Saturday, January 28

Amazon has a problem with books: some are sold as originals, but they are fake copies of lower quality


Amazon has a problem selling books. Some look original, but are actually fake copies of the physical book, with inferior quality and even some textual errors. And this is not a third-party problem, but rather these books are sold directly from Amazon inventory.

François Chollet, Google engineer and author of the popular book ‘Deep Learning with Python’ details what is happening with your book, but also with dozens of other books sold on the platform.

Amazon slips copies and sells them as originals

The problem is that Amazon allows any store or seller to offer a particular book, even if they are not the original author. It is understandable, so they facilitate that there is stock of that book in their inventories.

The thing is, fake sellers manage to sneak into Amazon inventories copies that look like the original, but actually have inferior print quality and in some cases are based on PDFs of first editions or draftswith some uncorrected errors.

The author of the Python book explains that his book is being sold on Amazon by a third party seller called ‘Sacred Gamez’. When buying it, you do not receive the original copy of Manning, but a fraudulent copy based on the PDF of the book. As he describes, the copy looks like the original although uses much thinner paper, is poorly bound, and the book is smaller.

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There is an additional underlying problem and that is that the original authors do not receive a commission for the sale of these books, since everything goes directly to the copiers. In the case of the Python book, it’s easy to check if it’s a fake or a genuine copy because you have to be able to officially register it on Manning’s website to get a digital version. In other books, this check is more difficult.

As is often the case with online shopping, the recommendation is always look at the name of the seller and observe the details. In these cases they do not always have bad scores. In the case of the Python book, some sellers are ‘Sacred Gamez’ or Your Toy Mart’. They are names derived from the sale of video games and toys, where a similar problem occurs. But then they switch to selling technical books, more expensive and with much higher margins in case of fake copies.

According to Francois, fake copies affect more than 50% of technical books sold on Amazon. A problem that “could be easily solved with machine learning,” according to engineer Matt Harrison.

To try to avoid falling into this problem, those affected recommend either buying the book directly at a local bookstore or requesting it from the publisher.

From Amazon they explain to Xataka that “Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products. We invest a lot in prevention and take proactive measures to reduce counterfeits to zero in our stores” and that in 2021 alone, “Amazon invested more than 900 million dollars and employed more than 12,000 people – including scientists and machine learning experts, software developers and specialized researchers, among many others – to protect customers, authors, brands, business partners and your store from counterfeit products, fraud and other illicit behaviors.

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