Amazon has been awarded $75,000 in an arbitration case against an e-book marketer that allegedly inflated reader numbers artificially in an effort to increase profits and sales rankings.
On Thursday, the Seattle company asked a federal judge in Seattle to enforce the arbitration ruling against Thomas Glenn, a resident of the Dominican Republic who is one of several marketers, book authors, and publishers pursued by Amazon in a series of cases filed last year. Amazon alleged that the defendants abused the Kindle Direct Publishing system with fake reviews and other schemes to increase rankings and royalties.
The cases are part of Amazon’s broader effort to crack down on abuse of its products, including separate legal actions against fraudulent product reviews.
Amazon claims that Glenn created a website called FreeBookService.com to manipulate seller rankings of e-books published through Kindle Direct Publishing. The company says Glenn “used this system to profit from the manipulation and deceive Amazon customers about the veracity of Amazon Best Sellers.”
Kindle Direct Publishing allows authors to publish their books via the Kindle ecosystem without going through the traditional publisher process. Authors collect up to 70 percent in royalties according to the Kindle Direct Publishing website. Amazon pays authors who participate in the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library program using a formula based on pages read. Amazon claims Glenn violated Kindle terms of service by artificially inflating readership numbers.
FreeBookService.com, which was still live as of Friday, offers to “explode your book ranking within 24-48 hours or your money back.” The website says e-books are exposed to a network of 700,000 readers within a two-day period. FreeBook Service claims its marketing products are “100% Compliant with Amazon and KDP’s regulations.”
According to Amazon’s filing, PayPal shared records with Amazon that reveal the website has made more than $800,000 in sales revenue.
Glenn is one of the defendants Amazon took action against last fall. On July 27, an arbitrator ordered him to pay Amazon $75,000 in damages and $14,300 in fees. Amazon didn’t respond to an inquiry seeking information about the outcome of the other cases. However, in June, a company spokesperson told GeekWire, “We are pleased with the terms of the settlements of our claims with these parties and continue to work to protect authors and readers.”
According to this week’s complaint, Glenn did not respond to Amazon’s emails during the arbitration process or participate in arbitration proceedings. Amazon is asking the court to order Glenn to pay the awards granted in arbitration and bar him from opening any Amazon account or accessing any of the company’s services.
The full complaint is available below.