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so that's how it works

2015-05-24 - 8:30 a.m.

I was wondering about some weirdness with KU books that have no content or very little content. Then someone contacted me out of the blue and offered to share some micro-bucks with me if I signed onto KU and just clicked through some empty books as fast as I could so the "publisher" could get the KU payments for borrows.

No. Just no. But I did learn how the scam works. You just write something short enough that the book counts as 10% read as soon as the reader opens it. So even if they're angry -- which they will be when they see it's junk -- and they return it instantly, the "publisher" still gets paid for the borrow. Ugh. I'm not downloading any more books with less than 8 pages until they fix this's possible there are some longer works out there. Anything in Kindle Unlimited has become suspect until they have something besides a robot looking through the titles...

I googled around and found another variation is that the "publisher" puts a different title and cover on the same text of several different KU books. Again the purpose is not to sell books and attract readers because you'd quickly lose them again once the reader sees all of your titles are plagiarizing each other. It's to hire some donkeys for a few dollars who can quickly click through all the titles on KU. I was told you'd get $5 per 20 books that you clicked through and that it was taking other people about 10 minutes for each $5 job. So the publisher is getting, I dunno what it is now? $1.33 per KU borrow? So for 20 books the publisher is paying each donkey $5.50. The site that hooks up donkey and scammer keeps $1.50. The donkey earns $4 per ten minutes. Amazon is paying the publisher $1.33 x 20 for a gross $26.60 - $5.50 for the that's a pretty hefty profit margin of $21.10 for the scam. Hire enough donkeys -- there's an endless supply of them at certain sites which will go unnamed here -- and you're rolling in riches. I finally understand where the profit is coming from people putting so much absolute shite on KU!

I am not suggesting anyone do this. I'm sure not willing to. I just don't need money that bad. If you're a starving person in Sri Lanka, OK, everybody's got a hustle, but you're still a bad person IMHO. You're killing your future and everybody else's for a quick hit right now. IMHO this practice is completely unethical. But clearly there are other opinions that it's all in the game. Don't send hate. If you want to get involved in this, just leave me out of it! I can see from Google that it's been going on for months but I can't see how it's to any advantage to Amazon to tolerate it. How many fake books does somebody open before she cancels her KU subscription? And I for one wonder how much of the KU pie is going to these fake books...It's a scary thought. If that's our competition, should we be on KU at all? We just want to produce good books.

I do see the dilemma if someone isn't getting any traction and they're tired of playing a game that's entirely stacked against them. But dammit. My Peachfront Press title Crystal Cash is a real book. And it's a damn good real book. I'm not willing to pay donkeys to page through it. Which probably means I'm throwing away a ton of profit...

Or actually no? I guess it isn't profitable until you have at least 10 titles? But once you have a certain number of titles, it's undeniable that you could generate a quick profit going this route. It just seems wrong to me. But the people who game the system this way are clearly getting a lot more sales and borrows for books that are not of good quality. Read even just the samples of many of the "crystal healing" ebooks out there. Most of them are generic junk that somebody researched in a day online, rather than actual experienced-based titles...

Here's a chat I got into Saturday morning. I won't name the ebook because it's a potential competitor I was checking out. Now I don't think they're a competitor as I don't think there is any content in the book at all. But assuming there's some remote chance this is actually a real book with a formatting or technical issue, I've redacted the identifying data. Stay tuned.

So here's the chat...

  • Initial Question: There's no readable content in the ebook [Title and ASIN redacted]. I followed all the steps in the email about how to remove it from my Kindle and download again. The same thing happened as before, there are no words in this book, just a jumble. Apparently it's really a fake book. There's no readable words in it. I've downloaded tons of Kindle ebooks with no problem. Check my order history! The problem is not my Kindle. It isn't my wireless service. It's just this book. Really. I feel obligated to report it. Please somebody besides a bot take a look at this. I don't want to post a bad review in public as I'm a publisher myself and it isn't appropriate. But there's no book in this book. Please get them to fix this. Thanks!
  • 08:59 AM PDT Hanan(Amazon): Hello, my name is Hanan. I'm here to help you today.
  • 09:00 AM PDT Me: OK. I'm here. Problem summarized above. Basically I think human eyes should take a look at this book because I'm really not seeing any way it's my Kindle at fault. I read tons of books just fine from you guys as well as other sources like the library etc.
  • 09:02 AM PDT Me: You there?
  • 09:02 AM PDT Hanan: Yes, [First name on the Zon account] I was looking into this for you
  • 09:03 AM PDT Me: OK thanks
  • 09:03 AM PDT Hanan: Have you deleted this book completely from your account?
  • 09:04 AM PDT Me: I deleted it from my Kindle and put it back. Do you mean delete it from my Amazon Digital Orders?
  • The email I got said delete it from Kindle and re download. Didn't work...
  • 09:05 AM PDT Hanan: Yes, please try to delete the the book and let me know. I will help you with purchasing it again
  • 09:06 AM PDT Me: Eh, I don't think I want to take a chance of purchasing it again. But thanks anyway. I'll just delete it.
  • 09:06 AM PDT Hanan: Sure, please delete it and let me know
  • 09:06 AM PDT Me: OK will take me a moment, I got accidentlly logged off Amazon
  • 09:07 AM PDT Hanan: Sur Sure*
  • 09:08 AM PDT Me OK I got a message that it has been "queued for deletion"
  • 09:09 AM PDT Hanan: Thank you
  • 09:10 AM PDT Hanan: I am just checking this for you
  • 09:10 AM PDT Me: thanks
  • 09:13 AM PDT Hanan: Thank you for being online Please click the link below and purchase this book again: [amazon link redacted]
  • 09:14 AM PDT Hanan: You will not be charged for this I've issued the credit to your account so the credit will be applied to this order and your card won't be charged for this Please place the order and let me know the order number
  • 09:15 AM PDT Me: OK will try it right now
  • 09:15 AM PDT Hanan: Sure
  • 09:16 AM PDT Me: [redacted] is the order number, will try and see if it opens this time
  • 09:16 AM PDT Hanan: Sure, [First Name]
  • 09:17 AM PDT Me: Nope didn't work. Sorry. All that's in this book is the cover page, a photo, and a jumble of letters. No one else has said anything about this?
  • 09:18 AM PDT Me: It's just strange
  • 09:20 AM PDT Hanan: I can understand In this case, I will have to forward this to the technical department and ask them to rectify this
  • 09:21 AM PDT Me: TThanks I really do think it's some kind of bad format/technical issue from their end, as I have hundreds of books from you, the library, etc and never seen this before. Thanks for your time though.
  • 09:22 AM PDT Hanan: I can understand, [First Name]. You're welcome, I will forward this to them and they will rectify this within 3-5 business days
  • 09:23 AM PDT Me: Thanks again. Will sign off now if it's OK. You have my email I think...
  • 09:24 AM PDT Hanan: Yes, [First Name]. Have a good day

I guess that's what you go through whenever you get an unreadable Kindle book. But I never had it happen before in all these beers and years. Most of the time everything works. And when it doesn't, it's a download error on your internet's end, and you can just pickup the book by trying to download later.

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