Everyone was watching this morning as Apple unveiled their new digital textbook tools, and that includes the scammers. I've just gotten my first email from a site that promises to offer an unlimited lifetime access to over 3 million digital textbooks for only $50.
What's even better is that TouchTextbooks.com offered me a 75% affiliates commission. Yeah, I'm sure this is a legit site. Pull the other one, it has bells on.
Update: Apparently the site has changed its URL to www.collegebooksfree.info. It is still a scam site.
I've covered similar sites in the past, and this site bears a striking resemblance to one of them. Here's the text of the email I received:
At the moment, we have over 3 million fully licensed textbooks which users can download directly to their iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle, or any other handheld device.
The students simply pay a one-time joining fee of $49.95 and they get lifetime membership to download as many textbooks as they want from our own private, fully hosted database.
We would like to invite you to start promoting Touch Textbooks to receive 75% commission for referring customers to us. For example, if you send us just 5 customers a day with a banner ad on your site, you would be earning over $1,100 a week!
The commission and the general terms make this site sound an awful lot like MyPadMedia, a scam site that I covered back in July. That site charged you a $50 fee to provide links to free ebook sites, all of which you could have found on your own.
I don't see a good reason to visit the site and confirm the scam. TouchTextbooks.com has the stench of a scam site, and it is so obvious that paying money to confirm it would be redundant. That claim to have 3 million titles is enough to give away the scam; sites that sell digital textbooks legally cannot make the same boast. For example, Kno only stocks round 100k titles, and they're completely aboveboard. Also, the cross-platform claim is another tipoff; no legit site can do that.
But I did put my money down. Yep, it's scam site.
First, TouchTextbooks.com was lying about the 3 million titles they offer. Their index only shows 75 thousand titles listed, and they all appear to be in PDF. That's not exactly very compatible with the Kindle or with most smartphones (like they claim.)
Second, I just got a confirmation email from Plimus, the same folks behind MyPadMedia. I could have stopped right there; clearly they are running second scam.
Update: Plimus is the payment processor, not the pirate. But MyPadMedia now redirects to the above pirate site, so there's little doubt that they are related.
But let's take look at the content. It turns out that this is a slightly different scam from what I expected; all of the dozen or so ebooks I checked were sold elsewhere for $150 or more. The copies found on TouchTextbooks.com are clearly pirated.
What, do you think someone will sell an obscure textbook via Google Books for $191 and then license copy to TouchTextbooks.com for everyone to download for free? That doesn't make any sense. Plus a number of the titles weren't available as digital textbooks anywhere, and that should rise a red flag.
Yep, it's a scam site. Buyer beware.