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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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The Long Tail of Book Authoring

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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According to Noam Cohen’s article He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work) in tomorrow’s New York Times, Philip M. Parker, a professor at Insead, has generated more than 200,000 books using computer algorithms and publicly available information. As an experiment, it’s fascinating; as commerce, less so.

The books themselves, unsurprisingly, leave something to be desired. One Amazon buyer noted “The book is more of a template for ‘generic health researching’ than anything specific to rosacea. The information is of such a generic level that a sourcebook on the next medical topic is just a search and replace away.”

Mr. Parker was willing to concede much of what Mr. Pascoe argued. “If you are good at the Internet, this book is useless,” he said, adding that Mr. Pascoe simply should not have bought it. But, Mr. Parker said, there are people who aren’t Internet savvy who have found these guides useful.

Is this a representation or omission that a reasonable book buyer would find materially deceptive under the circumstances? Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

This book has been created for patients who have decided to make education and research an integral part of the treatment process. Although it also gives information useful to doctors, caregivers and other health professionals, it tells patients where and how to look for information covering virtually all topics related to acne rosacea (also Acne Erythematosa; Adult Acne; Hypertrophic Rosacea; Rhinophyma; Rosacea), from the essentials to the most advanced areas of research. The title of this book includes the word official. This reflects the fact that the sourcebook draws from public, academic, government, and peer-reviewed research. Selected readings from various agencies are reproduced to give you some of the latest official information available to date on acne rosacea. Given patients’ increasing sophistication in using the Internet, abundant references to reliable Internet-based resources are provided throughout this sourcebook. Where possible, guidance is provided on how to obtain free-of-charge, primary research results as well as more detailed information via the Internet. E-book and electronic versions of this sourcebook are fully interactive with each of the Internet sites mentioned (clicking on a hyperlink automatically opens your browser to the site indicated). Hard-copy users of this sourcebook can type cited Web addresses directly into their browsers to obtain access to the corresponding sites. In addition to extensive references accessible via the Internet, chapters include glossaries of technical or uncommon terms.

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