walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Spam eBooks

Mike Essex at Impact Media seems concerned about content farmers and spam ebooks; he's been extensively quoted on other sites. A variety of commentators are suggesting that Amazon should do something about this. The problems include (but are not limited) to the following:

(1) People might buy these things and they're lame.
(2) Copyrights are being violated.
(3) "Real" authors will have trouble differentiating themselves from this "noise".

There are some yawn-inducing experiments mentioned (uploading the repeated lyrics to a song just to see if it'll go live on DTP), apparently with no awareness of any irony (dada, anyone? We're in a world in love with Lady Gaga, and no one sees the potential art of any of this but just thinks some corporation should proactively say, no you can't publish that? What, so you can commit a _different_ piece of performance art protesting that?).

Amazingly, a blogger at a library oriented blog suggested this might be a risk for librarians buying e-content. That strikes me as wildly improbable and here's why:

Librarians buy based on positive recommendations and reviews in sources they are familiar with and trust (or at least trust their capacity to interpret). They do not buy based on keyword searches. It's hard to imagine them getting suckered by any of these things. Yes, the people perpetrating this are also producing positive reviews for themselves, but anyone with any kind of experience reading reviews can probably detect that (for one thing, uniformity of positive reviews is a Red Flag all by itself at this point; when I'm trying to decide whether to pick up a book or not, I go as much by why people gave it a bad rating as by why they gave it a good rating). While some individuals will get suckered, I'd like to see some evidence that this is anything like a very successful scam before I get too excited about it. If it costs someone a buck or three before they learn not to buy random ebooks on the kindle platform, that's a really, really cheap lesson.

The copyrights being violated is a more serious issue, however, many of the proposed solutions strike me as onerous to the wrong people.

As for "real" authors differentiating themselves from this "noise? There's an easy enough solution for that. Spammers who are trying to make money off junk can't do that by giving it away for free to build a favorable audience; digital authors have machined that process down to a near science.

ETA: Weirdly, the primary person responsible for this echo chamber fear sent me e-mail. It was polite and requested a linkback to the original article. (NO! I am not going to do that. Mr. Essex is getting way too many linkbacks already.) I'm quoting this sentence from his email on the assumption a single sentence is "fair use": "The libraries problem was new to me so I'll look out for that in the future." I just don't know what to do with that. I AM SAYING THIS IS ALL A NON PROBLEM, PEOPLE! What do I have to do to convey that, anyway?

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