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 paperbacks. And e-readers are expected to be a hot gift item for the holidays.
But as the popularity of e-readers and e-books grows, so does the likelihood of related scams, including the following:
• E-books filled with useless and often badly written information sold for a couple of dollars. Malware is sometimes attached in order 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.
Start With Trust. For trustworthy consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or call 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.