Spammers go where they find the most eyeballs. As several recent articles have noted, spammers are flocking to the Kindle platform as it gains popularity. On the one hand, Amazon should consider this spam problem a sign of their success. In reality though they need to address the issue immediately.
I think it's terrific that Amazon has embraced self-publishing. We absolutely need to allow (and encourage!) self-publishing on all the popular e-content platforms. Product discovery was a significant problem even before self-publishing arrived. Now that anyone with an internet connection can upload a title the discovery issue is spiraling out of control, particularly since Amazon isn't managing the spam situation.
One solution is for Amazon to add a review stage for all content before it's offered for sale. Yes, that slows things down and requires additional time from Amazon personnel to manage. The model seems to work well for Apple though. Every app goes through an internal review process before it ever appears in Apple's App Store. Say what you want about Apple's review process but at least their App Store isn't flooded with spam.
A second option is for Amazon to leverage the power of the community and enable customers to police the situation. That's more or less what's happening now though as customers make a purchase, realize they were duped and then post a poor review. The problem here is that some number of people get ripped off before the spam is flagged.
I think Amazon should use both methods. They need an internal first line of defense like Apple's but they also need to realize mistakes will happen and spam will slip through. That's where the community comes in. Amazon should set up a rewards program where customers receive points every time they find and report a spam product. Those points could add up to a free ebook, Prime service, etc. If they make the points meaningful enough they'll quickly solve the problem.
Speaking of self-publishing, we have a terrific FREE webcast scheduled this week called, "What Traditional Publishers Can Learn from Self-Publishers." The webcast features Mark Coker (Smashwords), Chad Jennings (Blurb), Pete Nikolai (WestBow Press, the self-publishing arm of Thomas Nelson) and Bob Young (Lulu).
The webcast takes place at 1ET/10PT on Thursday, June 23rd. There's still time to register if you'd like to take part in this event. I'll be serving as moderator and I plan to ask each of the participants their thoughts on self-publishing spam and what their organizations are doing to address it.