Saturday, August 13

Amazon Cracks Down on Spammers

Certain news stories make me want to get up and jump for joy -- without, of course, breaking anything! A little while ago I published a couple of posts about Ruth Ann Nordin (Stolen Books and Amazon Piracy) and how someone had the audacity to begin selling her books as their own. They didn't change her name as the author, they just started selling her books without her consent and without feeling the need to share any of their profits with her.

The Problem: PLR
Around that time there was a spate of articles about folks using Amazon's Kindle store to sell Private Rights Label (PLR) content. What is PLR content? I'm sure someone else could give you a better description, but imagine that you have a book to sell, "The Final Word On Widgets". Someone comes up to you and says, "I'll pay you to let me take your book, edit it a bit so it looks different, and then re-sell it." You say sure as opposed to "Heck no!" and they take your book and re-package it in a number of ways (different cover, different order of the chapters, etc) and sell each of these repackaged books on Amazon hoping that because they just uploaded 1,000 books that they'll sell something.

And, surprisingly, they do!

I'm not sure why anyone would sell their content to re-packagers, but obviously people do, so I suspect there's a lot about PLR that I don't understand.

The Good News!
A lot of folks were getting nervous because Amazon didn't seem to be doing anything to stop scammers from selling re-packaged content. Worse, some re-packagers weren't picky about legal niceties such as owning the content they re-packaged: enter the Ruth Ann Nordin story.

Not to worry. Yesterday Amazon announced that it was cracking down on re-packagers by sending out this letter to suspected offenders:

We’re contacting you regarding books you recently submitted via Kindle Direct Publishing.

Certain of these books are either undifferentiated or barely differentiated from an existing title in the Kindle store. We remove such duplicate (or near duplicate) versions of the same book because they diminish the experience for customers. We notify you each time a book is removed, along with the specific book(s) and reason for removal.

In addition to removing duplicate books from the Kindle store, please note that if you attempt to sell multiple copies or undifferentiated versions of the same book from your account, we may terminate your account.

If you have any questions regarding the review process, you can write to

Best regards,

Kindle Direct Publishing

Laura Hazard Owen (Amazon is Finally Cracking Down On Kindle Spammers) did some investigative journalism and went over to one of the forums where re-packagers like to hang out and talk shop. One writes:
I was less than a month from hiring a VA [virtual assistant] and scaling this up. I guess I dodged that bullet! Phew!
Another says:
Lol if it didn’t work on Amazon. Try Barnes and Noble (NYSE: BKS), as well as iBooks, maybe they don’t have much content police in their management. :)
Here is hoping that Barnes and Nobel and the Apple Store follow Amazon's lead. Quickly!

- The letter Amazon sent out to suspected re-packagers of content was from Laura Hazard's article, Amazon Is Finally Cracking Down On Kindle Spammers, as were the two quotations, above.
- Photo credit: DVD Reviews


  1. Nice post, it's good to hear that Amazon is getting in front of this. I have to admit, a small part of me wonders about my rights as the author/publisher to repackage my own works... I was thinking of selling a scholastic version of one of my books, for example, which would qualify for extended distribution but at the higher price. I was going to keep the original version for sale as well (I have the paperback priced at $9.99, which puts it out of the extended distro). Will Amazon pull MY book if I try to sell two different versions at the same time, in order to capitalize on their differing programs?

  2. Good question. Publishers, though, have often issued a 'value added' edition of a book. For instance, they will put out a 10th or 20th anniversary edition with a new introduction and a special afterword from the author, etc. Or the book is turned into a multimedia, interactive, experience.
    I suppose that, in a way, that is re-packaging! lol I hadn't thought of it that way before. It makes for a disturbing change in perspective.
    Thanks for the comment!


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