Pirating on CreateSpace

Kenny Brechner -- August 9th, 2018

A customer stopped by the store a month ago. As we chatted at the counter he shared with me that he was an author. His name was Ira Mark Egdall. I looked up Ira’s book on ipage, Einstein Relatively SImple: Our Universe Revealed in Everyday Language. Here is a screenshot of the search results.

At first glance this may seem like an ordinary interaction with an author passing through town, sharing news of a book with a dubious pun in the title. That was not the case, though. It was actually unusual for a number of reasons. First of all, sandwiched between the paperback and hardcover editions of Ira’s book is a book with the identical title, but a different author, Cecil Eckar. Ira informed me that it was a pirated version of his own book. Secondly, what you would not know unless you too had met Ira, was that the cover of Eckar’s pirated book literally featured an author photo of Ira, the actual author of the book. The photo appears to have been taken from Egdall’s own website.

Eckar’s book was made on CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing platform, while Ira’s was produced by World Scientific Publishing, a traditional publisher. These facts explained the other atypical aspects of the conversation. Ira had not mentioned his book to interest me in carrying it but rather to share his experience with someone else in the book industry. I was very interested to hear more. Here is what he had to say as I recall it.

“That book is a pirated edition of my book. It is a digital scan of the original, of poor quality, but it is very good at undercutting the sales of my book, which is mainly sold for use in college classes. Students (as I knew very well) do most of their shopping online and finding the book they need at a lower price, well, you can see what is happening. Cecil Eckar is the name being used by a pirate. All of his other CreateSpace books are pirated editions of other books being used in college courses.”

I hit the link for Eckar and beheld the truth of Ira’s words.

All these books are pirated editions. For example.

Ira told me that “I have complained to Amazon at the top of my lungs and gotten nowhere. This kind of thing is happening on their CreateSpace platform all over the place, you have to figure. It’s the wild West and they don’t care.”

A month has passed since Ira’s visit. I checked again and noted that the edition of his book was no longer available at Ingram and had been removed from Amazon. He had won his personal fight. Of great interest though was that all of Eckar’s other books are all still for sale.

Only the squeaky wheel was removed. The other obviously pirated editions made under Eckar’s name have been left to garner money until their copyright holders make enough of a stink to have them removed.

What does this all mean? Let me state the obvious. Publishing is not a self-regulating system. Filters matter. Ethics matter. Intellectual property laws matter. Or maybe they don’t. Perhaps pirated editions of parallel dimension books like Dark Matter and All Our Wrong Todays are out there to make existential art out of what appears to be simple criminality. I’m sure we should all be happy to see laissez-faire self-publishing hard at work like this undermining the outmoded obstacles to a thrilling future. We need everything right away,¬†right now, so why should the public have to wait for copyrighted books to lapse into public domain before a cheaper, crappy version of them becomes available for purchase?

(Follow Up: Presumably in response to the post above all of Eckar’s pirated books were removed from Amazon four days after the post’s publication. As stated above,¬† it should not take exposure by third parties to cause pirated editions to be purged. Checking up on “new” CreateSpace submissions using titles identical to existing ones would not be difficult after all.)

19 thoughts on “Pirating on CreateSpace

  1. Paul Wiebe

    I’ve been “published by” CreateSpace for over a decade, but have received something like $10 in all. Yet when I go online to them I notice that a lot more used copies of my one of my novels were for sale. Recently I also gave a book presentation of that novel and signed a ordered few copies there, though these sales have never shown up on my CreateSpace site.

    Seems there are grounds for a Class Action Lawsuit against the world’s richest man.

  2. GISELA HAUSMANN

    I’d say, Createspace should be embarrassed – beyond measure.

    Whether they see themselves as publisher, printer/manufacturer, or distributor, that kind of failure should not happen… In the good old days before computers a manufacturer might have an excuse… (they didn’t know).
    Today, when Createspace/Amazon can track street teams, cheating authors etc… verifying determining if a copy is an identical copy should be a piece of cake.
    By ignoring the issue Createspace kind of supports theft.
    That’s truly disappointing.

  3. Gary Priester

    This totally sucks. It seems the world is filled with lazy non-creative people who make money off other people’s toil. Sadly CreateSpace is just about the only game in town. Would be interesting to hear if this is happening with Ingram Spark as well.

  4. Carol Johnson

    Copyright piracy is a sad fact whether it be self publishing or traditional/hybrid publishers. However this article is a wise word of caution to us writers. Check for unauthorized copies of your books. Unfortunately, I’m too new to have a book worth stealing. Smiles

  5. Lee French

    I got a request to verify copyright rather suddenly a few months ago for a book that had been published for over 4 years, so it seems they’re trying to do something, but haven’t yet figured out how to make it work properly. Undoubtedly, they want to have a system that requires as little human intervention as possible, which means it’ll take time to actually get better.

  6. Mark Mathew Braunstein

    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. I wrote their department that handles such matters, providing extensive documentation. They indeed removed that CreateSpace book. But, again, none of that plagiarist’s other CreateSpace books, all which look just as much pirated.

  7. Gordon Perry

    I had a very similar scenario with another “Vanity Press” umbrella organization under the name of Author House. I had responded to their Google ads, and they hounded me incessantly for the manuscript, until I finally agreed to let them produce a “Sample” copy of my book. They immediately took it an released it to at least a dozen websites, including Amazon, without my permission or approval. It took me a couple of years to get them to take it down, and I never did get any of the Royalties I was led to believe I could expect. Another of their entities is Xlibris Press, and a friend of mine had the same treatment with her book. It seems that Piracy is an industry standard.

  8. Lois J Wickstrom

    To further complicate matters, when I publish my own original work that I have copyrighted in my own name, CreateSpace sends me a note asking me to prove my authorship, and refuses to publish my work until I can prove that the work is mine. Usually, a note with my date of copyright is sufficient, but there are no truth police at the copyright office, so a thief could copyright my work under another name, and obtain a date of copyright, albeit that date would be after mine, so a thorough search would reveal the theft, even though a title cannot be copyrighted. I even had to go through this hoop, when I decided to put out my book in a different size format than the one they already published. Bottom line, CreateSpace doesn’t know how to spot stolen books.

    1. David J. Brown

      I am doing that very same dance now. I published thru a vanity press 3 yrs. ago. My publisher listed it with Amazon on my behalf. I am reprinting with CS but their “Validation Team” has little knowledge of Indy publishers.

  9. Judith Howell

    I have two novels in publication, the second one done by me on CreateSpace. I am about to publish a second one on CreateSpace, the third book in the trilogy. I was informed about a week ago that my books, as well as his newly published one and another author we know with a slightly older publication on CreateSpace, have shown up on a website selling the e-Books for a higher price than they are priced on Amazon or Barnes&Noble, etc. I am unable to get into this website, as well as a couple of other people have failed, but this one author got into it (It carries our exact covers and our names) and he sent them an email requesting they remove his book from their site. They have not answered him back, etc. I have the name of the site but am uncertain should I mention it, and I would appreciate any information on how to proceed with getting my books off this site, since I can’t get into it. Thanks for any help and information in this matter.

  10. K'Anne Meinel

    I have mostly a wonderful experience with CreateSpace both as an independent and as a Publisher. I would think, as you said, the squeaky wheel get’s oiled, then perhaps other authors should know of the perfidy of this pirate…tell them, maybe they aren’t aware they are losing sales in this manner.

  11. Elaine Abramson

    What do you do when Amazon is the pirate? My Amazon/CreateSpace account is in the USA. But every time I contact Jeff Bezos I receive an answer from the UK telling me that they cannot locate my account. Amazon has infringed on my books, sent me 1099’s but refused to pay me the royalties they owe me, violated IRS and Copyright Office rules, etc. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

  12. Elaine

    What do you do when Amazon is the pirate? My account is in the USA but every time I complain about copyright infringement, Amazon’s violating IRS rules, Amazon’s issues 1099’s but refuses to pay the royalties I have earned while Amazon continues to sell my books, etc.; Jeff Bezos sends my acount to the UK, where they have no record of my account. That is just the tip of the ice burg with the problems I have with Amazon.

  13. JOHN T SHEA

    Surely this is a matter for Ira Mark Egdall’s publisher, World Scientific Publishing Company? Likewise the other pirated books. For example, Wiley must be dealing with such piracy on a regular basis.

  14. Jean Marie Stine

    The irony is that I publish books under licence for several estates and magazines and CreateSpace holds up about every third book and I have to send in copies of the same contracts over and over to get the books released for sale.

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