Selling Wikipedia Content on Amazon

By Deane Barker on January 16, 2012

Do Androids Dream of Electric Authors?: Interesting discussion on a growing tendency to repackage free web content as for-sale public content.

[…] VDM also extrudes thousands of paperbacks every year using content available without cost on the Internet. These books, or booklike products, lie in wait for the distracted shopper, someone who might think, Oh good, I really need a tome on Spearman’s law of diminishing returns, so I’ll just go ahead and pay $84. And with one overhasty click on the “Place your order” button, the shopper can pay a lot of money for a book that turns out to be warmed-over Wikipedia.

What got creepy is when the author saw an ad for a book about himself.  He purchased it, and:

Within a few days, the book appeared on my doorstep. The cover was adorned with a stripy abstraction that looked like a beach towel. Inside was the Pagan Kennedy Wikipedia entry, and then a random collection of wiki-text tenuously connected to my path through life. (About a quarter of the book is devoted to Dartmouth College, where I worked as a visiting writer a few years ago.) Some of the text is so small you might need a jeweler’s loupe to read it. So the book was, as advertised, Wikipedia content — though it’s hard to imagine anyone would want it in this format.

I wonder if they’re using the Wikipedia Book Creator we discussed a couple of years ago.

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