Now that anyone can self-publish an ebook, critics have argued that the overall quality of books being published has plummeted. And despite the outrage from indie authors over criticism like that, Amazon made a move this week that seems to actually prove the point.
A number of books uploaded by an individual going by “M Angelo” were nothing more than Google translate-style quick jobs of well-known classics of literature, muddled together in a variety of foreign languages, prompting Amazon to remove the ebooks after complaints about the books barely being readable, let alone offering a quality translation.
Before anyone expresses concern that Amazon is now stripping books from its retail website due to simply not thinking they are worthy, the terms of service for using KDP have always allowed the retailer to do so, a right they have exercised in the past in regard to immoral, pornographic, and pirated works. Even more compelling, though, is the fact that the terms of service don’t allow any author to charge for a public domain work, even one that was sloppily translated.
This recent uproar in the world of self-publishing is a demonstration of what many critics fear most about the ability to flood the book market with garbage. An unscrupulous individual saw an outlet for making quick money–even while listing himself alongside the author and charging only 99 cents for each language’s edition of these works–and dealt another blow to the credibility of authors who do put forth incredible amounts of time, talent, effort, and even financial resources to ensure that their works are well-received and worthy reads. Hopefully, this get-rich-quick scheme does not become another notch in the yard stick by which consumers measure self-publishing.