Apparently anyone can now earn the highly coveted title of being an “Amazon Bestseller” book by taking a picture of their foot and selling it online. It seems that the recognition of being an “Amazon Bestseller” book is not as prestigious as one may think. Some have even accused it as being a scam.
Brent Underwood, a partner at a marketing company called Brass Check, decided to debunk the hype behind being a bestselling author on the popular online marketplace site. He decided to test his hunch out by taking a picture of his foot and listing it as a book on Amazon. Underwood wrote on the Observer:
“Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything.”
If anyone was wondering how many copies he sold, the answer is three. Underwood continued:
“Three. Yes, a total of three copies to become a best-selling author. And I bought two of those copies myself!
“I decided my foot was worthy of the ‘Transpersonal’ category under psychology books and ‘Freemasonry & Secret Societies’ under social sciences books. I’ve always wanted to have an affiliation with the Freemasons.”
Underwood went on to explain that being a bestselling author is a status symbol. It is often desired as it increases the credibility of an author’s personal brand and it establishes the writer as a thought leader. In addition, he or she is gaines a sort of prestige from having the market judge the book as worthy in comparison to all the books out there.
The title of the experimental book was “Putting My Foot Down” and it included one page with a photo of his left foot. Underwood explained how he became fed up with “phony ‘authors’ and the scam artists and charlatans who conspire with these folks-the cottage industry that has built up around them selling courses, instructions and hacks.”
“Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world. They carry over 33 MILLION titles and ship them pretty much anywhere in the world. At the same time Amazon also allows authors to publish titles directly onto the platform, without the approval of traditional publishers, editors, or, as my foot book proves, really any barriers at all.”
Underwood works with a creative advisory company that works with authors and media companies. He claims to have had a role in launching 30 New York Time best-selling books.
According to Underwood, Brass Check has sold over 5 million books and oversaw book launches with major publishing houses that include Amazon. He concluded:
“It’s unsurprising that as the barriers to entry for the book business went down, so did the quality of the books being produced. These days, over one million books are published each year, with at least half of these self-published…”
“And yet, in spite of the fact that it’s as easy as I’ve shown to become an Amazon best-seller, those same people get to cash in on the goodwill and prestige build up in the title ‘bestselling author.’”