WARNING: Websites Offering eBooks at “Bargain” Prices
Posted by Tee Morris
Perhaps one of the toughest things to wake up to is being told by a friend and colleague in writing that you are being ripped off.
That was exactly what happened to me this morning when John R. White reached out to Philippa and myself on Facebook to let us know that a website was selling our books, both from our New York publishers as well as our own independent titles, for discount prices and allegedly these sales are neither paid to the publisher nor are they counted in statistics. (I say “allegedly” as I am still researching exactly who is backing this website, but I know that the site content appears to be scraped from Amazon and Imagine That! has not been contacted by this website’s administrators for price negotiations on our titles.) I checked, and sure enough our titles from the Tales from the Archives are on there, at a discount, with no consent from us.
Spending a bit longer and digging a little deeper into this site, I discovered something far more serious (if not sinister): You cannot “buy” books from this site. At least not straight away. You “Join Free” and then this vendor contact you with the lowest negotiated price for the book, almost as if it’s a Priceline for eBooks.
I say “almost” because this site strikes me as a potentially dangerous site. Not just for authors, but for readers.
Once you join, this site has your email. This is their blanket permission to start sending you SPAM. That may not seem like a big deal, but your email can also be used for a variety of phishing scams ranging from the “I’m in distress and need money” email to compromised bank and online account warning. The reason why SPAM is so prevalent? In 2009, a survey discovered that 12% of SPAM was replied to in earnest. Give your email address some worth and share it when necessary.
There is also a possibility that this site may also be slipping malware on your browser in order to record your actions on your computer (a process also known as keylogging). There are also malware packages that recruit your computer for Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, making it difficult for law enforcement to trace back where these attacks originate. If you ever do visit sites like this (and you really shouldn’t, which is why we’re not reposting the actual URL of the website), it is a good idea to run your antivirus software immediately.
Finally, the other reason—perhaps the one that matters the most to both Philippa and myself—is that sites like these do not benefit an author. When you see the other vendors on Amazon selling our books used at elevated prices or sites like this where they claim to be “negotiating with the publisher” for the lowest price (and trust me, Imagine That! Studios has not been contacted by anyone about this), these sales are not recorded with sales from legitimate vendors like Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords; nor do any profits originating from questionable vendors end up in the author’s pocket. Whether you are torrenting a book for free or picking it up at a discount price from a questionable vendor such as this one, the author is hit the hardest.
In a nutshell, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Especially on the web. Be safe, and be smart. Stick with the vendors who are established and reputable.
Posted on March 21, 2013, in News and Commentary, Online Safety, Scams & Schemes and tagged Amazon, antivirus, Apple, author, benefits, book piracy, content scraping, danger, John R. White, kindle, Kobo, malware, Nook, reputation, safety, sales, security, Smashwords, SPAM, trust, vendors, warning. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.