Not long ago I wrote about how people eager to make money with Google ads were creating a web of spam content. That is, content that masquerades as being useful simply to attract searchers, but is in fact often scraped from other sites or created by content “farms” (I prefer to use “sweatshops” myself). So when I ran across this post in which the author, Mike Essex, was pointing out that the ebook landscape is increasingly littered with spam content.
Essex describes how easy it is to scrape content from the web and publish it as an e-book. Even at a small price point like 99 cents, you can still make a profit — especially if you have a large collection of these things. Writes Essex:
Once a ‘writer’ has scraped their content for the web they can then have their eBook live in less than 24 hours on the Kindle platform, and even less time on 3rd party sites like Smashwords who aggregate eBooks to multiple formats in one go. This puts a minimal time pressure on the creator, who can be earning money on their content relatively quickly…
This is how creators like Manuel Ortiz Braschi can have created 2,879 eBooks in just a couple of years. Many of his books have reviews listing formatting errors and he covers such as wide range of topics it’s impossible to believe he is really an expert in all these topics.
This reminds me of publishers in the past who would scoop up government documents, slap new titles on them and publish them as their own. But print publishing is a much bigger barrier than that presented by ebooks. Now anyone can join in. And some are apparently making a good living at it.
As librarians who are buying more and more e-content, we need to be vigilant against this kind of trick.