Are Amazon counterfeiters as well as tax-dodgers?

Mar 13, 2013 by

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt by being around surrounded by Murdoch-based shitty tabloid journalism for 30-odd years, it’s that you can frame anything as a question and claim it’s an investigation rather than an assertion. For what it’s worth: yes, I think Amazon are both tax dodgers and counterfeiters. But I’m not a lawyer.

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Look at how fuzzy the NAME OF THE BLOODY PUBLISHER is.

Obviously, Amazon are a giant company, staffed by monsters who leave the compound to destroy small bookshops, siphon profits to anywhere there’s a good rate, and shit on the dreams of everyone. We all know that. Nothing new about that. But do these monsters also go out and counterfeit the products they sell in order to make a more enormous profit, and keep themselves in monster-sized shoes and dream-shit-funnels?

Here’s a letter I wrote to Tower Hamlets Trading Standards:

Dear sir/madam,

Given Amazon’s various unpleasant habits, this is probably low on the list, but it seems important.

Briefly: I ordered a Faber & Faber copy of Heiner Müller’s Theatremachine from Amazon, where they had undercut the next lowest seller by a matter of a few pence, making them the default choice. All fine and good. However, when the book arrived, it had been incredibly cheaply-printed, with poorly-bound curling pages, and a nasty, shiny board cover. I was a little confused, and appalled at how Faber’s standards had dropped, before I saw the words ‘Printed by Amazon’ on the last page. These words, incidentally, were the only part of the book that was clearly printed. The book they’d sent me was clearly a low-resolution reproduction of the Faber & Faber copy, printed by their own cheap printers.
I believe this is a clear case of mis-selling.
Nowhere on their product page does it mention that their book is printed by them. Other sellers, of course, would not have been printing their own copies and, by comparing their own poorly-made books with the genuine Faber editions, they are deliberately misleading their customers.
They’re passing off their low-quality goods as the genuine article without informing their customers which, at least colloquially, is known as counterfeiting. I have no way of knowing how many editions they’re selling in this way, but it seems highly unlikely that they’re only doing this with the works of an experimental German dramatist.
They have offered to refund the cost of the book, which is fine, but does not address the root of the problem. 

If you’re interested, I have a few photos of the book, but I’m sure you can order a copy online. Amazon do it quite cheaply. I hope you’re well, and I look forward to hearing any thoughts you have on the matter.
A couple of analogues, as discussed online with the splendid Neil Walsh: if you bought a CD and opened it up to find a bit of paper inside, with a link to that album on Spotify, would you be happy? The music’s the same, isn’t it? If you bought a DVD, and it had no menu screen, was incredibly pixellated and was missing the colour blue, would you be happy? The story’s the same, right? If you paid for a flight to Malta, would you be happy if you ended up in Tenerife? They’re both hot and mediterranean, no?

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting. Can I assume you live in Tower Hamlets? I often wondered just why so many copies of a book by Ki Publishing Co-operative that I know we had not sold were floating around on the internet. I had put it down to copies made illegally in China or India – but now I could be wrong. My friend Loto Perrella in Spain has also had broadly similar experiences. The problem is that whilst you (and I) might know something claiming to originate from you (or me) did not, proving who actually was the counterfeiter is almost impossible.

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