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I came across this circumstance purely by chance. There is a Kindle book with a free sample for downloading titled The Fates of the Twins. The author is listed as Stuart Woods but it is apparently not the famous author of the same name.

I was astonished to recognize the story. It is the same made up town -Mallard, the same named twins, the same plot, of Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, and comparing it to the opening of the Kindle version of said book, it looks like an exact match except for formatting.

What is going on? Does anyone have an explanation?

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    The Amazon listing says published in 2022; that's two years after The Vanishing Half. The Twins book doesn't have a publisher but is attributed to Stuart Woods; clicking that name on the listing gives me a well-known author who doesn't seem the type to self-publish. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a scam; this looks suspiciously like one.
    – Mithical
    Apr 26 at 4:53
  • It could be a retitling.
    – Mary
    Apr 27 at 0:45

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This is a common scam on Amazon’s Kindle store.

Scammers have been raiding the Kindle Unlimited pot using a well-worn trick. They usually pilfer the content first of all – often by stealing an author’s original work and running it through a synonymizer – and then upload it to Amazon, thus avoiding the automatic plagiarism detectors. They make sure the “book” is as long as possible, but as they are enrolling the title in Kindle Unlimited, they keep it under the program’s limit of 3,000 pages.

These thieves make the book free for a few days, and then use a variety of banned methods to generate a huge and immediate surge in downloads – generally suspected to be bots or clickfarms or dummy accounts, or some combination thereof. These fake books then suddenly jump into the Top 20 of the free charts, displacing authors who have gone to considerable effort to put together an advertising campaign for their work.

"Amazon has a fake book problem," David Gaughran.

This is, of course, not the least of the fakes problem on Amazon, which is to be expected when the inventory becomes too large to be actually curated.

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  • Thanks, D.A., that explains a lot. Meanwhile, I contacted Stuart Woods. The Kindle people are going to make sure his name is disconnected from the fake book and he and his agent also notified the publishers of The Vanishing Half about the situation. -Roberta in NJ
    – Roberta
    May 4 at 2:40
  • Hi @Roberta, you seem to have created two accounts by accident. You may want to look into merging them; that will also allow you to vote on or accept an answer.
    – Mithical
    May 4 at 3:56

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