Spam for sale

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I guess I had not really foreseen how fast the advent of ebooks would lead to a gigantic, unstoppable tsunami of what can only be described as bookspam, available for sale at Amazon.com. Have a look at this article by John Naughton, about the results of Amazon making available an easy conversion to Kindle format and easy uploading for sale.

About 2.8 million books were published last year in non-traditional formats including ebooks, he reports; and one person alone, a man named Manuel Ortiz Braschi, has already published at least 3,255 books. It looks like he (and presumably many other people) are dredging the content farms on the web for free prose ("hoovering it up", as British English speakers tend to say), and packaging it into ebooks as fast as screen-scooped text can be dumped into Word buffers, Save-As-Web-Paged, and Kindlized (there's an app for that).

So it's not just a dream of self-publication come true for your rejected novel. It's arbitrary quantities of drivel, free of all quality control, packaged up for reading on your Kindle, at a price (Amazon takes 30% commission), as if in a real book.

You too can be a published author! But pretty soon, at this rate, that won't mean so much.

[Comments are closed because Braschi would just scoop them up and turn them into a book without consulting you, and you don't want that.]

Update: I have now learned (thanks to Aidan Wilson for the tip) that things are much worse than I thought. Philip M. Parker has published somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 books, and has patented a method for generating them. Word lists for languages; lists of symptoms and medical treatments; books of spreadsheets on marketing data for products of various sorts (he is a professor of marketing) — one book is about the world outlook for the period 2009-2014 as regards sales of 60-milligram containers of fromage frais. He threatens to start churning out romance novels soon. I am very frightened. Most of the books I have been involved with have taken back-breaking, brain-aching, painfully detailed work over several years. Parker is generating them by algorithm. Beam me up, Scotty; this planet is reaching the latter days of its cultural and intellectual life.

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