Still, old habits die hard, and I’ve kept a “google alert” for my name, which occasionally sends me something interesting – if someone has mentioned one of my books in a blog, etc.
The other day, I got the strangest alert yet. A company called “Alphascript Publishing” has copied information from my wikipedia page and made it into 84 page book which they are charging 34 Euros for. Wow, a book about me.
Now, as an aside, wikipedia is an interesting enough phenomenon on its own. When I tried to put up an entry for myself many years ago to help publicize those first books, I was immediately identified, through my e-mail address, as the author of my own entry, and was rejected! A friend put up a basic one for me later… but then someone, I’m not sure (a fan?), used information from my website to expand the entry. So, for the last many years (because I was perplexed at how to change it), my entry talked about my interest in amateur wrestling… which was a short phase in my early years in Sydney and not the pastime that I wanted to be globally recognised for.
While I finally changed the wikipedia entry (sigh, by creating a false e-mail address with which to edit it), information in cyberspace doesn’t go away. So, my new biography includes the wrestling information on the publicity for the book.
Doing a little websearch, however, I find it’s a very bizarre scam. The company creates tens of thousands of fake books, at no cost. It’s a computer program that compiles it, and then sends the information out to booksellers. I imagine it’s print on demand, so that if someone actually orders a copy, it is printed on the spot and sent out. While it’s 100% unlikely that someone is going to order my unauthorized biography, it does seem to trap people with specialized interests who are so excited to find an actual book on Ancient Egypt and “The Battle of Verrieres Ridge” that they order the books, and receive computer-generated gobbledy-gook. It doesn’t seem to be illegal though – as wikipedia information is in the public domain – and it does say on the book cover “this information is primarily from wikipedia sources”.
A great blog entry by Chris Rand about the whole Scam Phenomenon here who also points out that there’s a wikipedia page about the scam as well, which “might be ironic if they make that into a book.” Heh.