Ingram Books Creates Guideline To Thwart Unscrupulous Writers
A number of years ago as I was browsing books on Amazon, I came across a book summary for a book I had read previously and liked. Having read the original book, I thought to myself I wouldn’t mind reading it again. Perhaps reading the summary may be a better way to refresh my memory of the book’s content.
Before I purchased the book, I looked for an endorsement from the original author. None. Nor were there any endorsements from any other people who had endorsed the original book. I got it into my head that this was an “unauthorized” summary. When I looked a little further there were three other unauthorized summaries for the same book. Hmm.
Bottom line, I bought the book. The summary book merely spoke about the original book. Like a second hand once removed summary. Ugh. Rather than an actual summary of the ideas in the original book, the summary author simply retold what the first book said, but did so badly. An example will clarify what I mean.
Many author’s describe their experiences and their thinking process that evolved into the idea they are presenting. For example, suppose the original author told Aesop’s tale “The Hare and the Tortoise”. After our author tells this story, it is capped off with the conclusion. “Slow and Steady Wins the Race”. Great, that’s the idea, and the story is the background that led to that conclusion.
The summary author would say, The Original Author next tells you the tale of “The Hare and The Tortoise” Great story by the way. And then continues on, but forgetting to tell you the point of the story. In fact the summary author could have eliminated talking about the tale completely, and go straight to the point. I would say the summary content was about 60% of the original content.
I thought to myself, I could do a better summary than this. But there was something about these summaries didn’t seem right to me. If you look up the terms for “copyright infringement”, these summaries would appear to me to be a copyright infringement of the original work. But if so, how could they be available, and for so long to obtain reviews and such?
I’m not a lawyer, so I called one. Explained the situation and stated that I too wanted to write book summaries. His response was empathic and clear, “Don’t Do It!”
I followed my lawyer’s advice. But for years I’ve been seeing these knock off book summaries. I never regretted my decision. The summaries I would have written would have been from authors and books I truly admired. Did I want to be a thorn in the author’s side who pinched their book sales with a knock off summary. No, I didn’t want to be that guy.
Now all these years later, Ingram has taken notice and will start evaluating Print On Demand (POD) book content as well as other questionable practices and deleting books that don’t meet the new criteria. These books are scheduled for deletion on April 27, 2020. See Ingram’s Service Alert here.
Below are a few of the criteria being initiated by Ingram. For a complete list of guidelines read the Service Alert link above.
Here are a few book type no-no’s from Ingram’s list.
Book summaries without the original author’s permission.
Blank page books, such as notepads.
I am sure Amazon Kindle will initiate a similar policy.