View Full Version : Companies printing out Wikipedia articles & selling them as books?

December 28th, 2012, 11:24 AM
I'm starting to see this a lot in eBay search results for vintage computers and other kinds of electronics:


These are "books" created by sellers printing out web search results on a certain topic: "Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online."

What is the point of this? Who would buy such a thing? Is it even legal to do this (especially with Wikipedia articles)?

December 28th, 2012, 11:37 AM
What is the point of this? Who would buy such a thing? Is it even legal to do this (especially with Wikipedia articles)?

Legal? IANAL. Who would buy such a thing? Someone who felt comfortable working from hard copy who didn't want to print their own copy. I'm far more comfortable, for example, working from a hardcopy data book on my workbench than I am from staring at a screen. I can slip a few colored plastic paperclips on important pages and flip back and forth. While I can do a similar thing on a computer screen, it's not nearly as easy.

December 28th, 2012, 11:44 AM
But notice the price of the book... $70!!!!!!! I'm sure you could save all the relevant web pages on a USB drive, bring it to Staples, and have them print out and bind the contents for MUCH less than that.

December 28th, 2012, 01:20 PM
Crooks exist everywhere. Although in this case, the info is freely-available with no real usage limitations. If someone is stupid enough to pay them for it.... then so long as they're being honest about the sources, more power to them.

Still doesn't say alot about their morals though :)

Old Thrashbarg
December 28th, 2012, 01:43 PM
Those books have been around for awhile, and are pretty much all from one company (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDM_Publishing#Wikipedia_content_duplication). That company is pretty widely regarded as parasitic scum, but there's really not much that can be done about it since they do technically stay within the bounds of legality.

Also note that the seller in the link doesn't appear to have any sort of affiliation with the publisher... looks like it's probably one of those sketchy pre-equipped totally-not-a-ponzi-scheme-we-promise 'turnkey' stores, where they just take a product list from their supplier, add on a markup, and post it. I'd imagine it's similar with a lot of the other listings for those sorts of books too.

As for who buys the books, well... almost nobody. But it's the "almost" that they're banking on... it's basically spamming, but with books instead of wiener pills. Being that they're print-on-demand, they don't actually have much overhead and thus don't need to sell that many books to make a hefty profit, and purely by way of volume (with hundreds of thousands of titles available on all sorts of different subjects), they'll inevitably be able to snag enough clueless rubes to keep the operation afloat.

December 28th, 2012, 02:27 PM
I hadn't noticed the prices. That is pretty outrageous. A couple of those and you're well on your way toward the price of a used duplexing laer printer.

BOD or "Books on Demand" was supposed to be a big business, according to old Don Lancaster columns. I guess it never really panned out.

December 28th, 2012, 02:34 PM
Still doesn't say alot about their morals though :)Morals has nothing to do with it. Morons who buy this stuff... that's more to the point. :-)

DOS lives on!!
December 28th, 2012, 03:59 PM
It's just another way to make money. People will come up with new ideas every day to do that.
And as we've seen on various eBay overpriced computer auctions, they're just looking for someone to buy the fake idea that it's worth the price and hard to find, and pay the outrageous price

December 29th, 2012, 09:52 PM
Spam books are nothing new.


December 29th, 2012, 11:18 PM
Reminds me of these wastes of trees that seem to only exist on ebay to pop up in every search you make. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Personal-Computer-History-SWTPC-6800-Altair-8800-Apple-I-Alto-Lisa-Steve-Jobs-/271129857885?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f20994f5d)