Books LLC: a brief search into who they are now that they show up in all of my searches...

[Contact Me] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

[Jump to Site Links]

BLOT: (22 Sep 2010 - 03:09:19 PM)

Books LLC: a brief search into who they are now that they show up in all of my searches...

Over the past few weeks as I make random searches on just because that's the sort of thing I do, I have been seeing some rather oddly named books, all "written" by a generic "Books LLC". Not the first one I found, but a recent one (for instance) was Fictional Martians: Marvin the Martian, Martian, Amy Wong, Martian Manhunter, Michael Garibaldi, White Martian, Martian, Ice Warrior. It is 144 pages. Costs about $20. Hmm. Oh, and right beside it was Screenplays by Brian Hayles: The Curse of Peladon, the Ice Warriors, the Celestial Toymaker, the Seeds of Death which was another $20 for 60 pages. Now, as a Doctor Who fan, the idea of getting four screen plays for $20 sounded awesome. Even though the page count made no sense. And why wouldn't screenplays by a writer be credited to the writer? [Doug's Note: The product page has been appended to include "Study Guide" in the title now] It bubbled over, my curiosity, when I found another one while looking up some more information on DVD availability of the infamous 1992 BBC Halloween special Ghostwatch (LGT, appropriately as you will see, Wikipedia). This one was called 1992 in British Television: Absolutely Fabulous, as Time Goes By, in Bed With Medinner, Heartbeat, Ghostwatch, the Big Breakfast, Gamesmaster. Again, a $20 price point. A page count of 216 pages. The same boring cover. The same sort of horrible title. I finally went "What the hell is going on!?" and looked them up.

Turns out that Books LLC is a company that prints out Wikipedia entries in paperback form and then sells them. Not exclusively, they also have a series of public domain works (similar to, and possibly the same company as, General Books LLC) and do some pdf bookselling, too. The strange titles are a byproduct of using the Wiki Category names as the lead in. That last one I linked to has several entries for shows under the 1992 in British television category page. Yes, there are more than seven entries on that page, though a search for "1992 in British television" only brought up the one book.

By the way, this isn't just Amazon. I did searches on several bookseller websites, and nearly all of them had several Books LLC editions in stock.

I have to say that their FAQ makes some interesting reading. One asks how to find the online version of the book and they tell them to go to "" and type in the bit before the colon. If you have corrections or suggestions on the content, you can go to the "URL provided" (i.e. the Wiki entry) and then "click edit". In other words, several of the FAQ items are staging Wikipedia as the online version of them, as opposed to the vice versa. When they do answer the question about why would you buy a book of Wikipedia entries, their answers are "Use Wiki if you want, but our Wiki books are bought mainly by libraries and people who prefer to read a paperback than a computer screen" [emphasis is direct quote]. The libraries portion raised a flag for me. In my library degree, I hear endless invectives, vituperations, and harangues hurled at and against Wikipedia. I'll leave the "people who don't like to read off the computer screen" category alone. I know you book fetishists. With the smell and the touch and the gentle caresses. You probably would pay $20 just to have that paper in your hand, with your smugness about how awesome print is. Freaks!

By the way, also according to their FAQ, these are graphic-less. Figures and illustrations did not come through the process. They explain why (combination of copyright questions and resolution).

Is there a danger, here? Eh. Librarian-sense is only tingling about 2 clicks out of 5. As tight as librarians and schools are for money, I can't see them picking up a $20 book on a whim, especially without a direct author listed unless they saw positive reviews in something like Books-in-Print or School Library Journal. If they buy it, I imagine they know what they are getting into especially since these are paper-backs that would have to be sent off to be re-bound after purchase. If they are in a quick scramble to find books on something obscure, one might find its way into their stacks, but I really doubt there is anything like sleight-of-book going on.

On the student side, people using online booksellers to try and find books, there might be a little bit more of a problem, but that's a life lesson. If you are doing a search for Rwanda, for instance, and you find a book called Murder in Rwanda: People Convicted of Murder by Rwanda, People Murdered in Rwanda, Rwandan Genocide, Dian Fossey, you might think it sounds really awesome. Maybe not. One of Books LLC's issues is that their titles are so convoluted that they act as something of a flag towards their content. Good thing, too, since nothing else in the description suggests where it comes from, until you look up their website. Not that the student will actually buy the book. Students will do everything they can to never actually pay for anything, up-to and including trying to get the library to order the book so they can check it out (often fueled by a misconception that this can be done before their paper is due next Wednesday). Plus, it's good for teachers to actually check references, the slackers.

At any rate, I'm not really judging or attacking Books LLC. In some ways they may serve a strange purpose of providing back-ups of rapidly changing Wiki entries. I plan to never buy one, though. They are not doing anything illegal, nor are they (on their website) misrepresenting anything about their business model. I just wanted to let you know what I found out, when I decided I had to find out what they were. There you go.

TAGS: Books

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 38
BY MONTH: September 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."