The New York Times:
“The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy” is a medical handbook that recommends the right amount of the right drug for treating ailments from bacterial pneumonia to infected wounds. Lives depend on it.
Antimicrobial Therapy, which publishes “The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy,” bought 34 of its handbooks from Amazon and Amazon’s third-party sellers. At least 30 were counterfeits.
Amazon takes a hands-off approach to what goes on in its bookstore, never checking the authenticity, much less the quality, of what it sells. It does not oversee the sellers who have flocked to its site in any organized way.
That has resulted in a kind of lawlessness. Publishers, writers and groups such as the Authors Guild said counterfeiting of books on Amazon had surged. The company has been reactive rather than proactive in dealing with the issue, they said, often taking action only when a buyer complains.
I’ve written a bunch of books over the years and had a front row seat as counterfeiting grew from a clumsy, back-room business using hacksaws (to cut book spines) and copiers into a sophisticated factory, sucking in books and spitting out copies in mere minutes.
It has become harder and harder to make a living writing books, and nigh impossible to stop counterfeiting. Amazon selling counterfeit books and relying on customer complaints to spot counterfeits, in my opinion, is like a fence selling stolen goods. Just as an art patron might not know that their Picasso is a fake, the book buyer might never know that the forged book they just bought is fake.
The two terrible sides to fakes on Amazon? The original author/maker doesn’t see a penny for their hard work and, as called out above, real harm can be done where faulty information is sent out from a supposedly reliable source.
From Amazon’s response to this story (H/T Christopher Lloyd) on their blog:
A recent New York Times article claims that Amazon doesn’t care about counterfeits and takes a hands-off approach to what is sold in our stores. Nothing could be further from the truth. We invest substantial amounts of time and resources to protect our customers from counterfeit products, including books. We also stand behind every product sold in our stores with our A-to-z Guarantee.
Amazon strictly prohibits the sale of counterfeit products. We invest heavily in prevention and take proactive steps to drive counterfeits in our stores to zero. In 2018 alone, we invested over $400 million in personnel and tools built on machine learning and data science to protect our customers from fraud and abuse in our stores.
One of the examples prominently featured by the Times, was the Sanford Guide. We’ve worked closely with Sanford Publishing and took additional action in November 2018 to address their concerns. Since these measures were put in place, the publisher has not submitted any further notices of infringement.
I’d love to see followup from the New York Times on this, both in continued investigation and in direct response to Amazon’s rebuttal.