Knockoff books: Watch what you purchase on Amazon

Spam books are a growing problem for consumers and the book industry.

Amazon’s knock-off problem (35 Shades of Grey, anyone?) – Fortune Tech.

There are a number of books on Amazon with similar titles to much more popular ones. Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy romance novel that has created buzz around the world, is the No. 1 selling book on Amazon. Also available on Amazon: Thirty-Five Shades of Grey. Both books are written by authors with two first initials – E. L. James and J. D. Lyte – and both are the first in a trilogy about a young girl who falls for an older, successful man with a taste for domineering sex. The publisher of the bestseller Fifty says the book is “a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever.” The author and publisher of Thirty-Five, which came out in early April, apparently believe that description fits their book as well, word-for-word. Also selling on Amazon is I am the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Twilight New Moon. Neither is the book you are likely looking for.

It’s perhaps more shocking that Amazon not only sells the books, it’s also helping their authors create them. All of the apparent copycat books that Fortune found on Amazon were made through CreateSpace, which is a division of Amazon. Authors can use CreateSpace’s system to design and self-publish their own books. The books then go on sale on Amazon and other sites. Amazon splits the proceeds with authors.


If you look at all the self-published books, most are terrible. No wonder they couldn’t get published. But now, you have to be diligent when buying a recommended book. Odd formatting is an easy tip-off that a book is copied from elsewhere. Buyer beware. If it looks too cheap and a bit off, you’d be better off checking careful before hitting “1-Click”.

  2 comments for “Knockoff books: Watch what you purchase on Amazon

  1. F89
    April 18, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Why does this make me think of the Bookshop Sketch By Monty Python?

  2. Z
    April 22, 2012 at 5:20 AM

    More worryingly, the same problem exists with electrical goods, including power adapters, chargers, and batteries, but esp. proprietary, brand-name rechargeable batteries for cameras. I’ve read complaints about items bursting into flames. There is usually a clue in the bad reviews that some sellers are slipping pirated items into the mix. Most of all, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Comments are closed.