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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Great Amazon Page Count Mystery

The Great Amazon Page Count Mystery

How Amazon pays authors for work included in Kindle Unlimited (KU) made headlines across the inter-webs recently. Ann Christy’s post “KU Scammers on KU – What’s Going On” even made it on to the homepage of Hacker News. The discussion raises many interesting questions about what reading data Amazon collects and how Amazon uses reader analytics.

First, a little background: Amazon introduced KU, its all-you-can-eat ebook offering, almost two years ago, not long after Oyster launched its much lauded, but now defunct, ebook subscription service. Authors were initially compensated by Amazon based on the number of ebooks downloaded, but that system was being abused by some clever folks who realized that short books, such as novellas, would earn the same amount of money as full-length novels, and that splitting a full-length book into multiple books would optimized payouts.

Readers did not like this practice, so Amazon changed its policy and introduced “pay by page” in June of last year.

However, enterprising souls once again quickly discovered another loophole, as the way in which Amazon measures pages read for KU is not what one might think. Amazon uses the “last page sync” signal, which is a feature of Amazon’s Whispersync, to determine how far somebody reads. This data point can in fact be easily manipulated to a scammer’s advantage.

For example, one could place a link early in the book promising a $100 Amazon gift voucher, but that link could take the reader to the last page of the book. If the book has 10,000 pages, Amazon would now think that the reader has actually read 10,000 pages even if the “reading” took place in a matter of seconds.

Obviously that can’t be true, but Amazon’s algorithms don’t check that. Computer code is not imbued with “common sense.

As far as I am concerned, they don't even pay.  I have never received a cent for the page counts on my report page.  If you want to read more of this interesting article, go to Digital Book World

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