Since I first read about the scammers undermining the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription service, [here] I’ve read a lot of comments about what’s wrong with the system and how it should be fixed.
Some people think Kindle Unlimited was broken from the start and should be killed off entirely. Others believe Amazon will make incremental changes to the system until it finally gets things right.
I believe the ‘system’ cannot be fixed until the Kindle itself is changed. So yes, I see this as mostly a hardware problem. At the moment, Amazon cannot gauge page reads by page ‘turns’ – i.e. that moment when a real reader flips the page over. Because of that hardware limitation, Amazon has to fudge page reads and that allows scammers to game the system as well.
Imagine, however, if Amazon could detect actual page turns, and only counted them when it came to payments…
-imagines a scammer sitting there, manually turning page after page after page after page after page after page after page after page….-
My Kinde Fire sometimes ‘loses’ my place in a novel, forcing me to manually page through until I find my spot again. It’s cruel and unusual punishment, so anyone desperate enough to do that for a living deserves every cent they get.
So my solution? Innovate the hardware. Make it possible for Amazon’s gremlins to count actual page turns, and pay on the basis of those ‘pages read’.
No system is perfect, and there will always be what we gamers call gold farmers – players paid to farm terribly boring things over and over again so their employers can sell said things to real players too lazy to farm for themselves. But in the case of the Kindle Unlimited subscription service, scammers want to make big money in the fastest, easiest way possible. They don’t want to become readers, they just want to simulate reading, so let’s not make things too easy for them.
Unfortunately, the rankings scam cannot be fixed by hardware. You can read about how the Amazon rankings and bestseller lists have been scammed here. Even if Amazon managed to create a software algorithm that scanned each and every sentence of a book for grammatical errors, for example, I doubt that any algorithm could scan for ‘sense’ so the scammers could still fill these books with perfectly grammatical nonsense.
The problem with Amazon rankings is that they are determined by software, and anything one software program can do, another software program, or a clever human, can scam. It’s as simple as that.
But if you take away the automation you’re left with just humans, and how would that work?
Amazon’s review system is already notorious for being gamed by account holders with an axe to grin, or who just enjoy being trolls. They may not be gaming the system for profit, but they are ruining it for normal customers, so basing rankings, bestseller lists, and most importantly recommendations on reviews won’t work, unless…those reviewers are vetted somehow.
Unfortunately, if you vet reviewers then you are simply returning to the old system of so-called professionals gatekeeping the system.
The worst consequence of having professional reviewers, however, would be in the backlash from normal customers. I enjoy having my say when a book or some other product is either very good or very bad, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that. I would not be happy if I could not read genuine reviews of the books I want to read.
-throws hands up in the air-
So…I haven’t got a clue how to fix the bigger problem of rankings, but I do believe the page turn idea will happen, one day. Until then, we’ll just have to sit back and watch this grand experiment in democracy unfold.