The Strange Ecology of a Book

I’ll start with some very happy news, which is that BioQuip, an old and much-loved biological supply company, is now selling A Basic Glossary of Invertebrate Zoology. I pitched it to them last year, hoping they would list the book among the titles available through their catalog, and they agreed. I appreciate their efforts to register with Amazon as a reseller, which allows them to purchase copies at a discount.

BioQuip is popular among entomologists, as they can be counted on to carry all the specialized equipment needed to catch, kill, mount, and store insects. My prized point punch was bought from them, and I have mounted many a valuable ant on paper points made by it.

Still feeling suspicious about the fact that someone in India read this entire glossary on Kindle in one day (or, more likely, a bot “read” it in a few seconds, copying it as it went; or, even more likely, some poor sod took screenshots of each page manually one afternoon), I decided to see where else my book can now be found.

There are the usual resellers on Amazon, who sell used and new copies for rather strange prices—that is, for more than one can buy a new copy directly from Amazon’s printer, CreateSpace. It’s understandable that people purchase copies from BioQuip at a higher price than Amazon, simply due to the fact that the target audience is more likely to see the book there, and also the convenience of adding the title to a larger order of other biology items. But why one would buy it for more at Amazon right alongside the original printing is a mystery to me.

Even odder are the American book resellers on eBay, who not only sell it at a significant markup, but claim quick shipping despite first needing to order copies from CreateSpace. What need in the marketplace they fill I cannot figure, unless it is to provide products to people who insist on doing all of their shopping through eBay (for some reason).

At least the Australian resellers are filling a need, since Amazon doesn’t sell paperback copies of this book in that country. With a markup of 100%, plus more than that for shipping (essentially 4 times the cost of buying it in the US), an Australian can obtain a copy of my glossary. Oh, and they’ll have to wait about six weeks.

Then there is the slightly disconcerting result one gets from a simple web search for the book, which is the list of sites claiming to have a pdf of it available for downloading. This would not be surprising if, indeed, the book was copied from Kindle last year. However, I do not know if these sites (which appear to be fake, robotically-generated, interlinked, and ephemeral) actually have this pdf. I asked a friend in Asia who is quite adept at obtaining media for free to see if he could download a pdf of my glossary anywhere, and he could not. If one follows one of these sites, one is asked to create an account and then required to enter an email and create a password. This leads to a request for credit card information, even if the download is being offered for free, supposedly for “verification purposes.”

One would have to be an idiot to put credit card information on such a shady site, but what happens when one follows their highfalutin statement on DMCA protection? Well, one is then asked for one’s name, email address, mailing address, and telephone number. I’ve never been too paranoid about identity theft, but were I to really want it, this would be a good place to start.

So is there a pdf of my glossary available on the internet, or are Amazon’s book listings being used to create a large, virtual “net” in which to collect credit card and identity information for nefarious purposes? One thing I do know is that such a specialized, technical book is not such a hot title that people are continually uploading copies of it and spending all day rating and commenting on it. Sure, it would be nice to believe that over 2,700 people read this book and gave it a nearly perfect rating, and that Jenny, Markus, and Martin (who looks a lot like a woman) are so thrilled to “finally” get this “most wanted ebook.” But they are clearly as fake as Lisa’s “Kisses.”    sigh

Categories: Amazon, featured, Invertebrate Glossary, Ron Clouse

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