The Great Amazon Page Count Mystery

April 26, 2016 - Kindle Unlimited

Expert edition blog opinions are only those of a blogger and not indispensably permitted by DBW.

Audience + InsightHow Amazon pays authors for work enclosed in Kindle Unlimited (KU) done headlines opposite a inter-webs recently. Ann Christy’s post “KU Scammers on KU – What’s Going On” even done it on to a homepage of Hacker News. The contention raises many engaging questions about what reading information Amazon collects and how Amazon uses reader analytics.

First, a small background: Amazon introduced KU, a all-you-can-eat ebook offering, roughly dual years ago, not prolonged after Oyster launched a most lauded, yet now defunct, ebook subscription service. Authors were primarily compensated by Amazon formed on a series of ebooks downloaded, yet that complement was being abused by some crafty folks who satisfied that brief books, such as novellas, would acquire a same volume of income as full-length novels, and that bursting a full-length book into mixed books would optimized payouts.

Readers did not like this practice, so Amazon altered a process and introduced “pay by page” in Jun of final year.

However, forward souls once again fast detected another loophole, as a approach in that Amazon measures pages review for KU is not what one competence think. Amazon uses a “last page sync” signal, that is a underline of Amazon’s Whispersync, to establish how distant somebody reads. This information indicate can in fact be simply manipulated to a scammer’s advantage.

For example, one could place a integrate early in a book earnest a $100 Amazon benefaction voucher, yet that integrate could take a reader to a final page of a book. If a book has 10,000 pages, Amazon would now cruise that a reader has indeed review 10,000 pages even if a “reading” took place in a matter of seconds.

Obviously that can’t be true, yet Amazon’s algorithms don’t check that. Computer formula is not flushed with “common sense.”

The initial questions is, since Amazon is not looking during all “last page synced” information points and checking opposite a limit probable reading speed? Doing so is not difficult, yet positively requires some-more effort. It seems on this indicate that a Amazon developer or growth group took a by-pass and did not take into care how a complement competence be gamed.

Well, we can be certain they are warning to a situation now, as a problem, in technical terms, is not terribly formidable to fix. It’s value noting, though, that Amazon does not have gigantic resources, during slightest not in terms of developers, and there is a fight for talent via a tech industry, generally out on America’s west coast. Thus, it competence not be a top priority for Amazon during a impulse even if it competence be easy to fox.

Amazon also has many, many other priorities, and a ebook marketplace is only one of many things a association does. So adding an additional covering to check either a vigilance is picturesque and stop scammers that approach would be impossibly easy for Amazon. Being experts in reading analytics, we during Jellybooks are utterly assured of that assertion.

Some commentators in a discuss have asked if Amazon can check either particular pages were read. It roughly positively can. The provider of an ebook reading concentration or device has most larger capabilities than a third celebration (like Jellybooks) with courtesy to extracting information, and one such square of information is a “page-turn.” The infancy of reading applications record that information point, and several also send it behind to a app providers, yet not always in genuine time (not each page-turn is reported behind when it happens, yet are instead sent in certain time increments, only like “last page sync” is sent in time increments or when a app closes).

Amazon roughly positively has that data, yet it competence not have that information in a unchanging format. There is a vast series of Kindle apps and inclination in a market, and there is a bequest of comparison apps and inclination that have been built over 9 years. It is substantially no fluke that Amazon recently expelled a vital program ascent that was mandatory for all users.

We assume that Amazon competence not have used page-turn data, since it does not have it in a unchanging format or not for all a users.

In addition, Amazon can check section opens and closes only as Jellybooks does. This would exhibit in an benefaction if a vast apportionment of a book is in fact skipped and concede them to adjust pay-outs accordingly.

Ultimately, if this most income is during stake, there will be scammers perplexing to get their hands on it. However, by creation it economically homely to diversion a system, Amazon can make it fairer and some-more estimable for genuine and honest authors. The stream complement of “last page sync” is a really bad integrity of how somebody reads a book and so distant too simply gamed.

This of march also raises a doubt of how accurate a “completion rates” are that Amazon reports to authors and name publishers. If it uses a same methodology as above, afterwards this is rarely suspect, as well. If we during Jellybooks could get a hands on Amazon’s information trove, afterwards we would investigate and benefaction it in most some-more abyss regulating a “Candy for Publishers” use than Amazon itself ever would.

In Amazon’s defense, we should note that we have an astray advantage in that we concentration on zero else yet reader analytics and a many applications. Thus, we cruise much, most harder about a problem than a vast ecosystem user who has many other things and other priorities to cruise might.

So let’s give Amazon a mangle and a integrate weeks to repair this. We would still like to work on that information set from Amazon, though, for a advantage of readers, authors, agents and publishers. And we know we are open to that idea, Seattle, yet as always, being in edition is a diversion of patience.

We know we have been examination us, Seattle. You tell us so in each email. We are prepared when we are!

My progressing essay on ebook subscription models:

“The Sobering Economics of Ebook Subscription Services”
“Netflix for Ebooks or Spotify for Ebooks? Spot a Difference”

Earlier posts in a data-smart edition series:
“The Internet of Bookish Things”
“Reading Fast and Slow – Observing Book Readers in Their Natural Habitat”
“Start Strong or Lose Your Readers”
“What Books Have a X-Factor? Measuring a Book’s Net Promoter Score”
“Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, But What About Readers?”
“How Does Age Affect Reading?”
“8 Reasons Why People Buy Books”
“Data Vs. Instinct – The Publisher’s Dilemma”
“It’s a Cover, Stupid! Why Publishers Should A/B Test Book Covers”
“Foreign Rights and Reader Analytics

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