Saturday, April 23, 2016

Kindle Unlimited Is Crap

I realize that I'm going to offend some people when I say this, but here it comes: Kindle Unlimited is pretty much a garbage service.  Hell, let's take it a step further: So many of the e-books being sold by Amazon are self-published crap that browsing the site for new, unknown e-books is largely a waste of time.  In fact, I quit browsing through Amazon for new books a long time ago because the experience, even on a good day, is frustrating...and don't ask me what word I would use to describe it on a bad day.

So now I use Kindle Books only to go through the back catalogs of authors I'm already familiar with or to buy titles I already know about.  That's not good for me, for authors, or for Amazon.  But this story from BoingBoing tells me that the situation is even worse than I imagined:

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.

So now we have idiots uploading 3,000-page "books" and tricking people into downloading them from Kindle Unlimited.  Then through more trickery they manage to get people to click over to the last page of the book so that it appears that the entire book has been read.  Bingo: that means a nice little payday from Amazon of $15 for every crapbook unwittingly downloaded by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.  

I like e-books and I read a lot of them.  But I hate shopping or searching for e-book titles amid the huge mound of garbage that Amazon is content to dump on top of the real books for sale.  Self-publishing can be a good thing, but more often than not, it is just the opposite.  Most unpublished books are unpublished for good reasons, and they deserve to stay unpublished - they are that bad - and I don't need them polluting the haystack I have to search through every time I want to buy an e-book.

But as long as Amazon is willing to pay scammers to puff up its own sales figures, that's the world we live in.  And I'm sick of it.  I'm looking at you, Mr. Amazon.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, man. I didn't know about that scanning the last page read part! I agree with you about the quality of much of their offerings, and gave up on the service for that very reason.
    @abetterjulie from www.persephoneknits.blogspot.com

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    1. julie, this is why Amazon statistics on best sellers and the like don't really mean a thing. Self-published authors know all the tricks now and when you add in all the reviews they solicit from friends and family, the numbers mean nothing anymore. There is just too much garbage to be able to browse effectively anymore. It's near impossible to find decent books "on the shelf" at Amazon unless you already know they are there.

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  2. Wow. I tend to avoid most self-published books now but I thought the quality was poor just because so many wannabe authors are finding means to get their unpolished work out there. I didn't know about this!!

    There's another blogger I follow who pretty much only reads e-books. And is constantly talking about books she's ditched, because they were SO godawful. Now I realized why. Ugh.

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    1. It's a mess, Jeane. Amazon even counts free books as sales, encouraging authors to give them away to get a high ranking for their books. And that makes it even harder to find good stuff because the Top 10 or Top 100 are full of bad writing by people kidding themselves about becoming published authors. It's all pretty sad, really.

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