right mind would buy this crap? Who could possibly be suckered into this?

It's doubtful anyone's *buying* them. They're in KU. Bots are *borrowing* and *reading*.

Would people returning the books affect the sales rank or not? Because I'd be returning something like that and it makes me wonder how their sales ranking manages to stay high.

If real customers buy and return, no, it won't affect the rank. Much the same that if a real customer borrows a book and never reads it, the rank isn't affected.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 06:51:49 am
What, on God's earth, is a click farm?

(Hi Vince!)

http://www.zdnet.com/article/exclusive-inside-a-million-dollar-amazon-kindle-catfishing-scam/
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: lauramg_1406 on October 30, 2016, 07:13:15 am
I thought that amazon scanned books before they allowed them to be uploaded? Surely they should be able to catch these books before they get uploaded?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Lydniz on October 30, 2016, 07:23:56 am
I thought that amazon scanned books before they allowed them to be uploaded? Surely they should be able to catch these books before they get uploaded?

Unfortunately not. Anyone is quite at liberty to upload any old pile of crap they like. And I do.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Cindy Borgne on October 30, 2016, 07:56:35 am
Quote
Amazon doing take-downs AFTER the fact -- and, in some cases, not at all -- isn't the answer when it punishes legit authors so profoundly.

So sad that Amazon isn't doing more to stop this.

One author suggested to me that entering captcha the first time you open a book could help? Maybe? Yet, again I know people complain about captcha.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 08:01:56 am
One other thing worth noting (and maybe someone already has; I certainly did when I reported) is that each of these books has a very large file size. I'm betting they're all stuffed to the 3000 KENPC limit for payout. So when their bots (or live click-farmers) read, each full read is worth somewhere between $13 and $15. Not that I think Amazon will pay out on the books it's now been alerted to. But plenty of others out there...
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: JustWriting on October 30, 2016, 08:14:00 am
I was trying to figure out what the scammer gets out of this because the chances are that with something as blatant as this, Amazon will kill their account before any payment is made.

The only thing I could come up with that made a lick of sense was:

1) Blackhat Conman sells a service which guarantees to get a book (any book) into the charts based on borrows and possibly also guarantees a number of page-reads. For this he charges a fixed amount. Let's say $300 per book

2) Gullible would-be scammer is happy to pay the $300 because he sees how much money he will make via page-reads. And sure enough his KDP dashboard looks like a goldmine. He is so pleased he goes back and places more orders with the Blackhat conman.

3) Some time later, Amazon brings down the hammer on Gullible would-be scammer, and closes his account before he actually gets a payment .

Blackhat Conman is okay because he already has his money. He doesn't rely on Amazon to pay him.

There might be other explanations but I'm struggling to think of one unless of course Amazon doesn't close down accounts like this quickly enough, and Gullible would-be scammer does actually get the cash - which would be too insane to contemplate.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: mythsnake on October 30, 2016, 08:38:49 am
I used the report quality issue link at the bottom of the page (it's in the gray box above the footer).
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Word Fan on October 30, 2016, 08:39:02 am
I thought that amazon scanned books before they allowed them to be uploaded? Surely they should be able to catch these books before they get uploaded?

No. Apple does that for iBooks. It sometimes takes 2 weeks for you to get approval for your book to go up there. Usually less, but it can take that long because Apple supposedly has people who actually look over every book before they allow it.

There are some die-hard Apple haters here, but Apple does some things really well.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 10:16:40 am
**************
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 10:49:52 am
Looks like those scambooks have been/are now being removed.

I can still see them from 50-100 on movers and shakers and the HNR chart
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: SB James on October 30, 2016, 10:52:47 am
It seems that almost as soon as they get taken down, they are republished under another pen name. Like Whack-A-Mole!  >:(
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 11:08:08 am
Apparently, Amazon is unable to actually follow through and is removing individual titles but not dealing with the accounts who create these scam books. Here's a screenshot of the movers and shakers with several scam books "no longer available" but others by the same author still for sale.

Come on Amazon... I mean, if we can find these with no effort, why can't Amazon employees find and remove them? This is kicking legitimate authors out of the movers and shakers ranks and affecting visibility of books that are actually moving and shaking.

(http://i347.photobucket.com/albums/p473/selauthor/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%2012.05.03%20PM_zpscq1cnymi.png) (http://s347.photobucket.com/user/selauthor/media/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%2012.05.03%20PM_zpscq1cnymi.png.html)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Cheyanne on October 30, 2016, 11:10:01 am
I just spent a ton of time reporting all the ones that weren't yet taken down. It's so frustrating wondering how many of these scammers get away with it and how much more our payments would be without Amazon dishing out money to them.

Seems REALLY easy to prevent this -- actually review the books before they're available for sale. I wouldn't mind a bit if it took a few days (even a week) for my books to be vetted by Amazon before being able to put on sale. That'd raise the $$ for all of us who are selling genuine books. As it is now, it just makes me so angry I'm considering going back to selling wide.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PearlEarringLady on October 30, 2016, 11:13:27 am
Apparently, Amazon is unable to actually follow through and is removing individual titles but not dealing with the accounts who create these scam books. Here's a screenshot of the movers and shakers with several scam books "no longer available" but others by the same author still for sale.

I would guess that it's a different department. Taking down books that have been reported multiple times for quality control issues is probably a low-level, automated process. It will likely only be looked at by a human if the author complains, which in this case is unlikely. Closing an account is a much more serious matter, and (I would hope) would only be done after thorough investigation from a human. Not that it will slow these scammers down. They seem to be able to open new accounts at will.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: thesmallprint on October 30, 2016, 12:31:22 pm
Time perhaps for a proper global Indies alliance to help combat this and other scams. If everyone got together and paid a small sum to maintain a membership site and employ a bank of virtual assistants to constantly monitor and report scams, it would not only help, but might embarrass Amazon into action.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 03:23:27 pm
You know, there are 45 (!) books in today's KDD. The scam books were approaching the #100 ranks fast. The cynic in me could snarkily assume Amazon only cared when they needed to clear the way for their promoted books to rank properly.

Nah...right?

;)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Alan Petersen on October 30, 2016, 04:00:06 pm
What, on God's earth, is a click farm?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-W0CBOGnnI
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 04:05:43 pm
You know, there are 45 (!) books in today's KDD. The scam books were approaching the #100 ranks fast. The cynic in me could snarkily assume Amazon only cared when they needed to clear the way for their promoted books to rank properly.

Nah...right?

;)

Nah, that doesn't sound right. ;)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: 77071 on October 30, 2016, 04:06:58 pm
I'm sure there's more going on behind the scenes than I completely understand, but at this point from the outside, Amazon just looks incompetent.  Oh yes, here are some totally legitimate "books" (that everyone can see are NOT) hogging the top spots on our store!  Yes, come right in scammers, we WELCOME YOU.   ::) 

Well, as others have said, they're probably trying to weed this stuff out.  And maybe they won't pay the all big fat bonuses for bringing in those "reads."   :-*
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 04:13:54 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-W0CBOGnnI

Well, I guess the optimist would say "Look at all the great high tech jobs that are being created!"

PS love that episode of Silicon Valley.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gator on October 30, 2016, 04:17:32 pm
You know, there are 45 (!) books in today's KDD. The scam books were approaching the #100 ranks fast. The cynic in me could snarkily assume Amazon only cared when they needed to clear the way for their promoted books to rank properly.

Nah...right?

;)

Cynical ... but spot on.  Several high-performing Amazon imprint books got bumped off the "Movers and Shakers" list -- until the scam books were removed.  Amazon was losing money.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 30, 2016, 04:27:10 pm
I wonder if Amazon will conveniently count all those tens of millions of page reads generated by those books in the october KU fund (and lowering the $/page), and then refuse to pay the scammers, because, well, they're scammers.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Lefevre on October 30, 2016, 06:49:34 pm
Possibly the shenanigans like that are affecting reader sentiment towards indies, and are a reason why so many people are discussing sales declines?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: 555aaa on October 30, 2016, 07:02:03 pm
The top 100 is (seems to be) curated. You're not going to see these books break 100... although I'm watching "The Donkey In Meadow" gain rank as I poke around; it's at 147 now, just behind "The Boy and His Job" at 146.

Curious to be proven wrong on this.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on October 30, 2016, 07:08:10 pm
These guys aren't going to give up as this recent aggressive activity just showed us. Are they testing the system--- in an attempt to figure out how the new measures work? That's my guess. They are looking for a sweet spot - a way to make money without triggering Amazon's security measures.

The downside is the more that Amazon clamps down -- the harder it becomes for honest authors to make a buck.  Sure some people aren't affected now -- but if Amazon decides to become more rigid, things could get very interesting.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: amdonehere on October 30, 2016, 07:36:06 pm
These guys aren't going to give up as this recent aggressive activity just showed us. Are they testing the system--- in an attempt to figure out how the new measures work? That's my guess. They are looking for a sweet spot - a way to make money without triggering Amazon's security measures.

The downside is the more that Amazon clamps down -- the harder it becomes for honest authors to make a buck.  Sure some people aren't affected now -- but if Amazon decides to become more rigid, things could get very interesting.

He's doing it because it's an easy way to scam money. A while back someone posted an article on how this is done. It's all automated. The guy runs a program and generates lots and lots of read. We humans cannot compete.

I'm with Phoenix -- maybe Amazon will finally do something drastic when their own imprints are being bumped down.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 07:50:26 pm
The Clever Man by Steven Oswald is currently #157 in the Kindle Store. I'd kill for that rank. All his books are close to that rank.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 07:57:53 pm
Top 40 - 80 in the Hot New Releases:

(http://i347.photobucket.com/albums/p473/selauthor/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%208.55.08%20PM_zps4thieabn.png) (http://s347.photobucket.com/user/selauthor/media/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%208.55.08%20PM_zps4thieabn.png.html)

(http://i347.photobucket.com/albums/p473/selauthor/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%208.54.03%20PM_zpsyflghvc8.png) (http://s347.photobucket.com/user/selauthor/media/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%208.54.03%20PM_zpsyflghvc8.png.html)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 08:09:00 pm
The Donkey in Meadow is #3 in the Amazon Movers and Shakers: Can The Champion Donkey beat The Donkey in Meadow?

(http://i347.photobucket.com/albums/p473/selauthor/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%209.06.44%20PM_zpsk4chufus.png) (http://s347.photobucket.com/user/selauthor/media/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%209.06.44%20PM_zpsk4chufus.png.html)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 30, 2016, 08:11:22 pm
someone really likes donkeys...
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Some Random Guy on October 30, 2016, 08:15:34 pm
someone really likes donkeys...
Well, I heard about these shows in Tijuana....
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: JRTomlin on October 30, 2016, 08:22:08 pm
I have been skeptical about human checks but it may be the only solution.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 30, 2016, 08:24:15 pm
#128-138 now. One of the ones pulled made it to #127 early this morning (CT).

Another thought: They could be autoset for 1000 *sales/reads* each. That would keep them just outside the Top 100. And it may not have been Amazon that even pulled the earlier ones. As soon as all 1000 copies were *bought and read*, the scammer may have been the one to pull them. $14 X 1000 = $14,000 per book. The 10 books that are up right now = at least $140,000 in profit assuming the books are being bot read or click-farm read. That's a pretty good day's take. No need really to keep them up beyond that point.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: KelliWolfe on October 30, 2016, 08:27:58 pm
You know, I thought *my* speculations were bad. Phoenix, you just took it to a whole new level. This is just insane, and the worst part is that I didn't have so much as a second's hesitation in believing that you called it.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Patty Jansen on October 30, 2016, 08:28:58 pm
I have been skeptical about human checks but it may be the only solution.

But Amazon can't *possibly* do that, because it's what Apple does.

/snerk
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 08:32:55 pm
#128-138 now. One of the ones pulled made it to #127 early this morning (CT).

Another thought: They could be autoset for 1000 *sales/reads* each. That would keep them just outside the Top 100. And it may not have been Amazon that even pulled the earlier ones. As soon as all 1000 copies were *bought and read*, the scammer may have been the one to pull them. $14 X 1000 = $14,000 per book. The 10 books that are up right now = at least $140,000 in profit assuming the books are being bot read or click-farm read. That's a pretty good day's take. No need really to keep them up beyond that point.

OMG you're right... it might not be Amazon pulling the books. It might be the scammers. Why risk hitting the top 100 which might bring notice. Pull the books one the target is reached and put up new versions. Rinse, repeat. Brilliant. Evil but brilliant.

Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Atlantisatheart on October 30, 2016, 08:39:27 pm

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Content removed due to new owners; VerticalScope Inc. TOS Change of 2018. I received no notification of a change to TOS, was never asked to agree to their data mining or sharing of my information, including sales of my information and ownership of my posts, intellectual rights, etc, and I do not agree to the terms.

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Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 30, 2016, 08:40:59 pm
I don't know, if they really didn't want to be discovered, I'm sure they had much better ways of doing this, like doubling the number of books and halving the number of reads per book so that none of them get attention like this...
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: sela on October 30, 2016, 08:50:43 pm
I can't take screenshots but you should grab one of bestsellers in childrens literature; Harry Potters been invades by scam books.

Yep. Top 12 - 20 in the Kindle Store bestsellers Children's Books:

(http://i347.photobucket.com/albums/p473/selauthor/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%209.48.47%20PM_zps6i56bhhi.png) (http://s347.photobucket.com/user/selauthor/media/Screen%20Shot%202016-10-30%20at%209.48.47%20PM_zps6i56bhhi.png.html)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: 555aaa on October 30, 2016, 09:08:43 pm
The Donkey In Meadow is up to 109.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Joseph Malik on October 30, 2016, 09:12:16 pm
What really makes this crazy is that "Champion Donkey" is my porn name.

(You take your first pet's name, and the street you grew up on . . . you know what? I'll just show myself out.)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Atlantisatheart on October 30, 2016, 09:12:48 pm

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Content removed due to new owners; VerticalScope Inc. TOS Change of 2018. I received no notification of a change to TOS, was never asked to agree to their data mining or sharing of my information, including sales of my information and ownership of my posts, intellectual rights, etc, and I do not agree to the terms.

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Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Jena H on October 30, 2016, 09:16:31 pm
So are these shysters making money on KU page reads?  'Cuz I can't imagine anyone paying $9.99 for these books.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Carol (was Dara) on October 30, 2016, 09:34:31 pm
So are these shysters making money on KU page reads?  'Cuz I can't imagine anyone paying $9.99 for these books.

I doubt they want actual readers to buy them. Actual purchasers would draw unwanted attention by returning and reporting the books, getting them yanked faster by Amazon. It's about KU page reads.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PearlEarringLady on October 30, 2016, 09:39:06 pm
I don't know, if they really didn't want to be discovered, I'm sure they had much better ways of doing this, like doubling the number of books and halving the number of reads per book so that none of them get attention like this...

This is my feeling, too. It's just so outrageously blatant that the scammer's account is going to be taken down long before he/she can collect any payout. So why do it? Either it's just malicious, to screw Amazon over, or it's a well-intentioned attempt to force Amazon to change their system by breaking it comprehensively. At this point, I really see no alternative to human eyes on every KU book before they go into the system. I for one would be happy to pay for increased scrutiny rather than this shambles.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Atlantisatheart on October 30, 2016, 09:45:13 pm

***********************************************************************************************
Content removed due to new owners; VerticalScope Inc. TOS Change of 2018. I received no notification of a change to TOS, was never asked to agree to their data mining or sharing of my information, including sales of my information and ownership of my posts, intellectual rights, etc, and I do not agree to the terms.

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Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Alan Petersen on October 30, 2016, 09:47:57 pm
Amazon pays royalties 60 days out, I would think that's more than enough time for them to get busted, banned, and payment withheld (as long they're reported to Amazon).
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Atlantisatheart on October 30, 2016, 09:51:46 pm

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Content removed due to new owners; VerticalScope Inc. TOS Change of 2018. I received no notification of a change to TOS, was never asked to agree to their data mining or sharing of my information, including sales of my information and ownership of my posts, intellectual rights, etc, and I do not agree to the terms.

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Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: 555aaa on October 30, 2016, 10:10:35 pm
That donkey's lazy. The champion donkey is at 106 and number 6 just behind Harry Potter and the order of the phoenix in bestsellers childrens lit.
Hah. My donkey's up to 96. There goes my theory about staying below the top 100.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: H.C. on October 30, 2016, 10:22:30 pm
Donkey and Meadow is just a misunderstood literary work. Sure, its message is repetetive but isn't it a message that we need to hear? I, for one welcome the message.   8)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: ......~...... on October 30, 2016, 10:28:21 pm
I hope they hit #1 in the paid store! Just for the lolz!  :P
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gator on October 30, 2016, 10:55:53 pm
The 10 BotMobile riders are currently at sales ranks #75 to #86.  It takes about 1,100 to 1,200 borrows to reach those ranks in a day.  Bet the scammer has more borrows coming, huh?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on October 30, 2016, 11:20:59 pm
#128-138 now. One of the ones pulled made it to #127 early this morning (CT).

Another thought: They could be autoset for 1000 *sales/reads* each. That would keep them just outside the Top 100. And it may not have been Amazon that even pulled the earlier ones. As soon as all 1000 copies were *bought and read*, the scammer may have been the one to pull them. $14 X 1000 = $14,000 per book. The 10 books that are up right now = at least $140,000 in profit assuming the books are being bot read or click-farm read. That's a pretty good day's take. No need really to keep them up beyond that point.


You know what? I believe you are right. That's exactly what's happening.

Well, there are now 10 of these in the top 100 for the Amazon store overall. That's 10% of the top 100 Best Sellers list- spots that should go to legitimate authors, not scammers.  So the big question is - will Amazon pay these guys out? And of course, we're only seeing the most aggressive scammers at work here.  I;m sure there are others quietly making a pretty penny that we'll never notice.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 30, 2016, 11:21:48 pm

Sorry I just don't understand how these people are making money.
 I read the article on David Gaughrans site /KU Scammers Attack Amazonís Free Ebook Charts (https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts) but that's about the free chart. How are they making money on a book priced at $9.99
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: bobfrost on October 30, 2016, 11:23:40 pm
The coordination involved here is stunning. More than a thousand KU accounts mass borrowing and presumably paging through these books?

Just on these 11 titles, that's 11,000 books borrowed and read through in a 48 hour period.

That's four books per minute for 48 hours straight.

I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

This isn't something that came out of nowhere. This must have been going on at a smaller scale for awhile for the person to build to this level.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: bobfrost on October 30, 2016, 11:25:38 pm
Sorry I just don't understand how these people are making money.
 I read the article on David Gaughrans site /KU Scammers Attack Amazonís Free Ebook Charts (https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts) but that's about the free chart. How are they making money on a book priced at $9.99

The books are in kindle unlimited.

They are borrowing each title a thousand times. Each book is 3000 kenpc of baloney. That's 15$ every borrow and full read.

They are making $15,000 on each title in 24 hours. You are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in just those 11 titles in the top 100.

Somehow, this person has managed to create a thousand KU accounts and is actively coordinating them to mass read pages of their KU titles. The scale of this scam is staggering.

They aren't buying the books at all.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: ......~...... on October 30, 2016, 11:44:14 pm
I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

I'm assuming they're getting the 30-day free trial (https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201550620)?

And they're probably using prepaid cards.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on October 30, 2016, 11:50:12 pm
Remember that big Russian scammer caught a few months ago?  He and his buddies made over 3 million dollars! They created a database of over 83,899 fake Amazon accounts that he used to publish and borrow his own books. They got away with it for two years!

AFAIK Amazon still doesn't verify email addresses and gives away 30-day free trial KU memberships like candy.  Again, with no real security checks or verification at all.

So this scam literally costs nothing more than computer networking & programming expertise.  A first year computer sci student can pull it off from the comfort of her dorm room.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gator on October 31, 2016, 12:11:06 am
The coordination involved here is stunning. More than a thousand KU accounts mass borrowing and presumably paging through these books?

Just on these 11 titles, that's 11,000 books borrowed and read through in a 48 hour period.

That's four books per minute for 48 hours straight.

I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

This isn't something that came out of nowhere. This must have been going on at a smaller scale for awhile for the person to build to this level.

It's actually 50 different titles we've seen the scammer use to pull off this scam just this weekend alone.  And since he's got 10 slots in the sales ranks of #67 to #77, that's about 1,200 to 1,300 BotMobile borrows so far.  I'll bet he has even more bots to borrow his books, though.

10 titles * 1,300 borrowed books * $15 in page reads per book = $195,000

(Plus whatever he made on the other 40 titles that were taken down earlier.)

Even if he didn't use the free 30-day KU trial for each of those accounts, that would only cost him $12,987 in monthly KU fees.  Nice, tidy profit, eh?

I *think* Amazon will put a stop to this, but perhaps that's wishful thinking.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: SeanHinn on October 31, 2016, 12:21:06 am
Ridiculously short sighted scamming.

They could have gotten away with it if they were real books, with real covers.  No one would have detected it.  Invest $10k in ghost writing and covers, and hell, if any of the books were even half decent, they could have even had staying power.

I'm more tempted to believe that this is some kind of protest, or has some other nefarious purpose.  How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

Prediction:  The 'Zon uses this as an excuse to completely revamp the KU program, to our detriment.  Or perhaps it's even the 'Zon doing it, to mask the real issues with KU.  And yes, I have plenty more tinfoil, if anyone wants some.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Gator on October 31, 2016, 12:37:10 am
How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 31, 2016, 12:48:15 am
Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.

Common sense doesn't require IQ either.

But what you said is totally not true. As someone who have taken more than a year's worth of computer science in University, I can tell you that I have no idea how to do something like this. Or, well, I can guess/understand how it works, but the actual process of doing something like this requires A LOT of different skills not taught in University, period, whether you're 1st year or 4th year or whatever. Now, someone with some computer science knowledge could probably learn enough to do it by themselves if they really wanted to. But you won't be able to do it just with stuff learned in school.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Abalone on October 31, 2016, 12:51:01 am
I reported Donkey and Meadows around 11 PM and it's still up.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: AsianInspiration on October 31, 2016, 01:14:11 am
I think The Clever Man is making a statement about Amazon. The two paragraphs that are repeated (guess I shouldn't copy them here) could be interpreted as such.

Curious, I ended up reading it. This guys' not a bad writer, it's actually kinda interesting :D Maybe not worth 9.99, but I'd borrow it if I had KU :D
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: H.C. on October 31, 2016, 01:19:10 am
Curious, I ended up reading it. This guys' not a bad writer, it's actually kinda interesting :D Maybe not worth 9.99, but I'd borrow it if I had KU :D


 :'(   :-\  :-[   :-X
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: 555aaa on October 31, 2016, 07:22:59 am
Just a thought - these borrows could come not from scam (computer generated) accounts but from hacked low-activity accounts. They just need to be tied to real people who aren't using Amazon very much. You go to your hacker buddies and "buy" about a thousand legit accounts with passwords, hopefully ones that are inactive, sign them up for the 30 free day trial, do the borrows & reads, and then cancel the KU membership. Nothing shows up on the account owners credit card statements and the borrows all come from real, legitimate accounts. There's a market in hacked accounts for things like this.

I think it's deliberate that they're obviously scam books and if the borrows come from real accounts, it'll be hard for Amazon to not pay out. As Gator said, the accounts can also be from real click farmers with real credit cards, which is totally "legit" and is still very profitable for the farmer. When I say legit, I mean that there is a real person with a real credit card as the account owner. The account owners get paid to read.  They're not reviewing, they are only "reading" and I don't see that as a violation of Amazon's TOS. It's still quite profitable for the organizer to do this. The low-tech method here only takes being a good organizer.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: CozyReads on October 31, 2016, 07:45:49 am
I don't think these books are the typical scammer titles hoping to make a quick buck off of junk. These "books" are too in-your-face (you don't get much more visible than the Top 100). And if you read the titles and repeating paragraphs, they're clearly parables about Jeff/Amazon's business practices and how they're hurting authors and other vendors. I wish I would have saved the paragraphs from the books that have already been taken down. When you read between the lines, it's ironically humorous.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Bickernicks on October 31, 2016, 08:08:24 am
Quote
Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.

Aaahh..How about just a kboards author? :-P

There is drag and drop automation software out there (https://ubotstudio.com/ (https://ubotstudio.com/)) that makes setting up accounts, clicking through things brutally easy. Watching the Indian guy go to work on this threads Silicon Valley video seems odd. They would just do it with automation software - but I get that it's easier to just SHOW a guy doing it for the TV show.

How many kboards accounts do you want? (if I had questionable morals) ;-)

(http://i.imgur.com/vas6748.jpg)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: PhoenixS on October 31, 2016, 08:12:43 am
Just a thought - these borrows could come not from scam (computer generated) accounts but from hacked low-activity accounts. They just need to be tied to real people who aren't using Amazon very much. You go to your hacker buddies and "buy" about a thousand legit accounts with passwords, hopefully ones that are inactive, sign them up for the 30 free day trial, do the borrows & reads, and then cancel the KU membership. Nothing shows up on the account owners credit card statements and the borrows all come from real, legitimate accounts. There's a market in hacked accounts for things like this.

I think it's deliberate that they're obviously scam books and if the borrows come from real accounts, it'll be hard for Amazon to not pay out. As Gator said, the accounts can also be from real click farmers with real credit cards, which is totally "legit" and is still very profitable for the farmer. When I say legit, I mean that there is a real person with a real credit card as the account owner. The account owners get paid to read.  They're not reviewing, they are only "reading" and I don't see that as a violation of Amazon's TOS. It's still quite profitable for the organizer to do this. The low-tech method here only takes being a good organizer.


Whether the reads are technically legit or not doesn't matter. What little content the books have are from public domain works, which aren't eligible for Select.
"The only books ineligible for enrollment are those for which you do not have exclusive rights for the primary content of the book (i.e., this content is in the public domain or others may also have the right to publish this content)."
https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A6KILDRNSCOBA

Plus, poor reader experience plus attempt to manipulate the ranks and page reads system by content-stuffing. Amazon has every right to not pay out on books that so blatantly violate their T&Cs for Select no matter what or who reads the books.

And if Amazon doesn't pay out, and the farmer is paying actual live clickers, that's going to be an expensive nose-thumbing at Amazon. I'm betting it's bot-driven. The cost of a host of server farms able to mask IP and identity can easily be spread across multiple scam attempts through multiple accounts. Amazon may well slap down the account these particular scambooks originated from, but if the scammer has 80,000 Amazon account emails to choose from, that's a lot of whack-a-mole to use to obfuscate future uploads and more subtle scamming attempts.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: kdiem on October 31, 2016, 09:30:36 am
A few things cut for brevity in quotes, marked with ellipses.

Ridiculously short sighted scamming.
... 
I'm more tempted to believe that this is some kind of protest, or has some other nefarious purpose.  How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

Others have said how easy it is to automate some things, so I'll skip that. They're raking in a far bit of cash in a very short time, allowing them to pull up stakes and start elsewhere any time law enforcement or the legal system get too close. Also, why would doing it for cash and doing it to make fun of Amazon be mutually exclusive? I mean, (Dr.) Chuck Tingle's got a whole empire built around butt-centric parodies.

...  Or perhaps it's even the 'Zon doing it, to mask the real issues with KU.  And yes, I have plenty more tinfoil, if anyone wants some.

Don't wear the tinfoil hat! Real science has proven it to amplify transmissions, rather than blocking.  :D MIT students can't possibly be wrong or subverted - here's a link to the study: http://web.archive.org/web/20100708230258/http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/ (http://web.archive.org/web/20100708230258/http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/).

(In case anyone can't tell, my last paragraph was meant as humor. Please don't beat me up.)
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Melody Simmons on October 31, 2016, 11:39:07 am
Questions:

Are any of the books still there because on the page indicated by the OP I see some well-known bestselling author names?

How does one identify the scam books?  Only by checking reviews?  I mean how can someone say for sure there are exactly 4 scam books in the top 100 or something?  Did they check each book?
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Athena Grayson on October 31, 2016, 11:42:50 am
Common sense doesn't require IQ either.

But what you said is totally not true. As someone who have taken more than a year's worth of computer science in University, I can tell you that I have no idea how to do something like this. Or, well, I can guess/understand how it works, but the actual process of doing something like this requires A LOT of different skills not taught in University, period, whether you're 1st year or 4th year or whatever. Now, someone with some computer science knowledge could probably learn enough to do it by themselves if they really wanted to. But you won't be able to do it just with stuff learned in school.

It's all database-based. Hosted on cloud databases, like the guy in the article did.

*You* don't necessarily do it. Any of it. Let's face it, the top-level bottom-feeders are already skipping town on the Zon. They took what they were doing and packaged it up and are now selling it to other, later-to-the-game scammers. Joe Bagoscams has bought a pre-packaged package deal where he pays a few hundred for the software--or a login and password from a previously-successful account, a few thousand for the training vids, and a few bucks for the actual content. Joe punches a button and boom! suddenly his four publisher accounts have 150 scamphlets each. Priced at 9.99, every borrow gets a big lift from the algos, because the zon wants people to think about buying a 9.99 book. You run the programs exactly like the training vids tell you to, and stop them as soon as your time or quantity's been reached. You pull the books and shift the publications tot he next account. You stay under a certain threshold where the zon considers it a "cost of doing business" loss and you collect your money in 15k chunks because Amazon eats a 15k loss, but you're running 4 accounts, so you're making 60k a month and amazon is still eating it as the cost of doing business.

Sure, the books are obvious, but don't forget, this is volume talking--quantity over quality. You don't just open one scam publishing account, you open three or four. You upload a hundred fake books. You have 86,000 fake KU "reader" bots. You make a hydra, which has many heads. Reporters and flags go up eventually when *authors* rather than readers notice, but in between the time it takes for those flags to accumulate enough to trip a trigger, you've already rolled up the tent and are halfway down the road to the next town while the good folks in River City, Iowa are still waiting to hear their kids play the Minuet in G. Torches and pitchforks will never run faster than trains out of town, and human complainers or the occasional bleary-eyed subcontractor who might actually look at the ranked titles will never be able to outrun or out-report the crap tsunami.

What this should tell us is that, given the obviousness of the titles and covers, hardly any actual humans look further past the top 100 list, otherwise the reports would have come in earlier.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Stella S. Fitzsimons on October 31, 2016, 11:45:35 am
Questions:

Are any of the books still there because on the page indicated by the OP I see some well-known bestselling author names?

How does one identify the scam books?  Only by checking reviews?  I mean how can someone say for sure there are exactly 4 scam books in the top 100 or something?  Did they check each book?

I think they're all gone now, at least from the top 100. Those *books* where just one or two paragraphs repeated over and over.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Melody Simmons on October 31, 2016, 11:48:45 am
I think they're all gone now, at least from the top 100. Those *books* where just one or two paragraphs repeated over and over.

Thanks.  I've seen some amazing covers on books and once you read inside they turn out to be rubbish.  So I guess the only way to know is to read the preview.  But some books do not display any inside-preview.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: jchance on October 31, 2016, 01:33:58 pm
That was too fast and hard, too visible, to be scammers out to make money. Because you do not draw attention to yourself like that if you want to get away with it. You stay under the radar.

I suspect at least some of that was the indie's version of Anonymous flipping Amazon the bird. I think the indie version would have a an apropos name,don't you?

That was . . . Pseudonymous.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Cherise on October 31, 2016, 01:44:32 pm
...if you read the titles and repeating paragraphs, they're clearly parables about Jeff/Amazon's business practices and how they're hurting authors and other vendors. I wish I would have saved the paragraphs from the books that have already been taken down. When you read between the lines, it's ironically humorous.


Interesting. And frightening. Because the people who think that are mostly trade publishers. This does not bode well for indie authors, if it starts any kind of firestorm.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: JRTomlin on October 31, 2016, 01:48:31 pm
Thanks.  I've seen some amazing covers on books and once you read inside they turn out to be rubbish.  So I guess the only way to know is to read the preview.  But some books do not display any inside-preview.
These aren't merely crap; they are all the same 2 paragraphs repeated over and over.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: JRTomlin on October 31, 2016, 01:49:29 pm

Interesting. And frightening. Because the people who think that are mostly trade publishers. This does not bode well for indie authors, if it starts any kind of firestorm.
Actually it is slanderous nonsense.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: KelliWolfe on October 31, 2016, 02:24:50 pm
It's nothing but Aesop's Fables sliced up and run through a synonymizer app. We've seen similar things before, this just seems to be a lot less sophisticated approach to generating the book text than the ones we were seeing a few months back. Most of them put enough effort into it that software detection would have posed a decent challenge.

This seems to be someone who plonked down the money for the scripts and tools to become a KU Black Hat, but got bored with the instructions halfway through and just winged it and did the least amount of work to do what they thought would make a bunch of money really fast.

The ones who are making money are the ones we're not seeing. I wanted to see if there was a lot of this stuff hiding in plain sight. I figured these guys are sharing tools and they probably use the same dictionary approach to naming their books. One of these was "The Clever Man" so I went to the Kindle Store and searched for clever. It returned about 1200 results. I found a bunch of scamplet-type books left over from KU 1.0 that are still hanging around, and books stolen from Feedbooks.com and just given new covers as camouflage. Amazon's website is painful to work with for this kind of thing and I gave up waiting for all the crap to load in their pages, but I made it from page 76 of the results to the mid-30s. I was only looking at the books that had Amazon's stock cover designs, too. I have no doubt that a lot of these guys are using stock images for cover art to make their books harder to pick out.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: BellaJames on October 31, 2016, 03:23:44 pm
The books are in kindle unlimited.

They are borrowing each title a thousand times. Each book is 3000 kenpc of baloney. That's 15$ every borrow and full read.

They are making $15,000 on each title in 24 hours. You are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in just those 11 titles in the top 100.

Somehow, this person has managed to create a thousand KU accounts and is actively coordinating them to mass read pages of their KU titles. The scale of this scam is staggering.

They aren't buying the books at all.


Thank you for explaining it.

They have all disappeared from the movers and shakers list



Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: Brad Vance on November 01, 2016, 05:13:18 am
You can easily publish books with "similar generic covers, similar generic titles, and you could frequently find two or three different copies of an ebook from multiple authors" and it slides right by review.  Because all of Amazon's resources are dedicated to making sure not one nipple slip makes it onto a book cover.
Title: Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
Post by: CozyReads on November 01, 2016, 07:36:18 am
Because all of Amazon's resources are dedicated to making sure not one nipple slip makes it onto a book cover.

And they even fail at that ;)