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How Grifters Gamed Amazon to Sell the ‘Mueller Report’ Already

16 April 2019

From The Daily Beast:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report on the Trump campaign will be released Thursday, the Justice Department announced Monday. Like all public reports, the document will be free to read.

That hasn’t stopped people from trying to sell Mueller report books on Amazon for months.

Amazon’s book listings are an SEO cesspool where grifters try to peddle ebooks on every trending topic. In recent months, self-published works on the anti-vaccination and QAnon conspiracy theories have soared in Amazon’s ratings. So as readers clamored to see the full Mueller report, publishing houses and self-published authors rushed to sell books on the still-unpublished document.

Alan Dershowitz, the celebrity lawyer and frequent Fox News guest, has not read the Mueller report yet. No one has, aside from Mueller’s team of investigators and Attorney General William Barr. But for more than a month, Dershowitz and the publishing house Skyhorse have been selling a book with the full text of the report, plus a foreword from Dershowitz.

. . . .

“There has never been a more important political investigation than Robert S. Mueller III’s into President Donald Trump’s possible collusion with Russia,” a product description for Dershowitz’s book reads. “His momentous findings can be found here.”

Of course, Dershowitz can’t write a foreword for a report he hasn’t read, and Skyhorse can’t publish the still-unreleased report’s text. Instead, Skyhorse has advertised the book on Amazon for more than a month, moving its anticipated release date back as weeks pass. The publisher now advertises as “placeholder” release date of April 30. (It was originally March 26.)

The flexible release date hasn’t stopped buyers from pre-ordering Dershowitz’s book. Amazon currently lists it as the “#1 Best Seller” in “federal jurisdictional law” category.

. . . .

Melville House, a Brooklyn-based publisher, is one of several outlets to reformat these reports as books worth buying. The publisher did brisk business selling physical copies of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, repackaging the dense report as a readable paperback. Melville House is one of several publishers promising to sell physical copies of the Mueller report as soon as it can get the text through the printing presses.

But the crush of Mueller report titles on Amazon can leave smaller publishers scrambling to differentiate their reprints of the public report. One such book promises to be an “exclusive edition of Robert Mueller’s full-length report” and “the first to contain” a selection of accompanying documents. Other Amazon titles offer breathless praise for the yet-to-be-seen document. “History may judge The Mueller Report as the most important document of our time,” reads the product description of a Mueller report book with introductions by two former congressmen.

. . . .

Empty gag books like these, which hope to climb Amazon’s charts by latching on to popular search terms, are relatively common. In 2017, a blank 266-page book called Reasons to Vote for Democrats reached the top spot on Amazon’s book charts.

Link to the rest at The Daily Beast

PG thinks Amazon is tarnishing its brand by not working to stem this sort of activity. It has to be hurting legit indie authors.

Amazon, Self-Publishing

3 Comments to “How Grifters Gamed Amazon to Sell the ‘Mueller Report’ Already”

  1. So famous people are offering pre-orders for a copy of the report which also contains their commentary. What’s the big deal? Pre-orders aren’t a scam; aren’t they standard practice in the business? Alan Dershowitz has an audience; Amazon is taking pre-orders for his next release. Who’s “gaming the system”? This is just standard operating procedure in the world of publishing.

    • Ah, but it’s ‘Amazon’, so the the ADS types have something to be up in arms about.

      As you say though, nothing new to see here …

  2. PG thinks Amazon is tarnishing its brand by not working to stem this sort of activity. It has to be hurting legit indie authors.

    Amazon has already tarnished its brand by not policing categories so that totally inappropriate books appear as bestsellers in categories that have nothing to do with the content, allowing bookstuffing for so long, and inaccurately tallying pages read because of flaws in the reader software. In the non-book world, we have fake products like non-Epson ink cartridges and, from the reviews I read yesterday, mattresses sold as the Leesa which also are ripoffs and not from the original manufacturer.

    As Scott said, pre-orders are SOP. I see nothing to complain about in this case.

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