The last two weeks have been saturated with news of how much PLR content, aka spam, dreck and hackneyed crap is now available for download through Amazon’s Kindle. Detractors of self-publishing LOVE this one. “See,” they say, “not only do readers have to sift through those poorly written / formatted shits masquerading as books. Now, they can’t even be sure that what they’re downloading is a book, and not some pirated novel, articles cobbled together or a phrase repeated 700 times.” This is prima facie evidence, some say, for why Amazon should charge self-publishing authors to upload their books. Cause, you know, it’s not like spammers who make millions of dollars can afford the $20 or $50 it might take to upload crap.
Well, in what I’m sure will come as groundbreaking news, Amazon has several ways to address this issue of crap on Kindle. I’ll start with the simple, if not obvious one. It’s called a sample. That’s right, ladies and gents, Amazon will let us try, or rather read, before we buy. Say I’m not sure if that ebook on managing or selling my timeshare will really give me some good information. I could download a sample. A-MAZING! I don’t know about anyone else, but if I download a sample that purports to be one topic, but clearly is another from the first or by the tenth page, I really don’t buy the whole book just to be certain.
But, if I buy an ebook on Amazon, there is a period in which I can request – wait for it, here it comes – a refund! Isn’t that just A-MAZING? If, for some asinine reason, I read the sample of that book on timeshares, found out it was about working as a maid in a timeshare instead and bought it anyway, I can ask for my money back. But there’s another argument often trotted at this point. It sounds a little something like, “Most of these crap books are 99 cents impulse buys! No one reads this stuff within a certain period and by the time they get to it, it’s too late for a refund!” I’m not going to quibble about 99 cents or 99 dollars. Dammit, if it’s my hard-earned money spent on crap, I want a refund! Here’s where I have to ask, though, who made me buy that book? Why did I get it without checking it out via a sample? Why was this festering turd on my Kindle for a year before I got to it? Um, no one is responsible for that except me. It sure as hell wasn’t Amazon’s fault.
Dear Reader, this is the part where I’m really going to fuck with people’s heads. Ready for it? Here I go: TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY WHEN YOU SPEND YOUR HARD-EARNED MONEY. Whether you’re plunking down 99 cents or dollars, don’t buy fucked up shit on Kindle and complain, when you could have avoided it by sampling. By reading reviews. By asking other readers, “Do you know if that book on timeshares is really what it says it is?” We solicit the views and read the reviews of major appliances before we buy them, right? Why does a 99 cent price point absolve us of checking something out?
Lastly, I’m sorry, but I just don’t get some of the analogies that refer to this Kindle stuff as spam. Here’s my definition of spam – it comes into my inbox, telling me how I can enlarge my penis (because I must be a freaking hermaphrodite or something) and forces me to give it some attention. Either, I have to manually delete or provide examples to my lovely (!) SpamBayes program on how to recognize junk for the junk folder. If you have a Kindle that actually shows you the crap on Amazon AND makes you delete the view from your device, can you tell me which model you have, so I don’t get that one for my nephew as a graduation present? Seriously, have they invented a Kindle that shows you crap you don’t want to buy? So loved the old method of going online and searching for what I wanted, sampling it and buying. I wish they had just stuck with that.
Here’s where the other argument comes in about wading through crap. Again, ever seen the Search and Filter by Relevance features on Amazon? STUPENDOUS! (Figured you were probably tired of A-MAZING). You can search for the type of book you want and filter the results by their relevance. Don’t know if the books you find will be any good? Re-read that paragraph above about sampling.
They say don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Since Amazon helps me earn snack money every day, I suppose that should apply to me. But, as I’ve already pissed off some, let me just add that I don’t think everything Amazon does is right either. Great, now I’ve pissed off Amazon too. Where there is outright piracy and fraud, yes, they should move much faster to prevent it. Ever heard of software that detects plagiarism? It exists. However, in this instance, please do not try to convince me that this is Amazon’s fault for not policing their site. I refuse as a reader and book buyer to put all the responsibility on Amazon to make sure that I spend my hard-earned money wisely. I have a brain and use it to make intelligent decisions on what I buy. Amazon certainly isn't shoving crap books on to my Kindle and stealing my hard-earned money.
As for how PLR content is any reason why self-publishing needs to go away, I'm still scratching my damn head about the logic. Sorry folks, but the self-pubbers, like me, are here and we’re here to stay. Get used to us.