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Shovelware–it’s time to rate publishers

November 4, 2011
by seth godin

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Now that shelf space is infinite, now that ebooks take up no room and every seller of them has an incentive to have a nearly infinite selection, the inevitable next step shows up:

When anyone can publish a book, anyone will.

Far worse than the individuals publishing junk, though are organizations generating literally thousands of books that no one would happily buy if they knew what was in them.

These books are created by shoveling public domain content, often from Wikipedia, with no human intervention, no care, no attention to detail into ebooks. Worse, they are then mislabeled as something that feels like a pirated book or an interesting collection of essays.

While some bloggers have been doing this for a decade, surfing a blog is free and it’s fast. Buying an ebook is neither.

The real losers here, in addition to the ripped off readers (and the writers who are having their names stolen), are the ebook platforms themselves. Once the Nook and the Kindle get a reputation as dark alleys filled with mislabeled junk, it will be hard to erase.

If it were me running the store, I’d delete every single book from a publisher caught with junk like this. And I’d figure out how to rate not just authors, but publishers, so it’s not so easy for someone to show up and steal a brand and disappoint a customer.

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