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April 17, 2012

Amazon has a problem with knock-off ebooks

Spamazon? | The Passive Voice
Until recently, if you had typed “Steve Jobs Isaac” into the online retailer’s search box, the first choice that popped up wasn’t the best selling book by Walter Isaacson, but instead one with the same name and a similarly sounding author, Isaac Worthington. The book appears to be selling, even though Amazon’s one reviewer gives the book a single star and calls it a “poorly produced pamphlet.” Presumably, Worthington’s book is based on exclusive interviews with Jeve Stobs. 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. It’s a different relationship than most publishers have with their authors, but there is no way for consumers to know that. On Amazon and other sites, CreateSpace is listed as the publisher of the books. “It’s the book equivalent of spam,” says lawyer Eric Rayman, a former attorney for Simon & Schuster. “Amazon should be taking steps to stop this. It’s bad for consumers and it’s bad for the book business.” . . . .

Pulitzer fiction judges unable to come to agreement, give no author the award in 2012

Publishing Industry Is Angry That Pulitzers Snubbed Fiction - NYTimes.com
A winner is usually selected in a two-step process in which a three-member fiction jury reviews hundreds of books, settles on three finalists and sends those finalists to the Pulitzer board. The board then reads the books and meets for two days to determine a winner. A majority is required, and this year the judges could not come up with one. “Whenever they make a decision, it’s not meant to be a statement about fiction in general,” Mr. Gissler said on Monday. “It’s just a statement that none was able to receive a majority.” As a group, the finalists were unorthodox and, as many people in the industry have suggested, may have given the Pulitzer board pause. They were Denis Johnson for “Train Dreams,” a book that was originally published as a novella in The Paris Review in 2002 and then was repackaged and released as a hardcover by Farrar, Straus & Giroux; Karen Russell, whose debut novel, “Swamplandia!,” was published by Knopf when she was only 29; and David Foster Wallace for “The Pale King,” a book that was unfinished at the time of his death in 2008 and was later completed by his editor. The fiction jury was composed of Michael Cunningham, the novelist whose book “The Hours” won a Pulitzer in 1999; Susan Larson, the former book editor of The Times-Picayune in New Orleans; and Maureen Corrigan, the critic in residence at Georgetown University. Ms. Corrigan said on Tuesday that she was shocked by the failure of the board to choose a winner. “When I heard, the first word that went through my head was ‘inexplicable,’ ” she said in a telephone interview. “Then the second reaction was just anger on behalf of these three novels.”