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Thread: Amazon Alleges Violations by KDP Authors, Publishers

  1. #1
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    Amazon Alleges Violations by KDP Authors, Publishers

    Citing violations of Kindle Direct Publishing terms and conditions, Amazon has filed arbitration complaints against five individuals who it says offered services to KDP author and publishers aimed at helping them manipulate the reading platform for financial gain. Amazon is demanding a combination of injunctive relief, account termination and in some cases, triple damages.
    KDP is Amazonís self-publishing platform and violations of KDP terms are governed by private arbitration. Therefore, Amazon's complaints have been submitted to the American Arbitration Association for a decision.
    https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/...ublishers.html
    Not sure what effect this will have on those of us with books enrolled in KU who have seen the page rate drop and drop.

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW rwm4768's Avatar
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    Maybe it will start to scare away the click farms. One can hope.

  3. #3
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    This is the long-coming move against the click farms. Those of us on the straight and narrow shouldn't be whacked with any sticks.

    Shouldn't doesn't mean won't, so keep an eye on your Amazon entries and email. False positives happen, so we'll have to call quick to get anything like that fixed without losing revenue.
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  4. #4
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    I had an author friend who experienced a crazy uptick in page reads, like going from thousands a day to millions. She contacted Amazon and told them she thought there had been a mistake, they responded no everything was fine. She took the issue higher and was told still that it was all on the up and up.

    Fast forward to two weeks later, Amazon sends her a strongly worded letter about how she's been suspected of fraudulent/scammy behavior and her account will be terminated. Luckily, she had the emails from earlier to fall back on. I can't imagine if she hadn't tried to contact them though and just accepted that it had been a great couple of days.

  5. #5
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm going to show my ignorance. Click farms?



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  6. #6
    Out, damn'd spot! out, I say. Lady MacBeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CathleenT View Post
    Okay, I'm going to show my ignorance. Click farms?
    I was wondering the same thing.

  7. #7
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    Click farms are a shady method of generating revenue. There are hackers that run bots who have their own kindle accounts. For a fee, they'll set the bots to reading through your books. The bots can read through a LOT of books in a short time. And the more bots they have, the more that read, the more revenue you pull in from Kindle Unlimited.

    It's a serious problem. It boosts books that shouldn't be anywhere near the Amazon rank they are, dilutes the Kindle Unlimited page value for everyone else, and is entirely against Amazon's TOS. But it's a gray area, legal-wise.

    Now Amazon's trying to do something about that. It'll be tricky even if they get their way, a lot of the click farms are overseas, in countries that aren't too good about, y'know, laws.
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  8. #8
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
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    What baffles me is that Amazon can automate systems to watch for bots. They don't.

    I know this for a fact; it is not speculation. This is not new technology or a new problem. We know how to identify suspicious user activity.

    I suspect Amazon has let it ride because they profit; they don't care about the publisher (often the author); they care about sales.

  9. #9
    Out, damn'd spot! out, I say. Lady MacBeth's Avatar
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    Wow. I had no idea such a thing existed.

  10. #10
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'm fairly certain Amazon only cares about sales. They only started doing something about fake reviews when it started affecting their reputation, and as usual their reaction seemed equally arbitrary and confusing.

    Going after the click farms is a start, but it's not enough to make me commit work solely to KDP.

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  11. #11
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    I'm fairly certain Amazon only cares about sales. They only started doing something about fake reviews when it started affecting their reputation, and as usual their reaction seemed equally arbitrary and confusing.

    Going after the click farms is a start, but it's not enough to make me commit work solely to KDP.
    As always, it's a personal choice for each author. In my case, I've always looked at Kindle Unlimited as a marketing tool, rather than a revenue stream. The fact that it provides a small revenue stream is nifty, but I wouldn't depend on it. So the click farms and cheaters annoy me when they eat into my profits, but it's not gonna mean missing a mortgage payment or something like that.
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  12. #12
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    It's Amazon that I don't trust.

    Think about it. Amazon (or other ebook retailers) can't get away with stiffing authors for unreported sales since there is a revenue trail. But, the KU system doesn't HAVE an audit trail. It's just a little bit too easy for Amazon to say 'hey, you author are doing too well therefore you must be using click bots to generate page reads' and strip entire months of KU royalties, and have a good day and by the way we will threaten you with account closure if you complain to someone about it.

    I'm sorry, but someone had to purchase accounts for pages to be read, so even assuming that click bots are generating revenue, Amazon isn't getting stiffed. They aren't.

    I've basically lost complete respect for Amazon. I think you're probably okay if you stay out of select, but as far as I'm concerned select is scamming authors, not the other way around.

    But, what comes around goes around. Amazon is going to get their asses sued over this, big time, I guarantee it. They have angered far too many authors, and they are creating a very bad name for themselves.

  13. #13
    Livin' la vida biblia ASeiple's Avatar
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    Actually, I've seen reports from authors who have mistakenly been hit by the banstick, because Amazon thought they were using clickfarms. It usually takes some phone calls or emails and a few days, but they've gotten reinstated again.

    Trusting Amazon is immaterial to me, really. They are the biggest game in town, and their actions have ensured that self-publishing authors have a much easier time of it. I don't have to trust them to use them for my benefit, so I do. And so far I'm pleased with the return of my marketing venture.

    But hey, if you're staying out of Kindle Select due to your convictions, that's cool bro. You be you.
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  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW
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    It's all cool until they stiff you of royalties. Then an Amazon presence becomes immaterial, quickly.

  15. #15
    Holding out for a Superhero... Sheryl Nantus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AW Admin View Post
    I suspect Amazon has let it ride because they profit; they don't care about the publisher (often the author); they care about sales.
    This.

    Don't forget Amazon isn't just in the business of selling books. They sell widgets, lawnmowers, board games... books, physical and electronic are only a small part of their big pictures. They're not dedicated to anything but the profit line.

    Might want to keep that in mind for the future.

  16. #16
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    And they sell all of those things because they make shopping easy and reliable for customers. Which is widespread and obvious gaming of the systems effects their bottom line.
    Emily Veinglory

  17. #17
    figuring it all out LouiseStanley's Avatar
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    From what I'd read, the scammers abuse the free trial accounts, so Amazon isn't even getting paid for the bots' activity.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al X. View Post
    I'm sorry, but someone had to purchase accounts for pages to be read, so even assuming that click bots are generating revenue, Amazon isn't getting stiffed. They aren't.
    The system currently pays out for reads during the 30 day trial. (Personally, I think that should end even though it potentially means less money for me.) So, no, click bots aren't (likely) running on paid accounts--they're cycling through trial accounts.

    Scammers are likely a wash financially for Amazon. If the scamming scale is such that it's the primary cause of months where Amazon adds to the pot, then Amazon would be losing financially. I think either of those situations is more likely than Amazon profiting off scammers unnecessarily paying for accounts to run clickfarms that steal more from the pot than they pay for the accounts, or profiting by falsely accusing authors of using clickbots and keepin' ur L000T$ LOLZ!

    Author relations is the main problem, but the program is optional. Vote with your feet and go wide. Long term, that's almost universally the better choice anyway.
    Last edited by J. Tanner; 09-16-2017 at 05:31 AM.
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  19. #19
    Aye, ye scurvy dog! Sydneyd's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=JVote with your feet and go wide. Long term, that's almost universally the better choice anyway.[/QUOTE]

    I'd argue this point. It depends a lot on the genre. I've known authors who have gone wide from KU and they consistently make in a month what they made in a day in KU. Particularly in gay romance, I think the readers have been conditioned to expect certain things like .99 releases and books to be enrolled in KU. We sort of did it to ourselves. At this point, I believe the best course of action would be to release in KU but after the first 90 days, go wide. Though the case may be different in scifi, fantasy or even mf romance.
    Last edited by Sydneyd; 09-18-2017 at 10:05 PM. Reason: quote thingy

  20. #20
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    From what I've seen in the last year, that almost solely applies to very specific categories of M/M erotic romance. Anything contemporary, biker, cowboy, or in paranormal werewolf and other shifters - does well on KU from readers conditioned to those stories, story lengths, and price points. Anything outside those categories, you're probably better off going wide.

    I've heard the same breakdown applies almost as strongly to het romances, too.

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  21. #21
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASeiple View Post
    Click farms are a shady method of generating revenue. There are hackers that run bots who have their own kindle accounts. For a fee, they'll set the bots to reading through your books. The bots can read through a LOT of books in a short time. And the more bots they have, the more that read, the more revenue you pull in from Kindle Unlimited.

    It's a serious problem. It boosts books that shouldn't be anywhere near the Amazon rank they are, dilutes the Kindle Unlimited page value for everyone else, and is entirely against Amazon's TOS. But it's a gray area, legal-wise.

    Now Amazon's trying to do something about that. It'll be tricky even if they get their way, a lot of the click farms are overseas, in countries that aren't too good about, y'know, laws.
    I'm struggling to understand how this makes anyone any money. How can the click bots get free access for books they're "reading" through? I assume they're not. What's the point of generating lots of views if they don't translate to actual sales or money to the authors (and Amazon)?

    I'm pretty hazy on how Amazon works, but I assumed that those eagerly sought sales ranks actually came from sales, not individuals who are somehow getting free access to the books. Or do the number of views during a free trial period affect later pricing?
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 09-18-2017 at 10:24 PM.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sydneyd View Post
    I'd argue this point. It depends a lot on the genre. I've known authors who have gone wide from KU and they consistently make in a month what they made in a day in KU. Particularly in gay romance, I think the readers have been conditioned to expect certain things like .99 releases and books to be enrolled in KU. We sort of did it to ourselves. At this point, I believe the best course of action would be to release in KU but after the first 90 days, go wide. Though the case may be different in scifi, fantasy or even mf romance.
    You've just identified the "almost" in my comment, so I'm not sure we're really disagreeing on anything.

    There are certain genre and author situations that do well in KU, no doubt. That's not mutually exclusive with the long term benefit for most authors and genres being better off wide.

    I'd also wonder how long your anecdotal authors gave it before making the 1 day vs 1 month comparison. How did they market/promote their conversion to wide? (ie. comparing your first month wide with your last month of KU is a really bad comparison. Those other sites take much more time and effort to generate sales.)
    J. Tanner vs the Page

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxxsmom View Post
    I'm struggling to understand how this makes anyone any money. How can the click bots get free access for books they're "reading" through? I assume they're not. What's the point of generating lots of views if they don't translate to actual sales or money to the authors (and Amazon)?

    I'm pretty hazy on how Amazon works, but I assumed that those eagerly sought sales ranks actually came from sales, not individuals who are somehow getting free access to the books. Or do the number of views during a free trial period affect later pricing?
    Click bots get free access to the books they're "reading" by signing up for a free 30 day trial of Kindle Unlimited.

    Some bot services make money because (desperate?/ignorant?/shady?) authors pay for borrows. Those authors benefit from improved ranking/visibility of their books which can lead to legitimate sales.

    Other bot creators make money by creating their own (mostly worthless, often gibberish) books that no actual reader would ever read. But the bot turns pages which results in generating about $0.004 per page of pure profit if they don't get caught.

    In brief, the KU subscription service is based on a highly exploitable model and scammers have exploited every weakness, as they are wont to do.
    J. Tanner vs the Page

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  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW WriterBN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Tanner View Post
    I'd also wonder how long your anecdotal authors gave it before making the 1 day vs 1 month comparison. How did they market/promote their conversion to wide? (ie. comparing your first month wide with your last month of KU is a really bad comparison. Those other sites take much more time and effort to generate sales.)
    This is an important point to consider. In my experience, it can take up to a year to build a decent platform on the other channels, although a lot depends on genre. Still, the long-term benefits of going wide are worth it, especially not being tied to one vendor who can change your royalty rates on a whim.
    Last edited by WriterBN; 09-19-2017 at 09:12 PM.

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