Counterfeit books vex Amazon

Discussion
Source: Amazon.com
Aug 20, 2019
Al McClain

Counterfeit books are a problem for Amazon.com, according to recent articles by David Streitfeld in The New York Times. His most recent piece alleges that many of these fakes are printed and sold on Amazon by third-party sellers, but that some are printed by Amazon’s self-publishing subsidiary.

The George Orwell books purchased by Streitfeld had typos, covers that were not the same as originals, missing pages and other inconsistencies from the originals. Many of the counterfeits in Streitfeld’s investigation were sold by Amazon directly and shipped from their own warehouses. 

A spokesman for the Orwell estate asked when Amazon will take responsibility for the fakes being sold on the site. Some of the typos in the fake editions affected the content to the point that they altered the meaning.

The Association of American Publishers filed an analysis with the FTC, saying in part “the marketplace of ideas is now at risk for serious … damage because of the unprecedented dominance of a very small number of technology platforms.”

In an earlier New York Times article, Mr. Streitfeld notes that Amazon now sells more than half of all books in the U.S. and even has an issue with counterfeit medical handbooks sold on its site, which are so poorly printed that doctors could make errors in prescribing medication because of hard to read copy. He says Amazon does not check the authenticity or quality of the books it sells and maintains minimal, if any, oversight of third-party sellers. 

In a response to the first Times article, Amazon says it spent over $400 million in personnel and technology to protect customers from fraud last year. It claims to have stopped over one million “bad actors” from opening selling accounts in 2018 and blocked more than three billion suspected bad listings before they were listed on the site. [Read Amazon’s blog piece here: “Our response to the New York Times’ story on book counterfeiting.“]

Amazon also cites Sanford Publishing as one publisher it has worked with to put enforcement measures in place, and says that since the action, that publisher has not had further problems. Amazon cites additional measures such as its free brand registry, an authenticity verifying program called “Transparency”, a self-service counterfeit removal tool for publishers, and its “A to Z” guarantee for customers.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Whose responsibility is it to prevent counterfeit books from being available on Amazon? Is there any way for other booksellers to benefit from selling “real” books?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Measures need to be put into place to ensure accuracy, quality and that the content is within Amazon’s standards."
"Amazon should be the one to take responsibility for their third-party sellers or the Amazon-maintained supply chain that allows this to happen."
"If you sell more than 50% of the books in the U.S. and $400M does not solve the fake, pirated and counterfeit problem, then you are the problem, Amazon."

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5 Comments on "Counterfeit books vex Amazon"


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Zel Bianco
BrainTrust
This is a serious issue for book lovers everywhere. The fact that this is happening with medical books is even more troubling. Amazon needs to step up to the plate on this and all the other areas where manufacturers are getting squeezed, to use a more polite term. This is happening in almost all categories where third-party sellers are buying goods and then re-selling them on Amazon in a different pack size, price, etc. There has been evidence of food items that are past their expiration date and not up to the quality the consumer expects from a national brand. The consumer then tends to go back to the manufacturer who needs to eat the cost to make it right. Why should the CPG company or anyone else that makes a good product or a publisher that puts out the original book be left holding the bag? Amazon should be the one to take responsibility for their third-party sellers or the Amazon-maintained supply chain that allows this to happen. It’s great that they are trying… Read more »
Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Just as Amazon has raised the expectations for being a part of their retail marketplace, considering all the issues with counterfeit books, perhaps it’s high time to put measures into place to help mitigate these issues. The responsibility should be shared between the book sellers and Amazon to ensure a good customer experience.

Quality control measures need to be put into place to ensure accuracy, quality and that the content is within Amazon’s standards, well before the books are sold on their platform. So the bulk of the accountability should fall on the book sellers, and Amazon should have mechanisms in place to ensure that they are compliant.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

I go back to the belief from the brick-and-mortar days – I bought it in your store therefore you are responsible even though it was not a house brand. Amazon should take the responsibility to ensure that it is not selling counterfeits – books and/or other items.

Cynthia Holcomb
BrainTrust

If you sell more than 50% of the books in the U.S. and $400M does not solve the fake, pirated and counterfeit problem, then you are the problem, Amazon. Geez, rifle through every industry known to mankind for dominance and do a sloppy job? Throw out, in this case, the original keepers of book integrity, to make a buck. This is disruption gone awry! Once “real” is not “real” any longer, but fake, unintended consequences will thrive. So very sad for the treasure books provide.

RJ
Guest
2 months 26 days ago
“It claims to have stopped over one million “bad actors” from opening selling accounts in 2018 and blocked more than three billion suspected bad listings before they were listed on the site.” This is a bunch of hogwash! As a bookseller, we still see new sellers popping up from all parts of the world, thanks to Amazon’s Global Selling program, thereby still risking sales of counterfeits. In the last 18 months, Amazon has developed into a hostile environment of fear even for honest, genuine longtime booksellers. We are perhaps one of the biggest victims of their recent actions. We have been selling on the marketplace for last 6 years. We have had almost 90% all of our listings “gated” (a term Amazon uses for restricting third-party sellers from selling items/categories) since March 2019. They gave no valid reason or mechanism to even appeal this decision. What’s worse, the decision is imposed immediately, which means that there is no due time for us to even liquidate our inventory. This also means countless lost potential selling and… Read more »
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Measures need to be put into place to ensure accuracy, quality and that the content is within Amazon’s standards."
"Amazon should be the one to take responsibility for their third-party sellers or the Amazon-maintained supply chain that allows this to happen."
"If you sell more than 50% of the books in the U.S. and $400M does not solve the fake, pirated and counterfeit problem, then you are the problem, Amazon."

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