Amazon quietly rolled out new content guidelines on Friday to tackle the plague of book stuffing, along with some new metadata rules which all seem to be aimed at cleaning up the Kindle Store – something long overdue. However, one infamous book stuffer is already bragging about a loophole. This is a huge test for Amazon’s new policy and whether KDP will actually enforce it.
This post is from 3 June 2018. It has not been updated except to clean up broken links, but it’s important to preserve these older posts and the comments remain open.
After the initial celebrations about the new policy, discussion immediately turned to Amazon and enforcement. From my post on the new guidelines:
This bonus content clarification from Amazon is welcome, but what change this brings about depends on whether KDP actually bothers enforcing the rules this time — something that has been very patchy to date. My hope is that simplifying the rule will allow ground-level staff, or algos I guess, make an easier determination about is permitted, and that this is the beginning of a wider crackdown. Perhaps that is wishful thinking on my part.
There was a push among some authors a few weeks back to get Amazon to lower the max payout size in Kindle Unlimited to 1,000 pages. Everyone proposing it knew it was an imperfect solution but argued it was better than the status quo. That was true, but the reason I didn’t join that call was simple: Amazon didn’t need new rules to tackle book stuffing, it needed a change in attitude. Stuffing was already breaking existing rules, Amazon was just not applying them. I was wondering what the point of new rules would be unless it was also accompanied by actual enforcement.
And now Amazon faces a test in the shape of book stuffer Tia Siren, who has made the most cosmetic of changes to her stuffed books — she has just appended the phrase “A Romance Compilation” to her book titles. — and is clearly thumbing her nose at Amazon and her fellow authors, while she continues to hoover up money from the communal author pot.
This is the solitary change she made to her skeavy business model:
I’m not kidding. This book — Love Next Door — is 2,665 pages long, and retailing for 99¢ like most stuffer books. It has three full novels stuffed in the back, along with an excerpt for a fourth.
Tia Siren clearly feels confident that Amazon’s new rules have no teeth.
This kind of Kindle Unlimited cheating is extremely lucrative: Tia Siren is currently in the Top 20 of the Kindle Store and is a KU All Star. Amazon is paying her fat bonuses every month, in other words. From your pocket.
While Tia Siren may have quickly appended “A Romance Compilation” to her latest release in an attempt to comply with the rules, she hasn’t even bothered doing that with the rest of her 30 books, which are all still stuffed.
Over to you, Amazon. And time for the rest of us to find out if the new rules are a complete sham.
UPDATE: Thanks to Nicola in the comments for this. It blows my mind that three years on from the launch of the page read model in Kindle Unlimited that Amazon still can’t count pages accurately. That would seem like a prerequisite for basing an author compensation model on pages read…