Open-Access Articles for Sale as Expensive Books on Amazon

Applied Research Press 1

A scheme to sell what’s freely available through Amazon.

A publisher called Applied Research Press has set up shop using Amazon.co.uk and is selling openly-licensed scholarly articles as monographs. The Creative Commons licenses apparently allow this commercial reproduction, but there are complications.

I am also able to access the “books” sold by Applied Research Press using Amazon’s US website address, Amazon.com. Here’s what one book re-titled as Ebola in a Nutshell looks like using Amazon’s “Look inside!” feature:

Applied Research Press

Look inside and realize this is a scam.

This closer look at the “book” reveals that it is really just an article from a scholarly journal called BMC Medicine and that its original title was “Transmission dynamics and control of Ebola virus disease (EVD): a review.”

I also see that Applied Research Press has changed the title, added itself as an author, and only listed one of the article’s original two authors as an author of this version, perhaps in violation of the article’s original license:

Applied Research Press

The fine print.

Indeed, changing the title may violate the authors’ moral rights to the original work.

At the time of this writing, the book has two positive reviews on Amazon.

Applied Research Press

Deceptive marketing?

This republication of open-access scholarly articles for profit is an affront. One advantage of signing over one’s copyright to a high-quality scholarly publisher is that the publisher will protect the copyright and prevent abusive republication such as this.

Other than producing a print reproduction, this publisher is not adding any value to the work. At least 14 additional “used” and “new” copies are also for sale through Amazon. Open-access publishing has led to the creation of many scams, and this may be another one.

 

Hat tip: Enid Karr

25 Responses to Open-Access Articles for Sale as Expensive Books on Amazon

  1. Joe Ellison says:

    A similar scam is run by the several republishers of Wikipedia articles. Books LLC is an example, http://www.infibeam.com/Books/books-llc-publisher/. At least they admit in their descriptions that they’re collecting and publishing Wikipedia articles. Other, less open publishers of Wikipedia articles are imprints of the German publisher VDM, including Alphascript and Betascript. (More at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDM_Publishing and http://www.chrisrand.com/blog/2010/02/odd-tale-alphascript-publishing-betascript-publishing/) These “books” come up as interlibrary loan requests every once in a while, and each time the patron has to be told that it’s just a set of Wikipedia entries, and won’t be borrowed or purchased for them.

  2. L_C says:

    The two original reviews for the book (Ebola in a Nutshell) were both published on the same day (Nov. 17th 2014) and each of these reviewers were ostensibly created with the sole purpose of promoting Applied Research Press books (or at least they have not reviewed anything published by anyone else). A third review then appeared today (Sept. 3rd, 2015) and made a direct reference to the paper’s creative commons license:

    “This is an amazing deal. When searching for quality information I’m used to paying over $50 per page of writing and graphs. This amazing book is only $5.62 per page. What a bargain! It’s reassuring that this product is available at a fair price and now available anywhere for free under a creative commons license elsewhere on the internet.”

    This publisher also recycled the article used in Ebola in a Nutshell, “Transmission dynamics and control of Ebola virus disease (EVD): a review,” and is selling it under many similar titles such as Contemporary Ebola Research and The Science of Ebola.

    The books even share a faux reviewer (stryker). If you read his reviews for these Ebola papers, you’ll find that they are identical. In fact, all of his Ebola reviews are all mere copies:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1C981W0ZOKUF3/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp

    However, Applied Research Press’s reuse of a paper from BMC Medical Imaging: “Breast cancer detection using sonography in women with mammographically dense breasts” is one of several without comments as of yet. If you would like to order it and comment, a new copy will only cost you around $45.46 (+ $3.99 for shipping). Although, if you really want a used copy, it can be yours for only $129.30 (+ $3.99 shipping). It’s an inconceivable oddity, but the “used” books for this publisher appear to be overwhelmingly more expensive than their “new” counterparts, with the occasional exception of Amazon’s direct price.

    On a final note, James Bonnar, the editor of Ebola in a Nutshell, has his own line of books that appear to be published separately from Applied Research Press. They include gems such as Epoxy Chemistry (http://www.amazon.com/Epoxy-Chemistry-James-Bonnar/dp/149750130X/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441296347&sr=1-9). Epoxy Chemistry is depicted as a book that will teach you about epoxies and the epoxy functional group. Upon looking inside the book, however, you only see a barrage of poorly labeled diagrams. The book did yield a single one star review (from a seemingly real and disgruntled buyer) who claimed that:

    “This not a ‘book’. There is not a single sentence or even a single word of writing. The description should be changed. It is collection of diagrams that are not labeled or described with full chemical equations.”

    • Pedro says:

      Also, the user who writes reviews of these books, “hashcode”, called the Epoxy Chemistry buyer a “crybaby”.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        The limited genre of “Writing 5-star reviews for James Bonnar books” is increasingly popular, with Hashcode and Stryker both choosing to specialise it.
        Or rather, the genre of “Writing a single 5-star review and repeating it for every James Bonnar book”.
        I give them both 5 stars.

    • Lars Leichert says:

      Well, the higher price of the used book is probably the result of another scam on top of this scam.

      In brief: the retailer that sells the used copy operates a bot, which automatically orders the book from the original publisher at $45.46, once you decide to order it from them.

      This can lead to funny results, e.g. if the original publisher also operates a bot, which tries to gauge how much it can charge for the book based on the prices the other retailer charges:

      http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=358

  3. Sudesh Kumar says:

    Dear Jeffrey, if such misuse of articles is being made is it not wise for publishers to use CC-BY-NC (non-commercial) instead of CC-BY license? I think using CC-BY-NC will give publisher some legal rights.

    • Yes, adding the “NC” option may help prevent situations like the one I describe here. Still, this publisher does not seem to be following the letter of the CC BY license, so who knows whether such publishers will respect the NC component of the license.

    • J.J. says:

      The correct license is sure a good thing, but what will really determines how much a license is respected is the legal firepower of the publisher.

  4. Applied Research Press scam – don’t buy – books available free elsewhere – no need to pay for this – don’t purchase from Applied Research Press – Amazon.

    Just making sure some helpful facts show up if prospective customers Google them.

  5. dzrlib says:

    Sent this info to Amazon … hope they will shut them off

  6. ??? says:

    There seems to be very little information about Applied Research Press and their sometimes editor, James Bonnar. In his bio on Amazon (US), Bonnar claims that he writes for and manages Applied Research Press. All of his books, and all those of Applied Research Press, however, are published through Amazon’s Create Space independent publishing platform and share similar features (e.g., covers, format, etc). I’m curious as to whether Applied Research Press is an actual ‘press’ that needs to be managed or just another name Bonnar publishes under? Who is the man behind the curtain?

    Bonnar’s bio on Amazon (US) states that he earned a BS in physics from the University of Wisconsin. From the records I could amass, there was a James Bonnar in the Racine, WI area who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with a BS in physics on Sept. 9th, 2003:

    http://journaltimes.com/news/local/education/parkside-graduates/article_2035c6e3-88af-5406-bfcd-bc47015e5d89.html

    He was originally listed on the Dean’s list in 1993 and then later reappeared in 2001 and 2002. The 1993 Dean’s list was printed in the Journal Times (a local newspaper) and included his home address on Washington Ave (I imagine they stopped including addresses later due to privacy concerns).

    It’s a shame he’s exploiting the work of others for profit. I would venture a guess that he wished to be a part of research, but something went awry, and his desire manifested itself in these pseudo research schemes. Interestingly, before he graduated, he did have one publication in the Canadian journal of Physics:

    http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=2636bfe0-3128-4684-a862-21675c50ba6a%40sessionmgr111&crlhashurl=login.aspx%253fdirect%253dtrue%2526profile%253dehost%2526scope%253dsite%2526authtype%253dcrawler%2526jrnl%253d00084204%2526AN%253d10945559&hid=124&vid=0&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=10945559&db=aph

    He also seems to upload different articles he assembles to PDF host sites. In one particular PDF, he writes about his time at the University of Wisconsin and cites the aforementioned article as one of his references. Under that same account, he has an upload of the preface to one his Amazon books, The Gamma Function (he has two versions on Amazon: one with a preface and one without), which further confirms my suspicion that I could have the right man:

    http://pdfsr.com/pdf/why-no-cure

    • dzrlib says:

      I sent the details to Amazon’s ‘investigations team’. “Each report they receive is investigated and the appropriate action is taken. However, we won’t be able to release the outcome of the investigation.” I suggested that they let me know if some ‘action’ is taken … to see if ‘Academic’ is still one of their sellers.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      The Gamma Function (he has two versions on Amazon: one with a preface and one without),

      Which is the one with the rave review from Stryker?

      Sadly, university administrators are reluctant to accept “Positive Amazon Reviews published through sockpuppet IDs” as part of one’s research output.

    • It was pointed out by Matt Hodgkinson on Twitter that a James Bonnar of Racine, WI has been repeatedly arrested for indecent exposure: e.g. in 2010:

      “Showing off his birthday suit in the front door of his Washington Avenue home got a man arrested on his 42nd birthday Saturday.

      James Bonnar should know better, considering it was his 10th arrest for lewd and lascivious behavior.”

      Of course it might be a different James Bonnar of Racine, WI.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      There is also a James Stryker publishing through the Createspace platform, and generating a substantial oeuvre of “High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles”,

      http://www.amazon.com/James-Stryker/e/B00IRMK42W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

      • J_C says:

        Interesting. The similarities between the methods used by James Bonnar, Applied Research Press, and James Stryker are striking.

        Further, their content is also typically released in chunks. For example, Applied Research Press released 4 volumes of their Biomedical Research Journal (53-56) on October 16th, 2014.
        (Vol. 53 had a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Biomedical-Research-Volume-53/659076714207992)

        James Stryker released all 12 of his Wikipedia books in a three day span: Dec. 1st-3rd, 2013.

        Additionally, they both use similar book formats, including copied book summaries. On Amazon, Ebola in a Nutshell’s summary includes opening remarks about the book followed by a list of its contents. Part of that opening was taken straight from the description of Harvey Lodish’s “Molecular Cell Biology:”

        Bonnar: “With its acclaimed authors, cutting-edge content, emphasis on medical relevance, and coverage based on landmark research, Ebola in a Nutshell has earned an impeccable reputation as an authoritative and exciting curated research journal and learning aid, perfect for students, medical professionals and other sophisticated readers.”

        Lodish: “With its acclaimed author team, cutting-edge content, emphasis on medical relevance, and coverage based on landmark experiments, Molecular Cell Biology has justly earned an impeccable reputation as an authoritative and exciting text.”

        (http://www.amazon.com/Molecular-Cell-Biology-Lodish/dp/0716776014/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441682646&sr=8-1&keywords=Molecular+Cell+Biology+harvey+2008)

        Of course Stryker’s Wikipedia book summaries are taken straight from Wikipedia. These Wikipedia books are no longer available for purchase. However, if you go to James Stryker’s Createspace page or his other Amazon page (http://www.amazon.com/JamesStryker/e/B00V34YCCO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1),

        there are several other books whose descriptions were also copied. For instance, his Funny Cats Coloring Book (a book containing B&W versions of popular and freely available cat photos) has a summary that was taken from the “Flower Desgins Coloring Book” by Jenean Morrison:

        Stryker:

        “Explore your creativity with the Funny Cats Coloring Book, by artist James Stryker! James has brought you 25 hilarious cat images of varying styles and difficulty levels, so colorists of all ages will enjoy this book. The Funny Cats Coloring Book contains images printed on the fronts of pages only, so you don’t need to worry about bleed-through if you choose to use markers. As always, James hopes you enjoy coloring this book as much as he enjoyed creating the images!”

        Morrison:

        “Explore your creativity with the Flower Designs Coloring Book, Volume 1, by artist Jenean Morrison! Jenean has brought you 50 beautiful flower designs of varying styles and difficulty levels, so colorists of all ages will enjoy this book. The Flower Designs series contains images printed on the fronts of pages only, so you don’t need to worry about bleed-through if you choose to use markers. As always, Jenean hopes you enjoy coloring this book as much as she enjoyed creating the designs!”

        (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/flower-designs-coloring-book-jenean-morrison/1118921757#productInfoTabs)

    • MC says:

      The fact that he states he attended the “University of Wisconsin”, and does not specify it was actually a little known satellite campus, is immediately telling.

  7. Amazonian says:

    What do the original authors say? What is Amazon’s position? What does BMC/Springer have to say?

  8. John Mashey says:

    Has anyone ever gotten Amazon to remove a book entry (or “book”: entry)?

    • Keith Fraser says:

      A how-to guidebook for paedophiles was removed from Amazon after an unsurprising flurry of controversy. (It wasn’t an “official” Amazon book stocked in their warehouses, I think it was just using Amazon as a middleman.) I believe at least one law enforcement agency in the US bought a copy across state lines in order to prosecute the author. I think the Wikipedia article on Amazon lists other controversies which may have led to books being withdrawn.

  9. […] Source Open-Access Articles for Sale as Expensive Books on Amazon (h/t Andrea James) […]

  10. […] Open Acces Scholary además en algún caso Applied Research Press ha retitulado algunos de los artículos y ha se ha […]

  11. […] Scholarly Kitchen Open-Access articles for sale as expensive Books on Amazon […]

  12. […] Según Open Acces Scholary, un editor llamado Applied Research Press está usando la plataforma Amazon.co.uk y Amazon.com para vender artículos de investigación de revistas de acceso abierto para crear monografías que vende a precios altos en Amazon. Aparentemente las licencias Creative Commons permiten esta posibilidad comercial, si bien alguna práctica de esta empresa como el hecho de retitular los capítulos o atribuirse autorias sin añadir valor añadido podría vulnerar los derechos de autor. […]

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