Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

There's a lot of money to be made in those .99-cent self-published romance novels, and Kindle Unlimited has authors looking to try and make bank, The Verge's Sarah Jeong writes in "Bad romance: To cash in on Kindle Unlimited, a cabal of authors gamed Amazon's algorithm."

The big picture: "Gaming best-seller charts was already a practice in the world of print, but technology enabled that kind of behavior on an entirely new level of sophistication," writes Jeong. Revenues are sometimes $1 million a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month.

How it works: There are more than 5 million books available on Amazon Kindle, with over one million books on Kindle Unlimited. Amazon pays out about $20 million every month to authors on Kindle Unlimited, per Kindle Direct Publishing Global Fund.

  • Kindle Unlimited readers pay $9.99 a month to read as many books as they want that are available. This includes both popular mainstream titles like the "Harry Potter" series and self-published romances.

There are different ways authors take advantage of the Kindle Unlimited revenue structure, what's dubbed as "book stuffing."

  • "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," Jeong writes.
  • An author can earn about $14 from a 3,000-page book — the length of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Authors trick readers to read all the way through with big fonts, wide spacing ghostwritten content or prepackaged material and placing links in the front of the book for email list sign-ups.
“They’re not good writers, but they’re great marketers.”
— Best-selling romance writer Zoe York tells Jeong.

What they're saying: How #Cockygate, a trademark legal battle between romance authors for the use of the word cocky in their titles, gave non-authors a glimpse into the darker world of the authors in Kindle Unlimited.

  • Authors use trademark trolling, private group chats, ebook exploits, SEO and algorithm tricks and conspiracies to seed hyper-specific trends like "Navy SEALs" and "mountain men" to best the Kindle Unlimited system. That is all allowed under Amazon's terms and conditions.
  • “This is not a problem on iBooks, on Kobo, on Barnes & Noble, or on Google Play, which are the other major ebook retailers,” York told The Verge.
  • Yes, but after the trademark dispute, Amazon did change its policies, which required books to accurately reflect their contents. For example, if a book was deceptively stuffed with additional content, it will get removed from the store.

Go deeper

50 mins ago - Technology

Facebook is a news media magnet

Expand chart
Data: Signal AI; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

New data finds that Facebook has been mentioned in more online stories in the U.S. in the past year than all of its major tech competitors combined.

Why it matters: Press scrutiny of Facebook has become so intense and negative that the tech giant is reportedly planning to rename itself as soon as next week to signal that it's more than just a social media company.

Amazon is now a bigger shipper in the U.S. than FedEx

Expand chart
Reproduced from Supply Chain Dive; Chart: Axios Visuals

Amazon is not primarily known as a logistics company, but in 2020 the company shipped more parcels than FedEx.

Why it matters: Logistics is a $1.5 trillion business — and it has long been controlled by a handful of key players, like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Now Amazon is poised to conquer it.

Updated 60 mins ago - Technology

Trump says he plans to launch new social media network in 2022

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.