Much has been said, often, about how Amazon once automatically deleted, from Kindles, books that had been illegally uploaded — and Jeff Bezos, in his forum apology, termed it “stupid, thoughtless” and a “self-inflicted” problem for which he said they deserved the criticism they got.

In a later court hearing, Amazon gave legal assurances they’d not be doing that again, and before the hearings, Communications Director Drew Herdener had said they were changing their systems so that this situation wouldn’t be repeated.

Despite all this, hardly a day passes without online discussions including statements from many who are eager to believe and to tell others, that Amazon will delete books when it feels like it, which is, at this point, a fantasy, since they are a business interested in survival.

In a story early in September that didn’t get much exposure, The Australian’s Fran Foo wrote, “Amazon caught by fake e-book scam: Kindle users refunded for bogus Jamie Oliver title.”   I’ll take the liberty of quoting quite a bit of it, as I’d rather not paraphrase here and the story is linked for further reading.

‘AMAZON has been forced to remove a fake Jamie Oliver title from its Kindle Australia e-reader bookstore.

The internet giant didn’t realise it had been duped when it added the so-called book, priced at $US3.99, to its online store.

The Kindle edition of The Naked Chef 2 Recipes, purportedly by Oliver, has been available in Australia since at least January.

A spokeswoman for Oliver’s local publisher, Penguin Group, said there was no such title by the celebrity chef.

Amazon admitted a “third party” who didn’t have rights to sell the book was behind the problem.

It sent emails to affected customers in July informing them of the breach and offering a refund.

“We are writing to inform you that we need to refund your purchase of the book Jamie Oliver The Naked Chef 2 Recipes,” the Amazon email said.

“This book was added to our catalogue by a third party who we now believe did not have the rights to make the book available for sale.

We will be removing the book from our servers, making it unavailable for re-downloading from your archived items.

“Any copies you already have on your Kindle devices will not be removed, but you may choose to remove any such copies yourself.” [Emphasis mine]

Seattle-based Amazon spokeswoman Stephanie Mantello declined to say how long the book had been on sale, how many copies had been purchased or what steps the company would take to ensure the incident was not repeated.

She declined to reveal how and when the issue first came to Amazon’s attention. “We don’t disclose details of private conversations with partners.”

It is unclear how the third party slipped through Amazon’s screening process, but Ms Mantello said there were many ways of placing e-books in Amazon’s Kindle catalogue.” ‘

The rest of the article, explaining how e-books are placed in the Kindle catalogue plus a bit of history of a previous book scam involving a purported Oliver book are at The Australian’s news site.
Also, any interested in how the original scam developed can read about it at Snopes.


  1. i’m confused. was it a real-but-illegal book? or a completely fake book so the purchasers basically paid money but got only a fake cover image and – perhaps – some nonsense text to bulk out the file-size??

  2. Rachel, I believe that is due to the way that Amazon’s partner stores work. For some reason they seem to have algorithms that list any newly-published book as available “used”. They seem to have some method of getting ahold of such books on demand. I’m not entirely sure how it works.

    As for real “illegal” hard copies being sold at Amazon, there’s always the case of the printed-on-demand bad Star Wars fanfic novel—on sale for several months, and written by a professional (poetry) publisher who really should have known better.

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