Tag: Amazon

Kindle eBook graphic.

‘Book-Stuffing:’ The Self-Publishing Crime You’ve Never Heard Of

There’s a scam going on in the eBook industry, and, as with most high-dollar missteps, no one is stopping it.

Before we get into the details of these legal evasions, it’s critical to understand that eBook authors make money per pages read. When authors fill their works with special features to drive the page count into the thousands, eBook readers feel like they’re getting a steal: extra content for the same price. But, for the author, ‘steal’ isn’t that far off.

 

Image Via David Gaughran

 

There have been a number of tactics to stop self-publishing abuses designed to arbitrarily inflate eBook profits, but few have actually been effective. Authors are banned from directly incentivizing reviews, but some have found a workaround: Chance Carter, a self-described “bad boy who writes about bad boys,” created a giveaway in which reviewers would earn the chance to receive a Tiffany ring. It’s clear he really is a bad boy: he nested six extra books in the back of his Mr. Diamond (the precious gem is as hard and desirable as the protagonist’s, well, you know).

This is how authors game the system: filling their publications with bonus content to artificially inflate the length of each book. It’s called ‘book stuffing,’ and it’s no game—the top scammers are making $100,000 per month.

 

Chance Carter's proposal to his followers

Image Via Medium

 

There’s some measure of justice, even if that measurement is more an inch than a mile. Bad boy Carter was banned after #tiffanygate made its way into the public consciousness… but not for long. Many suspect Carter now writes under the pseudonym Johanna Hawke, who writes about “bad boys and hotties.” He’s back with a different name… and the same game.

Well, how bad could it be if an author includes a few bonus chapters? Given that it’s far more than just a dozen extra pages: pretty bad.

 

Self-published Kindle Unlimited authors receive their income from a ‘communal authors’ fund,’ the distribution of which is largely dependant both on what percentage of a book readers complete AND how many total pages readers turn. Amazon has made limited attempts to stop this abuse of the system, enacting a rule that no more than 10% of a book can be bonus content. But many authors have circumvented this system with ‘compilations’ or ‘collections,’ allowing them to hit that 3,000 upper page limit.

This bit of ingenuity is hardly the end of these scammers’ tricks. Many such eBook authors engage in ‘mosaic book stuffing,’ the practice of repackaging previous releases into one new (and derivative) work. While some authors engage in active plagiarism, others will re-use passages of their own works, stitching together some botched Frankenstein’s monster and re-selling it to the public. Others use false links in their novel, which trick readers to skip directly to the end. These authors then get a bonus upon the novel’s completion.

It’s a cheap trick, but the consequences are costing authors who don’t engage in such deceptive policies. The communal fund is, as you may have imagined, communal. Amazon may benefit from the increased sales, and readers may appreciate the extra content. But the authors don’t—at least, not the ones who are honest.

 

Featured Image Via ElegantThemes.com

Top Genre Picks: Crime/Thrillers

Each week, Bookstr will be offering a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list. Today, we’ll be recommending five recent crime/thrillers for your reading pleasure. Thrillers and crime novels often overlap, containing equal amounts of suspense, anxiety, anticipation, and shock. These novels will certainly set you on edge and leave you guessing until the very end.

 

The cover to the Boy by Tami Hoag, featuring numerous reeds against a blue set sky

Image Via Goodreads

1. ‘The Boy’ by Tami Hoag

The Boy by Tami Hoag has quickly shot up the New York Times bestsellers list and it’s easy to see why. The premise of the novel is that a detective, Nick Fourcade, enters into a home in Louisiana to discover a young boy of seven murdered by an alleged intruder, yet his mother appears to be unhurt and there is no sign of forced entry. The waters are further muddled when the boy’s babysitter goes missing. All fingers begin to point to the mother as the murderer of her own child but Nick thinks there may be more to the case than meets the eye. With a premise like that, this is a must read that will keep you guessing until the very end.

The cover to the Drowning by J.P. Smith, featuring a ladder descending into a shallow lake

Image Via Goodreads

2. ‘The Drowning’ by J.p. Smith

The Drowning by J.P. Smith isn’t an easy read but it’s a great one. Alex Mason, a camp counselor, leaves a young boy in the middle of the lake to teach him a lesson but the boy vanishes. Alex doesn’t tell the truth, leaving the death to be forgotten, until twenty years later he begins receiving threatening notes from the boy, Joey Proctor. But Joey is dead. Or is he? With a strong prose, an excellent hook for its creepy plot, The Drowning is a book that’ll keep you guessing until the very end. Alex Mason is a multilayered protagonist, at once unsympathetic yet showing enough humanity for the audience to be on his side. Check this one out for sure.

 

The cover of My Lovely Wife featuring a woman looking at herself in the mirror of a knife

Image Via Amazon

3. ‘My Lovely Wife’ by Samantha Downing

This one isn’t technically out yet, but it’s received excellent early reviews and features a wild as hell premise that’s impossible to ignore. My Lovely Wife is about a married couple who engages in a new activity to keep their marriage alive. One catch: the activity in question is murder. The book is described as deliciously wicked, dark, and ‘completely crazy’ but in a good way! This one is suggested to just go in blind, so we won’t give in anything away, so pick this one up when it hits shelves March 26th.

The cover to the Stranger Diaries, featuring a house being carved in half in a cozy suburb

Image Via Goodreads

4. ‘The Stranger Diaries’ by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths is a modern gothic fantasy, themed around literary killings. Clare Cassidy specializes in a course revolving around gothic writer R.M. Holland. But when a dead body turns up with a quote from Holland’s story, ‘The Stranger’, Elly Griffiths is drawn into a dark murder mystery, as more murders begin to pop up themed around Clare’s beloved book. To make matters worse, Clare receives a note in her personal diary, from the killer that says ‘Hello, Clare. You don’t know me.” This should be a must read for literature fans, especially since the killings are themed around literature!

A young woman walking in a snow drenched filed in a red coat Image Via Goodreads

5. ‘The Reckoning’ by Yrsa Sigurdardottir 

The second novel in the Children’s House series, a series of psychological thrillers that examines police procedurals in Scandinavia. This novel deals with series characters Huldar and Freyja, a detective and a child psychologist respectively. In the present time dismembered limbs begin popping all over town, while flashbacks deal with a young girl who went to use the phone at her friend’s house and didn’t return. The mystery gets quite dark, but leaves readers invested in seeing it through to the end, thanks to the author’s strong sense of characterization and excellent atmosphere. Its not an easy read but well worth the ride.

Will you be picking up any of these thrillers? Let us know in the comments!

Featured Image Via Deadline

 

Summer Owens beside Dorothy Jones

Author Agnes Owens Celebrates 97th Birthday!

Did you know that just last week, Agnes Idella Jones Owens, affectionately called “Dorothy” by her friends and family, turned ninety-seven-year-old? You may not have heard her name, but you need to know her story because let’s face it: a lot has changed in America in the last hundred years, and ninety-seven-year-old Agnes Idella Jones Owens has lived through the most of it. The best part?

She has an impeccable memory too – on Amazon it’s written that “[h]er amazing memory recalls her life as early as three-years old and includes details like names and dates that most forget.”

Summer beside Dorothy Jones

Image Via Summerowens

That’s right—Amazon. Last year on October 3rd, Agnes ‘Dorothy’ Jones of Jackson, Tennessee published Look Who Done Come Up The Slip, with her granddaughter, Summer. Why, you may ask? Well, “I just thought I would let people know what I have lived through,” Dorothy told WBBJ TV.

And Dorothy has a pretty amazing story. At Amazon, the full description reads:

From a lost childhood to an emotionally abusive marriage and sad and shocking experiences in between, she had every reason to complain. However, Dorothy’s story is balanced by overcoming tremendous obstacles, a strong faith in God, love, and lots of family and funny memories. Her amazing memory recalls her life as early as three-years old and includes details like names and dates that most forget. A history book of sorts, Look Who Done Come Up the Slip provides insight not only into Dorothy’s life but also into the changes that have occurred in America over nearly a 100-year period.

Cover of "Look Who Done Come Up The Slip"

Image Via Amazon

For the sake of clarity, Dorothy told the stories while Summer actually wrote the book, but there’s no fear here. It’s not a Go Set a Watchmen situation – Summer and Dorothy are actually incredibly close. On her personal website, Summer recalls her own story and they’ve grown close over the years.

It all started in 1996 when Summer, at the age of 15, gave birth. Sadly, her own mother was terribly busy at raising “four younger children of her own” and, with no financial backing of her own, Summer had nothing.

Summer Owens with her son on graduation

Image Via Summerowens

But she wasn’t on her own. She had her grandmother, Dorothy, and from there their relationship grew. Summer writes that, “[m]y grandmother, in her seventies, was my babysitter while I went to school, stayed after school for meetings, and went to work.” Even more amazingly, come 1997, Summer “moved to Memphis for college” and “let [her] son stay with [Dorothy] for my first year”.

In her own words, this made it possible for Summer “to be a normal college student and get a great start”.

An adult Summer Owens

Image Via Summerowens

I guess the Amazon description is true—Dorothy has overcome tremendous obstacles and still came out a loving person.

And she’s still here with us. It was not even a week ago when Dorothy and her family came to a local restaurant to celebrate her birthday and her life story.

Dorothy Jones o her 95th birthday with her whole family

Image Via Summerowens

It was only two years ago on Dorothy’s last birthday when Summer wrote on her website, “I thank God for her, and I’m thankful she can enjoy my granddaughter and pose in our five generation photo. We are more than blessed to have her and look forward to celebrating her 100th birthday!”

And we’re thankful to have her story available to the public for another hundred years.

 

Featured Image Via Summer Owens

The 10 Best Things Internet Has Given Book Lovers

Happy birthday Internet! Today the Internet turns thirty-years-old. It’s been a long thirty years. In fact, I barely a remember a time before the Internet, but I’m only twenty-two.

 

The world with the word 'internet' in front of it
Image Via India Today

 

In a nutshell, the Internet has done a lot for us. Some good, some bad, but mostly it gave us neutral tools that we, as a collective, outright abused. So thank you, Internet for these 10 things you gave us!

 

10. It’s easier to buy books

 

Can you image going outside of your house and looking for a book, traversing through dark and shady bookstores, digging in trashcans looking for that one book? Well not anymore! Thanks to various sites, and the websites belonging to independent bookstores, we can now just simply type in the name of the book and find the best deal available!

Or, on the flip side, we can spend hours on the internet looking through every book in existence for the book that just catches our eyes.

Support indie bookstores though. For real.

 

A collection of several books on a shelf
Image Via The Big Game Hunting Blog

 

The only issue is having to wait to get the book. No more grabbing the book and leaving. Nope! Our primary mode of buying contains a lot of waiting.

 

9. Easier to sell books

 

A young woman showing an older woman a book
Image Via Sell Back Your Book

 

I got these piles of books and I want to get rid of them. Do I throw them out? Nah, I need some cash to buy some other books, and maybe pay off my student loans. What to do, what to do?

Well, thanks to the internet I can go online and sell the books. Millions of people just like me are looking to buy books and I might have what they’re looking for! And the odds are higher than when before the internet was around, given those millions of people I mentioned before.

 

8. Self-publishing

 

Have you written a book and you can’t just wait for the public to read it? Having trouble finding an agent or publisher? Well, self-publishing might be for you.

 

A clipboard upon which are the words Write, Edit, Design, Publish, Distribute, Market, beside of which are marked checkoxes
Image Via Editage

 

You have more creative control and, according to Editage, “Traditionally published books have a limited shelf life in the bookstore and are periodically removed to make way for newly published books. Self-published books, on the other hand, are always available in online bookstores and can be discovered and purchased months and years after the book is published.”

The cons? The bookstore’s won’t see your book unless you get traditionally published, but at least they will always be in the online store! Plus, you get immediate statistics  on who bought your book.

But be wary: There are a lot of scams out there. As with everywhere on the internet.

 

7. Traditional Publishing

Rows of books
Image Via Publishdrive

There are a lot of working parts to make a book a reality. The writer has to maintain contact with their agent, their cover designer, their editors. All these moving parts, and no easy way to stay in contact.

Not anymore. Thanks to the internet, you can just email all these people.

Haven’t been published but have a ready manuscript? Then you have to pitch your book. Back in the day writers sent out letters:

 

A ballpoint pen on an old letter
Image Via Role Reboot

No longer. Well it’s an option, but why not just email them? It’s quick, easy, and costs nothing.

 

6. E-Readers

A tablet turned on with a book ready to read
Image Via PCMag

 

In 2012 The Pew Research Center found that in February that 21% of adults in America were reading from an e-readers.

And why wouldn’t they? E-readers take up a lot less space than books, you can fit them all on your tablet, and many more books are available at the tip of your finger. As long as your tablet is charged, then you have not only one book for your commute, but an entire library.

Imagine if you had to carry your entire library with you?

A man holding a stack of books
Image Via Dissolve

 

It would only be better if the books actually read themselves to you. Oh wait…

 

5. Audible

You can buy a book and a celebrity will read it to you! It’s like when you were a kid and you had a bedtime story, except this time you’ve never met this person! Plus, all these listenable books are ready with only a touch. You can fit as many as you like in your phone, so no “My house is filled with all these gigantic books” problems.

Now when you go to the gym, you can have earbuds and listen to your books.

 

A woman on the treadmill putting headphones in her ears
Image Via Video Hive

Isn’t that great? And going off the “I’m at the gym working out and I’m reading” motif, you can read and do many other things. Multitasking for the win. Complex has you covered with a top 10 list of books you can listen to while driving.

The Times even found that “[commuters who may not have picked up a paperback since leaving university are increasingly listening to audiobooks on the way to work as it is seen as more relaxing than reading.”

The best part? All these listenable books are ready with only a touch. According to National Public Radio, “Now they’re a $1 billion industry with more than 35,000 titles published in 2013 alone.”

Unless you bought a book and it doesn’t have an audio book. Then you’re stuck to doing things the old fashioned way, like a peasant.

 

4. Podcasts

 

A image of headphones against a blue background
Image Via Wired

 

Why stop at listening to someone reading a book when you can listen to people talk about books. Podcasts have you covered.

Here The Guardian lists ten (Ten!) places where you can listen to your book talk. Reviews, discussions, podcasts have them all.

 

3. Goodreads

 

The Goodreads logo
Image Via Goodreads

 

It’s the largest site for readers. Need to know how far you are in your current book? Goodreads give you a percentage. Need to know how long you’ve been reading Game of Thrones?

All 5 Song of Ice and Fire Books together spelling out "Game of Thrones"
Image Via Juniper Books

 

Goodreads gives you the date you started. Need a book recommendation? Need to see what your friends are reading? Goodreads is the Facebook for book readers. Thank you Internet.

 

2. Fan Fiction

 

The words Fan Fiction written with a ballpoint pen
Image Via FilmFreeway

Now you can share your Harry Potter fan-fiction and you can read other people’s Lord of the Rings fan-fiction. You can flex your creative muscles, to stain those the calves of those sentences, to tighten those wordy hamstrings, training you to become the new generation of writers.

Plus you can change the ending to Game of Thrones if you don’t like it. (You might not like it.)What could be better?

 

  1. The Best Thing Ever

Are you ready?

You sure?

Be warned, this is by far the best thing the Internet has ever given us….

You sure you’re ready?

Okay.

Proceed and feast your eyes upon…

 

 

The Bookstr Logo
Image Via Facebook

Check us out!

Amazon ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Series Setting Revealed

Remember the montage at the beginning of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring? We were introduced to the world of Middle Earth, the forging of the rings, and the then embodied dark lord, Sauron kicking everyone’s ass before being de-fingered by Isildur. What followed were three hours, forty-three minutes and thirty seconds of malnourished Middle Earth magic. The release of the subsequent sequels fulfilled the cinematic dreams of all Tolkienites everywhere; no more subpar animations…

 

IMAGE VIA NERDIST.COM

When Peter Jackson trolled us by ending The Return of the King multiple times within the same movie our exhaustion gave way to satisfaction. We never thought we would see Middle Earth of the screen again, or at least for quite some time…kidding, of course, those movies made way too much money. The Hobbit’s charming little tale was turned into a colossal trilogy and now Amazon is adapting the best-selling novels by J.R.R. Tolkien into an online series; a deal that includes the potential for any additional spinoff series hobbit enthusiasts may desire($). It is being produced in-house at Amazon Studios with the help of the Tolkien Estate, and New Line Cinema. JD Payne and Patrick McKay are developing the series—-a somewhat unknown writing duo that has previously been attached to an upcoming Star Trek film (which is probably not happening now due to negotiation issues with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth). In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the pair expressed their excitement for the series.

“The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” longtime friends and writing partners Payne and McKay said in a joint statement. “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”

 

The pending series twitter account has dropped hints to the show’s setting in the last month via maps and quotes from its source material:

The Twitter account’s focus on the Second Age and the opening minutes of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring lead the logic police to deduce the setting of Amazon’s upcoming series (or at least the first season). The Second Age/Timeline of Arda spans 3441 years and ends with the downfall of Sauron’s army. The people involved with the show’s development have spent hours talking to Tolkien’s son and are fully prepared to embrace the mythology of the world Sr. has created. One can only hope the show’s storyline will be fresh and rich with the kind of detail we expect from master worldbuilders—for which Tolkien set the standard. I for one hope the show includes more of the impulsive songs/singing/poems from the novel that has been overlooked in previous adaptations. For example, this lyrical nugget from The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1:

 

Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe.
Rain may fall and wind may blow,
And many miles be still to go,
But under a tall tree, I will lie,
And let the clouds go sailing by.

 

Production begins this year and we can hope to see Middle Earth once again by 2021. The future looks very bing-able.

 

Featured Image Via Ign.com