Hot Takes: Looking at how this affects readers

So, something that a lot of people are overlooking in this mess of scammers are readers. No, I’m not saying this to curry favor with readers. I’m still a reader and I wonder about how this impacts readers now, and how it can impact them five, ten years from now.

woman lying with a book on her face, disappointed

I wouldn’t be a writer if I hadn’t been a reader first. I can remember all the weeks I spent back when I was a kid, twelve years old, riding my bike about six or seven miles with a backpack full of books to the library so I could turn those books in and get a bunch more. The cycle would repeat all over again a week later.

I’m a writer now because I had books that fed the growing writer in me then and because of that, I know how important it is to protect the voice and platform of creators.

I’m also…me because of those books, because I had access to those books, because I had a glimpse outside of a world beyond the one where I lived.

I grew up with an alcoholic father. I was surrounded by racism. Yes, I’m white, but even at a young age, I knew there was something wrong there and I hated it. Books helped me figure out just what that wrong thing was. There were growing problems with drugs and violence in the neighborhood where I lived much of my childhood. Yet I never got drawn into any of that. The bullying I dealt with? I ignored. I had a paper route which I did mostly so I’d have book money and the teasing and bullying I got when I’d leave on my bike to do that? I ignored. I already had insights into a world where people weren’t judged on whether or not they hung with the cool crowd or had already had sex or whether they did what everybody else did just so they didn’t stand out and I wasn’t going to settle for anything but finding a world like that on my own.

Reading had given me a way out, because I knew there was more outside the narrow walls my current world had presented at the time and nobody was going to get in my way.

And many of the lessons I learned about being a woman who could stand up and make her own way…? I learned from reading silly ol’ romances. There’s value in this genre that goes deeper than 0.99, 1.99, 2.99 or even 15.99 or 24.00.

It can be the value of making and changing lives and I’m not going to ignore the assholes who think they can overtake the genre, cheapen it by flooding the market with regurgitated works repeatedly.

Now that is a personal viewpoint.

From a general, non-emotional, practical reader standpoint, when you buy a book that’s released in 2019 and there’s no disclosure about being previously released and no information about its earlier releases on the copyright date…it’s deceptive. It’s misleading. It’s bullshit. Readers can and do pick up on these things. Especially in romance, because, folks…we’re voracious, we’re read by the truckload, and yes, we’ll figure it out if books are being regurgitated. We deserve better than that.

And no…it’s not just me saying that.

YES…It Affects Readers

A reader emailed me yesterday. Below is the text of her email, in its entirety, with no changes made, save for swapping out her name with Reader J and the Amazon Rep’s name.

I asked Reader J if she’d mind if I shared and she was more than happy for me to do so.

Visiting website:

Comment: Just wanted to share a chat transcript with Amazon regarding the scammers at KU. Thought you’d appreciate it.

Hello,

Here’s a copy of the chat transcript you requested:

Initial Question: I have recently become aware of an issue that’s been plaguing the Kindle Unlimited & KDP Platforms for some time, namely the practices used by some participants who buy up manuscripts from other participants after the income stream has dried, then repackage, recover, sell as new on KU with no disclosure that the work has been previously published, not even a mention on the copyright page. They use a rapid release schedule, and may or may not use click farms and other methods to help bolter standing, but the repetitive cycle of constant releases pushes them higher up in visibility, earning them a larger share from the KU proceeds and on their part, they do no true work, make no disclosure about the fact they’re releasing rehashed work and are flooding KU with recycled works that make the quality of the platform rather questionable, while many authors with new stories, fresh voices struggle to find any visibility at all.

As a subscriber of Kindle Unlimited, and as a reader, I have sele
01:33 PM PST N.(Amazon): Hello, my name is N. I’m here to help you today.
Let me connect you to a member of the team that will best be able to help you with this. It will only take a moment.
01:34 PM PST Amazon Rep C.(Amazon): Hello, my name is Amazon Rep C.. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence.
01:35 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: I am sorry to hear about the inconvenience caused
01:35 PM PST Reader J: Let me sum it up. Kindle Unlimited is allowing scammers to recycle old books under new names. It’s dishonest, fraudulent and annoying. I’ve canceled my KU membership until Amazon puts in some better controls.
01:36 PM PST Reader J: Just want to be sure someone there knows WHY I canceled my subscription, and maybe can look into the fraud happening over at Kindle Unlimited.
01:39 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: Okay
01:39 PM PST Reader J: I realize that the loss of my $119.88 per year isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I’ll be passing the information about the scammers using the Kindle Unlimited platform along to all my friends. And their friends.
01:40 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: I have forwarded your valuable comments to the appropriate team for consideration
Just to confirm, are you an Author Reader J?
01:40 PM PST Reader J: No, ma’am. I’m a reader.
01:41 PM PST Reader J: I read at least one book per night. I have become very frustrated lately that the books I’ve been selecting are books I’ve read before, under a different title or by a different author.
01:43 PM PST Reader J: I keep book logs of what I read because I participate in a reading program at my local library. That’s how I started noticing that the same books were showing up under different titles. Then I found an author’s blog that explained how it was happening.
01:43 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: I am collecting all the information to forward
01:44 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: Please stay connected
01:45 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: Did you noticed this anywhere else too?
01:49 PM PST Reader J: Only on Kindle Unlimited. The only other digital platform I use is Libby by Overdrive which is managed for libraries, so all content is vetted by librarians. For now, I’ll stick with Libby and check out books from the library. I hope Kindle Unlimited can put some better controls in place to fix this, because I really like the access provided. I’ve just become tired of the diminishing quality of titles available because of these scammers.
01:49 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention
01:50 PM PST Amazon Rep C.: I have successfully forwarded your valuable comments to the appropriate team for consideration. Our customers convenience is always our top priority
01:50 PM PST Reader J: Thank you.

Thank you.
Amazon.com

Readers Deserve Better. We All Do.

If you bought a new movie at the store and it turned out to be Starship Troopers (sorry, I can’t think of a worst movie), but the producer had retitled it, put a new wrapper on it and changed nothing else inside it, you’d have the right to feel cheated.

Likewise, if you purchase a book or download it through a platform you pay to access, you’ve got the fricking right to expect new, original content if it’s marketed as such. And unless it’s disclosing the fact that’s been previously published, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Yesterday, I blogged and asked authors to speak up and contact Amazon. Readers, if you feel that this is affecting you, you can do the same. If you’ve seen practices like Reader J, if you’re fed up with quality issues plaguing the Kindle Unlimited platform, you’ve got a voice and power with it.

You can email

jeff@amazon.com CC both content-review@amazon.com and legal@amazon.com

PSA to the visiting trolls (please note, this isn’t directed at authors or readers who have differing viewpoints…it’s directed specifically at scammers who are pissed off I’m shining a light on this)

You might want to take note of my response to trolls, my response when you threaten to report me to Amazon, my response to somebody suggesting I try writing books…(really? 90+ books? I stopped counting but 90+ and several dozen are with traditional pubs.).

Oh, and take a look at the disclaimer.

Basically, hassle me all you want. It won’t have any effect except to fuel me on.

2 thoughts on “Hot Takes: Looking at how this affects readers

  1. Ann

    Shilo, you rock! As a reader I don’t use Kindle, I get all of my books through Barnes and Noble, even if it’s print on demand. I’ve always been leery of them. Hope they fix this.
    P.S. I haven’t seen you in ages! Miss you.

  2. Shiloh Walker Post author

    Hi, Ann… thanks!

    I KNOW! I haven’t been out there in FOREVER. One of my favorite areas in the country, as you well know. 😉 We’ll be back sooner or later. Won’t be too long before all my kids are grown and the guy and I can travel whenever!!!!

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