A "publisher" by the name of Forgotten Books has just gave us another reminder that there is enough money in ebooks to attract scammers.
Forgotten Books supports a website where it claims to publish public domain works. It then puts adverts up next to the (poor quality) ebooks, and tries to entice you into signing up for a paid membership. While FB claims to have a half million titles in its catalog, there's nothing here worth paying for.
If you haven't heard of this "publisher" before (I had not), Forgotten Books says that it was founded in 2007 with the goal of "rediscovering and republishing formerly out of print books" (it's rediscovered 484,473 titles so far, and plans to discover another half million).
To put it another way, Forgotten Books scrapes books uploaded to Project Gutenberg, and titles posted to Google Books, and republishes them under its own imprint.
FB is not the only ones to do that; many sites, including Feedbooks and MobileRead forums, host collections of public domain titles. Few sites, however, charge you to download those ebooks or can claim to produce such abysmally poor ebooks.
While other sites make efforts to create legible ebooks, Forgotten Books has hit upon the easy way to publish half a million books with no effort.
I spent a few hours browsing the Forgotten Books website this morning and I can report that none of the ebooks on that site would meet most people's definitions of ebooks - they would not even be allowed in the Kindle Store.
The titles I saw were made from the scanned print editions (like what you might find in Google Books) and did not contain text. The books were marginally readable at best; most had artifacts from the scanning process blurring the text on one page or another. And to top things off, Forgotten Books also slaps adverts inside the ebooks they "publish".
But hey, Forgotten Books has published a half million of them, and is working on putting out another half million. Who cares that the ebooks are crap?
Clearly Forgotten Books does not, and they're hoping they can find readers who don't know any better.
FB will let you read the ebooks online, but if you want to download one of the books you will need to sign up for an account. Also, if you want to read without adverts you will need to get a paid membership for the site.
Yes. Forgotten Books is offering a paid membership to read the same ebooks you can find elsewhere for free. They want $9 a month for access to this crap.
On second thought, I may have mischaracterized Forgotten Books; it is not a spam publisher so much as it is a scam publisher.
They're charging readers for access to free content?
That is a scam, folks. It's not the first one I've seen and it won't be the last, but it is most definitely a scam.
image by jepoirrier