A Tale of Plagiarism on Amazon

So a couple weeks ago, I did something I do every couple months over on Amazon, and searched “Miklos Horthy” in books.

The reason I do this is partially for ego reasons (as some of you may know, I’ve published my Master’s thesis on Miklos Horthy, and, as one of the only in-print English books on the topic, I like seeing it at the top of the search results), but also because I’m genuinely interested in the topic, and I like to check if there are any new books on it. I have actually found a book or 2 that look interesting this way.

This time, however, I was intrigued, and a little confused, to see a whole heap of new books about Horthy. It was a little weird, as they had fairly uninspired names, very bland & boring covers that didn’t include the author names.

Thankfully, Amazon includes a handy “look inside” feature. So I took a look inside.

As I read the sample of a couple of them, I found myself a little confused, as the samples, from the very start of these books, looked really familiar.

I then did what any self-respecting author would do in a similar situation, and walked over to grab my own copy of my Horthy book, Crosscurrents: Navigating The Turbulent Politics Of The Right During The Horthy Era In Hungary, 1920-1944.

Sure enough, reading the start of the book confirmed my suspicions. Some idiot(s) had very poorly plagiarized my book. Not once, not twice, not three times, but SIX separate times. (Here are a couple of them, because I of course took screenshots.)

I mean what I say, by the way, when I call whoever did this is idiotic. First, this is an extremely niche history book. On average, I sell one copy of it a week, which I think is quite good. So any scammer expecting to make money from plagiarized versions (versions which they were listed as more expensive than my original) is a fool.

Even dumber, they made extremely minor changes to almost every sentence (I assumed this was to avoid any automated plagiarism detection on Amazon), but many of these changes led to many sentences making no sense. They even misspelled Horthy’s name!

As silly as this was, and while I don’t think I lost any potential sales from this, this could not stand. So I reported it to Amazon as infringement. It took way longer than it probably should of, but, finally, I got confirmation that all 6 would be removed, and it appears that they’re gone now.

However, here’s where things get less positive. Since, as I mentioned, whoever did this would have to be crazy to think they can make money of this book. So I suspect that this might’ve been an attempt to to see if they could get away with doing this to a very small book, in expectation of then doing the same with other, more popular books. In fact, I did see several listings which are likely also similar in nature of another Horthy-related book (but since this one isn’t mine, and since I don’t know what the original is, I can’t do anything about it.

Basically what I want to say is to stay alert out there, and, occasionally, check to make sure no one is trying to plagiarize your content. We all work really hard to get the sales we do, and since Amazon isn’t completely capable of stopping this on their own, it’s up to us indie authors to keep ourselves safe.

That’s all for now; just wanted to share this story and get that warning out there. Hopefully my next post will be more of a fun one.

You can pick up the original, great book on Miklos Horthy over on Amazon, and I also have more than a dozen sci-fi and fantasy books available as well!

You can also support me over on Patreon, where we’re over halfway to the first goal (which will unlock an awesome giveaway!)

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