My entire book was plagiarized on Amazon. I admit that in the grand scheme of things that could go wrong in tech these days, I wasn’t quite expecting this one.
It’s all the more surprising because the same distributor handles both books. Last year, our publisher Ziff Davis (ExtremeTech’s parent company) published my first book, Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation. It’s about my favorite old computer lineup of Atari 8-bit machines released from 1979 through the 1980s. We produced both print and Kindle versions; for the former, we went through CreateSpace, an Amazon company that prints and distributes books on demand.
It’s been available about a year now. I was first alerted to the theft by Kevin Savetz, a well-known Atari 8-bit fan with an excellent radio show called Antic: The Atari 8-Bit Podcast, which he does with Randy Kindig and Brad Arnold. Savetz had bought a copy of the offending book out of sheer interest in the topic. Upon receiving it, he couldn’t help but notice it’s exactly the same as mine, minus the word Breakout, my original cover, and the layout inside. Everything else is copied word for word, without my name–including the part on the back blurb where he says he’s the Editor-in-Chief of ExtremeTech, which is certainly news to me!
This “author” — I imagine Steve S. Thomas is not his real name — has stolen a number books, it turns out, from a variety of publishers and not just Ziff Davis:
I reported the theft to CreateSpace yesterday and am currently waiting for a response. In the meantime, both my Atari book and the fake are still up on Amazon at the time of this writing, ready to be purchased. His copy of my book has been up on Amazon since October 23 of last year, which was also my last birthday! Who knew I had received such a present at the time? Apparently, you can save more than $5 by buying the fake one, though the inside layout leaves something to be desired:
I’ll update this post when I learn more. But in the meantime, there seems to be a genuine need for some kind of simple, automated check on CreateSpace whenever you upload a new book — at least against the already existing library of CreateSpace books. Seems like a very simple fix to prevent a bad situation like this one. Okay, I’m going to go have a small heart attack now.