You know me -- I'm always looking for sources of Lithuanian history, particularly about the Battle of Grunwald, since this is its 600th-anniversary year. Lately I started poking around on Better World Books
, which overall looks like a very good Web site.
So I found these books
, but scattered among them I found stuff like this
. And then I started to think ... hmmm, that cover illustration kind of looks like an American Civil War cannon, so what's it doing on the cover of a book about a battle that happened 450 years earlier?
And THEN I found yet another book
-- again, with a fairly high cover price -- that said in the book description: "High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!"
Whaaaat?? So THEN I Googled the name of the publisher, Alphascript Publishing. You can tell that something bad is going to happen when you start typing "alphascript publishing" and Google automagically suggests the word "spam." :-P
Sure enough ... according to this Web site
, Alphascript is a Mauritius
-based "company" that is a subsidiary of a German thesis publisher. Its books are just agglomerations of downloaded Wikipedia articles with the same authors' names appended to the cover (one of these authors, "John McBrewster," gets 35,900 hits on Amazon.com alone
, which makes me laugh). And these books -- with content you can get for FREE under the Wikipedia license -- sell for $50 and up a pop, sometimes as much as $120!
You can read this rant
and other statements of awe and disgust here
Oh, that company also goes by Betascript Publishing
I cannot believe that somebody would be trying to make money by selling such poor-quality books, never mind abusing the "copyleft" provisions of the Creative Commons license.
I am not
blaming Better World Books, Amazon.com, and other online booksellers. I doubt they can police every title, especially by the rapidly growing print-on-demand houses (which includes reputable players like Lulu.com). But we who are looking for books on fairly obscure topics
need to stay on our toes ... and NOT subsidize this kind of effort.