(CBS) - A new breed of spam is clogging our digital worlds. This time, it's in the form of self-published books on Kindles.
Reuters reports that these eBooks, which are published through Amazon's self-publishing system, are "far from book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray."
Here's an example:
We were looking for the popular book, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson and Reg Keeland. The search yielded 29 titles. See that second one on the list? That's spam!
ZDNet discovered Kindle spam in April after blogger David Chernicoff downloaded a bogus book. "At the time, Amazon removed all books by the author, but the approach seemed to be a one-off," says ZDNet. "Obviously, Amazon needs a wider crackdown."
These "books" are built using Private Label Rights that allow virtually anyone to post written works. Although it sounds like a great resource for aspiring authors who wish to be published and discovered, the service is making it easy for spammers looking to capitalize on unsuspecting Kindle users.
At the moment, Amazon shells out 70 to 35 percent of revenue for eBooks. No wonder spammers are getting in on the action.
"[They] can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle Books a day without writing a word," Reuters reports.
"One tactic involves copying an eBook that has started selling well and republishing it with new titles and covers to appeal to a slightly different demographic," Paul Wolfe, an Internet marketing specialist, told Reuters.
They're listed alongside top-sellers, forcing readers to have to rummage through them. Kindle users who aren't so web savvy (grandma comes to mind), can easily make the wrong purchase if they don't read carefully.
In 2010, almost 2.8 million nontraditional books - eBooks included - were published in the United States alone. Meanwhile, a little over 316,000 traditional books were released. That's a wide gap!
Mike Carraway, the creator of Autopilot Kindle Cash, says the service he's offering - which comes in a digital course format, not a DVD box set - teaches a method of using private label rights material in order to create an eBook and publish it on the Kindle, not spam.
"When someone writes their own book but doesn't want to go through all the hassles of publishing it, they can sell the rights to it and allow someone else to publish it under their name, allowing the buyer to put their own name as the author, change the title, or anything else they want to do to it," Carraway explains. "In fact, even past presidents of the United States hire ghostwriters to write books for them, pay the ghostwriter for the rights to the book, and then publish the book as if it's their own."