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I'm out for BLOOD!

More specifically, a book editor's blood.

Couple of weeks ago, while building my reference library of egyptian book, I spotted a title that seemed promising on Amazon. Read the description, seemed to tackle a lot of subjects. Alright I think, let's get it!
So I don't know the editor- first though was "oh, this could be a university title, like that other book about the evolution of temple of Karnak that I got".

It is basically a book scam. Here's how it works.

Let me quote from page 4:
"All texts of this book are extracted from Wikipedia.
Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information. Some information in this book maybe (sic) misleading or wrong."

Not only that, but the editors did not even bother removing arrows in the middle of the text, arrows that indicated that the following word used to have an internet link to further articles. It makes for extremely clunky, distracting reading. Imagine reading an entry on "Amun", and every time the name "Amun" appears there's a little arrow.
There are plenty of other little problems with it which I won't get into right now. These are the most obvious.

There is WORSE!
This company is publishing a flood of similar types of books! I've seen the iceberg, not just the tip!
Their formula: Take text from wikipedia as is - print as book form asking for loads of money, run to the bank laughing.

I've sent an email to Amazon, but I get the feeling they won't do a single thing about it.
I'm just afraid people will shell out their hard earned money for this...this...useless waste of paper!

I don't know if copyrights law could do anything about it: these are information taken from an open source. There are no true authors per say.

Here is the book:
As mentioned, Alphascript publishing has many many MANY other similar books.

I have to admit, the best mistake I've seen so far is a book supposedly about Georgia (Eastern Europe), with a picture on the cover of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

There's also a guy leaving positive reviews for these books.
Must be working for that company.

It's a book scam.
Someone is making money out of this.
And I gave them some.
I've learned my lesson.
I will see them disappear off Amazon!!!



( 81 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Ugh. Reminds me of this one company who writes "official" "Secrets and mysteries revealed" books for various anime/manga. The "mysteries" they reveal in the books are nothing more than fan speculation and they show no proof to back up their claims. I discovered that when I skimmed through a book for the series Fruits Basket and was appauled by the flat-out LIES the book said. And these things are being sold in Borders!

Not as important as what you're trying to look for, but just as bad a crime. Plus at least your guys put up a disclaimer.
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
The disclaimer is hidden INSIDE the book.
If you go on the books page on Amazon, that warning isn't even there.
So I got had, and I may not be the only one.
(no subject) - kyoko215 - Jun. 4th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tony_cliff - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - woodburner - Jun. 4th, 2009 04:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kyoko215 - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ghd_mk4_gold - Jun. 26th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:18 am (UTC)
Wow, that's really messed up.
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
Something thought that would be the way to make a quick buck: use everything written on Wikipedia and printing it!
There's something wrong there.
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Holy cow, and that's not a cheap "i've been had" either, ouch.

I hope you can at least get your money back. D:
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
I don't think I can. I'm trying to find the right arguments to return it, and right now I just feel like I've been foolishly had, so I got to live with it.
(no subject) - wodhaund - Jun. 4th, 2009 12:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - archangelbeth - Jun. 4th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ndgmtlcd - Jun. 4th, 2009 03:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ndgmtlcd - Jun. 4th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
that is total BS, can you return it?
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Don't think I can.
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
SOunds like something that going to end up at Half-Price books
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
How about 1/50th of the price- that's what it's worth.
Maybe less.
(no subject) - teacup_werewolf - Jun. 4th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Looked around the office, and found the original box and receipt. I think I can return it. I still have some time left too.
I will try anyway.
Ha ha, interesting to see who leaves good review for this thing. Another somewhat shady publisher.

Edited at 2009-06-04 01:00 am (UTC)
(no subject) - droolfangrrl - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - droolfangrrl - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - conga_chili - Jun. 4th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Lambert Academic Publishing - (Anonymous) - May. 5th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Lambert Academic Publishing - rufftoon - May. 5th, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Lambert Academic Publishing - (Anonymous) - Nov. 13th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Lambert Academic Publishing - rufftoon - Nov. 13th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
that's, like, mind numbingly rage inducing x_x hope you can get a refund and/or Amazon to stop selling it... eeek.
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
Most important, get Amazon to stop selling it.
No one else should buy this &^%#$^!
(no subject) - jadesfire2 - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
feh, on their website it says "We specialize in publishing copyleft projects"

isn't that a nice spin on it? and only 100$!
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
Copyleft? COPYLEFT??
(no subject) - jadesfire2 - Jun. 4th, 2009 01:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 27th, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
HA HA HA HA ha ha ha, I LOVE this "review":

"this book can really be recommended to impart knowledge of this topic, because it contains different interesting articles."
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:18 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, it's deep.
I may have written a review like that in first grade.
Jun. 4th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
That is effed up. O_O I've shopped for books and other items on Amazon before but, thankfully, have never encountered such underhanded scams. Guess we'll both have to be extra vigilant from here on out.

Sorry you got ripped, though. If Amazon has any good business sense, they'll clamp down on this and other shady practises right away.
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:21 am (UTC)
Learned my lesson alright: I'll always make a search for the editor first.
Jun. 4th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Wow. I almost can't even fathom that this happened. All this time I've had it drilled in my head by teachers in high school and college to cite sources of reference and the consequences that would certainly arise if I didn't. I had gotten the impression from those lectures that such things as you described didn't happen in the professional publishing world. I was naive.
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:23 am (UTC)
I got had by force of habit. I shopped quite a few good books on Amazon that were University presses and well written, and I didn't take the right amount of time to check this book out.
Heh, if there's a quick buck to be made out there, this company is trying it!
Jun. 4th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Now this is interesting. The same trio of "editors" given as persons responsible for your book are also jointly responsible for exactly 786 other "books" available on Amazon.

Amazon also tells us who are the biggest suckers here. All you have to do is sort by "bestselling" for those totally worthless 787 books.

Unfortunately, after a few searches with "John McBrewster" and a few relevant Wikipedia article titles, it seems that McBrewster and his merry gang have kept away from the biggest of the articles I authored and co-authored in there over the past six years.

That means that I can't send a nice personal letter to the Amazon legal dept explaining that copyleft absolutely does not mean that the author gives away all rights. In fact copyleft means that the authors have some extremely well defined rights as to how their work is treated and how their authorship is presented. In other words, how metadata pertaining to my co-authroship is presented or not. My LJ isn't called "bad metadata" for nothing.

If you know anyone who's been writing up things in Wikipedia over the years, please go tell them about this 787 book list.
Jun. 4th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Maybe it's only a question of time before one of your article is lifted out of Wikipedia and used in one of those books.
They seem to be touching all subjects out there.
It could be interesting to let authors on wikipedia know that their free entry is serving someone else to make a quick buck.
I can understand how an article could be changed by other authors, but still...there's something wrong here.
(no subject) - ndgmtlcd - Jun. 4th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 4th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)
Oh my..that's quite bad! Imagine if they're going to do something like that also with arts found on the web..it could be really really unpleasant è_é

Jun. 4th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
That could be the next step, who knows? Might give some other editors that idea.
Jun. 4th, 2009 08:42 am (UTC)
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:12 pm (UTC)

Wow! It's so insulting to know someone would event think about doing that...publishing crap like this...

Hope you're able to get your money back...or at least that Amazon will listen to you and stop selling these books on their website!

Thanks for the warning !
Jun. 4th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
I do think that open source is about that you can't use the material in a commerisal way. Like Linux, you're allowed to change it but not to sell it! (There are exceptions but that's the basic rule...)
Jun. 4th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
wow talk about killing trees!!! sheesh! thats the dumbest thing i ever heard of, what were they thinking
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 4th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
I think that there's a legal way to get at them because of the fact they're clumping together the Wikipedia material in a totally hapazard method in some of those books. It would depend on the types of disclaimers they've put up in the books. If the disclaimers can be interpreted to attribute faults to Wikipedia when they the publishers are in fact creating problems by mixing up different articles to create their "books" (I've seen a few horrors when I went through some of the 787 titles yesterday) then the Wikipedia organisation could get at them.

But I still think that the most efficient way to get Alphascript and/or Amazon to stop this would be to write a Wikipedia article on the Alphascript-Wikipedia-Amazon book hoax.
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 10:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ndgmtlcd - Jun. 4th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rufftoon - Jun. 4th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ndgmtlcd - Jun. 4th, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 5th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC)
Life's litttle nuisances. Let's sic Zhao on them. >=}
Jun. 10th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
Rights of Revocation concerning books of our portfolio?
Maybe one can exercise the "Rights of Revocation concerning books of our portfolio:" as detailed in "Verlag Dr. Mueller"'s impressum page at http://www.vdm-publishing.com/index.php?&act=nav&nav=10064

The section starts:

"Customers may return the goods without stating reasons within two weeks after receipt of said goods. In lieu of a return consignment, the contract may also be revoked in writing."

Second, if the EU's Distance Selling Directive applies (it might not if the customer is non-EU) then consumers can reject items for any reason within a certain time. The vendor would have to collect the rejected goods at their own expense and refund the purchase price minus the initial shipping charges (this is how it works in the United Kingdom last time I looked). Even before the EU law, the UK had a somewhat vaguer law that allowed customers to reject items due to "not being of merchantable quality". Some UK Ebay sellers were surprised to learn that these law applied to them. Needless to say you will not see Amazon or eBay drawing your attention to these laws.

Is there an equivalent international trading law?
Jun. 10th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC)
Re: Rights of Revocation concerning books of our portfolio?
Replying to myself, the above would apply only to items sold directly by Alphascript. However, these books appear to be sold directly by Amazon. Instead Amazon.com has a returns policy which offers a 50% or 100% refund depending on the interpretation of "obvious signs of use" here:


Jun. 10th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Alphascript & VDM-Verlag
Here is the Corporate profile and concept of VDM:

It states that they publish hard to publish scientific papers, (quote): "In this way we actively promote scientific research and development world-wide." I don't see how copy-pasting a random selection of inter-related Wikipedia articles promotes scientific research and development world-wide, but who am I. Wolfgang P. Müller is the founder and sole shareholder of the VDM group. I think he's more concerned with his business than with scientific research and development world-wide. Maybe if 10.000 people send him an email stating that we don't need his books:
Dr. Wolfgang P. Müller.
Saarbrücken, Germany
tel: +49 681 9100-698

You can find more info in the debate on Wikipedia:

regards, Tuuk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mirrormundo)
Aug. 18th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC)
Wikipedia actually has an article on Signpost (the in-universe newspaper) about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2009-08-17/News_and_notes
Aug. 18th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting this: I'm glad to see it is still being discussed.
The books may be legally printed, but the potential buyers must know what they are getting:
a very badly edited serie of books.
Sep. 20th, 2009 07:09 am (UTC)
Boy, these folks have a LOT of chuzpah! Look at what they are charging for these pieces of garbage!

I'm a writer -- I spend months doing my own research, going over and over to be sure I have it right. I use original documents and authoritative secondary sources, and I do ALL my OWN research! To see that these people are getting away with this makes my blood boil.

I think you should complain to the Federal Trade Commission. This is indeed a rip-off.
Oct. 31st, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
(late reply is late)
Yeah; whoever came up with that scheme certainly was laughing: almost no work, just copy paste material and save in a PDF file.
These guys are using the GNU license, making it legal. I wouldn't stand a chance in court for what basically amounts to a bad book. At least, I got my money back.
Still trying to warn people about that company and their titles though.
Oct. 1st, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
You're buying from Amazon. Why would you expect the most predatory large corporation on the planet (with the possible exception of Microsoft or Wal-Mart) to care if you got swindled?
Oct. 31st, 2009 12:39 am (UTC)
Well, Amazon gave me my money back, so I didn't get swindled by them. I'm more angry towards the book company that made this poorly edited serie of books. That's where the swindling is happening: asking for a lot of $$$ for material taken from the free Wikipedia website, then making an @$$ job of editing (not even half ass, the WHOLE ass).

As I side note, I will say I will always prefer supporting a small bookstore over Amazon anytime- there are just none of them near me, and if I'm going to have to order books from Barnes And Nobles, Amazon gets them to me a lot faster.
Oct. 30th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
Just learned about this hoax
Today, I was looking for any new books on General Yue Fei, a famous Chinese martyr, and noticed that one of the books that popped up had the same title as a Wikipedia article that I had written. I clicked the link and, sure enough, the book was comprised of several articles that I had either written or heavily contributed to. It was selling for the overinflated price of $79. I contacted Wikipedia thinking that it would result in some kind of lawsuit that would leave the three gentlemen who claimed to be the book's editors destitute, but that was not to be. In short, I was told it was legal even though it was morally wrong for them to do so. I don't agree with this at all. The "GNU Free Documentation License" states that all authors of the articles must be properly attributed. Even if these asses listed my screen name next to the article in the table of contents, it's not my legal given name.

I could go on and on about this, but I only have a limited amount of time before I have to leave for work. All I want to say is that I too have written Amazon in the hopes of them at least pulling the books. I also plan on contacting the Wikimedia Foundation, the head of all related Wikis. In addition (and I know this sounds very nerdy), I plan on making a short video about the problem and uploading it to youtube. I figure there are enough Wikipedia editors out in the world that if we all raise a stink about this, something might be done about it. Also, it would alert others about the problem and they will hopefully boycott the publishing company.
Oct. 31st, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)
Re: Just learned about this hoax
Something I hadn't thought about: there will be a lot of people writing Wikipedia articles under a pseudonym. So when it comes to crediting the proper author..ah man, the whole GNU thing is a mess. Maybe legal, but still a mess.
Anyone can make money using your work, your words, as long as they credit you (or your screen name).
I don't know. Used that way, feels like an abuse. Especially since the books are hodge-podge of material, not properly edited. If it had been well made, I may have looked more kindly towards it and everyone's work, but no.

At this moment, the best that can be done is to make people aware what these books are and tell people to keep away from them. Especially if they expect an in depth study of a subject. I'm still shaking my head about entries about "Khepri Robot" and "Yu-Gi-Oh" in my supposedly scholarly, well researched serious book on ANCIENT Egypt.
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