Anti-Culture by Algorithm

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, rule by algorithm can be just as stringent as any rule by a dictator, perhaps even more so as it is vague, faceless, and hard to define. And human actors will always adopt perverse incentives to game the algorithm. This article explains how Amazon Kindle algorithms can produce perverse incentives that determine market outcomes for books and the products we get to see and consume.
Let’s just say, it ain’t literature! 

BAD ROMANCE

To cash in on Kindle Unlimited, a cabal of authors gamed Amazon’s algorithm

A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for 99 cents a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment.

In other words, self-published romance is no joke.

Book stuffing is a term that encompasses a wide range of methods for taking advantage of the Kindle Unlimited revenue structure. In Kindle Unlimited, readers pay $9.99 a month to read as many books as they want that are available through the KU program. This includes both popular mainstream titles like the Harry Potter series and self-published romances put out by authors like Crescent and Hopkins. Authors are paid according to pages read, creating incentives to produce massively inflated and strangely structured books. The more pages Amazon thinks have been read, the more money an author receives.

“But if they’re only relying on algorithms, they’re going to find — like YouTube and like Facebook have been finding — they need human curators as well.”

Exactly.

Read more…

 

346 thoughts on “Anti-Culture by Algorithm

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