Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
It was a cute idea, to make a small book filled with some pithy tweets to make you think and laugh. In practice, it even came out looking good.
The only problem with the project? The tweets inside were largely taken without permission. That is, the ‘author’ of the book Suzanne Schwalb just lifted tweets from other Twitter users, and sold them in book format. You can view the book here [non-affiliate Amazon link].
The original Twitter users are not happy, and have trashed the book in the Amazon.com ratings. It has so far racked up some 28 one star ratings, out of 31 total reviews. In fact, the book only has a single review over two stars. In keeping with its utter sloshing in the ratings game, the book has fallen to nearly the 200,000th sales position.
Legal action is doubtful, as there is probably little money to recoup, but the outcry and situation are comical. The poor author ripped off one of the most vocal groups in the world: active Twitter users. And lo-and-behold, those people knew how to use Amazon. Busted.
And as a final straw, a user has uploaded a photo for the book that is viewable on its page. What is the image? A large fecal pile with a content looking man sitting atop the stack. Fitting, don’t you think?
And finally, for context, an excerpt from the most popular Amazon review of the book:
[Note: This book’s unauthorized commercial use of my Twitter posts is the basis for this review]
As others reviewers have mentioned, this book is primarily a compendium of Twitter posts that were written by people who are not the author. I am one of those people.
While I’m thrilled that *anyone* enjoys *any* of the 4,000 items I’ve written and posted for the entertainment of the 67,000 people who are deranged enough to follow me on Twitter, I’m disappointed that the author, editor, and publisher of this title never bothered to seek any kind of permission before publishing and selling my stuff. And, from what I can gather, I’m neither the only person who got nicked, nor the only person who absolutely does not consider it some big-hearted honor.
Ephemeral as this material might seem to anyone who didn’t write it–whether to the publisher who essentially stole it, or to the readers who share my grave distaste for the glut of similar shovelbooks–it’s simply not cricket to compile and sell a _collection of anything_ other people have made without asking permission, negotiating a license, and paying a mutually agreeable fee to the creator. Period.
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