A Montreal blogger got an email from a German academic publisher:
This one’s mostly for the search engines as I’m sure most of my readers don’t need to hear this.
I keep getting this spam email sent to me:
Begin forwarded message:
From: Yasmine Watson
Date: February 2, 2012 2:15:30 AM EST
Subject: Our Publication Offer: Your end-of-studies work
Dear Essam Hallak,
Some time ago I offered you the possibility of making your academic paper
entitled «Beyond Boundaries A Philosophical Mapping of the PreModern City of
the Levant» submitted to McGill University Montreal as part of your
postgraduate studies available as printed book. Our publishing company is
interested in your subject area for future publications. Since we did not
hear back from you, I am now wondering if you received my first email.
I would appreciate if you could confirm your interest in our publishing
house and I will be glad to provide you with detailed information about our
I am looking forward to receiving a positive response from you.
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing GmbH & Co. KG
66121, Saarbrücken, Germany
Fon +49 681 3720-310
Fax +49 681 3720-3109
y.watson(at)lappublishing.com / www.lap-publishing.com
Handelsregister Amtsgericht Saarbrücken HRA 10752
General unlimited partner: VDM Management GmbH
Managing directors: Thorsten Ohm (CEO), Dr. Wolfgang Philipp Müller, Esther
Joseph Stromberg got an email from someone 'named' Holmes at Lambert, which made him curious:
At this point, I did a bit more research into LAP Lambert and found that it’s really just the tip of the book-mill iceberg. Both it and AV Akademikerverlag GmbH & Co. KG are part of an enormous German publishing group called VDM that publishes 78 imprints and 27 subsidiary houses in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Russian, and plans to soon open up shop in Turkey and China. It has satellite offices in Latvia and Uruguay, but the majority of its English- and French-speaking staff are based in the tax haven of Mauritius, off the coast of Madagascar. Founded in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2002 by a man named Dr. Wolfgang Philipp Müller, the company is notorious for using on-demand printing technology to package all sorts of strange content in book form and selling it online. The company declines to release financial data but claims to publish 50,000 books every month, making it, by its own accounting, one of the largest book publishers in the world.
How can it possibly churn out this many titles? Although a huge number are academic texts, hundreds of thousands result from an even stranger process: They’re built entirely from text copied from Wikipedia articles. On VDM’s own online bookstore, Morebooks.de, the listings for books like Tidal Power, Period (number),and Swimming Pool Sanitation (published by VDM’s Alphascript and Betascriptimprints) directly acknowledge this fact. Thousands are listed for sale on Amazon, all with the same cover design (albeit with different stock photos swapped in) and the same three names (Frederic P. Miller, Agnes F. Vandome, and John McBrewster) listed as the “authors.” Some go for as much as $100. Though the practice is technically legal—most Wikipedia content is published under licenses that allow it to be reproduced—critics say that it’s unethical and deceitful for the company to profit from content freely available on the Web.
But plenty of people consider the company’s strategy predatory—and in his research, Hodgkinson uncovered a curious pattern that lends credence to this view.He found that the Facebook profile of Kevin Woodmann, one of the acquisition editors, featured a “low budget royalty free” stock photo entitled “Confident middle aged man sitting and smiling in front of white background.” (The photo has since been removed from the Facebook profile.) Other acquisition editors used stock photos for profile pictures as well.
Ohm told me that after Hodgkinson’s article alerted him and other LAP Lambert management that their editors were using stock photos, they were instructed to immediately discontinue the practice and haven’t done it since. His explanation for the strange pattern is benign. “I know that not all editors, especially females, want to have their picture on Facebook,” he said. “This is especially a matter in some of our sites—for example, Mauritius—where we have Muslim and Hindu employees.”
But Hodgkinson thinks the editors’ use of stock photos—along with suspiciously Anglo-sounding names for staff that are largely based in Mauritius—are part of something more nefarious: a deceptive effort to seem more prestigious, especially for the large number of authors based in Africa, India, and other regions of the developing world. LAP Lambert doesn’t publish data on the countries of authors, but a casual search of its online bookstore and comments on blog posts reveals that a huge amount of authors appear to live in these areas. “Especially at many universities in developing countries, there are expectations or requirements that graduate students need to publish to receive a degree,” Hodgkinson told me, “and that pressure is leading them into the arms of these disreputable publishers.”
The business model, apparently, is to sell the books back to authors:
Over the next two weeks, I got three more emails from Holmes pressuring me to buy, each more aggressive than the last. She used several strategies: guilt (“We agreed to provide you free ISBN, free cataloguing of your book in thousands of bookstores, free book cover, market coverage, support and assistance. We are now offering you the opportunity to support your project.”); optimism (“You can also purchase some copies and market them in your locality or maybe even sell them at your own price, thus not only generating profit, but also getting to know your target audience and perhaps establishing valuable contacts.”); and finally, hostility (“We would have thought that you would have at least liked to have some copies of your new published book and that is why proposed this offer to you in the first place. Maybe you have not realized the importance of having some printed copies of your book in hand?”). Each warned that my window of opportunity to take advantage of the deal was rapidly closing, but I declined repeatedly.
I like the choice of (presumably) fake names for the editors: Holmes and Watson. I anticipate an email soon from June Christie.