The Washington Post has coined a name for publishers who are turning the Kindle Store into their own personal content farm: ebook catfish.
A catfish, as Urban Dictionary informs us, is someone who uses Facebook or other social media to create false identities in order to pretend to be someone they’re not. The term was originally used to describe deceptive online romances, but it has a certain resonance with certain sellers in the Kindle Store and other ebookstores.
Yesterday the WP posted a video which describes one type of ebook catfish, and how you can protect yourself (beware the advert):
That is a good video, but it focuses too much on just one type of ebook catfish.
An ebook catfish can refer to publishers like the one that I reported on in June, or the one that was uncovered when Amazon changed its review policies earlier this year. They fake their way to success by misrepresenting their expertise and/or by buying reviews that mislead readers into buying a shoddily written book.
Some ebook catfishes hire third-world writers to pen a book, while others buy PLR content from disreputable websites. Some even used to repackage Wikipedia articles and other web content, but that stopped being a problem in 2012 when Amazon started banning junk and public domain ebooks from the Kindle Store.
This is not a new problem, but it is good to see that the WP is making more readers aware of the problems lurking in the muddy waters of the Kindle Store.
Edit: And that’s not all they’re doing. The WP also published a long article yesterday on ebook catfishes (which for some reason wasn’t showing up in search results this morning).