The Everyday Author

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Amazon: Cut the crap in the Kindle Store

Thanks to Amazon, the chain-link gate around the playground that is publishing has been knocked to the ground. Anyone can come play! Unfortunately, some people are pooping in the sandbox. As a result, the Amazon Kindle Store is dealing with an ebook health crisis and honest, hard-working authors are paying the price.

By sandy fecal matter, I’m talking about the tens of thousands of garbage books out there, stinking up the Kindle store. Scammers are making the headlines yes, but lazy, half-assed authors are the culprits as well. Something needs to be done before our playground is a landfill. Amazon needs to clean out the crap.

Granted, the whole Scamazon issue has caused them to start chuck books, but that should only be the tip of the iceberg (if you want to get an excellent rundown of this issue, check out this post from David Gaughran). Even if Amazon could somehow stamp out every scam, there’s still a metric ton of honest to goodness (let’s call it what it is) shit out there.

The solution is simple: more books in the Kindle Store need to be de-listed.

By incorporating the following system, I believe Amazon could make the Kindle Store better for both readers and authors (many of whom are writing great books that struggle to be seen through the trash). If a book meets all three of the following criteria, it shouldn’t be cluttering up the Amazon store. It should be chucked.

Here’s what I’m proposing: books without an average of one sale per month after two years will be flagged and put on a watch list. If they meet either of the following requirements by year three, they’re gone.

  • Books that have less than one review for every year they’ve been out will be removed. (As I mentioned above, only books that have been published on Kindle for three years or longer will be eligible)
  • There is one exception: if a book has been out 3+ years and has less than a two-star review average, the first rule doesn’t apply. Throw it out!

Obviously, there’s much more that could be done, but this is a start. Before you accuse me of being elitist, this is coming from someone whose first book has been out almost two and a half years with only 12 total reviews. I’m very much (for the time-being, at least) a struggling indie, not some bestseller trying to crap on everyone below me.

The point of this system isn’t to punish good authors who are trying, but to weed out those who are looking to make a quick buck or are simply publishing garbage that no one is reading anyway. Come on Amazon, do your authors a solid here. Cut the crap.

7 Comments

  1. Agreed. With a caveat. Prior to the increase in scam books, and the unleashing of KU, I’d release a book and quickly get readers and garner reviews. Now I release a book and… nothing. Barely make a sale, barely get a review. Yes, it’s true I did pull my books from KU because I view KU as a way to provide free content to readers while paying authors next to nothing. My work is worth more than nothing.
    From 2009-2013 I made a solid living as an indie writer. No more. It’s a tragedy. Discoverability has become a huge issue. I’d prefer to see Amazon use human eyes to scan the books rather than punish writers for a lack of reviews because those authors who scam by buying reviews would continue to make money at the expense of those of us who refuse to buy reviews.

    • dsidd

      April 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

      I believe Amazon will continue to refine it’s review process until people won’t be able to buy reviews anymore (at least I hope so and I hope it’s not at the expense of friends, fans and family who give you honest reviews!). Discoverability isn’t just affected by scammers. though. People who publish low quality books and then do nothing with them are also an issue. Discoverability is only going to continue to get worse as more people have access to KDP. It may not stem the tide, but removing some on the backend will help. Also, I don’t think a serious author will have an issue getting a single review per year for their book(s) :).

      • This is a much needed discussion. I agree a good/serious author won’t have a problem getting at least one review a year- IF good/serious authors are not buried in mounds of crap. I know it’s not PC in the indie world to say that. But there is so much crap out there as to boggle the mind. Readers don’t even know…
        Yes, if Amazon can remove paid reviews I will be happy. Yes, if Amazon can pull scam books I’ll be happy – one of which I recently bought (stupidly) because a friend recommended it based on the title. I not only returned it, I complained and explained in detail to customer service exactly why the book is a scam book. That book IS STILL THERE SCAMMING AWAY- 40+ pages of phony attributions, 300+ pages of random numbers, seriously, random numbers, before the reader finally reaches incoherent text. So I guess my big question is– can Amazon respond? It takes a whole lot of work to beat the scammers.

  2. I’m going to say ‘absolutely not.’ Some types of books and subjects make people reticent to publish a public review. Lack of reviews does NOT mean a book’s not selling. I sell, and have sold, five or more copies of one of my non-fiction books every month since it was released. It has five stars on Amazon, and only FOUR reviews. The book has been out since 2007. I’m making money on this book, and it’s well-received. People just don’t want to review it.

    Reviews mean nothing. Get rid of the books that aren’t SELLING. Not the ones with few reviews. You’re asking Amazon to do this, and they know what’s selling and what isn’t. You don’t have to rely on reviews to make that determination.

    • dsidd

      May 22, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Hey Donna,

      Thanks for your comment! The system I proposed in the post would incorporate both reviews and sales. I agree that basing it off of just reviews would be flawed but I would argue that you can’t base it solely on sales, either.

      • You do have a point there. But if you think about it, it would be easy for trolls to sabotage a new author by posting bad reviews on a book; which, like most fiction titles by new authors, will probably not sell well. That book would then be pulled, under this system, even though it might be a decent book.

        Amazon’s system has problems that are a bit deeper than can truly be fixed by something like this, I’m thinking. Above all, anything implemented must be fair to all.

    • Jeffrey Cahhal

      May 28, 2016 at 3:06 am

      I have to agree with Donna; I am not a big reviewer. It is not that I don’t want to leave reviews, it is just that unless I am absolutely rocked by a book, I usually don’t want to clutter up its reviews with some fluff just for the sake of leaving a review. Plus it takes time for me to do that; time that would be better spent buying and starting to read the next book. So yes, books should be considered by purchase, not review history.

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