A Friendly Warning: New Book Publishing Trend

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
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I learned today that there seems to be a new business approach to get into your pocket by charging you for information in book form that is already available on the internet for free.

I was skimming thru Amazon, noticed a "book" for sale on the subject of the Pershing missile system, and started to get all excited. (There are not a lot of books on this subject, and I am always scouring for new information.) Hmmm, $50; kinda high but hey it's a book about Pershing Missiles...I want it. Don't know why, but I did a few checks on the "authors" and found out that the same author-people (literally) have published over a thousand books on various other subjects. Talk about eclectic.

I googled the publisher and learned that these guys are basically copying their information from wikipedia and are publishing it in book form....and selling them for profit. You need to watch out for products from publishers like "Alphascript" and "LLC" (and probably others). It has been pointed out that this practice is not technically illegal because wikipedia apparently does not restrict anyone from copying their posted information. It would, however, make me extremely unhappy to spend $$$$$$ on a pile of books and then learn the contents are literally the same as I can see for free on the web.

From wikipedia:
An Amazon.com book search on June 9, 2009 gives 1009 (August 6 gives 1859, October 1 gives 3978) "books" from Alphascript Publishing,[nan 3][nan 4] an imprint of VDM Publishing Group. 1003 of the books are described as "by John McBrewster, Frederic P. Miller, and Agnes F. Vandome". They are called editors in the book listings. It seems the only content of the many books is free Wikipedia articles, with no sign that these three people have contributed to them. The books often have very long titles that are full of keywords. Presumably, this is to make them more likely to be found when searching on sites such as Amazon.com.

The articles are often poorly printed with features like missing characters from foreign languages, and numerous images of arrows where Wikipedia had links. It appears much better to read the original articles for free at the Wikipedia website than paying a lot of money for what has been described as a scam or hoax. Advertising for the books at Amazon and elsewhere does not reveal the free source of all the content. It is only revealed inside the books, which may satisfy the license requirements for republishing of Wikipedia articles.

(I got a few chuckles out of this part: )
As an example of the "care" given to the books, the book "History of Georgia (country)" is about the European country Georgia but has a cover image of Atlanta in the American state Georgia.[nan 7] The Wikipedia article History of Georgia (country) does not make such a comical blunder. Another example is a book about an American football team with a soccer player on the cover.[nan 8]

If you look at Amazon.com you will find some interesting-looking titles on a very specialized set of missiles. This leads me to expect that the writers are at least a little qualified as "subject matter experts"; otherwise if just any old person writes the book, how much meat can there be in it? Well, apparently, the crew at LLC is very versatile, and knowledgable in many areas. A simple google-search turns up 268,853 search results. OK.... The first dozen titles are kinda all over the map:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_at...ank&search-alias=books&field-author=Books LLC

using a search for Books › "Books LLC"
Showing 1 - 12 of 268,853 Results

1. Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham, Alison Miksch, and Chronicle Books LLC Staff (Hardcover - May 2001)
Buy new: $19.95 $13.57 16 new from $9.95 25 used from $3.40

2. Dante's Purgatorio by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, Marcus Sanders, Sandow Birk, and Michael Meister (Paperback - Apr 1, 2005)
3 new from $18.06 5 used from $7.08 (2) Other Editions: Paperback

3. Waltz of the Scarecrows by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, Constance McGeorge, and Mary Whyte (Hardcover - Jul 1, 1998)
4 new from $99.20 9 used from $6.96 (4) Other Editions: Hardcover, Paperback, School & Library Binding

4. San Francisco: The Musical History Tour: A Gudie to Over 200 of the Bay Area's Most Memorable Music Sites by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, and Joel Selvin (Paperback - Apr 1, 1996)
6 new from $35.12 10 used from $9.58 Other Editions: Paperback

5. James Bond Movie Posters: The Official 007 Collection by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, and Tony Nourmand (Paperback - Aug 1, 2002)
6 new from $25.57 11 used from $9.13 (14) Other Editions: Paperback, Hardcover, Paperback

6. A Little Book of Campfire Songs by Chronicle Books LLC Staff (Hardcover - Feb 1, 1995)
13 new from $2.33 50 used from $0.01 (2) Other Editions: Hardcover

7. With Child: Wisdom and Traditions for Pregnancy, Birth, and Motherhood by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, and Deborah Jackson (Hardcover - Apr 1, 1999)
6 new from $5.87 10 used from $3.84 (2) Other Editions: Hardcover

8. John Kent's Venice by John Kent (Paperback - Jul 1, 1992)
1 new from $39.57 3 used from $16.54 (2) Other Editions: Hardcover, Paperback

9. Dolls & Toys of Native America by Chronicle Books LLC Staff (Hardcover - Apr 1, 1995)
2 new from $31.52 4 used from $15.14 (1) Other Editions: Hardcover, Paperback

10. The World of Herb Caen by Chronicle Books LLC Staff (Paperback - Oct 1, 1997)
4 new from $18.08 7 used from $6.54 (4) Other Editions: Hardcover, Paperback

11. The Starlore Handbook: An Essential Guide to the Night Sky by Chronicle Books LLC Staff, and Geoffrey Cornelius (Paperback - Feb 1, 1997)
6 new from $9.36 9 used from $3.72 (2) Other Editions: Paperback

12. Mark Adams A Way With Color by Mark Adams (Paperback - Jan 1, 1996)
6 new from $49.99 15 used from $14.57

I just thought you guys might want to know about this trend. Apparently now when we buy stuff on Amazon we'll have to do a background check on everything.

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I've seen similar "books" regarding government regulation. I'm a safety director, and one of my employees made the mistake of letting a "consultant agency" send him an OSHA guidance book on a trial basis. If he didn't like it, he was supposed to return it with 30 days or some such. As I am sure they were hoping, he forgot all about it until he got a bill for $100. I asked to look at the book, and they had blatantly printed web pages for the OSHA.gov website (you could tell because of the webpage information Internet Explorer puts in the footer) and photocopied them (the printing was faded and not properly aligned). :eyepop: What a ripoff! Similarly, there are all kinds of business that aggregate information the government requires you to post in the workplace, put it into a poster, and then sell them at $60 or more a pop. The companies generally have goverment sounding names like the Federal Labor Law Institute. They try to scare you into buying their product by telling you that the penalty for failure to post is $1000 or more. The thing is, you can go to the actual government sites and download and print it for free. This kind of junk drives me crazy, but I guess it's part of the price for freedom - eternal vigilance.