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Self-publishing News: Ending The Stuffing

Self-publishing News: Ending the Stuffing

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

I avoid giving opinion here as much as I can, so I will not comment directly on Lionel Shriver‘s disparaging comments this week about diversity in publishing. I will, however, reflect on my experience as a creativity coach. One of the most common barriers to making the world better is the “local maximum” problem (the umbrella term for things like the Overton Window in politics – google it), whereby we are so concerned with small changes to a model we assume couldn't possibly work any other way that we miss the stunning improvements that could be made by doing things completely differently. We would all (even Shriver, no doubt) benefit by considering what incredible opportunities we are missing by not daring to embrace the big changes.

Amazon Takes Action on Content Stuffing

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

There's a story about Amazon and the scammers at least once a month, it seems. This week's is good news but in a very limited way. One of the worst offenders when it comes to book stuffing (duping people into registering vast numbers of page reads in Kindle Unlimited by sending them to the back of the book, past lots of bogus “bonus” content, which has the negative knock-on of diminishing the amount of the fixed payout pool available to authors who play fair), Chance Carter, has had his ebooks removed (though as David Gaughran points out, other offenders are as yet untouched). I noticed that the audiobooks remain, though, so unlike those authors who have done nothing wrong but still get caught up as collateral by an algorithm, there was no account deletion. Talking of authors becoming collateral damage in Amazon's war on the scammers, the Authors Guild has set up a direct arbitration service that authors can use if they feel they have had unfair action taken.

Amazon (not) in Australia

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

As you may have picked up from the comments, I didn't report on this last week in the hope that things might become a little clearer. They haven't really, but this is what we know. Australia has introduced a new 10% sales tax on purchases of under $1000. Amazon, which really doesn't like paying sales tax, has stopped shipping goods to Australia from its .com website, shipping only from its .com.au site. What this means for writers isn't 100% clear, but it appears to mean that anyone who has bought ebooks from .com will in future have to buy them from .com.au which, because you can only link your Kindle to one store, means losing access to previous purchases. That is clearly sub-optimal. The shipping ban on physical goods means that there is no VPN get-around as some had suggested, but what isn't clear yet is whether it will be possible to continue to buy digital goods using a VPN from the .com store.

Public Lending Rights Extended to Ebooks in the UK; Storytel in Spain

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash

Really good news for the growing number of indies whose books are available in libraries through Overdrive. The UK's public lending rights scheme, which pays authors when their books are loaned by libraries, has been extended to ebooks and audiobooks. Similar schemes are already in place elsewhere, for example in Canada, but this is yet another reason for indies to go wide, and to remember the large reader base who find their books through libraries. And talking of expanded opportunities, Storytel, which has been slowly extending its reach across Europe, has now moved into Spain offering ebooks and audiobooks, offering original serial content to subscribers.

The First Book ICO

In exciting news, Publica has just launched the first ever ICO (Initial Coin Offering) for books, offering 1000 tokens  for Matt Kepnes' Backpacker's Guide to Europe, at a cost of $10 a token. The tokens, which are held in a Publica wallet and give access to the book, ride on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning that the books can be passed or sold on to other readers without the interference of a third party sales platform and without damaging the integrity of the author's IP (because they are on the blockchain, tokens cannot be reproduced).

Top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

JUNE 2018

Indie Author Week, June 9-16 [online] Dublin Writers' Conference, June 22-24 [Dublin}


Gothenberg Book Fair, 27-30 Sep [Gothenberg] Indie Lab, 29-30 Sep [Cincinnati]


Digital Book World, Oct 2-4 [Nashville] Ness Book Fest, Oct 4-7 [Scotland] Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 10-14 [Frankfurt] Helsinki Book Fair, 25-28 Oct [Helsinki] Croydon Litfest, 27 October [Croydon, UK]

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. I’m a bit confused about the Australia change (I live here, but have had my Amazon.com account for many years). There are a couple problems:

    – Not all ebooks are put on the com.au website, are they? I thought that was optional.
    – I don’t just use US Amazon to buy products for myself; I buy for relatives in the US via the Amazon website and ship to them.
    – I’m also a CreateSpace (for their print on demand process) and KDP author. How do I handle my book publishing procedures if Amazon is totally geoblocking?

    I spoke to an Amazon customer service rep (yes, you really can talk to a human being if you look deep enough in the contact us section) and this is the follow up email I received:

    “This is Danny from Amazon Customer Care,

    From July 1, 2018, you will not be able to have products on our international sites delivered to Australia. If you select an Australian delivery location while shopping on our international sites, you will be redirected to shop on amazon.com.au, where there is a new Global Store offering over four million products that were previously only available on Amazon.com. This is in addition to the 60 million products already available on amazon.com.au.

    As a global business with multiple international sites, we have had to assess how best we can comply with the change in the Australian GST law for low value imported goods.

    By redirecting customers selecting an Australian delivery location from our international sites to amazon.com.au, and collecting and remitting GST for sales of low value imported goods on amazon.com.au that are shipped from overseas to customers within Australia, we will remain compliant with the requirements of the law.

    We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to you.

    We hope to see you again soon. ”

    As you can see, that is about physical items. When I asked about digital items such as ebooks, Danny said those would not be affected. Obviously, that is NOT documented in the follow up email. Hence my confusion.

    Any further info?


    1. In terms of the physical items, you will still be able to ship to the US from .com

      I have heard the phrase “not affected” used a few times, and I haven’t yet seen what that means. Early reports were that you would need to use a VPN to avoid geoblocking so that you could still use your .com kindle account but that was then updated and I think right now “you can still buy ebooks from .com” is “probably true but to be confirmed”

  2. Some comments on the Australia issue. You have a couple of factual errors in your commentary here.

    1. It’s not a new tax. The GST (Goods and Services Tax) was introduced in Australia in 2000, and has been around ever since. It is the equivalent of the EU’s VAT. What is new is that, from July this year, it is compulsory for overseas business who sell to people in Australia to remit the collected GST to the Australian government. If the Australian customer can provide the vendor with their Australian Business Number, then the overseas vendor does not need to charge them the 10% tax, but anyone who doesn’t have an ABN, gets charged GST and that GST has to be paid to the Aus govt (much like E.U. VAT).

    So Amazon are taking the easy way out. Their Australian site is already bound to this requirement, from the day that it opened, as it is an Australian business, selling to Australians. So, rather than add complicated layers of tax management to the US site, they are just forcing Australian customers off the US site and on to the Australian one. (Much like residents of the U.K. can’t buy on the US site now).

    What concerns most Australians is the lamentable lack of product variety available on the Amazon Australia site compared to the US site. Amazon have said that they are extending the Sustralian site with something they are calling the ‘global store’ to significantly increase the product range – but we are all dubious.

    With respect to the change of store for kindle purchases – you do not lose your US purchased kindle books. That is panic thinking. It has been possible to change stores ever since the Australian one came into existence – I did, early on, then changed back to the US store for my Kindle account, for a variety of reasons (review visibility, product availability etc) and there was no loss of access to anything in either change.

    So – the change is a total nuisance for those of us who buy things that are not currently listed on the AU store (such as paperbacks of indie published books….. which will really kill local AU authors ability to reach their local market who prefer paperbacks…). We are used to geographical discrimination, we are used to paying exorbitant shipping charges, and waiting 4 weeks for our parcels to arrive – but now, this will mean that we can’t buy those goods at all (unless Amazon make some very big changes fast). So, on the whole, we are not happy customers.

    1. Thanks, Kim. Yes, the inability to purchase hard copy books from Australian authors publishing on Amazon’s print on demand platform is a PITA. I had to laugh tonight when Malcolm was on the ABC news walking through an Amazon warehouse.

      Hopefully the ebook purchase doesn’t get caught up in the GST thing for new purchases. I’m also wondering what will happen with 3rd party promoters, like BookBub. Then there’s Book Depository, too.

      I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  3. In fact, Dan, Storytel launched in Spain last year. The post you linked to is about a new initiative to boost original content for Storytel ES.

    Storytel has recently launched in the UAE and Turkey, with an Italy launch due any time no and launches in Bulgaria and Mexico planned.


    Porter Anderson has since updated his post to show this.

  4. Hey Dan, I think Chance Carter’s KDP account was shut down. Audiobooks are via a different channel with presumably different terms of service so those are still up. Same happened with another notorious person who was shut down a while back. And, yes, he’s just the ringleader of this scammy group. There are many many more. And it’s entirely possible he was shut down for his review manipulating Tiffany competition rather than book stuffing. So we can’t, unfortunately, take it as any sign that Amazon is finally moving on that issue – especially when there are several major book stuffers in the Top 100 right now, and Amazon is ignoring reports about them. We need to keep up the pressure!

    1. Thanks, David – yes, I wasn’t trying to suggest the battle is over, rather give a very qualified welcome to one step, while noting that many innocent authors who’ve been caught by algorithms have had more ill effect than the scammers

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