Copyright Infringement Rampant on CreateSpace

piracy

I don’t think it’s any secret that Amazon owns CreateSpace. I also don’t believe it’s any secret—especially after the author uproar that occurred in April—that CreateSpace no longer offers “creative services” such as interior book formatting, cover design, editing, or the like. When they ceased offering those services, they severed the one last component that identified them as a “publisher” instead of a “content curator,” which is the role CreateSpace now plays, and is a far cry from meeting the goals of writers who dream of publication.

A perfect example appears in a recent article on the Publishers Weekly website, written by Kenny Brechner and titled “Pirating on CreateSpace,” in which he identifies very specific examples of flagrant copyright infringement by individuals (I wouldn’t call them writers) sharing (I wouldn’t call it publishing) content through the CreateSpace platform.  One objective of a publisher is to protect their authors, and also prevent circumstances like the ones reported by Mr. Brechner. Unfortunately, the exact opposite objective is true for a content curator like CreateSpace.  Since it’s “free” to “publish” content there, CreateSpace and Amazon value neither the content nor the authors who created it. Instead, their goal is to compile as much content as possible for the purposes of offering it—usually by giving it away or encouraging their authors to give it away through thinly-veiled “marketing promotions”—to lure new Amazon members into its Prime, Prime Video Streaming, and KindleUnlimited memberships (all of which require monthly/yearly dues, and none of which reward the content creators for their contribution).  

Since CreateSpace/Amazon uses content and its creators as loss-leaders for subscriptions, they are hardly compelled to prevent copyright infringement or acts of piracy. In fact, as you can see from Brechner’s Publishers Weekly article, it was only after the article appeared on a highly respected industry website that Amazon bothered to do anything about it … and the author himself was unable to get CreateSpace to take any action at all, though not from lack of trying.  And as you’ll see from the comments already piling up below the article, this wasn’t an isolated case, nor is it something that authors are willing to tolerate. Comments include phrases like:

“I’d say, Createspace should be embarrassed – beyond measure.” – GISELA HAUSMANN

“…this article is a wise word of caution to us writers.” – Carol Johnson

“Same thing happened to me. I discovered one of its CreateSpace books had pirated both some text and several of my photos from my website that included those texts and those photos selected from my traditionally published book.” – Mark Mathew Braunstein

In fact, the same thing happened with one of my own books, too: Publishing Gems. I discovered that it had been copied in its entirety through the CreateSpace platform without my knowledge or consent. Not only was CreateSpace selling the pirated version, but so were a vast number of Amazon Marketplace booksellers. When I contacted Amazon about the infringement, they were quick to remove it. When I asked them the name of the individual who was responsible for this act of piracy, they ignored me entirely. Then I started receiving emailed requests from all the Marketplace booksellers, notifying me that they had removed the stolen book from their virtual shelves, and asking me to “approve them” for continued business under the threat of cancellation from Amazon.  Here’s the interesting part – all their emails were nearly identical, as if someone from Amazon’s legal department provided them with the exact verbiage to use to request forgiveness.

Do you know what that tells me? It tells me that copyright infringement happens so frequently through CreateSpace that Amazon’s legal department has come up with an actual procedure to cope with it.

Is that the kind of publ—er, algorithm, you want handling your books?

computer piracy


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

Self-Publishing News: 8.13.2018 – The Interviews!

august month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

&

Why pair these two together? Once in a great while, the letters to the editor can be just as interesting if not more interesting as the article which inspired them, and that is certainly true here. Which isn’t to say the original article, written by Atlantic contributor Alana Semuels, is somehow not good or not interesting itself; the article tracks book sales on Amazon and delves into the oft-fraught history of the relationship between Amazon and books, and between Amazon and self-publishing. Semuels writes about Mike Omer, an author whose books have sold more than 10,000 copies and been rented 10,000 times through Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Omer’s own thoughts serve as a tether, or an anchor, for this article, and as a reminder that all of these discussions are moot if they’re not rooted in the experiences of those who are most affected: the authors themselves. Semuels is interested in how Kindle Unlimited does and does not support authors, self-published and traditionally published. Interestingly–for Semuels, if not the authors themselves–Semuels dedicates the vast majority of her article to the ways in which Amazon, now a self-publishing giant, has undercut traditional publishing and the ways in which it exploits its authors. As Semuels puts it:

Omer’s experience has been like a dream, he told me. But for people in the publishing industry, it may seem more like a nightmare. He sidestepped the traditional gatekeepers to publish his books online on Amazon, gaining thousands of readers. He ignored big publishing houses in favor of an imprint run by Amazon, attracting thousands more. He has little interest in the traditional publishing industry at all, in fact. He’s a successful author, and his whole world is Amazon.

Authors had their own thoughts, though, and they made them known to the Atlantic, and the Atlantic decided to collect together these letters and release them on their own, from those which are mostly interested in amplifying the negative aspects of Semuels’ story, including one by Douglas Preston, to those who have found a home in self-publishing when traditional publishing failed them, such as Wanda Fries. As Semuels points out in an afterward to the letters, the problem isn’t that self-publishing is a success, but rather that traditional publishing has missed an opportunity and alienated a generation of writers instead. “Rather than just rejecting many of the works that come in,” she writes, “traditional publishing houses could have launched their own self-publishing platform, which would have allowed them to keep an eye on promising authors as Amazon now does.” There’s an opportunity in there, and we hope traditional publishing recognizes it.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

icon logo self publishing advisor

Self-Publishing News: 7.2.2018 – The Company Files!

july

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Like it or not, there’s a widespread cultural assumption right now that because bookstore chains are struggling, therefore so too must authors be. Mercy Pilkington of The Good e-Reader is here to complicate that picture with an article that opens with the above provocative question, and sets out to disentangle common misconceptions about the lives of self-published authors as well as their traditionally-published counterparts. So, what, exactly, “does the industry hold for the traditionally published authors, the ones who’ve managed to snag the Holy Grail of writing and find both an agent and a publisher?” Pilkington goes on to answer: “Here’s a hint: the clearance bin at your local dollar store is filled with books that had a traditional publishing deal.” Being traditionally published is no insulation against common market pressures, she infers. Being an author has always, except for the ultra-rare zero-point-one-percent-likelihood blockbuster breakout success, been more about the art than the money for obvious reasons. And Pilkington’s closing thoughts are just as hard hitting. She writes:

But is this a chicken-egg scenario? Are publishing contracts paying authors literally minimum wage because all deals are getting smaller, or are the deals getting smaller because authors are shunning publishers and they aren’t earning as much as they once did? Either way, this situation sheds light on the increased professionalism and credibility that now surrounds the indie author space, indicating that this is (still) a great time to self-publish.

What do you think?

If you haven’t heard about “book-stuffing” … well, don’t worry. Neither had we, until this latest Amazon controversy blew up. Apparently, the self-publishing wing of the website (Kindle Direct Publishing) quietly rolled out some new rules to prevent authors from bundling their books together to get around the page limits of its subscription reading service, Kindle Unlimited. But that’s not where the controversy stops. (This is Amazon after all.) In a turn which surprises no one, Amazon has failed to enforce any of these rules, according to a number of leaders from within the self-publishing community who are pushing for the industry giant to put some weight behind its regulations. The simple fact is that there’s little incentive for the company to do so; its sheer size and its often-accused-as-exploitative author contracts insulate it from many of the ill side effects that the authors themselves will face. The way that Kindle Unlimited is set up, everyone who elect to offer their books through the service is paid out of one shared pot, which is allocated proportionally to its most-read texts. Book-stuffing makes it possible for some authors to exploit loopholes at other authors’ expense, and is therefore not a neutral or mildly problematic activity; it actually threatens livelihoods. Here’s hoping Amazon listens to its detractors and does some enforcement on this issue.

Self-publishing is an emergent opportunity for game design companies these days, with Frontier (above), Bungie, and NieR Studio all making noise in the last few weeks over their intentions to start self-publishing games. Frontier, a British game design company, recently launched an entire self-publishing division after closing down its less successful work-for-hire division. Writes Christopher Dring of GamesIndustry.biz, “It completed its contract with Microsoft (which included the 2015 game Screamride and incubation work on HoloLens), built its own publishing team and now answers only to itself and its shareholders.” The company is now in the process of deciding on how to go about offering third-party publishing to game designers who want to break from the traditional games publishing process. “‘It has to speak to our values,’ [Frontier CCO] Watts says. ‘The games that we make, we want them to be remembered.'” The CEO and CCO of Frontier discuss the elements which make for successful video games, which sound an awful lot like the ingredients for a successful self-published book: authenticity, ambition, attempting something new, and attention to detail. The article serves as a deep dive into the history of one game design company which is “going indie,” but it might just serve as a template to follow for other such companies in the near future.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

icon logo self publishing advisor

Self-Publishing News: 5.14.2018 – The Interviews!

May -wooden carved name of spring month. Calendar on business office table, workplace at yellow background. Spring time

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically interviews with or articles written by self-publishing authors and experts!

Ironically enough, we can’t access part one of this series, but we are absolutely in love with part two, in which author and Mount Observer assistant editor Michele Walsky details both personal experiences in self-publishing as well as various tips and tricks for getting ahead when self-publishing on a platform like Amazon. Walsky, who publishes under the pen-name Chele Pedersen Smith, is known for the romantic spy mystery, Behind Frenemy Lines, and a collection of mini-miracles, The Pearly Gates Phone Company. Putting it succinctly, Walsky writes that “Part one, ‘The Whirlwind of Writing and Promoting,/ appears in May’s print edition of The Mount Observer and covers the creative process of writing, unlocking writer’s block, editing and conjuring up promotional ideas. Part two will follow the technical side of publishing and contains links to the Amazon sites.” Part two poses some important questions and takes some significant steps towards answering them, too: what’s the deal with a book’s cover? How difficult is it, really, to generate an ebook from your manuscript? Should you print physical copies as well? How should you price those editions? And what role do royalties play in the larger picture? We’ve made attempts at answering these questions ourselves here on the blog, but it’s refreshing to find someone so articulate, like Walsky, who can sum it all up in a nice article. So if you find part two as useful as we did, you’ll be scrambling to track down that print edition of part one. If all else fails, you can simply follow Michele’s progress and stories by clicking the link (in-story) to access Walsky’s Amazon author page.

Megablockbuster-selling and iconic literary fiction author Richard Russo isn’t exactly the first name to leap to mind when we think about self-publishing, but this week he delivered an interesting interview via the web-based news platform Fosters.com. As you might expect, he and interviewer Deborah McDermott come off as rather harsh critics of the self-publishing process (describing it as something which puts “a writer’s life […] on the brink – a brink of self-publishing where craft often takes a back seat to swift scripts and swift economic returns, a brink where there is less room for the slowly-emerging novel that goes through a rewrite, and then another rewrite, and perhaps a rewrite again”).  More interesting than their take is what emerges between the lines: a portrait of misunderstanding. It would seem that authors like Russo fundamentally do not understand what the self-publishing process entails, and the self-publishing industry’s heavy reliance upon editors, graphic designers, and other industry experts which the traditional publishing industry has been setting adrift during the economic downturn at increasing rates. There’s rather a lot of expertise available to the average self-publishing author, and if that author can’t afford to pay for certain services or wishes to retain creative control, that’s that author’s prerogative–and no one is forcing Russo and other authors like him to read anything he doesn’t want to read, or publish any differently than he always has. But perhaps we are, as Russo puts it, putting “righteous indignation” on the front foot. Whatever the case may be there, we’re proud of how far self-publishing has come–and that it perhaps poses a legitimate challenge to those systems and structures which have been gatekeeping excellent authors out of publishing until the rise of self-publishing set them free.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

icon logo self publishing advisor

Self-Publishing News: 3.5.2018 – The Company Files!

march

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, specifically news from or regarding self-publishing companies!

Starting with some positive news today, we recommend you check out this press release courtesy of Outskirts Press and Benzinga, a premier source for the latest in information on the self-publishing industry (among others). At the heart of this story … well, a lot of heart. A lot of love! Because it’s almost that time of year, isn’t it? And Outskirts Press is determined to ensure that those authors choosing to self-publish this year have the best possible Valentine’s Day ever! This self-publishing company, which has a history of both fantastic deals and long-term contributors to this blog, will be giving authors twenty percent off in a flash sale on its popular Full-Color and Ultimate publishing packages. That’s a pretty sweet deal–almost as sweet as the real and genuine care which this company is reputed to take with those works which pass through its expert services. Of course, we’re a little biased. But Outskirts Press has been voted #1 Publishing Company by Top Consumer Reviews, several years running!

Computing, a scrupulously reputable news engine dedicated to technology (particularly in the UK) is now reporting on further developments in the case against Amazon, which recently shuttered many of its CreateSpace services. Elizabeth covered those earlier developments in a separate blog (which you can read here) several weeks back, but it’s worth noting that the company is rapidly moving from treating its author base poorly to being downright disreputable, and that criminals have found a way to exploit the website without Amazon taking decisive action to shut them down. It’s a complicated story, and one we’ll be following closely. We highly recommend you check out Computing contributor Nicholas Fearn’s full article at the link.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

icon logo self publishing advisor

In Your Corner: Who fills the void left by CreateSpace? Think about Outskirts Press

CreateSpace recently announced plans to soon eliminate positions in its editing, marketing and design divisions. While job cuts are an unsavory step for any company, this move is likely intended to streamline operations and shore up financials.

But what will this mean for self-publishing authors? CreateSpace will continue to print books and authors will still be able to upload and sell their books, but with these cuts there will no longer be the option to purchase copyediting, book formatting, book cover design, marketing or any other professional creative services for authors publishing via CreateSpace. Suddenly, CreateSpace authors will need to navigate the process alone or seek out other self-publishing service providers for help.

Here’s where a self-publishing company–like the one I work for, Outskirts Press–comes in.

Based on company-wide conversations already taking place, I’m confident that Outskirts Press will work diligently to accommodate all writers negatively affected by the service cuts at CreateSpace. We’re proud to have been named the #1 self-publisher by Top Consumer Reviews multiple years in a row and will continue the tradition of excellence for all CreateSpace authors who require more than just an upload. In addition to our printing and ebook publishing services, we provide independent authors with all the same services discontinued by CreateSpace, and then some. Our services include:

  • Professional writing and editing services: Our service to independent authors starts long before publication! Whether you need help starting or finishing the manuscript, or require just the final read-through, we can match you up with a talented professional ghostwriter or editor to help you achieve a professional book.
  • Professional book formatting: A wide selection of the most popular book formats and interior formatting options.
  • Custom cover design: Our talented book cover designers will ensure that you get a cover that sells.
  • Book marketing: A broad menu of marketing options to promote your book your way today.
  • All-inclusive packages: Comprehensive publishing packages that include everything you need to polish, format, publish and market your book successfully.
  • Affordable and flexible: With us, you can start the self-publishing journey for only $35 down!

Are you, or is an author you know, left stranded by the void left by CreateSpace’s cuts? You can find out more about how my coworkers at Outskirts Press can professionally publish your book, distribute it globally (yes, even on Amazon) and support you with affordable options at the same time by visiting our website at www.OutskirtsPress.com.

You know, it’s not every day I am compelled to write a “hard sell,” but when it comes to recent events, I feel the need to be honest: what CreateSpace has done will leave many authors feeling abandoned mid-project, or worse, unaided from start to finish. Self-publishing has (and will) continue to thrive and evolve to provide better services due to the diversification of options available to you, the self-publishing author; watching any company in our industry go through the layoff process is not, in the end, a cheerful experience. We feel for those who now find themselves looking for work, and hope that they, as well as you, find that next good thing speedily.

You can read more about the layoffs here.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 1.29.2017 – January Round-Up

January, illustrated name of calendar month, illustration

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, wrapping up what’s new for you and yours in January 2018.

We’ll start off today with the announcement of a new kid on the block; every month it seems as though the self-publishing industry adds another heavyweight to the list of available options, and January was no different as America’s last big brick-and-mortar bookstore chain launched a self-publishing platform. This move, announced in a sweep of press releases, is seen by many in the industry as an attempt for the chain, which has suffered slow attrition in sales and the rapid exit of its e-reader (the Nook) in recent years, to rival the incredible popularity of Amazon’s Createspace and KDP services. What many may forget is that B&N already had a self-publishing platform, only it was tied to the Nook. The “new” Barnes & Noble Press™ is an update of that existing platform, untethered from its Nook associations. For more details, check out the press release.

Speaking of Amazon, more big news this month as Forbes took on the controversy surrounding the distribution giant’s ongoing treatment of self-publishing authors, which hasn’t always been easy to parse. This article by contributor Adam Rowe tackles what exactly happened during a brief interlude when many self-publishing authors found a 50% royalty option displayed on their author dashboard, an option which was both unselectable and surprising (the company typically provides 35% and 70% options, contingent upon book price). Writes Rowe, authors “and other industry  watchdogs are now speculating that an upcoming change may offer the 70% only to KDP-exclusive authors while giving authors who chose to also sell their ebooks in other markets the 50% rate for non-exclusive ebooks.” Not everyone has adopted that angle, but many, it would seem, are braced for bad news. Rowe concludes his article with a brief but interesting paragraph framing the current debate within equally current statistics; you can read the full article on the Forbes website.

Here’s an interesting piece from Jeff vonKaenel of the Sacramento News Review, on the nature of journalistic freedom by way of a review of the new Spielberg film, The Post. Sound a bit out of our wheelhouse? We thought so too, until we stumbled across the later paragraphs, all of which unspool why traditional print journalism has struggled to find a funding model that will continue to work in the age of Google Adwords and … you guessed it! … self-publishing. Yes, this editorial is somewhat of a rallying cry for well-vetted information in news media. Yes, it was written by someone with a fairly large stake in the newspaper’s success. And yes, it gives an unsubtle push for more people to invest in print journalism (specifically the News Review). It’s not, for lack of a better term, a self-disinterested piece. But it is thought provoking. Self-publishing has contributed to change not just within the world of books, but also the world of news. The world of magazines. The world of music. The world of comics. The world of gaming. The old models simply don’t work anymore. So what’s next, vonKaenel encourages us to ask? I think that’s up to us, the ones who have figured out another viable way.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

selfpubicon1