Amazon Sees Influx of Self-Published, Plagiarized Coronavirus Books

Vanessa Diaz

Managing Editor

Vanessa is a writer, reader and generally bookish Latina from San Diego. If loving Agatha Christie is wrong, she doesn't want to be right. Vanessa’s penchant for books, travel and tea is rivaled only by her serious addictions to milk, avocado and floral lattes. When not reading books or selling them, she can be found blogging, working on her first novel or cozying up at a library.

In the wake of the worldwide spread of COVID-19, Amazon has been flooded with a throng of self-published books on coronavirus. These titles, billed as authoritative guides to prevention and treatment, are often plagiarized, pulling from reports and publications available online. 

One such book is Richard J. Baily’s Coronavirus: Everything You Need to Know About the Wuhan Corona Virus and How to Prevent It, which ranks among Amazon’s top “coronavirus” search results. As NBC News reports, the book’s first two chapters were lifted verbatim from NBC’s own reporting, with a subsequent chapter on cleaning tips taken from the website for a California-based housekeeping company. Dr. Kelsey Graham purports to provide “The FACTS without the POLITICS” in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19); these facts are pulled directly from the Center for Disease Control’s frequently asked questions. 

Amazon already has its hands full in trying to ban titles that violate its guidelines from their offerings. The e-commerce giant quietly removed titles containing Nazi propaganda and has also pulled books containing vaccine misinformation which claim to cure autism via pseudoscientific methods. As for its coronavirus-related challenges, these are hardly limited to books; the company has also begun placing restrictions on sales of products like face masks and hand sanitizer as would-be opportunists attempt to turn a profit through price gouging. According to The Guardian, some third-party sellers raised prices on these high-demand items by as much as 2,000%.

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