By Mike Gast
A chronic problem with Amazon that has plagued authors and publishers for years has finally made its way to the RV industry. We’re talking about counterfeit books.
David Cattelino runs a small publishing house called Roundabout Publications just outside Kansas City, Kansas. It specializes in writing and publishing how-to books, trip guides, and websites for outdoor travel enthusiasts. Some of their most popular titles include RV Camping in State Parks, RV Camping in National Parks, the Rest Area Guide, and the RVers Guide to Dump Stations.
But it’s their RV Camping in Corps of Engineers Parks guide that has been caught in a counterfeit web on Amazon.
“We recently discovered that there was a pirated copy of the Corps of Engineers Park Guide being sold on Amazon,” Cattelino said. “It even had a different author’s name and was selling for less than our regular cover price in both print and in three digital Kindle editions.”
Counterfeiting on Amazon isn’t new
Self-publishing authors can submit their works to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Their e-books will then be posted for sale on the site. It’s a simple matter for a counterfeiter to create a PDF of the original digital work. Or they scan all of the pages from a traditionally printed book. The thieves then submit the work back to Amazon as their own and reap the profits.
When Cattelino was first made aware of his purloined book, he submitted a Copyright Infringement Request to Amazon and the title was pulled down. A week later, the counterfeit book reappeared for sale and the entire process had to be repeated.
“They were selling three more different versions in print and three on Kindle,” he said. “We again sent in a ‘take down’ request, and it was removed. Now, we are just watching to see if it happens again.” Amazon does little to police stolen works. It requires publishers and authors to keep watch over their books on their own and request pirated titles be removed.
“Spending hours on Amazon checking keyword searches to see if counterfeits pop up is something I do every day now,” Cattelino said. “In our case, the thieves duplicated all of our content, then shrunk the image down to a 6-inch by 9-inch size and lowered the price by $6.”
RVers could get books that are counterfeit
Purchasing counterfeit books on Amazon at sometimes significant discounts may not seem like a big issue for some consumers. However, the ripple effects can be huge.
Some counterfeiters make low-quality scans that can leave pages missing or unreadable. Poor quality leads to bad reviews, which ultimately can impact the sale of the real, legitimate book. In the end, publishers and authors are cheated out of revenues, which can severely affect their bottom line.
Cattelino said there are very few indicators that would tip off book buyers that they had counterfeit copies. One potential indicator is that counterfeiters rarely reproduce title pages or copyright pages from books they steal. Because pages are often omitted, page “headers” are often also out of alignment with the content.
“We think we caught the counterfeiters of the Corps of Engineers Guide very early,” he said. “They certainly sold some books, but it’s hard to tell how many.”
If you want to ensure that you’re purchasing an original copy of the Corps of Engineers Guide and not a counterfeit book, your best bet is to go to Roundabout Publications official website and search their books for the title. Then, click on the link on their page to be taken to the legitimate title’s purchase page on Amazon.