Amazon still hasn’t released a statement about the most notorious Kindle Unlimited abuser, but they have taken the smallest possible step to curb the abuse of Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon has removed the ebooks written by “Chance Carter” from the Kindle Store. The retailer has also removed the ebooks published by Carter under the “Abby Weeks” pseudonym. Both accounts look like the owner was booted from KDP, although there’s no way for third-parties to confirm this conclusion.
To recap, “Chance Carter” was the guest of honor in last week’s hot story about cheating in Kindle Unlimited. Along with Abby Weeks, Chance Carter was the pseudonym for someone who was publishing ghost-written books in Kindle Unlimited (a ghost writer on Fiverr has claimed credit for writing a couple titles published by Carter, yes).
This individual stuffed multiple novels inside a single ebook before uploading the ebook to Kindle Unlimited as one really long, really large file. The latter novels were described as bonus content, and were published on their own as well as stuffed in the back of other ebooks published by Carter.
KU users were then tricked into flipping to the end of an ebook by a freebie offer. Due to a bug in the Kindle platform, Amazon can track your location, but not what pages you have actually read. As a result, this paid Carter the same as if the reader had actually read an ebook all the way through.
Edit: I have seen nothing official from Amazon to suggest it, but a number of authors are convinced that the jump to the end trick no longer works. There is a good chance that I am wrong in the previous paragraph. (I have trouble believing it because if they are right then book stuffing would not be profitable to be worth the effort.
By using this trick, Carter was paid around $14 to $15 per user. All this money came from content created cheaply by ghost writers.
Carter insists that everything they did was entirely within the rules at the time. That may be true (I have a different interpretation of the rules), but that doesn’t make it ethical nor does it indemnify Carter from public criticism.
At best, Carter is the equivalent of the content mills that stuff Google’s search results with poor-quality content. Those content mills used to rank high in the search results due to good SEO practices, but that only lasted until Google changed its algorithm to punish purveyors of bad content. Content mills are still around, but they don’t enjoy quite the success they used to.
Like Google, Amazon has changed the rules in Kindle Unlimited several times, all in an effort to fight cheaters. Most recently Amazon restricted bonus content to 10% of an ebook’s length (this rule was announced Saturday), but past rule changes have included switching to a system that paid based on pages read rather than per copy, limiting the length of ebooks in KU, and banning practices like putting a TOC at the end of a book.
While Carter would claim that they haven’t done anything wrong because they have stayed entirely within the rules, the fact that Amazon kept changing the rules to ban specific practices should have been a clue that said practices were not ethical or fair.
image by Rusty Clark