Pirated books thrive on Amazon — and authors say web giant ignores fraud

Amazon is getting flooded with counterfeit variations of books, angering prospects and authors alike who say the positioning is doing little to battle the literary fraudsters. 

Forgeries offered by third events by way of Amazon vary from e-books to hardcovers and fiction to non-fiction — however the problem is very widespread for textbooks, whose sky-high sticker costs attract scammers, publishing business sources say. 

“The damage to authors is very real,” Matthew Hefti, a novelist and lawyer who has discovered counterfeit variations of his personal e book on Amazon, instructed The Publish. “It’s such a pervasive problem.”  

The tip result’s that readers are getting caught with illegible books that bleed ink or disintegrate, whereas authors and publishers lose income to the publishing pirates.

Amazon, nonetheless, takes a minimize of third-party gross sales no matter whether or not the books they ship are actual or faux, giving the corporate no incentive to crack down on coutenterfeits, folks within the publishing business gripe. They say the positioning that’s usually recognized for quick service is excessively sluggish to reply to their issues about fakes. 

‘Pages unreadable’

Martin Kleppmann, a pc science researcher and educational, has seen one-star Amazon critiques of his information modeling textbook roll in for years, with indignant prospects complaining about unreadable textual content, lacking pages and different high quality points. He blames counterfeiters, who he says have offered pirated variations.

“This book is very badly printed,” reads one indignant overview of Kleppmann’s e book. “Ink goes everywhere after 10 minutes reading.” 

“Pages are printed overlapped,” one other overview reads. “About 20 pages unreadable.” 

“Pages are printed overlapped,” a reviewer stated.
Counterfeit book
One the of overlapped and poorly printed pages in an alleged pirated textual content.

A 3rd reviewer gripes that they needed to order Kleppmann’s e book from Amazon three completely different instances earlier than they acquired a usable copy. The 2 counterfeits had see-through paper and different defects. 

“I see lots of negative reviews complaining about print quality,” Kleppmann instructed The Publish, including that his writer has requested Amazon to repair the difficulty however the firm hasn’t executed something. 

Amazon spokesperson Julia Lee stated in an announcement to The Publish, “We prioritize customer and author trust and continuously monitor and have measures in place to prevent prohibited products from being listed.”

Amazon spent greater than $900 million globally and employed greater than 12,000 folks to guard prospects from counterfeit, fraud and different types of abuse, Lee stated.

One Amazon reviewer stated that they had to purchase Kleppmann’s e book thrice to discover a non-counterfeit copy.

However Kleppmann isn’t the one writer who’s struggled with counterfeits on Amazon. Google deep studying researcher Francois Chollet complained about counterfeiters in a preferred Twitter thread earlier in July, accusing Amazon of doing “nothing” to crack down on widespread counterfeit variations of his textbook. 

“Anyone who has bought my book from Amazon in the past few months hasn’t bought a genuine copy, but a lower-quality counterfeit copy printed by various fraudulent sellers,” Chollet wrote. “We’ve notified [Amazon] multiple times, nothing happened. The fraudulent sellers have been in activity for years.” 

Even The Publish’s personal columnist Miranda Devine noticed faux variations of her e book about Hunter Biden, “Laptop from Hell,” unfold on Amazon final 12 months.

After Devine’s publishers notified Amazon in regards to the problem, the counterfeits remained on the positioning for days, she stated. 

Amazon didn’t reply to a request for remark on the precise examples of counterfeits on this story.

‘Endless game of whack-a-mole’

Amazon typically requires authors and publishers to comb the positioning for counterfeit variations of their very own books, then battle by way of layers of paperwork to get the fakes taken down, in line with mental property lawyer Katie Sunstrom. 

“The burden is on the seller to get Amazon to stop the infringers and counterfeiters from selling on their system,” Sunstrom instructed The Publish. “There’s no impetus on Amazon to take care of it.” 

Kleppmann’s writer, O’Reilly Media, instructed The Publish that it routinely recordsdata complaints with Amazon about fraudulent sellers, however that the corporate is usually sluggish to deal with their issues. 

“It is an endless game of whack-a-mole where accounts simply resurface days or weeks later,” O’Reilly vp of content material technique Rachel Roumeliotis instructed The Publish, including that Amazon will reply to “individual symptoms as discovered by publishers” however does nothing to cease the “systemic flow” of counterfeits. 

An example of an alleged pirated book from Amazon.
An instance of an alleged pirated e book from Amazon.

“Amazon spends a lot of time trying to combat the perception its marketplace perpetuates fraud because it’s known that there is a problem — yet its platform and policies are built in ways that facilitate it,” Roumeliotis stated. 

Counterfeits spreading unchecked can put authors’ careers in danger, in line with Hefti. 

Past slicing into the income authors make off books they’ve already revealed, counterfeit gross sales don’t depend towards official gross sales figures. Decrease gross sales figures will, in flip, make it tougher for authors to ink future e book offers, Hefti stated. 

“The model is so exploitative for writers,” he stated. “I don’t even know if there is any fixing it, at least not without Amazon having to spend a ton of money and lose a bunch of existing profit.” 

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