Amazon.com is cracking down on people who manipulate its e-book self-publishing platform, a move that follows the e-commerce giant’s effort to better police its product reviews.
The Seattle company this week filed five complaints with a private arbitration service, seeking orders barring specific users of its Kindle e-book platform from trying to manipulate the system for financial gains.
Among Amazon’s contentions: Users posted fake reviews and offered for sale duplicate copies of books to boost a publisher’s rating, and some people sold “click farming” services to authors in a bid to artificially inflate readership totals and royalty payouts.
Amazon has created vast marketplaces for goods, primarily through its eponymous online store that hosts its own sales as well as listings from other companies. The company counts on its related reviews and product rankings to boost the legitimacy of its site in the eyes of consumers.
Worried about the corrosive impact of fake product reviews, Amazon since 2015 has been cracking down on reviews it believes are illegitimate.
Critics have for years have also complained that Kindle’s self-publishing apparatus was being abused.
In a statement, an Amazon spokesman said a “small minority” of Kindle self-publishers “engage in fraud to gain an unfair competitive advantage.”
Amazon allows anyone to self publish e-books through its Kindle Direct Publishing platform.
Authors can select a specific price to set their book for sale, or opt into programs that let users who pay a monthly fee read an unlimited selection of books, or, in the case of the Amazon Prime membership program, read books from a selection in a digital lending library.
Self-published authors who participate in the free reading programs are paid from a royalty fund that Amazon gathers monthly, with payouts varying based on the number of readers each book earns.