If you’ve been on twitter in Romancelandia recently, you may have noticed some interesting hashtags.
Some of them have been talked about to the max, (#cockygate, #BYEFaleena), and some are just starting to gain momentum (#tiffanygate). If you haven’t heard of any of these yet, I suggest falling down the rabbit hole on twitter to find out more. This post isn’t going to explain #cockygate or #tiffanygate (though Tiffanygate and BookStuffing have something in common).
As a reader, I came across Kindle Unlimited about a year ago. It was as I was discovering more indie authors, and wanted to find more. So I got my subscription, and started devouring books that participated in the program. I found authors like Alexa Riley, Mia Madison, Madison Faye, Ella Summers and so many more. I started reading novellas and full length novels, reading almost 200 books in a year. My reading was up, and I was a happy camper.
What was even better, was some of the books I was reading including extra books.
This time last year, I didn’t review books. I couldn’t have told you the name of a single indie author. I wasn’t involved in a single book club on Facebook or anywhere else. I read the mainstream paperbacks you could find in the library, the grocery store, Wal-Mart, anywhere I could get my hands on one. I didn’t use my kindle or nook, and I didn’t use the app on my phone. I broke my back carrying around paperbacks, but I loved holding the book in my hand and thought nothing could compare.
Then, I found KU, and my whole life changed. And I’m not exaggerating. I went from never leaving reviews, to becoming a book blogger. I went from only reading paperbacks, to reading mainly on my kindle. I went from buying books at the store, to trying to support my favorite authors by buying their paperbacks online. I went from having only friends I met in the real world, to having friends ALL over the world, and I met them in one of the thirty book clubs I am now in.
The more I got to know the indie world, the more problems I saw within the KU program. One of the biggest problems is that the ‘Zon is trying to crack down on the “authors” that break their Terms of Service, which ends up hurting legitimate authors trying to make a living doing what they love.
You may have read my little biography here and thought “but Cait, what is book stuffing?!” I wanted to start with my journey, to show you that as a “sophisticated” reader, who has read both mainstream and indie books, who has read the stuffed books and the novellas, that I was duped. I thought I was getting extra books, when I read certain titles on KU. In reality: I was hurting the authors I’ve come to love and support with my whole heart.
Now, what is book stuffing? It’s pretty much what it sounds like: an author stuffs books into another book. Extra Content, according to Amazon’s KU Terms of Service (TOS), states that it cannot be more than 10% of the book. Why? Because authors in the KU program get paid for each page read. There is a big bank that is used to pay these authors, and it is set at a fixed rate. So for every page a borrower reads, the author gets paid. If an author “stuffs” more than one book into their book, they get paid for more pages read. Some of these authors encourage their readers to do the “KU Flip”, which is basically flipping through the extra content in a book, at a slow rate, until you reach the end, so the author can get more money.
*Picture from @SloaneBueller on Twitter*
With more pages read, the more money you get, but you also get to be one of Amazon’s Top Seller’s program, which means more advertising. So while there are authors that have full time jobs aside from writing, that are happy with the sales they earned, there are authors out there who are not valuing their readers, and asking them to skip through content they may or may not have already read, or may or may not be interested in, so they can make more money. It’s not about the book they’ve written, it’s about the money they could get.
Is book stuffing a big deal? Are that many authors doing it?
*Images as of June 5, 2018*
Out of the Top 6 in “Sports Romance” only ONE of these authors does not book stuff. (Ilsa Madden-Mills, you GO GLEN COCO!) It’s not just in Sports Romance, though, and it’s not just stuffing more books into one book. Some books mess up the spacing to spread out the pages. As a reader, I found this SO ANNOYING, but didn’t realize I was helping authors scam other authors.
*Image grabbed from Biker’s Virgin on June 5th, 2018*
As a reader, I had no idea this was an issue. With #cockygate coming to light, and indie and mainstream authors banded together to fight this, the authors who were afraid of getting in trouble with Amazon decided to say WHATEVER and bring to light the book stuffing issue. As a reader, we ALL have to help report the issue, because authors like Anna B Doe, BJ Bentley, Mia Madison, Gillian Jones, and so many more (those are just a few I thought of off the top of my head), are getting screwed by authors like Cassandra Dee, Tia Siren, Claire Adams, and Chance Carter (who I will NOT rant about right now).
So how can you tell if a book has been stuffed? Check the Table of Contents in the previews.
*Images grabbed from Marrying His Brother by Tia Siren on June 5th, 2018.*
Also, check how many pages are in a book.
Examples of bookstuffing:
Versus legitimate books:
*All screen grabs were made on June 5th, 2018, and taken from Amazon.com*
As a reader, it is important to make sure you report the books that are guilty of this. Not just because they violate the TOS, but because when they stuff their books, other authors lose out. Other authors take the pay cuts, and suffer from this. The reader doesn’t, the author stuffing sure as heck doesn’t, but the author you love? The one you want to see grow and tell everyone about? They suffer. So how do you report these authors? Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the Feedback section:
Here’s the thing: there are much better articles on this than mine. I know that. You can find thorough articles, eloquently written, anywhere on Twitter. Heck, some of the Twitter threads are better than this. However, the community needs to speak up. That means complaining about this everywhere, speaking about it on every platform, and reporting the books that are scamming the readers and authors! If you read this article on bookstuffing from a reader’s perspective, thanks! Now go out and share what you learned! Expose the books violating the TOS. Do something about it.
Want to learn more? Here are some articles/videos that can explain better than me: