Robot 6

Roger Langridge fights fake book spam

There are few more blatant scams than the computer-generated “books” that infest Amazon.com. Basically, these are overpriced printouts of Wikipedia articles, something that no one in their right mind would pay any money at all for, yet there are companies that specialize in “publishing” them and apparently make a profit, presumably from people who are too embarrassed to ask for their money back once they realize they have been taken.

So kudos to Roger Langridge for standing up to them. Langridge, the writer of the Muppet Show comics, Snarked, and the recently announced Popeye series, has posted a one-star review at the listing for a “book” about him, warning off potential buyers. “I would just like to point out that I am Roger Langridge and I have never heard of this book,” he begins, and he accuses the publisher of cutting and pasting content from his website. “BEWARE BEWARE BEWARE,” he concludes. “I will look into the appropriate channels to make a formal complaint. That is all.” Good for him, and I wish more creators and publishers would do this. In fact, I would suggest any comics creator or editor who is reading this should do some quick searches on your own name and properties in the Amazon search engine; you may be unpleasantly surprised by what pops up.

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5 Comments

From biographies to statistics of Samoa, that “author” is very well schooled.

Good job, Roger, ’cause this is a problem nobody is paying close attention to.

Having been involved in a web-comic adaptation of Joyce’s ULYSSES for a few years I’ve been fortunate in having friends and partners around me in copyright law. If you want some numbers for “attack-lawyers” just drop me a line:
rob@ulyssesseen.com

The publisher hasn’t cut and pasted the content from Langridge’s website. They’ve cut and pasted it from the Wikipedia article on Roger Langridge.

Indeed, all of such books from the publisher are basically print-outs of Wikipedia articles. The books are print-on-demand so they don’t exist until someone orders one. They’re also, unfortunately, just about legal, by Wikipedia policies, which means that there’s no way making a formal complaint will have any effect.

See also John Scalzi on the subject, a couple of years ago: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/11/03/dear-barnes-noble-crap-is-cluttering-up-your-author-searches/

Drat, posted too soon, forgot to add a second, more recent, link to an article by Scalzi on the subject: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2011/11/04/beware-the-wikipedia-scrapers/

In this one he gives tips on how to spot such junk and avoid it, summing up as “pay attention before you click the ‘buy’ button.”

A bunch of years ago, when I was first starting out on eBay, I spotted an auction for a set of Legion of Super-Heroes ID badges. I was very excited by this find, since I knew it was not a recent product and the price was reasonable (I don’t remember how much). I thought it was something that had come out much earlier, when the Legion was more popular. The package finally arrives and when I open it, it turns out to be plastic holders you buy like at Walmart with cards taken from one of the fansites and printed on the guy’s printer at home. On regular, cheap paper. I was very surprised and confused by this so I went back to the item description where it said it was a “set of custom-crafted” Legion ID cards. I was mad at the guy but also mad at myself for failing to interpret what it meant. I gave the guy neutral feedback as I felt he misrepresented what his product was but I couldn’t say he had lied, his description was accurate. And that’s my “Buyer Beware” story.

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