a warning about “alphascript publishing” and “betascript publishing”

i stumbled upon two seemingly identical publishing companies calling themselves “alphascript publishing” and “betascript publishing” (sometimes spelt “publishers” instead of “publishing”). they are churning out vast amounts of books on a very wide range of topics. on their webpage, they describe themselves as “one of the leading publishing houses of academic research”, producing “more than 10,000 new titles”. they “specialize in publishing copyleft projects”, and they do so “at no cost to our authors”.

now that description is not dishonest, strictly speaking, but it’s very misleading, and i’d even go as far as to call it deceptive. what these people actually do is to copy a selection of wikipedia articles, put a nice image on the cover, and sell it to clueless readers for exorbitant prices.

because of the licensing of wikipedia articles, this is in fact legal. copyleft essentially guarantees the right to use the material as you please, including commercially. but the way in which they do this, and especially the way in which they are presenting themselves on their homepage, seems just wrong. in the product descriptions, for example, they don’t mention wikipedia at all (cf. this). it seems pretty clear to me that their intention is to fool unsuspecting readers, counting on the fact that people will go ahead and order the books not being aware that they are paying a lot of money for something they could have gotten for free (and probably in a more up-to-date version) on wikipedia.

so: don’t buy books from these dubious publishers!

WikipediaSignpost 2009-08-17: Alphascript Publishing sells free articles as expensive books

update 25.5.2010
more links:
ms-studio: the wikipedia ecosystem expands (or: the good, the bad & the ugly).


  1. This is good to know! I was considering purchasing Winston’s Hiccup until I found this information. And, they are selling WIKI info for 68.00!!!! Quite amazing.
    Thanks for alerting unsuspecting buyers… Jean

  2. Connie Franzis

    Yep you’re certainly right – just ordered a book over amazon and paid 40€.
    After receiving the book I was very disappointed, what a load of rubbish.
    The book is about RSYSLOG has got a fancy cover the back cover explains RSYSLOG well it sounds promising.
    Inside though its quite the topic is covered over 2 pages and that’s it. The rest has nothing to do with RSYSLOG whatsoever.

    what a rip off

  3. FYI, they operate via print-on-demand, so their library is potentially infinite… It means nothing to have 16,000 items for sale. They’ve probably only even sold a fraction of that number of books in TOTAL.

    Really shifty business operation…

  4. E. A. Shomer

    An author has made multiple attempts to contact Betascript Publishing concerning their unauthorized publishing of his copyright material.

    They continue to ignore him.

    Therefore a class action lawsuit is being put together.

    If you wish to join or read about this class action lawsuit go to the following link:


    • “The authors have deleted this site.”
      If you can, it would be interesting to hear if or what has come out of this.

  5. Amazon has already blacklisted the publisher from it’s system. Since Betascript is already unscrupulous and deceptive- knowing well that it has find a legal grey area to steal – it is better to go after the retailers that want to stay commercially honest.

  6. Thank you for this article, which seems to be relevant still. Although this publisher is now advertising the books as “high quality content” by “Wikipedia articles”. That may clear them legally and thus commercially but not ethically. This may be a good example of how a commercial market system where more or less everyone attempts to find more and more and more ways to sell things to others is inherently flawed.

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