Behind Lambert Academic Publishing’s marketing gimmick

I was rather taken back by how VDM or Lambert Academic publishing had pieced together bits of my information – Name and email address, the university I studied at, and my dissertation topic. At first I assumed that this would have required a really smart scraper (lines of software code that read information off website) or bot to piece together these bits of info (possibly acquired from multiple sources) for instance – the blog, information indexed on Google and the library at Kathmandu University.
Print on Demand books

In their email, the acquisition editor mentioned that they got my personal information off the library catalogue at Kathmandu University. I assumed that they had either done one of two things:

  • They had commissioned development of a scraper algorithm that indexed personal information and pieced together these bits of information to develop a lead list (the modus operandi of most spammers to harvest email addresses), or
  • A back office operation outsourced to work-at-home house wives and the likes in Philippines, India, Nepal searched university libraries for thesis collections and then verified the author’s personal information.

The acquisition editors then used the lead list used to solicit content. But these would have recurring costs.

On further dwelling from my end and some snooping around, I found out about the simple ingenuity behind it. Lambert Academic Publishing (LAP) has been using something that security experts term as social hacking/engineering.

Here’s how the wonderful scheme comes into play.

For every manuscript of a thesis, Lambert Academic publishing gets/publishes, they promise to mail out a copy (author’s copy) to the author. Subsequent copies will have to be paid for by the author as well. In addition, authors published on LAP, get a copy mailed to them for free if one of their referred contacts (friends) signs up (i.e. provides their manuscript) to LAP. Authors recommend the person’s name, email address, university, thesis title, no. of pages etc and LAP’s acquisition editors (Tatiana Costandachi among others) approach them using their standard email template. No need for a scraper algorithm to piece together bits of information or a back office operation in tech savvy India/Philippines.

After my first post about LAP’s scheme, I have had friends and friends-of-friends (FoF), talk about them being approached for the same. One of these FoFs didn’t even have a dissertation topic on her, because she was a MBA student, but still got sent the same standard email by LAP.

Some of my friends are super elated about the fact that they get a free copy of their thesis printed and bound for free. They are least concerned about the fact that they may not be able to republish their content (from their thesis) in a separate publication as they already had presented it in some conference.

On the other hand, some of my other friends who ordered a copy of the publication were rather disappointed in being dished a verbatim copy.

Here’s a friend who expressed disappointment on Facebook on having bought a copy on Amazon.

i bought it off of Amazon. funny b/c it was marked “used” so it was only like $17.00 (including shipment & handling) but when I received it, it was completely brand-new. I am SO glad I didn’t spend the 50 pounds/ 70 dollars some sites were asking for.
As for the publication house, it’s totally like you said in your blog– it literally is his thesis verbatim–as great as it is, it is very evident that no one at the publication house bothered to do any editing. there are multiple grammatical errors… what a pity. Poor (name withheld). and all the others who worked so hard for all their research only to be duped–and by the Germans of all! Hahahaa… yo ta attii classic stereotype bhayo ni ta.

My poor friend mentioned in the message, hasn’t received the supposed 3% as yet.

Bloggers who have blogged about LAP’s scam/marketing strategy have been approached by LAP about reconsidering their stance as it is, (they claim) standard practise.

Photo of Print on demand titles via herzogbr on Flickr: