Counterfeit books vex Amazon
Counterfeit books are a problem for Amazon.com, according to recent articles by David Streitfeld in The New York Times. His most recent piece alleges that many of these fakes are printed and sold on Amazon by third-party sellers, but that some are printed by Amazon’s self-publishing subsidiary.
The George Orwell books purchased by Streitfeld had typos, covers that were not the same as originals, missing pages and other inconsistencies from the originals. Many of the counterfeits in Streitfeld’s investigation were sold by Amazon directly and shipped from their own warehouses.
A spokesman for the Orwell estate asked when Amazon will take responsibility for the fakes being sold on the site. Some of the typos in the fake editions affected the content to the point that they altered the meaning.
The Association of American Publishers filed an analysis with the FTC, saying in part “the marketplace of ideas is now at risk for serious … damage because of the unprecedented dominance of a very small number of technology platforms.”
In an earlier New York Times article, Mr. Streitfeld notes that Amazon now sells more than half of all books in the U.S. and even has an issue with counterfeit medical handbooks sold on its site, which are so poorly printed that doctors could make errors in prescribing medication because of hard to read copy. He says Amazon does not check the authenticity or quality of the books it sells and maintains minimal, if any, oversight of third-party sellers.
In a response to the first Times article, Amazon says it spent over $400 million in personnel and technology to protect customers from fraud last year. It claims to have stopped over one million “bad actors” from opening selling accounts in 2018 and blocked more than three billion suspected bad listings before they were listed on the site. [Read Amazon’s blog piece here: “Our response to the New York Times’ story on book counterfeiting.“]
Amazon also cites Sanford Publishing as one publisher it has worked with to put enforcement measures in place, and says that since the action, that publisher has not had further problems. Amazon cites additional measures such as its free brand registry, an authenticity verifying program called “Transparency”, a self-service counterfeit removal tool for publishers, and its “A to Z” guarantee for customers.
- In Amazon’s bookstore, Orwell gets a rewrite – The New York Times
- What happens after Amazon’s domination is complete? Its bookstore offers clues – The New York Times
- Our response to the New York Times’ story on book counterfeiting – Amazon.com
- Fake, pirated, and counterfeit books a big problem on Amazon – Just Publishing Advice
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Whose responsibility is it to prevent counterfeit books from being available on Amazon? Is there any way for other booksellers to benefit from selling “real” books?