Twenty-four hours after it went on sale, the Kindle edition of ALL DARK, ALL THE TIME: THE COMPLETE SHORT FICTION OF BRIAN KEENE, VOLUME 2 is currently sitting at #9 on Amazon’s bestseller list for horror short story collections, right behind the new Peter Straub collection, a Dan Padavona collection, and a bunch of books by Stephen King. How many copies did it have to sell to get there? Forty-four. Forty-four copies in twenty-four hours will land you on the bestseller list.
A name also helps you become a bestseller — and it doesn’t even need to be your name. As I mentioned before, if you take a look at that bestseller list, you see collections by myself, Peter Straub, and Dan Padavona. You also see Stephen King’s latest collection firmly ensconced at #1. What books are between Steve’s latest and myself, Peter, and Dan? At first glance, those other books are also by Stephen King — except that they aren’t.
Welcome to another one of Amazon’s dirty little secrets — the world of scam artists masquerading as popular authors and utilizing Kindle’s self-publishing technology to make a quick — and crooked — buck.
Looking at the bestseller list, you’ll see AWAKEN and DESCENDANTS, two new short story collections ostensibly written by Stephen King. But they aren’t. They’re written by somebody pretending to be Stephen King. It isn’t a case of an author simply having the same name as him. It’s a case of outright fraud. The author bio for DESCENDANTS is the real Stephen King’s bio, which the impostor copied and pasted. Directly above that, you’ll notice that Amazon themselves are apparently aware of this malfeasance, because they’ve included a note that directs readers “looking for Stephen King the bestselling author of Doctor Sleep and The Shining” to his author page. Now, I don’t know what we can determine from this, but to the casual shopper, it would appear that they are concerned enough to direct readers to the other Stephen King, but not enough to actually remove the fake Stephen King’s books from print, or at least move that disclaimer to the top of his listings, where customers are more apt to see it.
As if that wasn’t confusing enough, there’s also a second fake Stephen King.
Why does Amazon allow this to continue? Because they’re making money off of it. And despite the amount of one-star negative reviews and customer complaints, I don’t expect they’ll be changing it anytime soon. So what can you, a reader, do about it? There’s only one thing I can think of.
Put ALL DARK, ALL THE TIME: THE COMPLETE SHORT FICTION OF BRIAN KEENE, VOLUME 2, along with Dan’s new collection and Peter’s new collection, up there in spots #2, 3, and 4 (in any order — I’m not greedy) so that the fake Stephen King is below us in the rankings.