Amazon have in recent months taken some criticism over the low quality of many of the titles published under its Kindle Direct Publishing platform - Online ebook behemoth Amazon has been fraught the last three months with a surge in book spam and eBook piracy. Many people are buying spam toolkits such as Autopilot Kindle Cash which can write and submit books at the click of a few buttons.
This issue was brought to my attention my Archive friend and editor of Black Horse Extra, Keith Chapman who received an article intended for The Black Horse Extra from fellow western writer, Greg Mitchell who tells of his own experience with eBooks. It was decided to run this piece here to highlight the problem Amazon are facing and need to address before they alienate customers.
And so over to Greg (article in italics followed by comment from the Archive.)
Recently I was given a Kindle and found the ebook a very
convenient way to acquire a wide selection of books without
leaving home. But lately I have twice fallen into traps by being a
bit too trusting. The comments voiced in the September-November
Black Horse Extra, "The Rights and Wrongs of Ebooks" were right on
the mark when discussing quality and the lack of control.
I bought two ebooks recently. One covered the subject matter for
about twenty pages and then went into a totally unrelated subject
that comprised roughly 90% of the book. The book was in total
less than 15 minutes' reading time and only about 10% dealt with
the subject in which I was interested. I could have learned more
with a quick read of Wikipedia. As the book was not expensive, I
shrugged the matter off as the work of a self-indulgent nutter.
A couple of days ago I bought another book and was caught again.
The authors were different, and so was the subject matter, but the
presentation was the same. There were a few modern pages on the
subject, which was the thoroughbred horse, but the bulk of the
book was a 19th century book on general horse care that was
outdated and irrelevant. The name of the author was not listed.
No doubt the copyright on the real book had long expired and the
authors used it to pad out their ebook. In what appears to be a
cynical effort to make money quickly, the same people have brought
out similar books on various breeds of horses. If their
information is so limited on what is probably the best-known breed
of horse, the other books are not going to tell us much about some
of the more obscure breeds. They are going to be as superficial
and padded out as in the one I bought.
To return to the first book: my first thought was that some
untalented amateur was trying their hand at writing. But when
digging deeper I found that the author literally had dozens of
books on Kindle. I have not read any more books by that person but
the sheer number of them suggests the writer is churning out the
maximum number of books with minimal effort.
So we have a pattern emerging, different subjects and different
authors using what seems to be the same trick. And these ebooks
are being churned out in series.
In both cases, the writers appear to be working to some sort of
formula at a great rate on material that would disappoint many
purchasers. Quantity seems to be the name of the game. Forget
If a synopsis was obligatory, readers might have some idea of what
they are buying, but under the current system you take pot-luck.
I came away with the distinct feeling that I had been ripped off,
because although the books touched lightly on the subject
advertised, they promptly strayed elsewhere. I have refrained from
naming authors, for fear of lawsuits. These writers are staying
within the letter of the law, even if they allow intending
purchasers to draw the wrong conclusions about the contents of
It is said that we have to be pretty dumb to be caught twice by
the same trick so I cannot be too proud of my gullibility, but I
hit back the only way that I could. To their credit, Amazon will
publish unfavourable reviews, so I wrote a couple of very nasty
reviews which Amazon printed. I would urge others who have been
disappointed by such books to write reviews that will cause future
buyers to stop and think.
Greg, gentleman that he is, refused to name the eBooks in question but a little Amazon search of our own yielded fruit and we have pictured one of the offending titles above. Of course it would speak volumes if author, James Sinclair could comment to defend his title or even take part in an Archive interview. It is of paramount importance that Amazon start a system of quality control regarding their Kindle Publishing Scheme - after all respectable authors will, through no fault of their own, find themselves tarnished with the same brush as the charlatans.
The Archive is fully behind Greg's idea and urges readers to leave bad reviews on Amazon if they feel they have been ripped off or sold a substandard product through the Kindle store.