How Amazon Can Handle Their Kindle Spam Problem

As the Kindle Store is bombarded with countless titles of little or no value to potential purchasers, Amazon has to be wondering what can be done to keep this situation from casting a bad light on the whole Kindle brand.  It’s still a great device with an impressive attached store, but who wants to have to look out for scams and malware links when they’re just trying to grab a book?  The problem is that there’s a fairly subtle difference between honestly bad books and the pretty much useless content that users of systems like Autopilot Kindle Cash that attempt to exploit the system.  How do you tell when an author is putting out something they genuinely expect people to want to have paid money for?  I have a couple ideas.

First, I think that it is not unreasonable to restrict the number of book postings that an individual author can make in a day, except by special request.  Currently, as far as I can tell, there is little regulation on the process unless you are trying to fit into the Kindle Singles category.  Do we really believe that many authors have a genuine need to even consider publishing 10 books in a day, or 100 books in a week?  I understand that throwing up the back catalog of an author can involve a lengthy list sometimes and I think that should be possible if they clear it with Amazon Customer Service first, but as a general situation there’s no real need.  Why not say that you can only post one book per day, or three per week, and take the easiest means of profiting from these exploitative tactics away?

Perhaps a better way would be to have a way for verified purchasers of Kindle books be able to flag a purchase as spam.  Make it work off of a percentage system, wherein any Kindle Edition eBook that is flagged by 30% or more of purchasers (with a minimum of five or so to prevent the most blatant forms of abuse) is either taken down for review or publicly labeled as potentially harmful until it can be reviewed.  This would allow Amazon to get away with letting their customers police the system in a manner similar to the existing ratings system and point the finger at bad uploads for removal at the company’s convenience.

I realize that both systems come with their own problems, of course, but something needs to be done.  Millions of Kindle owners and readers simply deserve better than what’s being thrown at them.  Maybe adopt something like these fairly simple ideas, but have a method whereby authors can apply for exemption as needed?  It is a complex issue.  There are enough obstacles to deal with in the transition away from paper books that we don’t need this to be an ongoing problem, though.  It is time for Amazon to make use of the control inherent in having their own platform to change things for the better.

Kindle Spam Highlights the Worst Side of Easy Self-Publishing

The Kindle has done a lot to bring publishing from fantasy to reality for new authors everywhere.  In an industry previously dominated by publishing houses that have a track record of refusing to take risks on new things, it provides an easy way for somebody to get their work out there and let it stand on its own merits.  This is not without its issues, however.  Under the old system we had some regulation, even if it was ridiculously over-restrictive.  Now, we can only hope that the best rises to the top.

The downside of the Kindle and its self-publishing options has generally been seen to be a lack of editorial input.  Bad books get published, poorly edited books get published, basically anything that people churn out can hit the digital shelves the day the author hits the Submit button.  Unfortunately, that’s not really all we have to worry about.  There were always going to be a few less than original titles that were meant purely to get the most cash for the least effort and to hell with the customer, but now a method has been devised for anybody who wants to put in the effort to put out 10-20 new books a day without even bothering to write.

The form that this takes can be anything from republished PLR content (content that the “author” buys the rights to republish under their own name) to the deliberately malicious.  The former are interesting in that they at least have the potential to be real, quality works, even if they aren’t exactly originals.  A system calling itself “Autopilot Kindle Cash” claims to be able to teach people to publish as many as 20 of these recycled eBooks per day at minimal expense.  For the most part, it is a load of worthless writing that offers little enjoyment, advice, or information, but that doesn’t mean that the occasional gem might not appear.  I can’t say that I support the idea, but it is the lesser of two evils.

On the more unpleasant side, we have scam links.  Some of these will come at the end of PLR content.  Others will just be thrown in wherever is convenient.  I’ve personally come across several that took me to scam sites promising easy money, but there is no reason to believe that there aren’t quite a few that link even more unpleasant content.

It would be unreasonable to expect Amazon to have every eBook checked out before publication.  Given the size of the platform, it just wouldn’t make sense.  To be fair, they even respond promptly to complaints by bringing down the offending eBook or author and offering refunds.  It seems a little strange to have to deal with this sort of issue while shopping for books, though.

For now, readers might want to watch for vaguely worded product descriptions, books with few or no reviews on them, and authors who seem to put out a lot of books all at once.  Most importantly, as with anything that can send you around on the internet, be careful what links you click on.  It’s a shame that the Kindle isn’t entirely safe from this sort of abuse, and I hope to see something fix it in the near future, but it’s simple enough to stay safe if you’re cautious.