The latest letter to Amazon

      Comments Off on The latest letter to Amazon

FYI…this is long. This was written in word first and it was nine pages long. However, six pages were nothing but lists of the books we’ve confirmed to be recycled. I did remove the names and titles for purposes of this letter, as we’ve found more names and digging deeper into this mess. I’ve removed other information, too. Some of this I’m still working on, so will update as possible.

Letter as below

Mr. Bezos

It’s been several weeks since I last reached out regarding the problem on the Amazon KDP platform, where content providers upload material, leave it for a period of months, and then remove it. Several months later, they’ll upload another ‘name’ with a new title, although there are no differences to the story itself. These content providers offer these books as new, with no disclaimer to the reader. Readers have noticed and have complained but nothing has been done.

This isn’t a matter of a couple of authors, either, and it’s far more than just the constant cycling of books.  There are reports of top earning Kindle Unlimited authors who XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. (Will share later).

As you well know, this is a violation of FTC regulations.

While Amazon cannot control the actions of authors, they do have a responsibility to enforce their own guidelines and maintain standards of the products being sold on the platform.

When it’s pointed out that specific content providers are manipulating and gaming the system, misleading readers, deceiving them, selling previously published books as new—running afoul of FTC guidelines again by violating the truth in advertising guidelines—you have a responsibility to look into these issues and you haven’t done so.

When it’s pointed out that content providers are XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. (Not sharing this yet.)

Let me offer a glimpse, once more, into the issues plaguing the Kindle Unlimited Select Platform.

I’m including a small sample of the deception going on on the platform. These authors write under several ‘umbrellas’.  There are at least two core groups within the romance sub-categories of MC Romance and Mafia, with a few ‘Bad Boys’ thrown in for variety. This list is by no means complete because these issues aren’t just limited to MC Romance, Mafia… or Bad Boys.

These problems plague the historical romance genre, too.  Historical romance writers are still dealing with the bookstuffing issue that was so proliferate in contemporary romance the summer of 2018.  Amazon failed to address it in the historical subgenre and I have little doubt similar problems abound there, too.

To give an indication of how widespread this problem has become while it was ignored by Amazon, despite the readers who reported and complained, consider this:

These aren’t ‘authors’ involved in this. They are companies, of sorts. So far a couple of ‘companies’ have been identified. One has a minimum of eight names involved, while the other has ten.

They publish and unpublish on a specific schedule, moving the unpublished books to a ‘fresh’ name so as to release it with a ‘fresh’ look and sell as a new release.

Each ‘name’ identified in the two main umbrellas as several dozen works to their name, some numbering over seventy or eighty.

Marci Fawn, a pen name of author Isabella Starling, sells her recycled works on Dirty Discourse. The batch I’m speaking of had ten books from the ‘Marci Fawn’ catalog as she described it.  She sold all ten, if I understand it right and two of those have been republished by N. Alleman and J. Chase.

Consider that a minimum of eighteen to twenty authors are republishing recycled books amongst their ‘umbrellas’. They all have multiple works.  We’ll estimate the low end of the equation and go with sixty.

That’s a likely 1,200 books cycling through KU each year in just a couple of romance subgenres alone, choking out new, fresh original voices on Kindle Unlimited, depriving readers of a chance to discover new, fresh original content simply by gaming the system and manipulating the rankings through keywords and reader farms.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  You’ve got other bad players involved XXXXXXXX (redacting).

Below is a list of confirmed books that have cycled through Kindle Unlimited, books that had been sold to readers as new by deceptive content providers.  And you do nothing.

NAMES AND TITLES REDACTED FOR THE TIME BEING

Pub Years                              Author Name                         Book Title

January 2016                      XXXXXX                               XXXXXX   

March 2016                         XXXXXX                               XXXXXX  

February 2019                    XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

April 2016                         XXXXXX                               XXXXXX    

June 2018                          XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

July 2017                           XXXXXX                                XXXXXX     

February 2018                    XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

December 2016                  XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

February 2019                    XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

January 2017                     XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

January 2018                      XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

February 2017                    XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

February 2018                    XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

January 2019                      XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

February 2018                    XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

October 2018                      XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

May 2016                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

March 2017                       XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

Feb 2019                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

April 2016                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

March 2018                        XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

November 2018                  XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

February 2016                    XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

October 2018                      XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

October 2016                      XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

May 2017                            XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

June 2018                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

February 2019                   XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

July 2016                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

February 2018                   XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

Feb 2019                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

May 2017                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

April 2016                           XXXXXX                               XXXXXX     

June 2017                          XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

June 2017                          XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

September 2018                 XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

July 2016                            XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

April 2018                          XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

March 2016                        XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

April 2018                          XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

May 2016                           XXXXXX                              XXXXXX     

April 2018                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

July 2017                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

December 2017                 XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

May 2018                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

May 2016                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

November 2017                  XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

February 2017                   XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

December 2017                 XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

October 2016                     XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

February 2018                   XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

April 2018                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

February 2019                   XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

Feb 2017                            XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

April 2018                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

April 2019                           XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

June 2018                          XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

May 2017                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

2014?                                 XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

2014                                   XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

November 2018                  XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

June 2017                          XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

December 2018                 XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

February 2018                   XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

October 2018                     XXXXXX                            XXXXXX                             

July 2018                            XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

April 2019                            XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

April 2018                            XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

March 2019                        XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

December 2016                 XXXXXX  &  XXXXXX       XXXXXX     

March 2018                        XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

March 2019                        XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

                                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

April 2018                           XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

October 2018                     XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

August 2017                       XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

January 2018                     XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

October 2017                     XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

March 2019                        XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

May 2016                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

September 2017                XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

June 2016                          XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

July 2017                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

June 2017                          XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

January 2018                     XXXXXX                             XXXXXX     

January 2016                      XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

May 2017                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

November 2017                 XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

2019??                                XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

July 2017                           XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

May 2018                           XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

February 2019                    XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

September 2015                XXXXXX                            XXXXXX     

January 2019                     XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

October 2017                     XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

November 2018                 XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

June 2017                          XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

July 2018                           XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

June 2018                          XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

March 2019                        XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

Nov 2017                           XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

July 18                               XXXXXX                           XXXXXX     

March 2019                        XXXXXX                           XXXXXX

Amazon has the ability to spot works that have been published on their platform before.  This isn’t a secret. This could easily be stopped on the provider end – if you mandated that any previously published work must have include a statement of such in the book’s description, along with the names of each previous version/author, as well as listing them as on the copyright page, as ethical publishers do. That they do not already disclose this information, that they use different names, rewrite the blurbs, change the covers and titles, it’s clear their intent is to mislead readers in hopes of selling book as new and netting more sales.

At what point does Amazon become complicit? You’re allowing this to continue, despite the fact that you’ve been made aware of the problem.

For a company that prides itself on providing stellar customer service, it appear in this situation, the ones you’re serving are scammers and cheats.

As before, I’ll be CCing this letter to RWA and I’m sending an additional report to the FTC through their online complaint system. I’ve also been in contact with another venue and I’ll be notifying them as well.

I urge you to take action—again—and this time, comprehensive action that will improve standards across the entire Kindle Unlimited platform, with specific mandates that will prevent content providers from rehashing recycled books and selling them as new solely with the intent to deceive readers and game the system.

Thank you,

Shiloh Walker