Kindle Unlimited is being flooded with 3,000-page garbage books that suck money out of the system

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service allows subscribers to download as many books as they want, and then pays writers based on the number of their pages that readers have read.

The service surveils your reading habits by checking the "furthest page visited" status on every book in your library, meaning that if you skip to the last page, the book considers you to have finished the whole thing.

Crapflooding scammers have therefore supplied a glut of "books" that run up to 3,000 pages (the longest Amazon will permit), filled with garbage, which open with a link to the last page. By paying (or tricking) people to download their "books" and click the link, they rack up 3,000 pages' worth of credit to their author accounts. At $0.005/page, it can add up.

The more of this there is, the less money there is in the system for writers who produce actual books, and the less reason there is for anyone to participate in, or subscribe to, the system.

But e-books don’t have to be linear. You might, for example, open up a new Kindle book and find it has a link on the first page, to take you to a later chapter or a table of contents or another language. Tapping that link could put you hundreds of pages into the book — which means that the author of that file is now making money off you, even if you haven’t read a word… or even if there’s not a single real word there to be read.

And that is exactly what’s happening. Scammers are basically uploading “books” that are nothing but files full of nonsense with some link on page 1 that puts readers on page 300 or 3000 (the maximum page length for which Amazon will pay out) almost instantly. In between there’s nothing but nonsense, but the scammer can use click farms to drive up the ranking of their book and so people download it anyway.

Amazon Unintentionally Paying Scammers To Hand You 1000 Pages Of Crap You Don’t Read [Kate Cox/Consumerist]

(via Super Punch)

(Image: Open Book, George Hodan)

Notable Replies

  1. I believe the term for what I feel here is "Schadenfreude".

    Paying per page read? Ugly stuff from what has become an ugly company.

  2. hhype says:

    I feel there is data enough here to create a useful rule of thumb or law perhaps "the law of unintended consequences". Or perhaps Goodhart's law, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." Perhaps page read to was a good measure until it became the target.

  3. "Crapflooding scammers"

    The name of my garageband.

  4. It probably wasn't intended, but clearly Amazon didn't really care that much about how well the system worked for the authors. Money comes in one end, goes out the other, and they skim off the middle. As long as that keeps happening, they're happy. Given that KU is basically a vanity publishing program, and the point of vanity publishing is to separate an author from their money, why is anyone surprised that they treat the authors badly? The surprising thing to me is that they have any subscribers.

  5. AAAARGH! Why do I never think of these things first?

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