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!
ms-studio: the wikipedia ecosystem expands (or: the good, the bad & the ugly).