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Amazon Seeks Court Confirmation of Arbitration Ruling, Inadvertently Shows Just How Badly-Run the Kindle Store Is

behind the scenes in the Kindle Store

In September of last year Amazon filed for arbitration against several companies that were using various nefarious means to scam the Kindle Store.

Now Law360 brings us the news that Amazon has filed in US federal court to get an arbitration confirmed.

An Amazon subsidiary filed suit in Washington federal court Tuesday seeking to confirm an arbitration award against a British man and his book publishing companies stemming from claims that they abused a Kindle self-publishing program, breaching the e-commerce giant’s terms and harming writers and readers alike.

Amazon Digital Services LLC’s petition asks the court to enter judgment in line with a January award issued by the American Arbitration Association after the Inc. subsidiary reached an agreement with Jake Dryan and his United Kingdom-based companies, Green Publishing Ltd. and Project Olympus Ltd., to resolve claims that they manipulated the Kindle Direct Publishing service.

The stipulated award that followed the confidential settlement barred Dryan and his companies from future violations of Amazon’s and the Kindle program’s terms and conditions, including publishing works that are essentially duplicates of other books already available for download and using bots or other tools to artificially increase page views, according to court filings.

“Respondents have not sought to vacate, modify, or challenge the award,” Amazon noted, saying it should thus be confirmed under the Federal Arbitration Act.

Amazon says that the defendants:

  • created at least six Amazon publisher accounts, at least one of which engaged linkbaiting,
  • published duplicate content – at one point in 2017, all five of their books on the bestseller list contained content that had been previously included in other works published through the KDP, and
  • used bots or other tools to artificially increase page views in Kindle Unlimited.

Tuesday’s filing notes that Amazon already reached an agreement resolving its claims against this particular group of scammers. Now, Amazon seeks confirmation of the award under the FAA and an order enjoining Dryan and his companies from future violations of Amazon’s rules and policies.

The thing that gets me about this case is that it shows just how badly Amazon is screwing up Kindle Store operations.

As anyone who follows this topic can tell you, scammers are a serious problem in the Kindle Store. David Gaughran has repeatedly shown on Twitter that at any given time the top several spots in the Kindle Store best-seller list have been stolen by scammers like Jake Dryan.

This fellow was such a prolific scammer that Amazon actually filed for arbitration. That is a huge deal considering that we also know that Amazon takes action against authors when it finds sales and borrow irregularities for a single title, often times even punishing innocent authors.

To put it another way, at the same time that Amazon missed this scammer until he grew into a huge problem, it was also punishing innocents. As David explains, this points to not just an algorithm allowed to run amok in the Kindle Store, but also one that doesn’t work very well.

And it gets worse.

This wasn’t even one of the big scammers that David has been watching.

Amazon has huge problems that they are not addressing while at the same time they are letting a bot swat innocent authors.

That is not a business so much as it is a shit show, and it’s a wonder that Amazon’s competitors haven’t taken advantage of the situation.

image by quinn.anya

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Allen F April 5, 2018 um 3:07 pm

How do you think they can make a profit giving writers 70% of a sale?
By automating things.

And the scammers have a field day. And we hear the writers get up in arms over it. So Amazon closes some of the tricks the scammers were using. And then we hear from writers claiming Amazon has it out for them – and they weren’t doing any scammy things – honest.

Rinse/repeat, we gone through a few cycles already.

Short of having humans read everything offered 'before' it’s allowed on the Amazon site, all Amazon can do is trim away at how the scammers can get in/play – and some of those trimmings will catch 'honest' writers as well.

Adding humans will add to the cost of running the business (bye-bye 70% or even 35%) and will add to the time before a book can be listed (and don’t forget the current books that all need vetting!)

Amazon can’t win this, they can only lose less badly.

Modi Gliani April 5, 2018 um 7:37 pm

The 70 per cent royalty has nothing to do with Kindle Unlimited (KU). In KU, authors get paid according to pages read, a device for Amazon to squeeze money out of authors. Instead of being paid per download, as they were at the beginning of KU, authors now receive a pittance. The joke is that no one is ever certain how many pages are read by a KU subscriber. Imagine a manufacture that makes lamps getting paid not a flat fee for each lamp, but getting paid according to how many times the lamp is turned on. KU is merely a way to cheat authors. The affirmation of the arbitration should be denied. KU is a stupid subscription system and should be abandoned.

Darryl April 5, 2018 um 9:26 pm

The problem with Authors being paid per download was, of course, that this was scammed. It was also encouraging very short works with the authors receiving the same amount as for much larger works. There were many many problems with this method. It had to change and it did. The present system is great in theory but practically it is very hard to police and also has numerous problems. The easiest way for authors to protest and get action from Amazon is to take their books out of KU. If enough do so, Amazon will need to address the issues. Why do you think this has not so far happened?

I’m a big Amazon fan, but they need to do a lot better in their treatment of authors and their policing of KU.

Modi Gliani April 5, 2018 um 11:48 pm

Yes, under the old KU, short work got paid as much as long work, but that’s easy to remedy by a tier system that pays per download according to length of the primary title. With such a system, nearly all the scamming will vanish.

Robert Spencer April 6, 2018 um 4:19 am

"That is not a business so much as it is a shit show, and it’s a wonder that Amazon’s competitors haven’t taken advantage of the situation."

In my experience Amazon’s competitors are worse overall.

The closest for me as a viable competitor is Rakuten Kobo, in theory.

In practice I had to go far out of my way to get one of their ereaders, and their ebook prices tend to be significantly higher than Amazon.

Amazon’s Kindles are cheaper, very easy to find, simple to buy (no going out of my way). Their ebooks also tend to be cheaper, easier to discover, and a there’s a wider selection.

Amazon needs someone to do a better job than them to wake them up.

Rakuten Kobo has the potential, but seems to be asleep at the wheel.

Rick Wayne April 10, 2018 um 10:27 am

You beat me to it. If anything, the title of this post should be "Amazon Arbitration Ruling Shows Just How Incompetent The eBook Market Is."

Vikarti Anatra April 6, 2018 um 6:33 am

Amazon can do this.
Is it THAT difficult to:
– if book goes to top100 for first time (any top) – send it to human moderator whose salary is on par with Amazon’s software developers (and not one from Amazon Mechanical Turk)
– if text of book is 50% like (it shouldn’t be too complex, we are speaking of text here, there are existing antiplagiarism systems) other book currently on on in past on Amazon – send book to human moderator
– if text of book is 90% like other book on Amazon (and it doesn’t matter if it book by same author or another one, because pseudonyms and situations where author releases book SEVERAL times with slighlty different titles, slightly changed text,etc ) – remove from sale, request author to explain situation, let human moderator review if explanation is correct. Or just remove from sale at all but note this issue in policies.

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me April 6, 2018 um 10:08 am

There are no scammers.

Like YouTube, Amazon is controlling who wins and who looses. At the front of that are a whole range of titles that Amazonhobbles together and puts at the top of its rankings to keep everyone else down. they are so deliberatly bad that Amazon knows no real person would buy them.

Those looking with incredarligy at it all need to see the bigger picture. They want control


The reason why the UK guy is not one of the big players identified by David Gaughran is because its all fake.

Even the kindle pot is peanuts for Amazon to through at all the wannebe authors to passify them.

This gives amazon the grace to pick its winners according to its political and social objectives.

For example, is Nate Hoffan covering the fact that Create Space is now not automatically allowing books to be distributed across the wider network? Walmart etc? No.

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