John Doppler spotlighted a new, smarter breed of pirate over in is Words on Words blog yesterday. Where most pirates would content themselves with simply copying a work, this pirate put in an above-average effort and copied the author's name, publisher, publication date, and other details.
When Vancouver attorney and author Rebecca Merry Murdock checked Amazon listings for her debut book, she found something strange. The listing for her ebook version was not linked to her author page or the print version of her book. Amazon’s support team remedied the problem by linking the ebook to the print version and her author profile.
Weeks later, Rebecca noticed that a search for her book brought up an unfamiliar ASIN (Amazon’s unique catalog number).
An imposter had stolen the content of her book, uploaded it to Amazon, and created an exact duplicate of her real sales page. That imposter had been collecting royalties for the sale of Rebecca’s book. The imposter’s sale page was indstinguishable from the real one, and worse — it was now linked to her official author page.
He's not joking. The listings really do look identical:
Doppler calls this pirate a counterfeiter. I disagree, but let's not get hung up on labels. The important detail here is that there is a smarter type of pirate out there, one which is a lot harder to spot.
This is a pirate that most readers and even other authors might not notice, so authors are going to need to be extra vigilant when searching for their ebooks.
In the Kindle Store, that's relatively simple. Simply make a note of the legitimate ASINs, and any not on that list is a pirated ebook.
Edit: Or perhaps not. A reader has pointed out that in this situation it's possible that both copies are legit. One is from the author, and the other could be from a distributor.
But when it comes to other ebookstores, or distributors like Smashwords, I am at a loss to suggest how one might identify a pirated copy when the pirate has gone through so much effort to cloak their efforts.
P.S. Is anyone else surprised that Amazon missed this? You would think that this would have triggered an alert somewhere, but it obviously did not.
image by orangeacid