Thinking Out Loud

July 9, 2019

IVP Author Loses to Counterfeit Books Sold on Amazon

Filed under: books, Christianity, ethics, publishing — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:24 am

Christian Author Robbed

Maybe it’s because I work in this field, that this account hit so hard, so personally. This story broke on Christianity Today yesterday morning; excerpts below are just a portion of a larger story you’re encouraged to read in full:

It took Tish Harrison Warren nearly three years to publish her first book. It was more than 18 months of arranging childcare and carving out time to write before she had a manuscript—11 chapters chronicling details from her day-to-day life paired with the rhythms of church ritual.

By the time Liturgy of the Ordinary debuted in December 2016, she and her publishing team had gone through the process of selecting a cover (an open-faced peanut butter and jelly sandwich against a bright green backdrop) and editing the page proofs to check every dot and detail.

But over the past year, thousands of readers ended up with copies that didn’t quite look like the book she and InterVarsity Press (IVP) had finalized three years ago. The cover was not as sharp. The pages were a bit off-center.

These were not IVP’s books at all. They were counterfeits.

A three-year labor of love. It’s a heartbreaking story to read.

IVP estimates that at least 15,000 counterfeit copies of Liturgy of the Ordinary were sold on the site over the past nine months, their retail value totaling $240,000. That nearly cuts sales of Warren’s book in half; IVP reported 23,000 legitimate copies were sold over the past year. IVP also found evidence of counterfeiting on a smaller scale for one other title, Michael Reeves’s Delighting in the Trinity, which came out in 2002.

But it’s probably not an isolated story, though CT’s story tilts in that direction:

Sharon Heggeland, vice president for sales operations at Tyndale said, “We have monitoring software in place that looks for third-party sellers. We have very minimal issues with third-party sellers taking over the buy buttons on our products, and we have seen no instances of counterfeit Tyndale titles.”

I think personally we haven’t heard the last story of a Christian title being counterfeited. And yet, inexplicably, this:

But within 48 hours of learning about the Amazon counterfeiters, she bought groceries at Amazon-owned Whole Foods, rented a movie on Prime, and received a package with the telltale arrow logo on her porch.

There’s a lot more; this is complicated. Kate Shellnutt has done a great job of reporting this and you are again encouraged to read the whole report at this link.

Counterfeit sales impact not only Tish Harrison Warren’s current title, but affects contracts for future titles.

Meanwhile, at her blog, Tish Harrison Warren offers readers some options, including how to identify the fake copies, and then returning the books to Amazon and obtaining an authentic copy from IVP with free shipping.

[Note: If you bought your copy from a brick-and-mortar bookstore, it probably would have been purchased direct from IVP and not affected.]

The author also says,

Pray for wisdom for IVPress, Amazon, and me. We each have decisions to make about how best to proceed now that we know that there are counterfeit books out there. This is a situation that IVP has never faced before and they in particular need prayer for wisdom about how to respond.

I also have never faced this before and need wisdom about how to most wisely respond moving forward.

Amazon executives and decision-makers also need wisdom and motivation about how to respond to improve their systems. Please pray for all involved.


Interested in reading the book? Here’s the publisher blurb:

In each chapter of Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren looks at something-making the bed, brushing her teeth, losing her keys-that the author does every day. Drawing from the diversity of her life as a campus minister, Anglican priest, friend, wife, and mother, Tish Harrison Warren opens up a practical theology of the everyday. Each activity is related to a spiritual practice as well as an aspect of our Sunday worship. Come and discover the holiness of your every day.

Don’t just grab the lowest available price online; look for an established Christian retailer, or better yet, if a physical store exists near you, support them before Amazon has decimated the entire landscape.


UPDATE 10:05 AM EST — Determining if you have a counterfeit copy. At this Dropbox link, 11 images showing the telltale evidence of a fake book.

Blog at WordPress.com.