Amazon at Risk: its Kindle Platform can be Spammed!

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Amazon is at risk: because it's so easy and cheap to publish on Kindle, anyone does it, including spammers. They get public domain content (free) and repackage it with a new title and cover, and voilà! Readers are taken in and buy something they could have had free. And the Kindle is awash with spurious, useless content.

Not good for Amazon's reputation in its primary market: readers.

But the damage doesn't stop there. Writers also are hurt by some smart alecks who re-publish the more popular ebook titles under a new title, author name and cover, just changing slightly the text so as to avoid any out-and-out plagiarism (and that's when they're careful...)

But it's piracy nonetheless...and it's beginning to give a bad name to Amazon's Kindle - including among writers. What was a golden opportunity for writers to go down the road of self-publishing isn't looking so good anymore.

This story was first picked up by Reuters and then expanded/explained by Eric Mack on PCWorld. And picked up by many around the blogosphere and in the media (I've listed a few of the more interesting articles below).

Eric Mack suggests Amazon could charge "authors $50, $20, or even just $10 to publish to Amazon".  He feels "any author that spent months or years crafting a quality work should have no problem shelling out a small amount to access a global market and ensure that there's fewer titles to weed through".

Would you agree with that? Would you pay something - say up to $50 - so Amazon can check and weed out the spammers? I know I would!

It need not be such a difficult task for Amazon to start acting as a gatekeeper. I may be wrong, but surely  Amazon could set up some sort of computerized system that would go through submissions and using keywords, alert them to subject matter/content that is most likely to be spammed (like things related to public domain). Also, it should be possible for a computer to scan a text to see if it is identical (or very close) to another already published and popular e-book. All that would take time (and money) of course, and slow down the 48 hour turn-around that now exists when you submit an e-book for the Kindle platform. But surely it would be worth waiting for...

What do you think? Are you as a writer ready to pay Amazon something so that they start doing a better job as a "gatekeeper"?

I know readers would welcome a stronger "gatekeeping" role for Amazon!  

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