In Today’s show I have a mild rant – **sorry** – about a newspaper article in a UK Sunday newspaper, the Sunday Times. Sadly most of the actual article is behind a paywall (that is you have to pay to read the whole story) online, but you can get the gist from the summary here.
The article is titled “How to fake a bestseller” – but really what they mean is “How to get an eBook into an obscure UK Amazon eBook chart by not doing much and paying people.”
What they did was to find someone cheap in India to ghost-write a book called Everything Bonsai for about £60 and then releasing it as an eBook on Amazon and then paying people to leave fake reviews to “get it into an Amazon chart”.
In the actual newspaper article (in the old paper world), it mentions that it was #1 in the Gardening and Horticulture section of the UK eBook Amazon chart. This chart is pretty obscure – most people don’t buy gardening books as eBooks, in fact, most authors don’t release these as eBooks.
In the podcast I quote the figures for the #1 in chart for the 13th October 2015. Today (the 14th) the figures are even worse. The top seller is a book called Urban and Sustainability with 0 reviews, and a ranking in the whole Kindle store of #26,245
Now let’s put this into perspective – and I am aware that the number you need to reach the top of this chart varies (yesterday a book in the 13000s was #1), but the #10 position book in the Cyberpunk category (a derivative sci-fi category) on 14th October ranks at #8,352 in the whole Amazon store.
In fact I have to travel down to number #38 in the Cyberpunk category to get to a book that sells less copies than the #1 in the Garden and Horticulture section!
Now I do think there are valid concerns raised by the article – namely fake reviews and people’s identifies being stolen for them. But to say that it is somehow easy to get a general bestseller on Amazon by such activities is wrong.
It is interesting they make no mention of how much (if any) money they made out of this venture. This chart is so uncompetitive, even a sale a day might get you to #1!
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