When Professor Jane Friedman complained about books that she didn’t write being attributed to her on Monday, ecommerce giant Amazon initially said that it would not remove them. But after she took her case to Twitter, earning the backing of the Authors Guild, Amazon relented early this morning.
Friedman—a non-fiction writer, journalist, and educator—said Amazon had refused to remove the books even though they appeared to trade on her name and reputation as an author who has published how-to guides for other writers.
The “garbage books,” which Friedman says were probably churned out using generative AI, had the titles “Your Guide to Writing a Bestseller eBook on Amazon,” “Publishing Power: Navigating Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing,” and “Promote to Prosper: Strategies to Skyrocket Your eBook Sales on Amazon.”
When Friedman acknowledged that she could not prove that she owned the trademark on her own name, she said Amazon said it would leave the book up and for sale. But that stance changed late Monday night when the books began disappearing from Amazon’s website, and after the Authors Guild offered to step in on Friedman’s behalf.
“We have clear content guidelines governing which books can be listed for sale and promptly investigate any book when a concern is raised,” Amazon spokesperson Ashley Vanicek told Decrypt by email. “We welcome author feedback and work directly with authors to address any issues they raise and where we have made an error, we correct it.”
Other authors responding to Friedman’s tweet said the same thing had happened to them, and in some cases, the publisher of the fraudulent books did more than just use their names.
“Sorry you’re dealing with this,” author and poet Hattie Jean Hayes wrote. “I have had someone using my name to publish erotica on Amazon [Kindle Direct Publishing] for the last three years. It’s pretty clearly a targeted attack since they’ve used names of my (minor!) family members in the stories,” Hayes said. “Amazon/Kindle gave me the exact same answer.”
The Authors Guild said that its members could request the organization’s assistance in contacting Amazon’s senior management about fraudulent works.
“We’ve worked with Amazon on this issue in the past, and we will continue our conversations with them about advancing their efforts to keep up with the technology,” the Author’s Guild said in a statement shared with Decrypt. “Meanwhile, we encourage everyone to report these books that try to profit from your brand through Amazon’s complaint portal.”
Link to the rest at Decrypt
PG says Zon should police books that use an author’s name when they were written by someone other than that author. He understands that there are many people with the same names plus pen names have a long history in traditional literature. Legitimate authors named John Smith or Jane Smith will develop ways of distinguishing themselves from other authors with the same name.
Passing off a book as having been written by someone who writes good books when it is not written by that author means the fraudster is trying to sell a product under false pretenses. PG doubts that Amazon would run into no problems if it refused to sell such books to preserve its reputation as an honest online merchant. It is not in Amazon’s interest to sell junk.
PG has opined that the folks who run KDP are not the best managers of their business. He takes the OP as further evidence that Zon needs to pay more attention to management issues at KDP if for no other reason than to maintain the quality of Amazon’s brand name as a whole. Business organizations that sell goods or services have a lot to lose when customers have a bad experience with a purchase.
People who buy books on Amazon likely also purchase a whole lot of other goods from Amazon. From PG’s outsider view, it appears that Walmart is taking aim at Zon in the huge middle and lower-middle-class consumer goods market. PG has moved more than a few of his purchases of products that Amazon and Walmart both sell over to Walmart on the basis of some better prices and much faster delivery on items Walmart stocks in its nearby retail locations.
PG made a trip to his local Walmart to purchase some necessities for Casita PG a couple of days ago and was kicking himself while wandering around the large store wasting his time searching for products. He should have saved a lot of time by ordering online using Walmart’s version of Prime for free delivery of the goods to Casita PG’s front door, likely within a few hours.