The focus of the article is on charlatans selling courses, but I think Amazon deserves more scrutiny. They enable this entire ecosystem of fake books and fake products.

I have to imagine that with the amount of data Amazon collects, they could do a lot more to counter the epidemic of fakes.

> Amazon is filled with garbage

Full stop, no need to specify e-books.

I've moved my purchasing dollars elsewhere at this point with the exception of some very specific categories. Amazon is just too unreliable.


Linked doco by Dan Olson. Strong recommend.

Stick to checking out books from your library / Libby. You'll save money and might end up making discoveries you otherwise wouldn't.
A little OT -- about using AI for writing.

I wrote a book in 2021 -- a historical novel (in French) -- that I published on Amazon and that did reasonably well and was even selected as one of the five "Amazon Storyteller" for France that year (it didn't win though).

I wrote that book with zero AI, and it was very hard work. It was also not particularly enjoyable, and at times excruciating.

Now I'm writing a second one, also a novel, but using AI tools. AIs don't write the book: I discuss scene beats and plot twists with different models. It's mostly moral support -- something an old-fashioned, experienced editor that had infinite time on their hands might have done.

(Of course I did try to have models do the writing, but the output is usually very poor. I'm surprised that automated ways to detect AI writing don't work, because humans can tell the difference; why can't machines?)

Using AI as a partner/editor transforms the process of writing completely, and makes it actually pleasurable. Now I long for going back to work instead of dreading it.

The problem here isn't the garbage ebooks (there will always be garbage).

It's the terrible Amazon shopping experience which puts no value on the customer getting a good product. EBay (!) is much better.

I want to be a bit contrarian here. I buy books on my Kindle all the time. I always download a sample before buying. I do recall a couple of occasions where I got a sample that was one of the garbage books that this article is talking about. So yes, I've experienced it. But I don't experience it often. Nearly all the time, a search for an author or a topic brings up real, relevant books. Nearly all the time, Amazon's recommendations are for real, relevant books. So based on my own experience, I'd question how big the problem really is for the end consumer of books.
This Vox article feels almost as clickbate and turn key as its subject material. It's filled with links upon links, not to sources but to other vox articles and vox search results. It's like reading in a library only to realize, as you go for another book, that you are in a carnival mirror maze!

In this post I opined that software engineering is akin to chemical engineering: the goal is a process to churn out software at massive scale much like chemical engineers find ways to produce chemicals by the kilolitre. In the software case this comes at the expense of grace, finesse, and craftsmanship, and I suggested another analogy to being a writer vs. a "literature engineer".

This... is exactly what I meant by "literature engineering".

The biggest issue is how Amazon fails to police its genre categorisations.

The advice from the guys making garbage books, which they quite obviously put into practice, is to apply for genres with low book counts to more easily get a best seller badge for that category. Which makes Amazon a war to get miscategorised.

from 6 years ago... it's simple... the booksstore has always been used as a money laundering operation.


Not just e-books, garbage print too! Link below.

The kid likes brain teasers, so I'll grab a book here and there. The last one I ordered was seemingly AI generated. The wording was off, the answers were either completely incorrect, or theoretically correct but not matching the question or parameters asked. I can't quite remember the last time I became as infuriated at a...book.


What other good alternatives to amazon for publishing books? Preferably not filled with garbage ones.
My wife got a vegetarian recipe book from her family for her birthday from Amazon. It had multiple recipes with meat in... it had hundreds of reviews with an an average of 4+. Amazon is just full of garbage and fake reviews.

I now only buy books that seem reputable. To a lesser extent, pakt books are also not great. This time they aren't exactly AI generated, but they are very low quality content. So you can't even trust publishers.

Even when Bezos was at the helm, Amazon had tons of trash and nonsense in its marketplace...

But it'd be epic if Bezos got all pissed off about things like these books -- and various other declines of his baby -- so he forced his way back, to smack it into better shape.


(Why I'd guess there's a nonzero chance of this happening is that, externally, it sounded like Bezos cared strongly about certain ideas, and implemented them forcefully, yet it seems like lately those ideas are being disregarded. If there's any truth to that external impression, then there could be a reckoning. Billions of dollars buys some latitude.)

The web has been filled with garbage books since its inception. Now it's Amazon, before that it was SEO-optimized e-book landing pages that showed up on Google searches for barely related topics. As long as there are people who buy them they'll keep popping up.
If there any kind of liability for Amazon, they’d be able to stop this practice in a heartbeat
Fanfiction sites filled with "garbage" are arguably worth more than Amazon's online free-for-all (now with AI!).

You know fanfiction sites are great when they train models on the millions of human-written, well-tagged fics

"The saddest part about it, though, is that the garbage books don’t actually make that much money either. It’s even possible to lose money generating your low-quality ebook to sell on Kindle for $0.99. The way people make money these days is by teaching students the process of making a garbage ebook. It’s grift and garbage all the way down — and the people who ultimately lose out are the readers and writers who love books."
Nobody at all guessed that this would happen.
I think you meant Amazon is filled with garbage, period.

There are more scams than legit products. It used to be the cheapest option, now it's the most expensive. Everyone is just reselling from Ali Express. The quality of the Amazon store went way downhill.

Usually pretty scam savvy but dropped my guard and bought an absolute garbage AI translation of The Little Prince on Amazon. Now I research anything before buying
I mean Amazon and Hulu are chock full of terrible B VOD movies that never went to theaters.
Sadly the technology for these scams is also very useful for legitimate new self-published authors. How much gatekeeping do we really want? I would think the review system would weed out the junk.

So here is a recent example of modern publishing:

I've been reading things on r/hfy.. which I don't think anyone would argue is high quality literature, but the stories are fun and the premiss of the entire genre works as background structure. One of the better stories is "Nature of Predators" by SpacePaladin15.


Ok, so the author wants to publish on Amazon, no big deal these days, here it is:


(I would argue that the reddit experience is actually better, because there are reader comments after each chapter. Where did the cover art come from? I don't know..)

What about the passive income? Well he's making $6K a month on Patreon. Maybe not passive since he's working on the sequel..

Well, how about an audiobook? Well patreon.com/Adastra650 has made it into an excellent audiobook on youtube:


Some of the voices are AI generated, but they are not bad.. it has me curious what software is used. The thumbnails are also AI.

All significant books require a page on TV Tropes: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheNatureO...

Naturally the story has grown out of HFY, has its own subreddit for fans and fanfiction:


Naturally there is a NSFW version:


The Silo series (or Wool Omnibus) had similar beginnings:


It's all business.
Example #732453111 of how the 2000's-era dreams of technology-enabled infinite scaling were misguided and potentially damning for the Internet.

Turns out scammers and spammers can technologically scale their side too, and can even do so in a way that the host profits from so that the host is disincentivized from doing anything about it until it's already gone too far.

Now everything is flooded with noise and supported by ads and meaningful human participation in content approval or customer service is infeasible because we're already on the far side of the transition and they can't match the established scale.


Stopped reading at:

"if you know the norms of publishing, you know it’s unethical"

Good grief.

Should have stopped earlier.