March 15, 2016 Last Updated 1:57 pm

Super Tuesday II; Amazon responds to TOC scam, while Apple continues to let scammers have free reign over App Store

Morning Brief: Adobe Slate and Twitter’s Periscope app get major updates; History Today adds issue previews to its digital edition app; Google AdWords and Amazon Video apps get bug fix app updates

The second edition of Super Tuesday is today, with voters going to the polls in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. By this time tomorrow should know … something, anyways.

I already voted last week in order to avoid long lines on election day. It turned out, however, that I encountered a long line anyways, possibly a sign of more record turnout.

When you create a system that can be gamed, there is certainty that it will be gamed. Today self-publishers and small publishers are noticing Amazon’s apparent crackdown on eBooks that place their table of contents at the end of the Kindle Edition. This practice would seem odd to many publishers until it is realized that in the Kindle Unlimited system an author gets paid based on the number of pages that are read. The practice has become common, despite it being discouraged in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines:

Kindle TOC Talking DigitalPlace the HTML TOC towards the beginning of the book and not at the end of the book. This ensures that a customer paging through the book from the beginning encounters the TOC naturally. Incorrect placement of the TOC affects the accuracy of the “Last Page Read” feature. Correct placement ensures that the TOC appears in sample downloads of the book.

But if placing a TOC in the back of an eBook will inflate revenue you can be pretty sure authors will do it. Especially if Amazon’s publishing team routinely approves such books.

But Amazon has responded recently, threatening a crackdown on these books – not by pulling them, but by removing credit for these pages:

Relatedly, some in the community have contacted us about the activities of a small minority of publishers who may attempt to inflate sales or pages read through the use of various techniques, such as adding unnecessary or confusing hyperlinks, misplacing the TOC or adding distracting content. We both actively police for this type of activity on our own as well as investigate when the community points out such abuse (thank you to those of you who have helped us in this regard). Any abuse we find results in the immediate suspension of a title. Some circumstances, including repeat offenses, will result in KDP account suspension. In any abuse cases, we will also remove related pages read from the allocation of the monthly KDP Select Global Fund.

Apple App Store categoryAmazon is not the only ones to have their system gamed by self-publishers. Beginning sometime in 2013, Apple’s App Store team stopped maintaining the subcategories inside the Newsstand. At first the biggest problem was simply that the same titles were endlessly promoted. But at some point there was a bug on Apple’s side of the system and for at least a month only a handful of titles actually appeared in the subcategories.

Once Apple fixed this they stopped maintaining the subcategories altogether. Since then, in early 2014 I believe, the “New” area of each subcategory has listed digital magazines and newspapers in alphabetical order, not by release date. As a result, only a dozen or so apps can be seen on the first page of subcategory, all starting with the letter “A”.

Self-publishers and small publishers looking for an advantage saw what was going on and began releasing their digital magazines with app names such as “Aarons Art & Photography” or “AAs Automotive Magazine” knowing that naming their digital publication like this will insure that it appear first in the category.

The difference between Apple and Amazon is that Apple knows of the scam and had done nothing for going on three years. This is why I believe it is fair to say that Apple has played a major role in the decline in digital publication sales and if the industry trade associations that supposedly represent their publishing members were doing their jobs they would have threatened Apple with a lawsuit over the issue to try and get Apple to either fix the problem or compensate legitimate publishers for their lost sales (preferably both).

At least Amazon is still paying attention.

A number of minor app updates were released yesterday, and a fairly major one for Periscope:

Twitter’s update for Periscope is much more involved, adding new features and fixing bugs. I especially like how the developers thanks users who have written a review to point out a problem with the app – by screen name. Nice touch.

What’s New in Version 1.3.7

In this version, it’s easier to see if you’re watching a broadcast with someone you know. Whenever one of your mutuals (someone you follow who follows you back) joins a broadcast, their name will appear in chat. We’ll also prioritize their name in the viewers list, and show you how many of your mutuals are in the broadcast right now.

Smaller Improvements:
[+] While broadcasting from your iPhone, you can now tap the screen to adjust the focus of your camera.
[+] While broadcasting from a GoPro, you can now plug in your headphones to use as a microphone (instead of using the GoPro’s microphone).
[+] Decreased the time it takes to load a replay (under worse network conditions).
[+] The broadcast’s local time is now visible for replays as well as LIVE.

– Bug where the broadcasts’ local time wasn’t updating.
– Bug where replays always said they ended “just now” if you entered Periscope from Twitter.
– Missing translations for push notification actions (special thanks to @operateurdefron)

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