Morning Coffee – 26 February 2016

24605078843_93903f610a_hHere are six stories to read this morning.

  1. City library unveils self-publishing service (Las Cruces Sun-News)
  2. How Does Age Affect Reading? (DBW)
  3. How Not to Worry About Teenagers Reading (BookRiot)
  4. 'Star Trek' Fans Want Paramount, CBS to Do Better Job Explaining Franchise to Court (Hollywood Reporter)
  5. Teen readers aren't in crisis, they're just making their own rules (The Guardian)
  6. What Does It Take To Be A “Bestselling Author”? $3 and 5 Minutes. (Observer)

image by tak.wing

About Nate Hoffelder (10957 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Morning Coffee – 26 February 2016

  1. I read the link to the “Bestselling Author” post and want to comment here. So, a guy who makes a living helping get books onto the (famously corrupt) NY Times Best Seller list is unhappy it’s too easy to get a #1 best seller rating on Amazon?

    He seems very upset it can be done without spending a ton of money. He succeeds by committing fraud and violating Amazon’s publisher guidelines.

    Basically, he picked a category with few books on it, transpersonal psychology, mislabeled his book (that’s the fraud part, Amazon requires books to be listed in relevant categories) and quickly had some friends buy copies to pump put the rating long enough to hit #1. And it only cost him $3.

    So, what exactly is his point? Amazon is providing accurate information. In that tiny category, three people bought his book and, for that time period, it was the best selling book. Of course, that same technique would work even better if you had thousands of dollars, or tens of thousands of dollars. You might be able to actually label your book correctly and target a more popular category. Yes, guess what, money can buy sales and rank is determined by sales. (Same way you get onto the NY Times list, but it’s a little more mysterious about where your friends have to buy the books from. That’s why you need to hire consultants.)

    So what is Amazon supposed to do? Check to make sure every purchase is by a stranger and not a friend you asked to buy it? Read every book and decide if it is a “real” book and if it is truly appropriate for that category? (And open itself up to charges of censorship.) Or create mysterious rules like the NY Times that can only be gamed by insiders and require tens of thousands of dollars instead of $3. Are we to come to the conclusion that it’s better that it costs $50,000 to get on the NY Times best seller list (by some reports) buying books from the right book stores, than it is that you can get into a minor best seller category on Amazon for only $3.

    Now, imagine for a moment, someone had actually bothered to write a good book that fit into that category and it only had three sales because it’s a category not too many people buy books from. Wouldn’t it be nice for that author to be able to say, “I had a number one book on transpersonal psychology?” Wouldn’t that be true and also helpful info for someone really looking for a book on transpersonal psychology? And, not so nice if this jerk kicked others out of the chance during the brief time he committed fraud.

    So yeah, if you’re willing to break the rules, commit public fraud, induce your friends to help you commit fraud, and spend money, you can buy your way to the Amazon best seller list. If that puts “best seller” consultants out of business, then I think it’s a good thing.

  2. Smart Debut Author // 26 February, 2016 at 10:13 am // Reply

    Scam Artist Who Put Authors On NYT’s Fake Best Seller List Upset Because Now He Can Only Charge $3

    • I don’t think he’s a scam artist. It sounds like his company simply moved a lot of books.

      • He might not be a scam artist, but boy does he think like one. Perhaps this little scam on Amazon is the very first time he’s ever thought to game a system (fraudulently). Perhaps his efforts to promote books on the notoriously gamed and corrupt NY Time best seller list are all done ethically and above board. Perhaps.

        But even then, why does he have a need to smear the achievements of others by implying that it’s easy to “win” best seller status? (When, in fact, he proved the opposite, because his little scam in Amazon was quickly cut from their library. Possibly because he bragged about it, but it could have just as easily been a complaint by someone who actually was interested in transpersonal psychology.)

        If not greed from wanting consulting dollars for his “best selling” advice, it’s pure snobbery and elitism. Only the emperor should be allowed to wear purple. Awards should only go to those rich enough to buy them, or those the rich decide are worthy. Even in their own little world, the peasants should not take on airs belonging to their betters.

        Of course, if it is just about money to him, he’s right to be worried. The NY Times list is increasingly becoming meaningless. But that is more because it was always a scam to begin with, not because Amazon too easily hands out best seller awards in transpersonal psychology.

  3. Smart Debut Author // 26 February, 2016 at 10:18 am // Reply

    At least a book actually has to exist to become an *Amazon* Best Seller, unlike the NYT…

    See: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/I,_Libertine

    😀

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