From CNN Money:
Perhaps it should be called Spamazon.
Until recently, if you had typed “Steve Jobs Isaac” into the online retailer’s search box, the first choice that popped up wasn’t the best selling book by Walter Isaacson, but instead one with the same name and a similarly sounding author, Isaac Worthington. The book appears to be selling, even though Amazon’s one reviewer gives the book a single star and calls it a “poorly produced pamphlet.” Presumably, Worthington’s book is based on exclusive interviews with Jeve Stobs.
There are a number of books on Amazon with similar titles to much more popular ones. Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy romance novel that has created buzz around the world, is the No. 1 selling book on Amazon. Also available on Amazon: Thirty-Five Shades of Grey. Both books are written by authors with two first initials – E. L. James and J. D. Lyte – and both are the first in a trilogy about a young girl who falls for an older, successful man with a taste for domineering sex. The publisher of the bestseller Fifty says the book is “a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.” The author and publisher of Thirty-Five, which came out in early April, apparently believe that description fits their book as well, word-for-word. Also selling on Amazon is I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Twilight New Moon. Neither is the book you are likely looking for.
. . . .
It’s perhaps more shocking that Amazon not only sells the books, it’s also helping their authors create them. All of the apparent copycat books that Fortune found on Amazon were made through CreateSpace, which is a division of Amazon. Authors can use CreateSpace’s system to design and self-publish their own books. The books then go on sale on Amazon and other sites. Amazon splits the proceeds with authors. It’s a different relationship than most publishers have with their authors, but there is no way for consumers to know that. On Amazon and other sites, CreateSpace is listed as the publisher of the books.
“It’s the book equivalent of spam,” says lawyer Eric Rayman, a former attorney for Simon & Schuster. “Amazon should be taking steps to stop this. It’s bad for consumers and it’s bad for the book business.”
. . . .
Karen Peebles, who is the author of I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, says she has self-published around 10,000 books though CreateSpace, not all of which are in her own name. “I am a single mother who home schools her children,” says Peebles, who says she sells “thousands and thousands” of books a month. “Self-publishing is a great way for me to make income. I receive a pretty nice royalty every month.”
Peebles says CreateSpace has guidelines, but they are minimal. Not only has Amazon never rejected one of her books, Peebles says she’s never even been questioned by the online retailer, not even about the one with a nearly identical title to the international bestseller by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. Peebles says her book, which she has sold “hundreds, maybe thousands” came out before Larsson’s. It didn’t. Larsson’s book was first published in 2004, and released in the U.S. in 2008. Peebles’ book has a 2008 copyright, but it wasn’t released by Amazon until mid-2010, well after the Larsson book had become popular in the U.S. Says a reviewer who gives Peebles’ book one star on Amazon, “Perhaps I will enjoy the author’s next book, ‘I am the Girl who Played with Fire.’”
Link to the rest at CNN Money and thanks to Dan for the tip.
PG’s experience is that whenever he’s reported a book as spam, Amazon zaps it pretty quickly.
Amazon’s Feedback box is, perhaps, too far down a book’s product page, but it’s definitely present.
Dan, who provided the tip, doubts the recent flurry of Amazon hit pieces is coincidental and who is PG to question a good conspiracy theory?