E-book sales are growing exponentially, according to the American Association of Publishers. For the first eight months of 2011, e-book sales increased 144.4 percent, to $649.2 million. In February sales of e-books eclipsed those of traditional paperback, and e-readers are proving to be a hot gift item for the holidays.
However, as the popularity of e-readers and e-books grows, so does the proliferation of related scams, including:
•E-books filled with useless and often badly written information sold for a couple of dollars. Malware is sometimes attached in an effort to obtain your credit card information.
•A single book is given different editorial spins and then sold under different titles or authors’ names.
•Material that is plagiarized from websites and blogs then packaged into an e-book and sold.
•Writing competitions with the winner having his or her work published digitally. Although the contests include entry fees, the cost to publish digitally is minimal.
•E-readers spammed with ad-laden works and hotlinks to both commercial and malware sites that load viruses onto your machine.
•E-book purchases and sales used to build up credentials for bogus sellers and buyers on auction sites.
To avoid e-book scams, the BBB advises:
•Stick with authors you already know or those who have an established reputation.
•If you decide to buy from an unfamiliar author, see if you can download a free sample (Amazon lets you do this) first to test the quality.
•Don't be taken in by great reviews that accompany cheap e-books. They may be genuine or the writers may have been paid to produce them.
•Do a search on the book name or author to see what other people say or how many other books they supposedly have written.
•Don't click on links inside an e-book unless it's by an established, reputable author. Even then, it’s advisable to visit their websites via your Internet browser rather than using the link.
•If you believe you've been scammed, seek a refund. You should also register your complaint with the seller's customer service department. And, if all else fails, do other readers a favor by writing an honest review of the book.
For trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit http://www.bbb.org.
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.