Over the last several days, blogs and forums have blown up with posts from indie authors who’ve had their books delisted and accounts closed from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. For those few people who don’t know, KU is a $10/month subscription service where readers can borrow any book registered in the program. Authors are paid for every page read, or at least clicked on. Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? More readers means more potential fans, book buyers, and exposure for authors.
Like many good plans, this one is horribly flawed. I first wrote about one of the flaws several weeks ago when it came out that scammers had created a click-and-bait-link at the front of their books which immediately took readers to the back. Amazon’s bots assumed that all pages were read, so the author was paid for every page in the book.
There's a variation of this scam, however, and Amazon’s attempts to stop the cheaters has created another big problem by shutting out some KU authors completely. A blog from the Active Voice describes the experience of one writer whose account was closed. A letter from Amazon accused her of paying a click-farm to borrow her books and drive up her royalties. The practice is called scam plaguing, and a number of outfits apparently indulge in this behavior. This writer, however, did no such thing. You can read more about what happened HERE.
The same thing happened to author P.J. Bayliss. She insisted she was innocent and appealed to Amazon to reinstate her account, which they eventually did. The thing is, she still doesn’t know who or how these click-farm bots picked her. You can learn more HERE.
An even more most disturbing example comes from K.M. Simmell, who reports that not only was her account closed, but someone started using her ID to attempt to open a bank account. This author is currently waiting for Amazon to finish its investigation and hopefully reinstate her. You can read her story HERE.
What really struck me was the number of comments these blogs received from authors who have also had this happen to them. Given that Amazon has about 70% of the ebook market, authors could lose much needed income through no fault of their own.
As I posted in one of my comments, those scams are fraud, and fraud is illegal. Amazon shouldn’t be trying to fight the problem on their own. It’s like trying to put out a blaze in your house with a fire hose. Why not call in experts in fraud detection, and stop victimizing the innocent? Maybe they have, who knows? But one thing is clear, until this is sorted out, I won’t be joining KDP Select or KU anytime soon.