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What are your suggestions for fixing any and everything on the Amazon Kindle Books Site?

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Posted on Apr 22, 2012 12:16:27 PM PDT
Jpar456 says:
So far it seems most everyone wants Amazon to set up some sort of standard or have them pay people to read parts of each book uploaded before they are put in the market place. I don't see that happening. Amazon is a big business. They make millions of dollars every year. They aren't going to pay people to screen books just because its a problem for readers. Only when it hurts their sales. Such as someone else said another e-book seller starts to screen books before they are sold and readers go to that site. This would hurt Amazon's sales thus Amazon would quickly follow suit. After a bit their decrease in sales will be like it never happened. Money is motivation. If they are going to lose money then they will hire people to screen the books only if it outweighs the loss. Everything else doesn't really matter to them. ***I as an author would like for there to be some sort of screening process to weed out obvious junk, and I'm not scared to say it. My book is a little short and part of a series. I have no delusions about what it is. It is not a best seller, it is not the best book in the world, but at least it is mostly grammatically correct and full of words and not blank pages. Either readers like it or they don't. That being said I am not afraid of a screening process being implemented on Amazon. The possibility that they will do so without a decrease in sales is very minimal. Therefore until Amazon gets the picture or starts hurting the only thing we can do is ask for some sort of way to control it ourselves as readers. That's why I thought the edit button would at least do something since Amazon won't screen the books. I know it's not the solution we would like since it is Amazon's business and they should control it themselves but at least its something. If Amazon was a small business they would care about angry and upset customers and they would do whatever they could to keep up their public relations, but since they are not they don't really care unless the cash flow decreases. Perhaps we could flood their e-mail with we want e-books to be screened before they are put up for sale because several are crap, and they finally decide to cave under the pressure. That is extremely unlikely but worth a shot if we band together. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 11:11:46 AM PDT
Well, I didn't mean exactly "beyond reproach". Haha. I was just referring to the top reviewers writing a lot of well written reviews vs. those who give glowing reviews full of exclamation points (worth twice the price!!!!) and all their reviews are for questionable books and shoddy products.

But your post points out another problem with the downvoting. It just doesn't seem to be working the way Amazon intended. I've just been looking at a reviewer who is apparently complying with Amazon's email requests to review a book so he writes reviews that say, "WELL, I HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK YET BUT I HAVE A LOT OF BOOKS ON MY KINDLE." And then he rates the books as 1-star! That's definitely a unhelpful review, not to mention unfair. But other reviewers who state their opinion well but just have a contrary opinion about a book get downvoted like crazy. I've seen that especially on political or religious books and games.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 10:40:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 22, 2012 10:40:53 AM PDT
LG, I don't know about the past, but if you're talking the past few days there's apparently a KDP system glitch right now wherein lots of books are being dumped out of the categories. Had it happen to one of mine this past weekend, and have been reading about it from other authors on other forums too.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 10:38:12 AM PDT
"I'm not talking about the top reviewers who no doubt earned their rankings."

Just heresay, but I've read of top reviewers behaving badly and purposely downvoting others to maintain the high rank. I daresay there is no group that is entirely beyond reproach.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 10:32:48 AM PDT
The OP also mentioned categorization of books.

Why do so many books not have a category at all? Or at least not one that I've seen on the book product page. Between no category, poor descriptions, and no tags, sometimes its really hard to figure out what a book is really about.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 10:06:15 AM PDT
I would like to see Amazon get rid of the 'No' part of the "Is this review (or post in the forum) helpful?". Most people seem to use it as a "I disagree" or "I don't like it" button. It's misused a lot and makes the reviewers' rankings meaningless. I'm not talking about the top reviewers who no doubt earned their rankings. I've seen some reviewers who have a hundred or more well written reviews who are ranked in the 10 millions while a shill reviewer who writes the same review on 10 items is ranked in the 100,000's. That just makes no sense.

I'd also like to see that authors or product vendors cannot vote either way on reviews of their products.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 9:57:58 AM PDT
One thing I've thought about is what if "See all my reviews" was changed to something like "See all my reviews (#)". That still wouldn't prove or disprove a shill review, but it certainly gives a clue and readers could discount 10 5-star reviews when they see that all or most of the reviewers only have one review on Amazon. That would be a very simple change for Amazon to make.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 9:44:35 AM PDT
very good point. I always base my buys on the reviews. And I think some are bogus! A lot of times I will click on the link to see other reviews by the same person only to find that its their only review. Sad! how could you fix that though. Maybe have a core group of people designated as reliable reviewers. Or be able to only see reviews of people that have written so many reviews. I have written 27 reviews even though I hate to write bad reviews because i usually don't finish bad book I started doing it to help other readers.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2012 9:33:28 AM PDT
Anne Shirley says:
"You and all the other self-published authors who spend months or years slaving over a book, trying to make it the best it can be, are being dunked into the same cesspool with all these frauds and vanity writers who don't know a comma from an apostrophe, and we, the readers, don't know how to tell you apart. That should be a big concern."

Amen & hallelujah.

I just do not understand why more Indie authors are not behind at least the most basic of vetting system or organization. To me as a reader, when I see authors vowing not to touch the vetting issue with a 10-foot pole, it appears as if that author is afraid *their* book(s) aren't good enough to "pass."

But to be fair, with all the "deals" made between Indies, both in plain sight on the forums as well as under the table, to upvote each other, give each other 5-star reviews, etc., tag books with as many non-relevant tags as possible, etc, I'm sure the reverse is true. Perhaps authors who *would* like some sort of control implemented feel they don't dare say so for fear of a mass negative onslaught against *their* book(s) bt the disgruntled authors who know they won't make the cut.

IMO, Amazon should have controls in place to weed out "pseudo-books", plagiarized books, books with the spelling & grammar equivalents of 4th grade, fake tagging (Amazon should be the one doing the tagging, and it should be accurate), fake 5-star OR 1-star reviews, any collusion which results in ratings being skewed in either direction, and Amazon's penalties should be harsh. A stern warning, once - after that, the author would not be allowed to peddle their wares on Amazon. That alone would, IMO, fix 90% of what's wrong with the fora and readers' complaints.

I'm sure that at this point, Amazon doesn't feel the need to do any of this. Whoever does implement something of the sort first will have readers flocking to their store and abandoning sites that don't do it in droves. Amazon could, if they chose, be first - or they could simply wish they had been first, and scramble inadequately after some other site has taken the plunge.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 12:50:31 AM PDT
I wrote a long response to your post and lost it! ;0

I don't think it is fair to put the burden on the customer! How many people are going to even know that the work is plagiarized or to take the time to find out how to report it and who to report it to? Not many, I think. I've taken the time to report plagiarism and stolen photos to Amazon, including links to the original material, and nothing has happened except that one book was removed. Whether that was by the "author" or Amazon, I don't know. My guess is that the book is back up there with a different title and/or author name in order to get rid of my review which pointed out the website that contained the material word-for-word. Only the copyright holder can file a DMCA complaint. I've also emailed the copyright holders and that takes time, too. In the meanwhile, Amazon is making money on all this carp! They are responsible for putting it out there for sale. I'm amazed that they post my reviews.

I'm tired of giving poor Amazon a break for their lack of quality control. They sell millions of books and make a profit on millions of books. Saying that they are too big is just backwards. That's like saying the corner food vendor has to be responsible for the sanitation of his food, but Kraft Foods doesn't because they sell too much and couldn't possibly check it all. Doesn't that seem backwards to anyone else?

You and all the other self-published authors who spend months or years slaving over a book, trying to make it the best it can be, are being dunked into the same cesspool with all these frauds and vanity writers who don't know a comma from an apostrophe, and we, the readers, don't know how to tell you apart. That should be a big concern.

Well, I've forgotten whatever else I was ranting about.

BTW, Disney is extremely fierce about protecting their images.

Posted on Apr 22, 2012 12:00:46 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 22, 2012 12:35:13 AM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I recently noticed a book on another distributor's site that has a picture of a bear that looks suspiciously like Balloo the Bear and when I say suspiciously, I mean exactly like him. But when I look at the sample, I see no copyright info, no "used with permission of" statement. I find it unlikely Disney would give permission to use one of their characters on a completely unrelated book. I have notified the distributor. Hopefully, they remove it. That really is all anyone can do. Hopefully the author fixes the cover before Disney gets wind of it and sues. It's possible the author is just such a newb that they didn't realize they couldn't use the image which they likely downloaded from one of the many clip art sites.

Edited: Well no, not a complete newb apparently. She has 6 books out, two screenplays, and has been listed on inkspot. You'd think she'd know better. Hope she fixes it. I tried to email her at the posted link but wasn't able to.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 11:54:20 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I see you added a comment to the review. I was going to send the author an email, but there was no address that I could see. I added a note for the author or publisher under conversations on the book. I hope she notices it and corrects the formatting. I didn't see any spelling errors or homophone errors so I think this is a problem with the conversion to ebook format. I think this is all we can do in such instances.

I don't think Amazon will hire anyone to read even a sample of the books. There are over a million online already and more added daily. But they should at least have a better reporting system so that books like the ones you mention (no words, plagiarized, gobbledegook text) could be quickly yanked. I have to say, I made a similar mistake when we first put my book up online. I discovered it after something like 2 weeks as I recall. It was terribly embarrassing. So if an author is honest, a reporting system should be all that is necessary. Amazon could yank it and send a polite email to the author. Once the author has edited it or reformatted, they can repost it.

If a book literally has no words or is completely plagiarized, I hardly think that is a "mistake". You don't accidentally rip off someone else's blog. I hope people are reporting these instances as soon as they find them.

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 11:36:06 PM PDT
I don't think it would be too much to ask for Amazon to have some minimum quality control standards. For example, to have someone read 10 random pages of a book to check for typos, misspelling, punctuation misuse, or bad formatting, or to see if the book actually contains words! Believe or not, there are "books" for sale on Amazon that don't. Some are empty and some contain gibberish numbers and letters. I reviewed one today that had the worst use of punctuation I had ever seen, that is until minutes later I looked at the sample of this one: Alison (Fells Point Private Investigator Book 2) . Besides using a double left quote for every apostrophe, this one also has one long line followed by one or two words on a line, then another long line followed by one or two words on a line throughout the sample. Come on! The author never even looked at their own book or clicked the sample? It shouldn't be up to customers to ferret out all this garbage, just like it shouldn't be up to readers to tell Amazon that the book is not properly edited or formatted. It's time for Amazon to implement some sort of quality check since it's obvious that authors are not going to do it.

In five minutes, with Google's help, I can find stolen copyrighted photos and word-for-word plagiarized recipes in (believe or not again) MOST of the cheap cookbooks. Some books are word-for-word from blogs and I don't mean the author's blog. Shouldn't Amazon bear just a little bit of responsibility for doing the same? IMHO, anyone caught plagiarizing or stealing photos should be permanently banned from selling books on Amazon. And what about the "authors" who have several hundred or a thousand or more books on Amazon? That doesn't raise any sort of red flag anywhere? That's really hard to believe.

I'm not even talking about content or a story line. If someone writes a crappy book and feels good about uploading it to Amazon, so be it. I don't care. Maybe somebody somewhere will like it. But it is insulting to customers that Amazon is selling books of such poor quality.

And authors, please don't tell us that even trade published books have errors. Yes, we know. I've hardly read a book in my life that didn't have one or two errors. But with some of these self-published books, we are talking about hundreds or thousands of mistakes and that is totally unacceptable.

Sorry for the rant! ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 8:10:25 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I don't know how many people we would need to convince Amazon. But if we find something that is workable and won't cost a fortune to implement, it might end up getting adopted. Amazon has actually made some changes already due to user suggestions/complaints (MOA, Look Inside, payment options). If we come up with some kind of general consensus on here, I'll definitely send an email their way. Everyone else can do the same. It's worth a shot.

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 6:17:54 PM PDT
Jpar456 says:
I haven't noticed a change in sales rank when I have made a revision to my book. It seems to stay in the same place. The update takes between 12 to 48 hours to take effect. So when an author decides they need to edit their work because of "needs editing" votes it shouldn't affect their sales ranking. Though the needs editing count would have to start over if they revise it that way readers would know it is changed. However there could still be the problem if an author just re-uploaded the book every day or whenever their editing vote count goes up to make the votes go away. So it would probably be better to leave the votes alone, and the author just put a revision notice and date in the books description which shouldn't be a problem. I've been brainstorming this all day and every time I think of something I find a way around it. If I think of something else I'll post again. So if we think this might work how do we get Amazon to set it up? How many people would we need to say they want it? I suppose it doesn't matter now since all the kinks aren't worked out yet, and I'm not sure if very many people want it. I figure it's a sound idea since we know Amazon won't do anything about the poorly edited books and completely getting rid of authors throwing unedited books on here is nearly impossible. If my help is needed let me know. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 4:42:54 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Hadn't thought of that. Kindle has many language sites now. I know of German, Russian, and Chinese. There are probably a good many languages you would need people to be well versed in. But I'm willing to start with English.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 4:02:11 PM PDT
Anne Shirley says:
I have wished for this a long while now - short choices of *reason* for the reporting, to give the CS person a clue. HOWEVER - it would only be useful if the CS rep spoke and understood English as their native language and totally understood all English idioms/slang. I have seen many instances of someone being grossly insulted that clearly was looked at and passed/left on the forum because it wasn't an *obvious*, stark, 4-letter insult.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 21, 2012 11:32:34 AM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
The "needs editing" button could work. I don't know if we need Amazon to do anything more than allow readers to report. There could be a "count" of how many have reported it needs editing. It would then be up to readers to decide if they want to give a book a chance if it has a bunch of "needs editing" votes or not. Authors could see this count and decide whether they need to pull the book for further editing. If they edit it and reload it, they should be able to do so without losing their sales ranking etc. This would encourage the authors to edit works that have a lot of problems.

I don't think the whole "authors ganging up on other authors" thing is as big a problem as some seem to think. It does happen of course. But one or even a few angry, spiteful, reviews will tend to get swamped by other friendly ones. Most people can see a review and tel its bogus. If it is abusive, the proper course of action for the author targeted is to report it and say nothing. Report abuse, is the best button Amazon has.

Posted on Apr 21, 2012 11:16:04 AM PDT
Jpar456 says:
Types of genres I would like is teen- futuristic. Although right now those might be under science fiction but futuristic and science fiction are a little different. Which even science fiction and fantasy don't have a futuristic sub genre. Which is another I would like. Romance has a futuristic sub genre in it but it is mixed with science fiction and fantasy. I like to read futuristic and paranormal books.

Yeah about the "this needs editing" button it could be abused by other authors to get rid of competition like another person said. Perhaps it should be made so that only readers could hit the button. Meaning that if you are an author you cannot hit the button even if you read and bought the book. Of course that would mean us authors who also like to read could not have a part in the "is this book good or not" thing which would be fine with me. At the same time I guess authors could just make a different account to use just to get around that so maybe the button thing isn't such a great idea. Perhaps there could be a limit on how many an account can give in a month without flags being raised, but then this would hinder avid readers who buy a lot of books. Of course Amazon won't bother with reviewing the books themselves so I'm not sure what can be done about it unless the number of times the button is hit would have to be fairly high and match with the average star rating. For example say one book gets 100 editing buttons clicked and the average star rating is let's say 2 then the book should be taken down. If they get 200 editing buttons and the average star rate is 3 then it is taken down and so on and so forth. That way authors couldn't collaborate with each other to get rid of competition. I don't know any authors myself so I think the possibility of a whole pack of authors getting together would be hard. As for if the authors pay other people to do it for them then have some sort of place this could be reported if it is suspected. This may already be around. I've never needed it so I've never looked. This system would allow for some protection for authors and the readers would still get a say. Also the "this needs editing" button should appear like the "like" button and show how many people think it needs editing. Perhaps just having the button, even if it it does not result in the removal of books, would help warn others about the bad ones.

Another idea which may be a lot of hassle and require dedicated people is a forum just for the listing of poorly edited books. I'm not sure if the person who starts the post can delete posts that aren't relevant to deal with the possibility of authors trying to undermine what the forum is for. Even that could be abused by authors too. So perhaps not.

Sorry if things seem jumbled. I was thinking things out and typing at the same time. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 9:46:33 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
Haven't heard anyone suggest they actually edit anything. But we are also brainstorming. So if someone comes up with even an unlikely idea, we can discuss it. You never know where crazy ideas might lead.

Posted on Apr 20, 2012 9:32:52 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 20, 2012 9:33:37 PM PDT
Amazon is not going to edit the over one thousand books uploaded through KDP every day on the fly.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 9:15:56 PM PDT
I agree completely. I hate that in a series, they don't let us know where in the series the book is

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 9:10:10 PM PDT
only problem is a "this needs editing" button allows rogue authors to boot their competition off-site. I'd rather see Amazon handle this themselves.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 8:58:42 PM PDT
P. S. Wright says:
I think a thread attempting to talk to Asimov via seance might be a blast. Point taken though.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 20, 2012 8:43:57 PM PDT
"Then we authors could check it out, make our own judgment, and maybe advise our fellow authors of the problems with the work."

This assumes that the person with the questionable work is even around in the forums to correct. I'd argue that for every author who is around and open to hearing about problems / fixing their own work, you'll probably have 5 others who you'd have a better chance of speaking to Issac Asimov via seance than getting to listen (although they might come in to spam the threads). Not being a negative Nancy, just stating what I think will be the hard reality of such an effort.
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
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Initial post:  Apr 19, 2012
Latest post:  Sep 9, 2012

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