Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

When in tome …


Have you heard how the scamsters are abusing Kindle Unlimited? Get this: They trick you into advancing to the end of very long books, thus getting credit for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pages that you didn’t really read.

Kindle Unlimited, of course, is the subscription service Amazon cooked up that allows you (sort of) to download as many books as you want for $9.99/month. Authors are paid something like four grains of sand for each page you read. If you read enough pages, soon the writer is sitting on a thimbleful of sand!

What these scamsters have figured out is that Amazon doesn’t literally count the pages read. It just notes the furthest point reached in the book, so, for example, if you zipped to the end to see if the author mentioned you in her acknowledgments, she’d get credit for all the pages between 1 and whatever page the acknowledgments are on. The Amazon hackers, exploiting this weakness, are publishing books full of nothing but gobbledygook, with a link on p. 1 that shoots you to p. 3000. Boom — they get 3000 pages worth of Kindle Unlimited credit. At $0.005 per page, that comes to only $15, but if a hundred people fall for it? And if they set up a “click farm” where thousands of the links are clicked? My my my.

Read all about it.

Right now, the scammers are mostly an inconvenience to readers and authors alike. But the bigger they get, the fewer people are going to trust their work to Kindle Unlimited, and the less decent stuff there will be for subscribers to read. That, in turn, will mean fewer subscribers for Amazon.

Everything can be hacked these days. Shoot, the state of Michigan hacked Flint’s water supply! Trump has hacked the Republican primaries. Why on earth would Amazon not anticipate that someone would hack their semi-invasive algorithm that knows how far we get in the books we “license” from them?

Got to get to work on my next book now. I’m thinking it’ll run about 3000 pages and have a naked male torso on the cover.

16 comments on “When in tome …

  1. kingmidget
    April 22, 2016

    Sorry, but the naked male torso on the cover won’t do anything for me. Nor will the 3,000 pages.

    But, yes, the whole Kindle Unlimited effort seemed to address a problem that didn’t really exist. If I buy a real book at a bookstore (or from Amazon) and I take it home and read it and I don’t like it enough to finish it — say, I only get to page 100 of a 400 page book — does that mean I only have to pay 1/4 of the price? Of course not. I’m not sure why e-books should be treated any differently.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 22, 2016

      Yeah, it seems like an experiment to see what happens if books could be “rented” like movies on Netflix. Amazon is always looking for ways to squeeze out more profit, so I’m sure that’s the main motivation. The micropayments to authors are nothing to write home about.

  2. The Opening Sentence
    April 22, 2016

    And in addition to the scam is Amazon’s arse-about-t*t response by knobbling legit authors and leaving the click-farmers to carry on. I contacted Amazon last year about ebook titles being stuffed with keywords. Nothing done about it. hey’ll act when it starts to make a noticeable impact on their own bottom line.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 22, 2016

      That’s where they live, for sure. Then again, even if they solve this problem, the scammers will think of something new to try …

  3. francisguenette
    April 22, 2016

    This recent post on David Gaughran’s blog had my eyes bugging out as it dealt with a situation that occurred on the same weekend I was trying to see the results of my BookBub promotion push Disappearing in Plain Sight up the Amazon Top 100 chart. Worth reading and the comments and David’s thoughtful answers are also good. https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/ku-scammers-attack-amazons-free-ebook-charts/

  4. Carrie Rubin
    April 22, 2016

    Talk about giving authors a bad name. Then again, are they even authors or just scammers who’ve found an easy way to make money? Argh.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 22, 2016

      They’re definitely not authors. Most of the books are garbage text. But they worst part is they only reinforce the idea that indies = junk. Yes — argh!

      • Carrie Rubin
        April 22, 2016

        They should find them and suspend their Amazon accounts, but I suppose that’s easier said than done.

  5. cinthiaritchie
    April 22, 2016

    Amazon needs to pull on its big-boy (or big-girl) pants and get serious when it comes to scammers. Plus only paying for pages read sucks big time. When someone buys your book, they buy the whole damned book, not just a few pages or chapters. Grrrrrrrr…..

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 23, 2016

      I don’t know what kind of brain cooked up this idea, but it’s pretty annoying, isn’t it? On the other hand, at least we get a little something if a reader bails halfway through the book …

      What’s worse are those people who return ebooks and get a frickin’ refund!

  6. John W. Howell
    April 22, 2016

    Good post, Kevin.

  7. Audrey Driscoll
    April 22, 2016

    This could be a good thing in the long run. Authors may start to look for options other than KDP Select (which is how books become available on KU, isn’t it?). Until now, folks haven’t been able to resist the allure of Select, because it (used to?) result in more sales than “going wide,” i.e. not being exclusive to Amazon. I have never signed up for one of Select’s 90 day deals, so can’t speak from experience, but this doesn’t make me want to try it.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 23, 2016

      I’ve opted for Select only because other outlets represent almost zero sales for me, plus I get the 70% royalty even if I drop the price to 99 cents for a promo. That said, nothing about the program has actually garnered new attention for my books that I can see. Nobody “discovers” me because my stuff is in Select.

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This entry was posted on April 22, 2016 by in Publishing and tagged , , .
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