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Book Spam: Seven Steps to Identification for Teachers and Students

Yet another information literacy skill that everyone needs to know!

First, what is book spam? You see the evidence. You search for a book on the web or Amazon – especially those that are out of copyright or public domain – and find hundreds of copies of good to dubious to downright awful quality. They range in price from free and 99 cents to full retail. How do you choose?

“Thousands of digital books, called e-books, are being published through Amazon’s self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.

Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online, then reformatted into a digital book.

These e-books are listed for sale — often at 99 cents — alongside more traditional books on Amazon’s website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want.

Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box 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.”

Spammers motivations can be as simple as to part you with your money or as nefarious as to:
– deliver malware
– collect your personal information
– steal copyrighted content and not pay royalties
– deliver ads
– be evil, etc.

From the Edukindle blog:

Book Spam: Seven Steps to Identification for Teachers and Students
Here’s a summary of the 7 tips:

1. “Take a close look at the title. Is the title wordy and extensive? If the title of the book seems to be cramming as many keywords in as possible, often displaying the key search terms in all caps, you may have some spam on your hands.”
2. “Take a look at the author. Does the author seem to write in a variety of topics- from Italian cookbooks to auto mechanics? Authors who seem to be very thinly spread over a variety of topics may also be an indication that the book you are looking at isn’t the one you desire. One should also steer clear of e-books that have no author listed, but instead an editor.”
3. “What about the cover? A poorly designed cover that features generic font choices and pixilated images also can serve as a red flag. If the image remains poor quality once enlarged, this often indicates that this image was taken from the web.”
4. “The price of the book may also confirm your suspicions. Spam books are often priced at $ 0.99 to entice a reader to purchase the book without downloading a free sample (beware of the free sample: malicious links are often placed in the opening pages of an e-book to ensure their viewing).”
5. One should note: “the book will often have no Reviews and Ratings, or terrible reviews. Heed these reviews!”
6. “Do not base your decision on the seeming popularity of the text as gauged by the Amazon Bestseller Rank, since people buy these spam book unintentionally and consequently improve the spam’s popularity.”
7. “Notice the product description which in cases of spam is often short, poorly written, or a random book excerpt. Look to see if there are any other versions of the e-book available (print, audio). If the e-book is spam, the e-book edition will be your only option. Check the e-book’s file size; spam books have a small file size indicating a short book.”

“Sadly, even for books, if it’s digital it can be spammed. Knowing the signs of spam-books is just another one of those 21st-century skills you need to help your students acquire.”

Even better, choose the major ones that support your needs for your community, school or research and buy a solidly good copy or make a link in your OPAC to a decent free copy. That’s a newer form of collection development.

Stephen

Posted on: August 26, 2011, 7:22 am Category: Uncategorized

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