Thursday, December 02, 2010

Another E-Reader Scam

I hate to kick off December with news of an online e-reader scam, but with so many people out there shopping online booksellers for holiday gifts this one is especially vile.

According to Rob Pegoraro over at the Washington Post, Amazon.com is actively charging Kindle customers for public domain e-books that are available for free download from Project Gutenberg. These books appear to have been copied from Gutenberg files and stripped of the volunteer site's license information before being uploaded for sale.

This statement is included in the beginning of all of Project Gutenberg's e-books:

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.

Amazon.com has been advised that they are selling bootlegs of Gutenberg's free e-books but appear to be uninterested in taking immediate action. Maybe someone should tell them they can use the Huffington Post to explain to everyone how it's not their fault that readers are getting scammed, and/or back-pedal on their unethical policies enough to avoid getting sued. Worked nicely for Scribd.com after I discovered them ripping off my readers.

In the meantime, I recommend Kindle users follow Rob Pegoraro's suggestion to avoid getting ripped off by Amazon.com: "Search the Gutenberg site for a title you're interested in buying for your Kindle and download it from there if it's available. Not only does that site usually offer books in Kindle formats, you can even download them directly to a Kindle."

11 comments:

  1. Wow, that's crazy. I don't have a kindle, but my mom does. I'll make sure to let her know to check gutenberg first. Thanks for the heads up.

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  2. Wow, just when I thought it was okay to shop at amazon.com again. Guess not.

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  3. man that sucks.

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  4. I will second the rec to go to Gutenberg first if you think a book is old enough to be in public domain. Not only do other sites sell "free" ebooks, they often copy/paste compilations that are incomplete (nonfiction). Also check Gutenberg's sister sites for out of country authors. Canadian authors, for instance, don't turn up on US Gutenberg.

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  5. Dear Lynn, I just got a nook and to my great dismay, I'm only able to purchase Stardoc #1, #2, #5, #8, #9 & #10 for it - however, I desperately need #3, #4, #6 & #7 as well. Do you have any insite on why are these not available? I am almost done with #2 and have enjoyed both novels so much it's almost making me ill I cannot find the next one in the series. My local bookstore (B & N) does not carry all your novels which makes me upset. I thought with the nook, I would be easily able to purchase them and support a great author!

    Thank you,

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  6. Aw man, this stinks. It's unfortunate, but I guess it doesn't really surprise me. People are always going to try and find other, creative ways to rip off poor, innocent customers.

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  7. Robyn wrote: Do you have any insite on why are these not available?

    I believe the readon is that most of my StarDoc series novels predate the current practice of converting mass market print books to electronic format.

    In late October my publisher informed me that they will be converting the rest of the series and selling them as e-books -- and I'll quote here -- "in a couple of months." So while you can't get the novels as e-books just yet, they will eventually be made available for purchase.

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  8. Readon = reason. Sorry, I'm queen of planet typo today.

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  9. Melissa4:49 PM

    I hated how that article seems to blame Amazon for selling out of copyright books. Amazon is not the ones who put the price tag on the books. Amazon puts hundred of thousand of out of copyright books in their stores for fee. It's their users that upload the books and charge money for them, which they have every right to do as far as I can tell (the works *are* out of copyright). It's why you can go on the Kindle store and pick up Pride and Prejudice for free, for $0.99, or even for $12.95. It's also why many publishers have released a large library of out of copyright books (ie Penguin Classics).

    So if you want the best deal, shop around. If you want convenient, shop just at one store for everything. Also, for some people, paying the $1 for a book that's otherwise could be free is worth it to them so that they can sync the book on all their Kindle devices.

    Sorry if that came out kind of harsh, but that's my 2 cents.

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  10. Melissa wrote: Sorry if that came out kind of harsh, but that's my 2 cents.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I think it's a scam, you think it's okay, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

    Amazon.com may not put the price tag on these books that were ripped off from Project Gutenberg, but they are making money off them. The last time I checked Amazon.com takes 30-40% of cover price of all books sold via their digital text platform service before they pass what's left on to their sellers.

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  11. Thank you Lynn! I'll buy them when they come out, but I'll have to track down #3 at the library because that was quite the cliffhanger in #2!

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