Citing violations of Kindle Direct Publishing terms and conditions, Amazon has filed arbitration complaints against five individuals who it says offered services to KDP author and publishers aimed at helping them manipulate the reading platform for financial gain. Amazon is demanding a combination of injunctive relief, account termination and in some cases, triple damages.
KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing platform and violations of KDP terms are governed by private arbitration. Therefore, Amazon's complaints have been submitted to the American Arbitration Association for a decision.
Amazon alleges that five people used a number of prohibited strategies to manipulate customers reviews and worked to inflate sales and royalties. Amazon essentially charges that a handful of individuals worked to create fake reviews for their books and others' in addition to attempts to manipulate Amazon systems that count book sales and the royalties paid to authors via its subscription reading service.
Named in the complaint is Nilmer Rubio, who Amazon says attempted to manipulate Kindle Unlimited pages read, a system that tracks the number of pages read in books offered via its subscription reading service in order to determine author royalties. Amazon alleges Rubio approached KDP authors with a scheme to "use a multitude of Amazon accounts to artificially inflate the author’s numbers," in exchange for a kick-back of 40% of the revenue.
Amazon also cites Alexis Pablo Marrocco and the company Hydra Enterprises, which is responsible for books published by The Learning Academy. Among other violations, Amazon alleges that Hydra created “fake reviews” for the Learning Academy’s 12 books. Of the 956 reviews submitted for the 12 books, Amazon determined that 769 were “abusive” or fake, and were removed. Despite this action, Amazon is complaining that the practice has not stopped.
Another respondent named in the complaint is Thomas Glenn (aka Thomas Castillo or Thomas Glenn Castillo), who runs Free Book Service. Amazon alleges this company "offers KDP publishers the ability to artificially inflate their ranking within Amazon Best Sellers."
For Nilmer Rubio, Amazon is calling for triple damages in an amount to be determined during arbitration. Amazon is also seeking to permanently bar Rubio from using KDP. In the Hydra case, Amazon is requesting a permanent injunction prohibiting the firm from operating on its site and is seeking roughly $430,000 in damages. Amazon also wants to terminate the KDP operations of Thomas Glenn and is seeking triple amages in an amount “not to exceed $75,000.”
A spokesperson for Amazon said that only "a small minority [of KDP authors and publishers] are engaging in this fraudulent activity. Today’s news reflects yet another step in our ongoing efforts to protect readers and authors from individuals who violate our terms of service and manipulate programs readers and authors rely on.”