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Spammers Discover Kindle Self-Publishing

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the if-you-build-it-they-will-come dept.

Books 122

innocent_white_lamb writes "Make it easy to self-publish books and the spammers will be right along too. Amazon's Kindle marketplace has been deluged by low-quality 'books' selling for 99 cents each. '[Thousands of ebooks published each month] are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book. These ebooks are listed for sale – often at 99 cents – alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want. Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.'"

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Oh Joy! (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475040)

It looks like I'll spend more time reading Amazon's book listings than reading books I download!

Not So Bad... (3, Informative)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476212)

In Amazon's defense, in my experience the company has done a pretty good job of correcting matters when fraudulent ebooks are put online. I downloaded a $0.99 ebook about, ironically, publishing ebooks, which turned out to be total nonsense. I notified Amazon, the book was delisted, and my account credited. I do get upset when I see public domain books listed for $0.99, when they are just ripped from Project Gutenberg and posted, but again, Amazon seems to do a good job of providing many public domain titles for free as well.

As a self-published author on Amazon, I can say that this seems like an extremely inefficient way to make money. I list my books at $0.99, meaning I have to sell 100 or so of them before I get a $10 royalty check. Self-published books like these don't get as much exposure in the Amazon search engine (I can literally only find my books on Amazon if I search my name). So this seems like spammers taking a whole lot of time and effort to achieve a very tiny payoff, if their efforts don't get them delisted from the site anyway.

But, then again, the same is true of spam emails and spam websites... an obnoxious waste of effort for little payoff, but generates a whole lot of resentment from the online community.

Re:Not So Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476698)

Perhaps if you were a self-published mathematician you'd realize that at $0.99 you only need to sell 30 books to get your $10 royalty check.

Also sounds like you need to add some search keywords for your book.

Re:Not So Bad... (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476736)

And it would all be solved if Amazon charged a $20 listing fee per title. It's a token amount of money that's easy to get back if you're selling a legitimate book. It's a huge amount of money that's impossible to get back if you're trying to game the system by selling public domain content.

Re:Not So Bad... (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477130)

You would not even have to charge a fee, just a deposit that is returned when you have sold enough books. That would filter out spammers and real authors could get their money back after selling a few titles.

Re:Not So Bad... (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477372)

I'd be all for that. As you say, it doesn't have to be a fee, just a deposit. It would kill off at least a lot of the spam and it wouldn't cost me anything as an author selling a few stories on Amazon while at the same time thinning out the dreck that currently clogs up the results and hides my listings...

Re:Not So Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477812)

Hmm that may not work. All it takes is 20 suckers to buy something and then you are golden.

You could even combine 3 types of spam to make more. Email/Advert/amazon and actually drive traffic towards the scam...

Spam works because there are a *LOT* of suckers out there.

Re:Not So Bad... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478612)

But spam also works because it's cheap to blanket people with fraudulent ads. Paying a deposit for every ebook will lead to a lot of them not making their deposit back.

Re:Not So Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477984)

A fee would put Amazon in the subsidy or vanity publishing category -- not pleasant company for indie authors like myself who have sold through traditional publishing too.

That said, sibling poster Herkum01's suggestion of a refundable deposit is a bit more agreeable. I'm not crazy about it -- the biz is hard enough for legitimate aspiring authors. (I wonder, would Amanda Hocking have put her stuff up at $20 a pop back when she was starting out?) (And if you don't recognize the name you probably don't have standing to be discussing this.)

Re:Not So Bad... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478188)

HAHAHAHAHA

Way to make yourself look like a superior prick, fuckface. Just because I've not heard of your favourite darling shitty-little-indie-author-who-sold-a-few-more-books-than-other-shitty-little-indie-authors doesn't mean I know nothing -- and doesn't mean you can find your fucking arse from your elbows.

Pull your fucking head out and ideally smash your head against the wall til you pass out you pompous shit.

Re:Not So Bad... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478570)

I've often thought about a similar technique for email addresses - namely, the mail service provider charges you a nominal fee of a few dollars/pounds/euros to set up an email account and then refunds you the money after, say, using the account for a year. Surely something like that would cut down on the amount of spam generated from temporary Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts.

Re:Not So Bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477922)

Amazon could solve a lot of this by doing a few simple things.

1. Amazon should give itself a monopoly on charging you for public domain work. If I was Amazon I would make sure I got the $1 for a download of Sherlock Holmes. Then all other copies of Sherlock Holmes would not be allowed. They could also choose to put all the Gutenberg works up for free, but let's face it they'd rather make the $1.

2. For non public domain content, there should be a "1 owner" rule for content. Only the original copyright holder or their designated agent should be allowed to post the content. All other copies and derivatives should be disallowed. There is obviously room for multiple analytical derivations (i.e. Smith's illustrated Shakespeare or the like).

3. Making sure every eBook was previewable for free..first 10 pages or whatever. This would cut down on 99% of the cases where you pay a $1 and find out the book is utter crap, a copy of wikipedia, whatever.

4. As has been suggested, provide a small barrier to entry for ePublishing a book. $20, $50, whatever. It can even be repaid, as was suggested, after the book generates $100 in sales if Amazon is feeling so generous.

i'd like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475054)

spammers doing generated 'autobiographies'. of famous people.

like the untold story of michael jackson or sarah palin or richard stallman and how their success came to be with the help of vizagara and nigerian banks

Re:i'd like to see (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475446)

Already done [davidgerard.co.uk] . Books LLC and Alphascript do these print-on-demand "books" taken from Wikipedia, charging $50 a copy. Reusing WIkipedia content is fine - that's what it's there for, make a zillion bucks, knock yourself out - but they need to make it a little clearer where this stuff comes from.

Re:i'd like to see (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478272)

They claim that they put in links to Wikipedia but Amazon removed them.

Considering Amazon, that's perfectly believable, but it still amounts to "Amazon's policies don't allow us to do this legitimately, they only let us do it as a scam". If you can only do it as a scam, then don't do it.

TWENTIETH!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475076)

Or second post. Spam or scam? You be the judge.
 
--mdsolar

Staying ahead of the game (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475142)

Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word

I've got a book coming out telling people how to make money by publishing books about making money by publishing books about making money by publishing books on Kindle, without writing a word.

You have to type a word ... (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475834)

the only word in your book should be: "Whoosh!"

Re:You have to type a word ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476138)

And he can easily copy/paste your post, to preserve the lack of actually writing the word. It's win win!

Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475226)

Amazon needs to run submitted eBooks through TurnItIn [turnitin.com] to check for plagiarism. Otherwise, they're involved in copyright infringement for profit, which is a felony in the US.

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475306)

TFS said the spammer/scammers buy the stuff with copyright under the "PLR."

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475394)

At least read the goddamn summary before opening your mouth.

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (1)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475472)

Copyright law only applies to people who are too poor to defend themselves in court. Amazon has more than enough money to cover that felony, and I doubt any publishers with a large enough war-chest to actually push the case would intentionally shit on the revenue stream they get selling through amazon.

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475852)

Would some other plagiarism checks work, or is TurnItIn the only one with legal muster?

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475896)

A lot of the ones I've seen come up appear to be straight copies of wikipedia articles (sometimes even crediting wikipedia).

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477328)

I had that with a physical book I ordered from Amazon a year or two ago (about how stereoscopic 3d works). I was quite disappointed when the book turned out to just be a print out of the relevant wikipedia pages. Could have been worse though I guess.

Re:Amazon needs to use TurnItIn (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476912)

Too bad there is no 'moron' mod point for you.

What's price got to do with it.. (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475228)

Kindles marketplace is plagued with low-quality books alright; but price is almost irrelevant. And the review/recommendation system so broken/spammed-out that it's an irrelevance.
Nice idea; nice hardware; nice software; shame about the wetware really...

Re:What's price got to do with it.. (1)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477662)

This is actually the reason I pirate all of my kindle books. That, and at the rate me and my girlfriend read books, it would be completely not viable economically.. we're talking 3-4 books a day being read, That's much, much more money than any other general hobby (think, WoW is $15/mo.. a new GOOD book ebook/hardcopy is 3-13$)

My system is as follows; If the book is good enough that I'll want to read it again down the line, I'll pick up the paper or hardback copy for my bookshelf.. not only does this provide great asthetics but allows portability, and allows me to loan it to friends.
The kindle has more than paid for itself in a month (We have exhausted the library's supply a good while ago)... I'm sure there's plenty of people who consider what I'm doing 'wrong' and that's fine with me... I just like to read, and I can't afford to spend 100$+ a week on books.

Re:What's price got to do with it.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478172)

As an author who likes to keep his kids fed and sheltered, I do NOT have a problem with someone reading my stuff for free (even if they 'stole' it), AS LONG AS if they like it, they'll tell someone else (preferably someone who might actually pay for a copy) about it, and maybe buy the occasional copy (paper or e) themselves.

I don't mind giving free samples (legit or not) to gain an audience. I do object to other people making money* off my work without giving me a cut.

*('money' in this context doesn't even necessarily mean cash -- someone running a pirate site just for grins is getting something (egoboo, whatever, but more likely ad revenue) out of it that he's not sharing with the authors.)

Get Rich Quick! (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475258)

By being a grade A asshole and 'monetizing' one more little bit of human trust!

Make the lives of tens of thousands of strangers just that little bit worse!

It's all money in your pocket! Call now and get our bonus DVD on cold calling your own grandparents!

Humanity fucking disgusts me most of the time.

Re:Get Rich Quick! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475982)

A lot of the people involved in this stuff are in developing countries with not an overwhelming amount of other alternatives to try and make a living. Sure you get your orgasised crime gangs as well, but people wouldn't be working with them either if there was any choice. And you have more than a few US based spammers as well, but at the end of the day if you give someone the means to directly contact people who earn hundreds or thousands of times what they do, you end up with lots of spammy rubbish like this.

Re:Get Rich Quick! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477178)

or if you wanted to simplify that

"Humanity fucking disgusts me most of the time."

Re:Get Rich Quick! (2)

slater.jay (1839748) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476146)

Humanity fucking disgusts me most of the time.

Well, we have to reproduce somehow.

Business Class Anecdote (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475274)

I took a Business Law class back in high-school. The teacher told a funny get rich story.

"There was a sign on a telephone poll that said 'If you want to learn how to get rich, mail me a dollar and I will tell you my secrets'. The poster had been there for weeks, and the house listed in the address field was a beautiful mansion. I sent in a dollar for grins, and about 3 weeks later got a note back that simply said 'Do what I do.'"

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475320)

I took a Business Law class back in high-school. The teacher told a funny get rich story. "There was a sign on a telephone poll that said 'If you want to learn how to get rich, mail me a dollar and I will tell you my secrets'. The poster had been there for weeks, and the house listed in the address field was a beautiful mansion. I sent in a dollar for grins, and about 3 weeks later got a note back that simply said 'Do what I do.'"

I think everyone knows this by now.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475400)

Dang, the guy everyone sent their dollars to in order to know that must be filthy rich!

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475750)

Then why do people keep metaphorically sending these people dollars?

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475944)

To find out whether it's true!

Re:Business Class Anecdote (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476540)

But it isn't true.
I'll proof it.
Send me a dollar and I promise you, you'll recieve nothing in return.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477082)

I got a cold feeling of shame.

Can I have my dollar back?

Urgent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477886)

Someone please post the address, I am very interested in this offer.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475350)

It's exactly what I think when I see those ads on tv. You know, the ones that come on at 2am -

Call NOW to get the full set of books and training vidoes on our get rich quick scheme! Learn how to become a power seller, start your own business selling online! Make huge profits!

Right, because if there were huge profits to be had you totally wouldn't be doing that now instead of hawking the meta-wares on late night tv....

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475998)

It's exactly what I think when I see those ads on tv. You know, the ones that come on at 2am -

Reminds me of the 'property developers' buying unfinished apartments to sell when they were complete. 'But they told me it would be worth twice as much by the time the building was finished. And they gave me a $10,000 discount because I went to that property development seminar that I paid $20,000 for'.

I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who seem to believe that companies are just lining up to give them free money when if the 'amazing profit' was such a sure bet the company could have made that money itself instead.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476108)

Speaking of which, they busted one of those guys today. TV pitchman charged with defrauding 220,000 people out of $52M for worthless Internet business [washingtonpost.com]

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476172)

Some stories just warm the cockles of your heart that little bit!

Good to hear.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476524)

It's exactly what I think when I see those ads on tv. You know, the ones that come on at 2am -

It is times like that where I really wish I had built that Scorch-inator.

Re:Business Class Anecdote (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475796)

You are doing it wrong.

You are suppose to get the dollar first, then tell the secrets.

Not just give the secrets away for free in a slashdot post.

B&N FTW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475332)

Time to switch back to B&N?

Re:B&N FTW? (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475402)

Brick and Nortar?

Re:B&N FTW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477492)

Butt & Nut. It's a leather thing. Imagine cock & ball torture while getting fucked up the ass. I'm not sure what that has to do with Kindle spambooks, though.

All the more reason to pirate books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475468)

Reasons to pirate books

*No DRM.
*No idiotic geographical restrictions.
*No limited platform support.
*No ridiculous higher-than-hardback prices.
and now
*Nobody bothers to pirate spam.

Honestly, the ebook industry needs to stop trying to be like the music industry of the 90's. Pirated ebooks are a superior product to legal ones in most ways, just as pirated mp3s were superior to DRM-encumbered music formats, and as long as that's the case, the industry is going to struggle. I have many DRMed Microsoft Reader and Palm Reader books that I can't read on any modern ebook reader (without the hassle of trying to decrypt and convert them, at any rate), and I've had enough of that; I won't spend another penny on ebooks until they're DRM-free and sensibly priced.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476104)

Your experience with ebooks is obviously quite limited... I have a Kobo ebook reader, and my uses have not been hindered by DRM on the books. The book store ties in with Smashwords and Gutenberg, so there's a very large selection of free books available, there's no geographical or language restrictions, and most ebooks on the store are cheaper than the paperback.

Amazon and Sony treat their customers like criminals. But it's downright naive to believe that every player in the game does.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476248)

Amazon and Sony treat their customers like criminals. But it's downright naive to believe that every player in the game does.

Amazon aren't the ones putting DRM on ebooks: the publishers are. And even many people working for the publishers have said that DRM is moronic but the people at the top demand it.

Most ebooks on Amazon are DRM-free. Of course most ebooks on Amazon are either unreadable self-published novels (I'd say about 1% are worth reading) or spam.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477154)

Yea, Plato, Seutonius, Tacitus, Michael Foucault, a shitload of reference and 'textbooks,' Robert Jordan, Terry G, Asimov (the list goes on) - some real spam there!

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476270)

By pirating books you're telling the publishers that the demand is there but the DRM isn't strong enough. From their perspective you're pirating books not because you dislike DRM, but because you don't want to pay for that book. To the publishers that means that even if they were to strip out DRM you'd go right on pirating books.

If you really have a problem with DRM stop reading that publisher's books. That means no pirating. That's a real statement. And it shows you're principled.

Otherwise I agree with you; I have a strong dislike of DRM. The various restrictions are inexcusable and I don't like being chained to a device. But some of your claims don't make a lot of sense.

I've never seen any ebook that was more expensive than paperback, let alone hardcover. Just because a book is electronic doesn't mean it should be sold at a significant discount. The printing cost for any black and white book is insignificant. It's considerably more expensive to print color, because of both the process and paper stock. But even then, it's not close to being the majority of the price of a book. So there's no reason for a huge price difference from physical to electronic.

I also fail to see what spam has to do with piracy in this particular instance.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476798)

But some of your claims don't make a lot of sense. I've never seen any ebook that was more expensive than paperback, let alone hardcover.

Go to Amazon, look up "Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life" (my daughter just got a Kindle and chews through stuff like this). Hardback - $7.79 (Used $5.49) Kindle $9.99. Much of the young adult stuff is like this, it's crazy pricing. Right now, she's reading Alice in Wonderland and some of the other free classics, and this fall Amazon is supposed to add library epub support. We're not going to be buying a whole lot of ebooks this summer.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

Ferzerp (83619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476992)

You can thank Apple for that price.

(no, I'm not joking).

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478734)

I'm not sure I follow. There are cheaper ebooks available on Amazon, so why would Apple have an effect on some but not all?

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478076)

"That means no pirating. That's a real statement. And it shows you're principled."

Why should I have principles handicap me when my corporate and government masters have none?

Moral "principles" involve the acceptance of personal disadvantage in hope others will do likewise. That's best kept among friends/crew/tribe. The benefits don't scale.

Re:All the more reason to pirate books (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477172)

Pirates have low standards. They'll pirate Asylum movies. Though there are limits: I notice that on at least one tracker, where the new True Grit film has over a thousand downloads, Yogi Bear has seven. And no seeds. That's people who got the .torrent, not people who actually downloaded the film.

But it is really spam? (0)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475484)

It's a lot like old books that are public domain. It's clutter, to be sure, but there is actual information that some people might want to read or purchase, even in these things.

I'd pay 99 cents for a manual that told me how to fix the roof on my house. Or how to handle some legal issue. Having it downloaded to my e-reader when I need it versus having to go to the local library and look through their stacks is well worth the convenience fee.

This sounds more like a bunch of traditional authors are whining about how they are being drowned out by the competition. Well, hello... you have to do more than let your latest novel sit there like a lump. It's called a business, and they need to market their books just the same as local businesses do. (ie - most authors' models to date has been akin to placing an ad in the local phone book and waiting for people to call you)

Re:But it is really spam? (4, Insightful)

athmanb (100367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475686)

rtfa

People don't write 20 books a day about how to fix your roof (and if someone did write a book on how to fix a roof, he wouldn't sell it for a dollar).
What they do is run a web spider, aggregate random blog text found on Google by whatever search term is popular that week, apply some automated formatting then sell the results. Then spam their own ratings with bots.

Re:But it is really spam? (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475748)

You still have to deal with the signal to noise level. Back in the day when email boxes would fill with spam, maybe there would have been a nugget or two in there that might have been useful, but I never would have seen it because of the rest of the crap. Amazon might have to deal with this in some manner so that potential customers don't get buried in crap as well or they'll stop using their service.

Same thing over at Barnes and Noble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475486)

Barnes and Noble has the same problem with their Nook store. It's flooded with tons of "books" about how to get Angry Birds for free. They masquerade as the app itself, but all it turns out to be is instructions on rooting your Nook Color. There's a boat load of these things on there that have different deceptive titles such as "Free Brain and Puzzle Apps for Android", but are the same basic crap you can get for free with a google search. It makes finding real content a pain in the butt. The computer category is near useless to browse.

bussiness paln (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475542)

1) generate some book-length text using a markov chain generator
2) slap some title that makes it look attractive, luring buyers
3) ...
4) profit?

Bonus stage: if someone challenges the authenticity your book, you can say its a rather profound work on deconstructing concretism. That could make your book even more popular.

Re:bussiness paln (2)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477076)

In days of old, when knights were bold, and women weren't invented...

(sorry, wrong e-book)

A long time ago, I wrote a Fortran program which did this. We fed it the manuals for the CDC7600, and then got it to print out "The CDC7600 for Dummies" - of course it made no sense, but we assured people that "Only Seymour Cray could actually understand the CDC7600 anyway", so they continued to believe!

If only I had the punched cards now!

Android (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475558)

I saw something similar on the Android market... I was looking for a certain app, and I found it... But I also found like 20 other apps that were nearly identical. (Source is GPL.) The other apps had names like 'Bear App' and 'Tiger App' and had a picture of the animal, but the actual app and description were identical, except the name. And they did the same thing as the one I was looking for. I searched for another similar app and found the same thing there, too!

So they flood the market with apps in an attempt to be the one that gets bought. When there's 20 choices and you published 19 of them, it sounds like a good bet. (In reality, I avoided it because it looked scammy.)

Re:Android (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475774)

So they flood the market with apps in an attempt to be the one that gets bought. When there's 20 choices and you published 19 of them, it sounds like a good bet. (In reality, I avoided it because it looked scammy.)

Definitely avoid them, and not just because you might be giving money to a copier rather than the content/app creator (as you are more likely to be doing by buying the original). There are many apps out there laden with malware, and your scummy app copying personage may well have put something like that in there while they were making their name change. Or on a less serious level: they could have just taken a completely free (and Free) open source app and added there own adverts to it. Either way, you get something you didn't want that may net them a couple of $s.

Even worse when the publishers abuse the system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475622)

This book is just one chapter of the original book, they published it calling it "Volume 1" and nowhere specifying that this is actually "Chapter 1". What reason could there be for this other than rip off the readers?

http://www.amazon.com/Leaving-Planet-Space-Elevator-ebook/dp/B0049H94Q6

Re:Even worse when the publishers abuse the system (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476298)

A nice detail is the "Forward" by Arty Clark.

It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (2)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475678)

I'm trying to learn more about how soap (the kind you wash with) is made, and I ran a search for Kindle stuff. It returned a huge number of publications. The first twenty or so were standard books published by legitimate publishers and available in various print formats as well. Those were followed by hundreds of 99 cent pieces. I got curious and had a look at the very few reviews--they all said things like, "DON'T BUY THIS" or "SCAM" or "I WANT MY MONEY BACK." There was one plaintive message from some poor soul on the West Coast who writes a blog on the subject--the "book" in question had simply gone into her blog and lifted posts out of it. Oddly enough, all those hundreds of publications shared the same three or four front cover images. I haven't really seen this in the arena of novels. Most of the cheap ones there look like people trying to vanity-publish their own work--so if you buy a novel, you get a novel. It just may not be a very good novel.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476058)

There was one plaintive message from some poor soul on the West Coast who writes a blog on the subject--the "book" in question had simply gone into her blog and lifted posts out of it.

Shouldn't they have sued Amazon for copyright infringement?

I know Smashwords rejects PLR books and does a web search for copied text in submitted books. Amazon are probably going to have to start doing something similar.

Another option is to require ISBNs for ebooks, which would dramatically increase the cost of submitting twenty books a day. Though they'd need some method of verifying that the ISBN is real.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476600)

Another option is to require ISBNs for ebooks, which would dramatically increase the cost of submitting twenty books a day. Though they'd need some method of verifying that the ISBN is real.

ISBNs aren't really well suited to electronic publishing. For example, I write nonfiction books and distribute them for free digitally. People can also buy them in print. In the electronic versions, it's natural that if I find an error, I just want to go ahead and fix it right away. But when you have an ISBN for a book, you're supposed to throw it away and get a new ISBN when you make any change whatsoever to the book. ISBNs are also basically a scam. Bowker runs a database and charges people significant amounts of money to generate a new 500-byte database record.

From the comments I'm seeing, it sounds like the real problem is that amazon's book-reviewing system doesn't work very well on kindle books. Seems like they should just fix that problem. The one for print books seems to work reasonably well these days. You do get dishonest behavior (professors getting their grad students to write reviews, individuals posting 10 reviews a day, every day), but by and large it seems to work pretty well.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (3, Interesting)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476838)

ISBNs aren't really well suited to electronic publishing. For example, I write nonfiction books and distribute them for free digitally. People can also buy them in print. In the electronic versions, it's natural that if I find an error, I just want to go ahead and fix it right away. But when you have an ISBN for a book, you're supposed to throw it away and get a new ISBN when you make any change whatsoever to the book.

Well, Bowker says [myidentifiers.com] that "The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition from one specific publisher." I wouldn't think that a correction would constitue a new edition—I mean, publishers do put out errata sometimes. Seems like you could just fix the error and keep the ISBN. Or is there some standard which says otherwise?

ISBNs are also basically a scam. Bowker runs a database and charges people significant amounts of money to generate a new 500-byte database record.

"Scam" is a bit harsh—after all, people are getting what they're paying for. Now, "overpriced," I could definitely see.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478792)

or "racket," perhaps. Perhaps Amazon has an e-thesaurus that would be helpful in this case?

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476694)

Another option is to require ISBNs for ebooks, which would dramatically increase the cost of submitting twenty books a day. Though they'd need some method of verifying that the ISBN is real.

It depends on how many of these $0.99 books are actually selling. You can get 1,000 ISBNs for $1,000 [myidentifiers.com] .

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476938)

It depends on how many of these $0.99 books are actually selling. You can get 1,000 ISBNs for $1,000 [myidentifiers.com] .

Even that is another three copies you have to sell for each spam book; and a $1,000 up-front cost.

Plus Amazon do 'returns' for ebooks, don't they? So if everyone who buys your spam returns it then you won't even make those three sales.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (2)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477622)

Plus Amazon do 'returns' for ebooks, don't they?

They do, but there's a time limit. Not sure what it is (at work, and the filter blocks amazon.com), but I want to say it's something like 48 hours.

So if everyone who buys your spam returns it then you won't even make those three sales.

I'm curious now. Let's look at Alfred. Alfred spends $1,000 on the ISBNs, and some amount on creating the books themselves and sending them to Amazon. If he creates them himself, he's only out his time (since ISBNs never expire, he can do them whenever he has time, so his opportunity cost is close to zero). But let's assume Alfred is a busy man, so instead he pays Bob to do the work. Alfred selects Bob, in part, because Bob already has a computer with Internet access (or at least can use one). Since the books are just copy-and-paste, we'll allot five minutes on average to each one. That comes out to 5,000 minutes or 83 and a third hours—so, a little over a fortnight's worth of work; we'll just assume that Bob worked a little during his lunch breaks sometimes, and round down to 80. Assuming Bob gets paid at the US minimum wage of $7.25/hr[1] this would be $580.

So, costs so far are $1,580, which means Alfred has to sell 1,596 books at $0.99 to make back his costs. But, if, as you suspect, returns will be high[2], he'll obviously have to sell more. A quick Google search did not immediately turn up any data on the general rates of return for ebooks or dead-tree books. So let's assume (since this is, after all, spam we're talking about) a return rate of 90%. So in order to make his costs back, he'll have to actually sell 15,960 books, which means each book of the thousand will have to sell an average of almost sixteen times. I don't actually know how likely that is, but there are enough people buying from Amazon that it seems doable to me.

It doesn't seem like a very good way to make money, though. Of course, that calculation might change if the average spam ebook sells considerably more often than sixteen times, or if the rate of return is much less.

[1] In reality, I think it would be much less since it's more likely Alfred would hire someone from a developing nation.
[2] Although I don't think they would be as high as you think in actuality. I myself bought a ebook copy of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for $0.99, but it was poorly done (footnotes mixed in with the text), so I just deleted it. It didn't occur to me to return it. Though maybe spam is different.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477800)

Sorry, forgot the very important detail that authors (spammers in this case) only get 30%. This would mean that Alfred would actually have to sell 5,320 copies to make back his costs. I have to say that seems less doable.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477888)

Why we assume the spammer is going to hire someone else to do their spamming?

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477936)

Because he's busy sending out email for Nigerian princes!

More seriously, I just wanted to increase the costs as much as I reasonably could to get a more conservative estimate.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 3 years ago | (#36477516)

"Another option is to require ISBNs for ebooks, which would dramatically increase the cost of submitting twenty books a day. Though they'd need some method of verifying that the ISBN is real."

Verifying it's real would probably be the easier part to set up -- but this wouldn't work. It costs me nothing (in Norway) to register an ISBN. I *think* it's free in Britain as well though I'm not entirely sure about that since I only started self-publishing after I left. It would certainly take a bit more time for a spammer, but not that much more time. They could block-book ISBN numbers once a week and just churn through them. Having gone through the system, it would be pretty easy even for me to automate, and I'm rubbish at scripting.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

bigjarom (950328) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476506)

If you want to know how soap is made, allow me to recommend "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476660)

With novels you have people spaming the system with public domain works. Try browsing barnes and noble in the sci fiction section. You will give up after seeing "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells ten plus times. They also seem to spam the same book at different prices with different covers. You will see the same book at 99 cents, $1.99, $2.99, and $8.99. This is to get around people filtering by price.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36478916)

You mention Barnes & Noble, but at least with the Amazon 'versions' of the public domain titles (I don't know if they're different other than the eBook wrapper), some have good reviews and some don't. I remember looking at some different versions of Sherlock Holmes books (the same one), and some had good reviews, some had reviews that said they had lots of typos and such.

So there *can* be differences in multiple versions of public domain works.

(Though I've wondered if you could now use these eBook versions in school... We sure had to buy a lot of old public domain books up through high school.)

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476710)

I haven't really seen this in the arena of novels. Most of the cheap ones there look like people trying to vanity-publish their own work--so if you buy a novel, you get a novel. It just may not be a very good novel.

Someone should config a bot to pull down fanfic (erotic fanfic for maximum lulz) and auto publish the material as a legitimate sequel in the original franchise. Comedy + a few dollars for the effort.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476808)

Comedy + a few dollars for the effort.

Until the Copyright Police smash down your door and drag you off to Pound-Me-In-The-Ass Prison. That might not happen if you're publishing posts from Joe Nobody's blog, but big media will not take kindly to people selling books claiming to be part of their franchise.

Re:It's a problem for the "how to" crowd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478284)

lulz

Can you please stop breathing? Thank you.

Good. (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475734)

Piss on 'em. I think I'm the last person left who still boycotts Amazon over the one-click patent.

I still boycott DVDs too, but my reasons for doing that have grown far beyond the CSS debacle they started with.

Audible (1)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#36475886)

I've switched almost exclusively to Audible. Audio books, especially when read by the author, convey so much more. Those are, and won't, be automated. Sure, text to speech can read you a McDonald's menu. But It'll never compete with the "feeling" put behind words, because you have to understand "what" your reading before you put such feeling in. Get the free "Go the F--k to Sleep" 6 min audio book narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. No simple text to speech will ever do that.

I expect no automated spam there. I wish I could require all of my email contacts to send voice notes.

Re:Audible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36475924)

Audible is owned by Amazon.

Re:Audible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476020)

So what? At what point did the poster say anything about not wanting to buy from Amazon? He just said he's swapped almost exclusively to Audible because he feels audio books "convey much more" and has a good point that you're unlikely to automate them.

I disagree, it would be easy to flood Audible with automated audio books, but it's a reasonable point to make.

At no point did he say "FUCK AMAZON hahahaha LOL I ONLY SHOP AT AUDIBLE". Learning to read is extremely helpful. Unless you only want to shop at Audible.

Re:Audible (1)

xarielx (2253544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36476072)

true, u have the ability to create ur own audiobook and publish it

Re:Audible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36477484)

I boycott Audible becuase they promote Dan Brown in all their advertisements.

Re:Audible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36478180)

I've switched almost exclusively to Audible. Audio books, especially when read by the author, convey so much more. Those are, and won't, be automated. Sure, text to speech can read you a McDonald's menu. But It'll never compete with the "feeling" put behind words, because you have to understand "what" your reading before you put such feeling in. Get the free "Go the F--k to Sleep" 6 min audio book narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. No simple text to speech will ever do that.

I expect no automated spam there. I wish I could require all of my email contacts to send voice notes.

If it becomes popular they can just pay some guy who knows a smattering of English to read Wikipedia pages and random blogs. Blam, same problem.

The true purpose of publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476194)

The true purpose of publishers is to collect useful content together in a convenient place.

Unfortunately, contemporary publishers have forgotten their purpose--the useful content is hidden between piles of spam, and the publishers seem to think that they're in the business of selling "rights".

That's what's become annoying about Amazon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36476312)

I absolutely love Amazon. It's my go-to site for new books and music (at least for a preliminary search, and often for purchase). All these crappy Kindle books, though, are annoying. You can limit your search to "real" books only, which I do, but a very similar problem has arisen there: self-publishing.

I search for "Beowulf", for example, and get loads of self-published copies of the same god damned public domain translation. I don't give two hoots about people's self-published shit. I would love to be able to tell Amazon to restrict my search to major publishing houses only (or if that's possible, I'd like it to be easier to find!). I don't care that there will be a gem or two among the self-published stuff. The overflow of public domain books is enough to make me tear my hair out.

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