Amazon Sees Influx of Self-Published, Plagiarized Coronavirus Books

Vanessa Diaz

Managing Editor

Book Riot Managing Editor Vanessa Diaz is a writer and former bookseller from San Diego, CA whose Spanish is even faster than her English. When not reading or writing, she enjoys dreaming up travel itineraries and drinking entirely too much tea. She is a regular co-host on the All the Books podcast who especially loves mysteries, gothic lit, mythology/folklore, and all things witchy. Vanessa can be found on Instagram at @BuenosDiazSD or taking pictures of pretty trees in Portland, OR, where she now resides.

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%.