Thomas Hertog said he came up with a cunning plan when he was trying to flog his financial advice book called Wealth Hazards.
Over five months all he had to do was buy and download his book to his Kindle 173 times. He has also written 42 customer reviews that he voted on one hundred and eight times to raise the ranking on Amazon’s bestseller list and recommendation lists.
“At various times, Wealth Hazards was ranked number bestseller in personal finance higher than Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, Andrew Tobias or Donald Trump,” he told TechEye.
Hertog was so amazed at how easy it was to get to the top of the Kindle best seller list that he dashed out another book The Day the Kindle Died about his technique.
The book reveals how Amazon publishes inaccurate sales rankings and bestseller lists, allows fake customer reviews to be posted and utilises all of this misleading information to make recommendations to customers. The proof is Hertog himself.
“Amazon pays me royalties each month and apparently has never bothered to read The Day the Kindle Died because as of today it is ranked a Top 20 consumer guide on Amazon. Wealth Hazards still ranks in the Top 10 for personal finance after five months of daily purchases and inflated reviews,” he said.
This is not the first time that we have suspected something like this. A while ago, journalist Dan Bloom smelt a rat when a controversial self-published eBook titled “A Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” was released, triggering a ground swell of protest on social media networks from Twitter to Facebook. The vanity press title suddenly found itself being ”propelled” to the top 100 rankings among paid Kindle titles on Amazon.
Bloom suspected those ranking stats did not mean people were buying the book, or even ordering it, but merely that thousands of curious internet surfers from London to Louisana were clicking on the book’s Amazon link just to see what the fuss was all about. And to catch a glimpse of the cover. Much ado about nada.
Whether or not Amazon can be gamed in this way, Hertog managed to boost his results – twice.