Thousands of spam pseudobooks are reportedly clogging Amazon’s Kindle store, as spammers have begun buying digital content on the cheap and repackaging it into e-book form. Book buyers have to click through volumes of spam to find the real books they want, according to a report by Reuters.
The fake books are easy to produce and publish using Amazon’s intentionally author-friendly self-publishing framework. Some are selling for 99 cents in the Kindle store.
In some cases, writers are seeing their content ripped off and re-sold — Reuters talked to one author who saw her debut novel for sale under someone else’s name. Spammers can even buy a DVD set called Autopilot Kindle Cash “that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word,” Reuters says.
It’s possible through the use of Private Label Rights content, which Reuters points out can be bought cheaply and reformatted easily. PLR content often consists of templates, simple how-to articles, and marketing material, for instance. Over at the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal got a fake book called “Home Repair PLUS 21 you-can-do-it-now home repair tips!A+” — and found it’s not a book at all, but a collection of ads for how to create more mindless niche content.
Reuters’ thorough investigation points out that this is a growing problem. In 2002, 33,000 “nontraditional” books, meaning those without a traditional agent-publishing house background, were published. The number rose to 2.8 million last year. Apparently, that staggering increase is powered as much by spam as it is by earnest writers trying to reach an audience. It’s unfortunate news for the e-publishing world, until Amazon (and others, too) determine a better way to authenticate submissions.