Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts which echo our earlier discussion on "Truth in Labeling" for misleading print-on-demand publications that merely repackage other (often free) content.
The strange, lengthy book title hit me right between the eyes. It read "Medal: Sculpture, Molding (process), Casting (metalworking), Machine Press, Stamping (metalworking), Insignia, Portrait, Medallic Art, Devotional Medal, Exonumia, Militaria, Pendant, Commemorative Plaque [Book]." Whew!
Was that a list of chapters or a book title? Published in 2010 by Alphascript Publishing, It stated 180 pages and its appended ISBN number.
A little pricey at $70, but if all that was in one book it would be worth it. I was interested. I printed the one-page data sheet off the internet. But before I hit the "add to shopping list" button I got the call to dinner.
After dinner my son, visiting from Cleveland, joined me in the office. He picked up that page and handed it to me. "You know, of course, this is all copied from Wikipedia?" "What!" I exclaimed. "Is that legal?"
This German publisher gathers a group of related items from Wikipedia, designs a colorful cover, prints and binds it all together in one pamphlet. And, yes, its legal. In this case, a 180-page pamphlet sells for $70. That's about 39 cents a page that you could print yourself for free from Wikipedia. Bit of a scam?
"How can I find out more about this outfit?" I asked my son. "Check out VDM Publishing on Wikipedia," he said, as he brought it up on the screen.
This is a legitimate self-publishing firm in Germany. They publish under the title Alphascript, Betascript and Fastbook Publishing, all English names, and Doyen Verlag in German among 14 other imprints. They specialize in publishing anything any author sends to them. There is NO editing, no fact checking, no peer review, no proofreading, no additional illustrations -- whatever the author sends is what they print and bind. They do add a color cover, but the covers all look alike with only one illustration per cover.
The firm specializes in print-on-demand and publish, so they claim, over 10,000 new titles a year. In 2007 they had 70 employees.
A major part of their in-print list are academic dissertations and research reports. They invite these from every university and print those in English, German, Russian, Spanish and French only. The firm offers one copy free to each author who accepts their proposal to print their work.
For what they copy from Wikipedia, as long as they state these are, indeed, from Wikipedia they are home free. It is legitimate. They can charge whatever they wish by selling free information. It is the buyer's decision.
The VDM mastermind is Wolfgang Philipp Muller, who founded Verlag Dr Muller -- that's the VDM initials -- in Dusseldorf in 2002. He moved to Saarbrucken in August 2007. The book titles are listed on Amazon (in America and UK), Lightning Source, and Books on Demand in Germany.
The Wikipedia VDM entry has a section critical of VDM's publishing practice. But it also includes a convincing VDM retort for reprinting Wikipedia articles:
Wikipedia is a valuable, quality resource, that the company has no problem asking authors for content, that buyers are informed of where information comes from, that books are a convenient form to collect articles about interesting subjects, and that its customers are satisfied with VDM's products.
To learn more click on:
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NEW YORK TIMES: FURTHER THOUGHTS OF A NOVICE E-READER
TRUTH IN LABELING NEEDED FOR PRINT ON DEMAND LISTINGS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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