Posted by: bluesyemre | February 9, 2015

I Sold My Undergraduate Thesis to a Print Content Farm by Joseph Stromberg

The joy of seeing your work in print.

If you’re an academic (or were once an aspiring academic), you may have once received an email just like the one I got at 6:10 on a sunny morning last August. “As stated by the Washington University in St. Louis’s electronic repository, you authored the work entitled ‘Lands of the Lakota Policy Culture and Land Use on the Pine Ridge Reservation’ in the framework of your postgraduate degree,” Karen Holmes, an acquisition editor at LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, told me. She added that she worked for a “top international publishing group” and was interested in publishing my work as a book. The email was slightly better quality than spam—she’d gotten my school’s name and undergraduate thesis title right, with the exception of a missing colon—so I hesitated ever so briefly before deleting it. On a whim, I Googled her company’s name. The first page of results contained links like “Lambert Academic Publishing: A Must to Avoid,” “Why You Shouldn’t Publish With Lap Lambert, German Publishing House,” and “Lambert Academic Publishing (or How Not to Publish Your Thesis).” The bloggers and academics who’d written these posts had gotten emails virtually identical to mine and wrote about how the company obtained the rights to tens of thousands of theses, dissertations, and other unpublished works for essentially nothing; sold copies of them as books to unsuspecting online buyers (who assumed they were purchasing proofed, edited work); and kept essentially 100 percent of the proceeds. LAP Lambert, I learned, is the print equivalent of a content farm: a clearinghouse for texts that generate tiny amounts of revenue simply by turning up in search and appearing to be legitimate, published works.

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