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Someone Stole My Book (and My Job) and Is Selling It on Amazon (extremetech.com)
315 points by artsandsci 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments

This a major problem for amazon. I bought a baby product off amazon. I noticed a few weird things about my product, so I emailed the inventor. They told me that some Chinese company had stolen their product design and was seeling fakes with the same name on amazon.

I refuse anything from amazon for my baby. Hell, amazon even sent me an opened package of similac formula

Counterfeiting isn't even the worst thing on Amazon. Low-tech, low-skill, low-capital entrepreneur forums like /r/flipping have recurring posts about people dumpster diving outside retailers, some of which have yet to lock their garbage cans. They look for discarded consumer goods, primarily cosmetics, toiletries, and electronics, but sometimes even packaged food. The posters go on to brag about their profits selling this stuff on Amazon or eBay.

Their rationale is that these items are perfectly good and were discarded due to slow sales or being discontinued. That's objectively false: most was discarded because it is either expired or defective. The "good" stuff is sold to Marshall's, Ross, NewEgg, or the rest of the multi-billion dollar "off-price" ecosystem. But people don't want to hear that and any attempt to caution them is downvoted to oblivion.

To be fair, Amazon has taken steps to ameliorate this. Certain categories are now restricted to large volume sellers, which weeds out the dumpster divers.

...until they find a different category or a different website, or a way to lie or cheat their way back into the old one. If all else fails, they go on /r/DIY and learn how to make children's furniture out of poison soaked pallets they can steal from their local hardware store.

> Their rationale is that these items are perfectly good and were discarded due to slow sales or being discontinued. That's objectively false: most was discarded because it is either expired or defective.

What does party A's rationale for discarding something have to do with party B's utility of the thing? It's possible a merchant may not want to stock an item that someone else wants, perhaps because the merchant can't sell it at a profit or they want to protect their brand. Something about trash and treasure.

For food at least, the expiration date is usually the manufacturer's "best by" date, meaning when they no longer back the product with their brand, not whether the food is still good to consume. This, among other practices, leads to a mind blowing amount of retailer food waste in the US. I'm all for scavengers being able to profit from what would otherwise be wasted as long as they're honest.

There are four parties here, not two.

A is the company whose products the dumpster diver B took. C is the marketplace where B lied and said the goods were as advertised by A. The aggrieved party is D, the end consumer, who thought they were buying the quality advertised by A or implied by relevant laws and regulations.

IMHO, most of the blame lies with B, but experience has shown that C will almost always turn a blind eye in the name of growth.

> For food at least, the expiration date is usually the manufacturer's "best by" date, meaning when they no longer back the product with their brand, not whether the food is still good to consume. This, among other practices, leads to a mind blowing amount of retailer food waste in the US. I'm all for scavengers being able to profit from what would otherwise be wasted as long as they're honest.

There are legitimate ways to reduce food waste, but this is not one of them. The main problem is that dumpster divers don't advertise their wares as "scavenged from a dumpster" or "expired" or "recalled" because that would result in lower profits.

I had a fake blender from Amazon and they first were helpful then suddenly wanted me to return it to the reseller allowing them to sell it to someone else. I only discovered it after a BBC report of fake ones catching fire. No way would I let that end up in someone else’s house. Got my refund in the end, but Amazon were clueless really.

You are starting to freak me out. I have bought a few brand name items from Amazon over last years where the quality was surprisingly bad. Now I wonder if they were fake. This just shouldn't happen. It's one thing to find out that something is fake but often you don't know what to expect and end up thinking that the product is just bad. I guess I will reduce my Amazon shopping when more. I already dropped prime but I will probably start avoid Amazon as much as I can from now on.

eBay feels almost more honest now.

Are you buying GOOD brand names? BIFL stuff? I could name a ton of brand name items I've bought off Amazon that were just bad that I replaced multiple times. A big problem with that is not seeing it in person to see what comes with it, etc.

Example, I've owned just about every brand of electric shaver and hated something about nearly all of them. I finally dropped the $70 on a Wahl that has a third of the features but it's a beast. Couldn't even tell you how many kitchen appliances I have bought and thought were awful. Or bathroom mats, towels, patio mats, etc.

Personally I think a lot of consumer products just suck and Amazon is pretty much the equivalent of Walmart now when it comes to filtering through cheap crap. Products are half-assed most of the time and companies spend more money on marketing than making a good product (or the best they can for the price). Or they focus on one really big feature and skimp out on the rest.

I'm trying to buy a lot LESS but very high quality stuff nowadays.

I've had to stop using Amazon as my "buy-all" place. Almost felt like I was being gaslit by 5 star reviewers of shitty towels/etc when I finally discovered Frontage products and went "wow, lux Hotel quality towels DO exist." I don't want to use Amazon for cheap Walmart quality junk, I want it for its fast shipping and options.

edit: Frontgate not Frontage.. they make killer towels, I'm a changed man

Sadly it's not just about the brand name. This blender was a near perefect replica of the official NutriBullet product. It took me buying it from a retail store to compare them side by side when I noticed the imperfections. But I couldn't tell without having one to compare with. Worst part is I paid MORE on the fake, so it's not even about price.

I used to have this problem buying brand razor blades from eBay a few years back. They were counterfeit because they actually hurt to shave with, yet the supermarket version (same brand), were perfect.

Long story short, when it comes spare power adapters (e.g. Macbook), I only buy from Apple direct. I do fear getting a knockoff which is unsafe.

Are you sure it was a fake Nutribullet? They are sold on TV via infomercial, made by Magic Bullet. They're pretty much junk manufactured by lowest bidder factories with quality problems.

If you paid slightly above retail, it seems even less likely it was fake, and probably just shoddy QC.

I was hoping to find out 100% and Amazon originally said NutriBullet would get in touch, but nothing happened. When I got back to them they had no idea what to do or what I was previously told. So disappointed in them.

As for the higher price, when I brought it was out of stock everywhere which limited my options to an Amazon seller. It was the run up to Christmas and after buying, other places got stock.

I did as much research as I could to spot it, even buying a new on from a trusted retailer.

But when the consequence could be fire[1] it wasn’t worth the risk and I couldn’t face passing that risk to someone else by returning it. I wanted a proper investigation. That didn’t happen.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-35075642/fake-nutribul...

I had that same problem with buying razor blades online. It was impossible to tell them apart until you put them to your skin. Then it was obvious.

> Are you buying GOOD brand names? BIFL stuff?

Those are being faked on Amazon. You can't know if you're getting the brand you think. It's a huge problem.

Is it enough to know that things are "Sold by and shipped from Amazon" or whatever the phrase is, rather than "Sold by XYZ TRADING INDUSTRIES LTD"? Or does the quality issue find its way into official Amazon distribution?

No. You have to make sure that there is not anyone else selling the same SKU, which is somewhat painful to do.

The problem is that Amazon commingles by default, so if you bought something from seller A, but seller B’s counterfit was closer to you, you will get the counterfit.

My understanding is that the way they perform fulfillment it's almost impossible to avoid for things sold by Amazon.

I don't know about the case of the 3rd party distributor, although it seems likely to be worse and not better.

Some brands like Birkenstock shoes stopped selling on Amazon for this reason: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/20/birkenstock-quits-amazon-in-...

But how will this affect selling of counterfeits? The article points only out that Birkenstock will tell its customers it doesn't sell on Amazon, but unaware customers can still be fooled, imho.

My wife was shopping for a fan and noticed that Amazon and Costco both had the same one. Costco was about $1.50 more. We buy a ton of stuff from Amazon, but given the chance to get it from someone who is less likely to have a fake and will take it back without an argument - Costco won this time.

Yeah, I'm the WORST at returning things, especially if it involves shipping. Thankfully I've been lucky with TVs, etc. Or have low standards.

I just received a fake usb c hub from Amazon, sold by them, but clearly commingled with counterfeits.

Seems like these problems are just getting worse over time.

Amazon is not doing enough to address this issue. At some point someone will die from something that is counterfeit and Bezos will be in DC like Zuckerberg is today. Why they’re not being more proactive is beyond me.

My son is five months old and we won't buy anything off Amazon for him. If we receive a gift for him and it comes in an Amazon box we quietly dispose of it. We're going to spend A LOT of money on him as he grows up and Amazon will see none of it for exactly the reason you mentioned.

I hardly buy anything for myself off Amazon anymore because I don't want counterfeit stuff either. Since I stopped buying from them I also canceled my Prime account. Curious to see if this problem hurts them in the long run.

I also tell my friends and family that they should reconsider buying anything from Amazon anymore.

I buy nearly everything on Amazon but they have a serious counterfeit problem with stuff like hair supplies, cologne, batteries, etc. I'll only buy that sort of stuff from a vendor I know (if its third party Amazon). 99% of the stuff I buy off Amazon is completely fine, though.

That's not as good as you might think. If Amazon is handling the fulfillment, Amazon commingles the goods provided by the vendor with any other vendor selling the same product. Amazon figures 1 package of gillette razor blades is the same as every other package claiming to be Gillette Razor Blades ( picking a random brand I can remember at the moment)

See this for more explanation: https://www1.avalara.com/trustfile/en/blog/commingle-not-com...

As a seller you can opt out of commingling and still have Amazon fulfill it, and a lot of sellers do specifically because of these quality issues.

But yeah, some people do it and it's a big part of the counterfeit problem. As a seller you have to have to weigh dealing with counterfeits vs shipping logistics. "Your products take an extra week to get to me? Forget it, I'll buy from that guy."

I don't think there's a way for a buyer to know without messaging the seller.

Is there any way for me, as a buyer, to see if a particular item is being commingled or not? (But still fulfilled by Amazon?)

There is no way to tell from the listings page unfortunately. Once you receive the product non-commingled items will have a sticker over the EAN/UPC/Barcode which includes the sellers own SKU, barcode, item condition (New, Used) and item name. If the product doesn't have one of these stickers and the EAN/UPC is uncovered it is most likely commingled.

You can always contact the seller, who has to maintain a 24h response time average to maintain their selling privileges.

As a seller, I would much rather you contacted me before buying. My average response time is 8 minutes and most big sellers I know are <3 hours.

I'm not sure, but I think it's denoted by the "also sold by these 433 sellers" line (or similar) below the price.

Can you find a page that has that? If you're talking about this:

> Used & new (28) from $19.99 & FREE shipping on orders over $25.00. Details

it's not really indicative of anything other than that someone else is selling it.

It's really tragic the consumer can't validate this. So I just don't buy FBA stuff if buying from Amazon.

Please just contact the seller if this is a genuine concern, it's so easy, and we have to respond within 24 hours (on average).

1. Click seller name

2. Click contact (seller)

3. Type "Is ASIN BXXXXXXX commingled?"

4. Hit send.

But as a consumer it's even easier for me to just buy it somewhere else, which is what I do. I'm not in the business of verifying if everything I buy off Amazon is commingled or not, I just want to buy it.

Perfectly simple. Easier to just avoid FBA (or Amazon).

I'd say it's probably against their best interest to do so. People would just start buying "not commingled" items only, which would be a big hit to their shipping times.

Looking at the seller rating is probably the best you can do aside from messaging or going somewhere else.

Well that is disheartening. I figured if it was from Amazon I could somewhat assume authenticity.

  we quietly dispose of it
Don't their shipments include the equivalent of a gift receipt?

Silent disposal still rewards the counterfeiter.

Usually, I think. But to be honest I have plenty of stuff on my to-do list before I get all the way down to "return gifts from Amazon."

Is counterfeiting an US problem? I buy a lot, lot of things from Amazon, I never, never got a counterfeit - or, at least, I never got a counterfeit that I could spot :-)

I'm in the UK and was about to post the same thing. I see a lot of posts on HN about receiving counterfeit goods from Amazon in the US, but I've been spending a lot with Amazon for years now, and I've never come across anything dodgy.

I actually prefer to use Amazon over others because their customer service is incredible and their returns process is completely hassle free. I don't need to return stuff often, but they make it super easy when I do - they immediately send a replacement, and a courier comes to the house the next day to collect the return!

Same here. HN has a bit of an outrage bandwagon issue, and this seems to be an instance of that. I have no doubt that counterfeiters are present on Amazon. What I doubt is the size of the problem as filtered through the echo chamber here.

I suspect many buyers in the United States are not skilled at determining counterfeits. Sometimes this is obvious, but other times the symptoms are masked as something else.

When an electronic item is defective, when an item you buy reoccurringly degrades in quality over multiple purchases, or when something stops working before it should those are all warning signs of a counterfeit.

I highly suspect 0.5% of my Amazon packages have been counterfeit. I've had hundreds of orders over the last 3 years.

> When an electronic item is defective, when an item you buy reoccurringly degrades in quality over multiple purchases, or when something stops working before it should those are all warning signs of a counterfeit.

Yeah, those things all happen to genuine products, too. It doesn't tell you much.

The problem is growing, so past purchases arenot really indicative of the current experience. I’m now getting fakes sold and shipped by Amazon.com, any small electronics and accessories are a big crap shoot now.

Counterfeiting has been a problem in China for years.

Companies like Walmart have in the past used Chinese companies fairly responsibly, e.g. forcing them to use new brands that are no one else's, or selling under Walmart's brands.

When Amazon moved to compete along the lines of ebay say, they didn't really care that much if it sold counterfeit goods. It's the brand's fault for not flagging Amazon's products.

The US is the largest English speaking market, so it actually makes a lot of sense that large scale counterfeiting efforts would be targeting it. A foreign manufacturer stands to get the highest margins if they can successfully counterfeit our brands here. The US has both the largest population and the largest reputation for "having money".


> This a major problem for amazon

I hear this over and over but where's the evidence that this is true on a significant scale? Sellers have been counterfeiting and selling knock-off garbage on Amazon since the 3rd-party marketplaces launched.

3P sellers are a NECESSITY for Amazon. They source and stock the hundreds of millions of long tail items that Amazon themselves can't/won't. For Amazon the benefits of 3P sellers far outweigh the costs.

Edit: Who's downvoting this and why?

Your initial question (is this really a problem) is completely unrelated to the rest of your post. It doesn't matter if third party sellers are important to Amazon. Nobody cares but Amazon. If 3P are important, they have to do the work to make their marketplace viable.

The problem is that they comingle authentic products from brands with fakes from 3ps. You never know which it is you are buying.

Comingling increases sales on their platform, but encourages fraud. They need to stop comingling but won't until they are shut down by regulators because it decreases their turnover.

There are large categories of things I don't buy anymore from them now (namely: expensive stuff not manufactured by Amazon themselves) that I know about co-mingling inventory. It's still in the early days of awareness about this, but if they don't change anything, I'm not likely to go back - odds are that it gets worse before it gets better.

I'd be fine with 3rd party sellers if I could simply ignore them. When I can't trust stuff "sold by Amazon" if third parties also sell it, though...

I'm not downvoting, but I'll speculate why others might.

You express skepticism that this really is a significant problem. Okay. Which you back up with arguments that the problem is: longstanding (has been a "feature" since 3P mtk launched years ago with no sign of a solution), and it's potentially vast (3P mkt stocks "hundreds of millions of items"), and probably unsolvable ("3P sellers are a NECESSITY for Amazon".)

So I'll guess that the downvoting had something to do with your thesis sentence.

Yeah I'm skeptical. It's such a huge problem that their retail revenue has only doubled in 3 years:


If this was a serious problem wouldn't their be some noticeable effect? Possibilities:

• Anecdotal complaints aren't representative of overall customer experience

• Customers are willing to deal with the hassle of returning the occasional counterfeit item but it doesn't stop them from buying on Amazon

The thing is, just like Backpage, Amazon is disincentivized from stopping the sale of counterfeit goods-- they profit from each and every sale whether it's counterfeit or not.

Their decision to turn a blind eye to fraud could easily have contributed to such a rapid growth rate. Of course their sales doubled; you have to buy two of everything in order to get one that works. Try buying car parts or batteries and you'll see what we're all bitching about.

The noticeable effect hasn't happened yet. Eventually consumers will catch on. People avoid the Dollar Store because the products, while brand-name and cheap, are noticeably subpar in quality. Amazon will develop a similar reputation if they keep this up.

Bargain and dollar stores are the fastest growing segment of retail stores in the US:



> Anecdotal complaints aren't representative of overall customer experience

"I bought some unspecified item on Amazon and as far as I could tell, it wasn't a counterfeit" is just as much the anecdote you are hastily generalizing the other viewpoint of.

> Customers are willing to deal with the hassle of returning the occasional counterfeit item but it doesn't stop them from buying on Amazon

You keep saying that you're skeptical, but so far most of your points have been neutral or defending the existence of counterfeit products (not refuting their existence), defending Amazon selling them (not refuting Amazon sells them), but in all cases you claim to be skeptical but not really back up your skepticism with any actual skepticism or counter facts.

You're not skeptical - you don't get it. Amazon is complicit in fraud. They sell fakes as the real stuff and that is why sales have increased.

Well this is the only reason Amazon still has competitive pricing. Their sales tax advantage is gone, and their delivery services, while impressive, can't compete with having customers simply drive the product home themselves.

So what's replacing their tax "avoidance" ? Bezos is done cheating the government, and of course now he's cheating his customers.

(sorry but I have very little respect for a man who is known to steal the businesses of his customers [1], and of course there's how he's (attempting to) use his customers as a weapon against Google [2])

[1] https://www.inc.com/stacey-macnaught/amazon-is-stealing-your...

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16499124

> I hear this over and over but where's the evidence that this is true on a significant scale?

All over this thread? All over the web?



Is it affecting their business? Are people canceling Prime accounts? Are revenues down?

"Is it affecting their business" Yeah I would say it is fraudulently helping their business.

"Are people canceling Prime accounts?" Multiple people in this thread have said they had

"Are revenues down?" Is that the driving factor of whether a business practice is moral/legal ?

> "Are people canceling Prime accounts?" Multiple people in this thread have said they had

Why are these anecdotes worth so much when other all available evidence (revenues, etc.) is to the contrary.

I am still not at all following why revenue is a key indicator of whether or not something is right

The reason you are not following that is because I never said it was and nobody except for you was asking whether something was “right.”

The original discussion was about whether:

> [product counterfeiting] is a major problem for amazon

I personally agree with rdlecler1's comment. "At some point someone will die from something that is counterfeit and Bezos will be in DC like Zuckerberg is today. Why they’re not being more proactive is beyond me."

Did you mean to post this as a reply to a different comment? I don’t see how it connects with anything I’ve said.

Do you not agree that Bezos being called to the stand for selling huge numbers of counterfeit goods would be "a major problem for Amazon" ? I thought that's what we were talking about...

You can see it in this thread: people who won't buy stuff and people who have canceled their Prime account. It's the type of cancer that isn't noticed until it's too widespread to ignore.

Well, I'm pretty sure their revenues are up but at the same time is that how you want to make your money?

It’s not my money but it’s pretty clear by Amazons behavior that they are fine with it.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

I agree with your comment. Amazon has a problem of 1) how to police all this long-tail product, 2) how to onboard the number of sellers that needs to fulfill the demand for long-tail products.

I'm pretty sure that if someone were to sell a counterfeited copy of a best seller, his store would be shut down in a matter of hours and his account closed forever. But a small store selling stuff difficult to find? They are doing them a service, almost.

Like everything else, there are rules against counterfeiting, but the enforcement should strike a balance for the overall wellbeing of the marketplace...

HN is eager to downvote dissenting opinions. You got a vote up from me.

Edit: huh, this got downvoted too... First rule of fight club is we do not talk about fight club?

> Edit: huh, this got downvoted too... First rule of fight club is we do not talk about fight club?

FWIW, there are multiple points in the guidelines your comment crosses.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation... Assume good faith."

"Eschew flamebait."

"Please don't post shallow dismissals"

"Please don't comment about the voting on comments."


No, the issue is your comment doesn't add anything to the discussion. It's not any different from replying with "+1"

If you want to upvote someone, upvote them. If you want to reply, add something of value to the discussion.

Can manufacturers not sue Amazon for selling counterfeit goods?

They can and have, but they lose. Technically Amazon isn’t the seller, but simply the marketplace, according to courts so far.

There was a discussion of this on HN recently because a car company (Mercedes I think it was) caught Amazon itself selling fakes of their products.

Yet if I post a magnet link for a torrent, I'm distributing pirated software.

Make a lot of money and buy a newspaper. It won't be piracy for you after that.

No there is a huge difference. What Jeff Bezos is doing is SELLING pirated non-software. That's highly illegal and punishable, in most places, with jail time.

But man this is an insightful comment. Of course, that's what the outsourcing wave will lead to.

Pirated real products. From toothpaste to electronics. Lower quality ... and even higher quality products.

Man how could I have missed this ?

Amazon's legal situation might be worse than usual in this case, because the plagiarist was using CreateSpace. In the normal case, someone ships counterfeit goods to an Amazon warehouse and pays Amazon to manage them. But CreateSpace is a printing service, which means the infringing book was printed on an Amazon-owned printing press. So legal precedents that shield them from liability don't necessarily apply.

A number of counterfeit goods have been showing up in the "Ships from and sold by Amazon.com" category - so they are both the warehouse and the vendor. Not the pages where they're reselling stuff from random companies like Bob's Gadgets LLC.

What was the outcome of the fake Mercedes thing?

I believe it’s still in litigation, but people are saying that it’s the first time Amazon might lose.

It looks like there is a sizable market for curated brands, even for routine items like toilet paper, razors, baby formula etc.

You misunderstood the problem, you can follow a curated guide on legit non-counterfeit products, then click their link to Amazon, purchase, and still have a counterfeit arrive in the mail.

No. I meant a non-amazon marketplace, not a curated guide that takes you back to Amazon for actual purchase

I indirectly know of someone who makes extra money by plagiarizing little known books, changing the cover and republishing them on Amazon. I'm surprised Amazon has no system to detect this kind of gross plagiarism. Remember Google's digitize all books project? This would be a useful use-case for it.

When I was an Amazon intern 7 years ago, I went to a presentation of exactly how the duplicate detector works. I won't discuss any technical details of course, but suffice it to say: it should catch these sorts of cases, so long as the books are already on Amazon in digital format.

I don't understand how your friend can get away with this.

Yeah, I don't know. I learned about this two years ago. I think he does not make much from any single book, but he has many of them. They were exercise and diet books.

Just FYI, 7 years would almost certainly put that information outside of the statute of limitations.

Most people's integrity doesn't have a statute of limitations on promises made and kept.

I wouldn't see the statute of limitations having much to do with his reputation to respective employers?

Just FYI, 7 years would almost certainly put that information outside of the statute of limitations.

I don't believe that sentence makes any sense. Do you have a legal background?

Ah, credentialism on HN. Shocker! Is it that I'm missing "in the US," or do you have other criticism more specific?

The only logical conclusion (apart from Amazon being managerially incompetent) is that they make more money this way.

"Only" is a strong word. There could be dozens of other reasons.

It could be that the system isn't working the way it's designed. It could be that the thieving authors have found a trick to fool the system. It could be that there's a single nefarious admin who takes bribes to override the system. I'll bet you can even think of a few more if you try.

Amazon thinks long term. Bezos's influence is all about that. Letting customers and authors alike be defrauded like this in order to make a few extra bucks in the short term is not what I expect from Amazon.

My explanation is that sales numbers tell them that whatever they do works and otherwise they don't care.

They have no problem selling counterfeits widely, until the stock takes a beating for it they won’t make it a priority.

We had a similar thing on eBay recently. My wife wanted to buy a book about marketing and she found it on eBay for a cheaper price. She ordered the book and when it didn't arrive she contacted the seller. The seller told her, "it's in the mail, but here, have a PDF version of it just in case". Obviously the book never arrived.

We're obviously pissed about these practises but I'm even more pissed off that there isn't even a decent way to raise this with eBay. Their feedback system is purely designed to go around in circles..

I buy a lot on ebay, and have never struggled to raise and receive refunds. Simply go to 'Purchases', hit the item and then hit 'More options' and then 'this item hasn't arrived'. Usually refund you in days. If that doesn't work you can also claim via PayPal and then on top of that you can claim via your credit card or debit card - all will happily return your money if the seller can't prove the item was delivered. Even if you didn't pay for recorded mail.

This is one of the reasons I don't sell via ebay/PayPal any more - too high a chance of someone claiming a fake refund.

What was the reputation and reviews of the seller ?

I have bought factory service manuals for car and motorcycle projects off of eBay and Amazon. Multiple times, I received 3-hole-punched photocopies stuck in a binder or bound together with some kind of tape. Every time, I e-mail the seller, my only recourse is to spend my own money and ship it back and get a refund. Amazon and eBay both don't care, because the sellers just have to claim that they are authorized resellers. They made money off the transaction, so that's why Amazon and eBay don't care... end of story.

I don't buy anything anymore without an actual picture of the phyiscal product. I didn't pay $150 for a book so that some guy could photocopy it, I wanted the original, real deal book.

If it's marketed as the book and Amazon/Ebay refuse your claim when you receive a counterfeit, just chargeback with your bank - Amazon has failed to deliver the advertised product.

Sounds like a good way to get Amazon to cancel your account. Could be bad if you consume AWS, or other Prime services.

Hasn't everyone already learned to keep your personal and work Amazon accounts heavily separated?

I'd be surprised if Amazon cancelled your account unless the issue with counterfeits happened with alarming frequency, as maintaining a good relationship (and low processing rates) with banks is far more important to them than providing service to counterfeiters.

> I have bought factory service manuals for car and motorcycle projects off of eBay and Amazon. Multiple times, I received 3-hole-punched photocopies stuck in a binder or bound together with some kind of tape.

There is a flip side to this. Being able to purchase a pirated DVD copy of Ford's official mid-1990s workshop manual and wiring diagrams (which is not a paper manual, but a win32 VB/ActiveX application) on eBay was invaluable for a recent project. The seller was up front that this was a DVD copy and charged a very reasonable $12. If you are really serious about getting factory manuals, there are communities out there with private forums and digital archives of these things. I don't do this seriously enough to get involved, so having a way to obtain that manual at all, without spending a bunch of time, was really valuable to me.

* I'm surprised Amazon has no system to detect this kind of gross plagiarism.*

There's no incentive to create such a system (I'll be optimistic and assume Amazon doesn't actually have said system yet) until you're held accountable for infractions arising from lack of possession of such a system.

I'm not sure there's any system in place with Createspace. (It may be worth observing that you upload PDFs; they could presumably extract text if they wanted to though.) But when I published a book on both Createspace and Kindle a few years back, I got an email from Amazon about the Kindle version because it detected duplicate text on various Internet sites. Parts of the book had previously been published on both my blog and on various other tech sites (by me). So, at least at the time, they did do some degree of "plagiarism" screening for Kindle.

I just needed to tell them it was my own stuff and sent them some links and things went ahead. Don't know how carefully they actually investigated although it was quite obvious it was my own work.

Couldn't the author hand Amazon a DMCA takedown?

In the (sadly, increasingly rare) cases that I need to look something up in the book I wrote, I typically hit Google and find that one site in Vietnam that has the pirated copy...

Upload it to Libgen! More information's always better, especially if even the author isn't getting it legally.

I totally would, since it no longer generates any royalties, but I don't own all of the rights to it.

If you don't mind answering, what book did you write? I love reading things by HN users.

I do mind, but I'll buy you TotalFark if you can figure it out from my posts. :) (Besides, it's niche and technical.)

I think you win, ha. If I'm right, I found your brother's thesis, but other than that I can't find a thing close to a book. (Unless you published it in Britain for some reason during the 70's, in which case, possibly?)

You should know that my brother and I both changed our last names, and I spent more than half of the 70's dead.

Game on! (Also, the Punycode in your profile is missing a domain extension)

Libgen is useful and should figure out how to be legitimate. They could go down the youtube route: sell subscriptions or include ads and just pay the copyright holders royalties.

Even Google Books couldn't pull that off. Publishers believe, maybe correctly, that a youtube for books would destroy their business.

You might be interested to read about what happened with that, I was pretty surprised when I read the full story.

Basically, publishers started off by suing Google, until they realized that it would probably generate a lot of new revenue for sales on books that were out of print, and that weren't currently generating money. With that in mind, they continued in their lawsuit, but started trying to use the lawsuit as a way to help Google instead of stop them - by using the mechanics of the class action suit, they could default opt in all authors, with the onus being on the authors to opt out, and then they would settle with Google for a nominal amount, thereby getting the permission of all the authors of those out of print works to be included in Google Books without going through the nearly impossible task of getting each author's explicit permission to participate.

This was looking like a great legal hack until Amazon and Microsoft complained to the Federal government (the FTC IIRC) that it would be unfair if this was allowed to happen, because only Google would get this permission.

So, counterintuitively, it wasn't really the publishers that stopped Google Books.

The problem is that Amazon just doesnt care about things like these. Remember long it took them to fix their broken rating system? And it’s still not fixed, it’s just “less broken”. Though quite vital for people’s shopping experience

Not sure if you know about this but I use this whenever i shop on Amazon now: https://www.fakespot.com/

Amazon should just find some change and buy this company and integrate them.

Any info on this? I pretty much just go by friends' recommendations now. So many times review I read were noise, eg: "The film is excellent; I can't comment on this edition" or "I haven't used it yet but the package is very expensive"

Exact same thing happened to me, I documented the entire experience: https://medium.com/@mattfriz/postmortem-someone-cloned-my-bo...

Did Amazon end up taking action in the end?

It is borderline criminal. If they were not such a large organisation they would be charged with facilitation. They are knowingly allowing the sale of counterfeit goods. You go down to a street corner and sell knock-off Prada bags and you will be arrested. You let someone sell counterfeit goods from your store and you are an accessory. This will only change when Amazon are held accountable.

I thought fake stuff on Amazon was money laundering?

Knowingly selling stolen goods is not new to the law. In California, selling a stolen item worth less than $500 is a misdemeanour, and carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in prison. I think that if the owner of Amazon were jailed for 1 year (assuming that Amazon is indeed knowingly selling stolen property), then we might see a drastic improvement in how Amazon deals with all sorts of shady sales on their websites.

Amazon's co-mingling causes so many issues. I'm really into board games and would love to be able to rely on my Prime subscription to pick up new games (and get them quickly.) The board game market is kind of perverse in its own way in that publishers often do not publish enough to meet demand and supply gets snapped up in the first couple days/weeks of release and prices skyrocket on account of scalping.

Because of this there's a huge glut of counterfeit games on Amazon. Even worse, sellers also pretty clearly are also selling damaged "new" product at full price. I've received $100+ board games that were clearly damaged before they were shipped. It's a huge PITA when you can't even exchange since the game you wanted has gone out of print between when you ordered and when you received.

I would love to shop local, but my personal collection exceeds the stock of most FLGS's in size and they very rarely stock things I want at prices that are reasonable. I've mostly switched to buying from coolstuff unless I'm buying a game that's evergreen (that I somehow don't already have.)

Amazon needs to sort their inventory out.

Amazon should buy Turnitin.

One of my Kindle books was rejected for unspecified reasons. I’ll have to check to see if a plagiarist got there first. FWIW I’ve moved recent ebooks to Gumroad PDF downloads.

Another way to deal with the situation is to sell the book from the ExtremTech web site.

The drawbacks are: 1. Lack of the huge audience that Amazon have 2. Lack of low cost transport costs

The first point is not really valuable anyway as there are lot of junk books on Amazon that come from Createspace. Usually it is books written in the XIXcentury but with a title that suggests they were written recently.

Amazon would really improve the value of its brand if it would remove this useless kind of books.

> Another way to deal with the situation is to sell the book from the ExtremTech web site.

What problem does that solve?

The stealer is most probably without enough resources to deal with complex situations. Let makes the cost to replicate higher for him.

If the book is not visible on Amazon, no ranking will be available, and no e-book version will be easy to find.

- Without ranking there is virtually no risk it will be targeted.

- Without e-book version, it will be more difficult to copy.

That said there are other ways to trick a Createspace author. For example many Createspace books are sold by independant sellers at a much higher price than the original, if there is a sell then the independant seller buy the original one and sell it to the customer, while making an easy benefit completely legally.

The real market depends on the percentage of potentially interested readers multiplied by some factor that approximates ease of discovery.

Ease of discovery on Amazon is extremely low if you're not a top-hundred seller, selling into a high-turnover genre, or have an effective marketing campaign.

So for niche titles it can be more effective to sell direct to a niche audience from a niche site than to put the book up on Amazon and hope someone notices it.

Yes that was I had in mind but you state it much more clearly. Thanks.

Will they take the product down if you can prove it's stolen..?

I felt sorry for the author. But then I reached the bottom of the article and see that site has that most awful and obnoxious banner advertising there. Now I don’t feel bad.

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