Ripping Readers Off: Kindle Unlimited Scam eBooks

Copyright 2016 by Lisa Maliga


Last April, I wrote this article: Don’t Buy or Borrow Kindle Unlimited Rip-off eBooks. 

What’s changed since then?

In July 2015, Amazon launched KU2, which pays authors by pages read. KU1 was a fluctuating amount of at least $1 per eBook borrow. The Amazonians have altered the system for their benefit and the amount per page is less than a penny –.0049 per page or less. If an author wants to make any money, they need to write longer books. And those books need to get read.

Or do they?

Nope, the author offers a free book or gift card or something for nothing and has that clickable link take the reader to the back of the book. Like magic, all the pages are read!

With the KU program, Amazon is like long defunct author’s sites Themestream and the Vines – pay per click companies that went belly up. While some legitimate authors are doing quite well, others are faring far worse than they were in KU1.

One of the main problems I’ve seen in the KU program, and this is in the nonfiction area, are foreign plagiarists stuffing books full of repetitive “information.” Or they upload their entire catalogue into one title. I’ve also seen books where the contents are available in a dozen different languages. Can you guess that the translation is run through an online translator resulting in hilarious errors?

What inspired this article was a review request from an author: someone who had been “University” educated, and an expert in various fields dating back to the early 90’s. A quick search revealed nothing except the author’s books in various Amazon stores. Here’s the email:

As an avid buyer and author on Amazon, I want readers to feel they are getting value for money and would recommend to their friends and family. I feel this book meets that requirement.

 I was hoping you could review a books and leave an honest review.

If you are interested I can send you the book as a gift free of charge.

 I saw that the title wasn’t unique and when looking at the author page I noticed:

“She has a passion for sharing his experience…”

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner? Nope, someone who just didn’t care about proofreading their bio or who wasn’t too fluent in English.

There are many excellent titles in the KU program. But I’m going to point out potential rip-off titles that are often plagiarized from websites, blogs and Pinterest. By reading this article, you’ll learn how to avoid downloading or wasting your time and money on rip-offs and supporting scammers.

If you’re a reader who wants to learn how to bake cupcakes, wouldn’t you want to read a book by someone who has baked the recipes and can provide photos along with helpful tips? I want that! A few weeks ago, I mistakenly downloaded a scam book. At first I thought, oh goodie, 600 pages of cupcake recipes and information—all for 0.00. Wrong! 600 pages of drivel, NO pictures, and recipe after recipe of things I didn’t want to bake. The few cupcake recipes were so generic that one of them listed cake mix. I deleted that eBook.

Spot Those Scammy eBooks

Here are some things to look for when shopping at Amazon.

kindle unlimited logo * No author biography

If there’s no bio, there’s no way of knowing how much knowledge they have pertaining to the subject they’ve written about. There won’t be an email address, website, Etsy page or social media information such as Twitter, Pinterest or Face Book. They have no blog or newsletter.

kindle unlimited logo * Fake Author Biography

Some of the scammers have gotten smarter and include biographies and even pictures or illustrations of themselves. Read it carefully and you’ll see it’s false if no professional training is indicated. Or they might mention a school or university. How is the bio worded—in proper English or does it read as if it was translated from another language?

kindle unlimited logo * Common American Names

This is another way to lure borrowers and buyers—by using familiar surnames like Thomas, Brown, Mitchell, White, etc. It’s also how those from other countries make names seem more acceptable than their own. Authors who use several pseudonyms may do so to avoid detection. It’s also a way of using a name like a keyword – to attract more borrows and sales.


kindle unlimited logo * Poor Translating

Foreign authors may have run the manuscript through an online translator resulting in unintentionally hilarious reading. My favorite was the one about heating your soap over a “weak fire.” Some of the faux fiction scam books have incredibly bad titles.

kindle unlimited logo * Offer FREE Bonus/Gift at the BACK of the eBook

This encourages you to click the link and get the page reads. You won’t be able to miss this offer as it’ll be shown in very large and colorful fonts. It may appear more than once.

kindle unlimited logo * Very LONG eBooks

KU1 featured scamlets of 50 pages or less. Now the less is more motto has been replaced with the more [pages] the merrier! One trick I discovered is seeing lengthy books enhanced by offering the book in a dozen different languages. You can also bet that a professional human translator doesn’t translate, as that would be very expensive and time consuming. Ultimately, no one benefits.

Another method is for the scamming “author” to take several books and rearrange the order so the book becomes bloated with excess pages. You get a bundle of books you [probably] don’t care to read.

kindle unlimited logo * LONG Titles Stuffed with Keywords

Example: Homemade Body Butter: 25 Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes To Keep Your Skin Smooth And Feeling Moisturized! (How To Body Butter, DIY Body Butter, Natural Body Butter And Lotion Recipes).

kindle unlimited logo * Enticing Cover Photo of the Product[s]

A rip-off will be revealed if the featured product[s] recipe and photo aren’t included inside the eBook. For example, a stack of oatmeal soap on the cover, yet there is no oatmeal soap recipe in the rip-off title. Also, most rip-off eBooks won’t contain any photos.

kindle unlimited logo * If recipes are included, they may be in a mixture of ounces, grams, tablespoons and teaspoons, which is very confusing for the reader.

kindle unlimited logo * No medical or legal disclaimer. No safety precautions.

kindle unlimited logo * The name on the cover may be spelled differently than the name on the book’s Amazon page.

In order to avoid being ripped off, please use this article as a checklist.

Also, read what author Ann Christy has written about this topic. She includes in-depth analysis along with screenshots of some flagrant examples.


4 thoughts on “Ripping Readers Off: Kindle Unlimited Scam eBooks

  1. This is great analysis for readers, telling them what to look out for when shopping for books. But as Ann Christy’s article points out, there are other methods these people use to make money besides with real, actual Amazon shoppers.
    As a reader, I find it difficult to find good quality books on Amazon these days, as they are getting buried under these scam books in the rankings. Very frustrating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Ann’s article points out a lot of the scamminess and the screen shots prove it. So glad she took the time to write it.

      Yes, as a reader I also find a lot of stuff to wade through as the scam books seem to have taken over Amazon. I don’t find this problem on B&N, Kobo or Smashwords!

      Liked by 1 person

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