I know this seems like a strange request from an author, but I’d far rather you steal and pirate my Kindle books right now as opposed to borrowing them. Apparently, pirating of books is okay, whereas law-abiding Kindle borrowers are likely to shut the author down.

Let me explain further…

Last week I received an email from the Kindle Direct Publishing team informing me that they’d shut my Kindle account down. Apparently they had worked out that my books had been borrowed by illegitimate accounts and as a consequence of the irregular borrow activity, they terminated my agreement with Kindle publishing. The letter went something like this:

“..we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate the Kindle platform and/or Kindle programs is not permitted. As a result of the irregular borrow activity, we have removed your books from the KDP store and are terminating your KDP account…”

Understandable I was upset with this news as it came with the penalty of removing my books from the Kindle store and taking back my outstanding royalty payments. That cost me money, and while I didn’t have a huge amount of cash stashed away in the scheme, it would’ve been nice to have in my bank account for the countless hours I’ve spent putting my books together.

Aside from the wallop to my wallet, the account closure is much more problematic. As I read their notice I couldn’t help but think that my budding author career has just been downsized to the roots.

My problem is that I am completely an innocent party in this situation. I haven’t employed borrowers, enlisted in any ‘golden egg’ book marketing schemes, or sought any kind of third party help at all to escalate my book sales. Obviously, I barely find time to post a blog once a month for starters, so where am I going to find the time for all of that rigmarole? Even if I managed to find hundreds of borrowers per week it still wouldn’t fill my car with gas in order to get to work for my real job – so what would be my motivation to even consider doing such a thing?

By the way, the ‘Kindle Book Lending’ function isn’t optional either for most books, so it’s not something I can prevent very easily. There’s a penalty at my expense one way or another.

While I have appealed to the Kindle folks to overturn their decision, I still have to wait for days before they even start to look into the situation. I don’t know if they’ll let me back into the scheme, but to be brutally honest, while this borrowing loophole remains where innocent authors can have all of their hard work and earnings ripped away without a moments notice, I’m not too sure if I want to participate. It’s not the only channel for digital books after all.

These past few days have given me the chance to simmer down and think about it a bit more. I checked all my email correspondence for clues and couldn’t explain the systematic borrowing but came up with blanks. I can’t even understand why someone needed to borrow a $2.99 book, but then I stumbled upon a Facebook post where someone created a post asking where they could get pirated books from because ‘they were poor’. Such a person would definitely be inclined to borrow books and return them without paying the price.

Pirating! Maybe that is the answer? Having my books stolen would be a better solution for me as it won’t end up with my Kindle account being destroyed. Sure I’d miss out on some cash, but it’s not so much about that for me anyway. While I continue to wait for my ultimatum from Amazon Kindle, it’s definitely a serious option I’m going to consider.

Updated: Account Reinstated!

I’m happy to report that the KDP folks have reinstated my account and my books are back on the shelf, but I’m still at a loss as to their original reasoning and logic as to why they revoked my account in the first place.

They accused me of manipulating the borrowing system, which I didn’t, and still can’t figure out how it was manipulated. The borrows certainly don’t appear in my reports and KDP haven’t been able to inform me of where or when the borrowing occurred.

Needless to say, I’m sceptical about if this illicit activity actually happened or not. Maybe it was yet another glitch in the Amazon KDP machine?

Thanks to everyone out there who heard and supported me, and special thanks to those who wrote in and appealed to Amazon as well. I really didn’t expect that at all.