We recently heard a story on the CBC show Day 6 with Brent Bambury that we found quite intriguing, amusing, and a bit disturbing: e-books that are produced with similar titles to bestsellers to lure the unwary into buying them. Examples include the I am the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and Thirty-Five Shades of Grey.

We almost feel ashamed dignifying these productions with italicization and mention in our blog. They are not good; they are not even trying to be good. They just want to glom on to another author’s success and leech some sales by virtue of title similarity. Since titles can’t, in general, be copyrighted, all this is perfectly legal. Or maybe not—one expert in the piece suggests prosecution may be possible on grounds of fraud.

Another phenomenon mentioned in the story are books that are nothing more than compilations of Wikipedia articles and blogs on some important topic, slapped together without regard to narrative arc or even coherence, and sold as authoritative works.

Such are the dangers of the Wild West of modern, online publishing. Maybe Kathi and I will go ahead with our plan to write A Farewell to Barns.

Have you been cheated by someone selling you a bogus e-book? Tell us your story.

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