We’ve known for a long time that anyone can publish anything on the Internet, but now anyone can publish anything as an actual book as well! Several “publishers” in Germany have been taking Wikipedia articles and printing them as books. This practice has reached our shores now as well, and these “books” can be found on Amazon.com and in Google Scholar.
Books are printed on demand from any content whatsoever: term papers, Wikipedia articles, or anything else a person wants to upload to these sites, and they’ll appear side by side with books from reputable, actual publishers that carefully choose, edit and produce books of quality.
Should peer review go out the window? Is self-publishing the wave of the future? Maybe we should think again. Search for the authors of the book pictured here on Amazon and be amazed by the thousands of books they’ve “written.” Marvel at paying $45 for a 96 page paperback. And start to consider just what makes a book scholarly, just what gives it value as a research resource. It’s a whole lot more difficult now to recognize true scholarship.