Last week I ordered Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons, from barnesandnoble.com. The edition I purchased came from Wilder Publications. I didn’t do any due diligence, in part because this is Barnes & Noble, right? I should have known better, since barnesandnoble.com is a related company but is not the bookstore chain.

The edition arrived, a 50- or so page booklet that was a crude summary of a classic novel. It was chopped up and bowdlerized and had entire chapters and scenes cut from it.

The gall of a company to take someone else’s novel, put it out under their copyright (the copyright page says only Wilder Publications, 2011, and nothing about the original publisher), and then do their best to ensure that the book pops to the top of search results on an online bookseller site. This is beyond contempt. It is disrespectful and wrong, and trades on the good name of a beloved author.

How dare they?! Who the hell do they think they are? Why would a company do such a thing?

After receiving this travesty, I sent it back to barnesandnoble.com for a refund. I will also write to Wilder and express my displeasure, that is if I can find an address. The book had a P.O. Box but who knows it that is even valid.

I did a little research after the fact, and Wilder comes up a lot for putting a warning label  on its books containing the Constitution of the US, the Declaration of Independence, and other historical documents. What? Why? And what does such a warning serve? What is Wilder’s point and what is it trying to do?

The whole idea of the company is baffling to me.

Again, Wilder should be ashamed to be doing business like this. I wrote to barnesandnoble.com and told them they should take the book off their search results. I’ll put up a review and a warning to other readers (I should have checked because indeed, there was already a disgruntled review). I hope this post helps warn others away from Wilder. It appears that part of its business model is to take out of copyright classics and redact them into these weird booklets. If so, spread the word so people don’t lose any money to them.

Edit: Interesting to note that on barnesandnoble.com, the reviews for all editions come up for the book. So this edition looks like a winner, what with all the reviews praising the novel. On amazon.com, one can leave a review for that specific edition, which I did.

I hate getting duped and I hope this prevents someone else from falling into the same trap.

 

 


22 Comments

John · March 29, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Wilder Publications are scammers, fraudsters, liers and ripp-off artists. Look at any Amazon review for any of their book. Copy part of review into Google, and you’ll see hundreds of duplicate reviews. In other words, they’re hiring cheap labour to write fake reviews of their shi**y books. I even bought their Amazon “Master Key System” edition. And gave 1 review for bad formatting, and unoriginal text. 3 months later, I see they have 160 positive reviews. All FAKE!!! Reviews by people who are paid to write FAKE reviews.

Patrice Sarath · March 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm

Hear hear. I completely agree with you.

Karen Gillespie · August 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I, too, went to Barnes and Noble and purchased Cold Comfort Farm. A copy was sent to my home. Little did I know I purchased a “redo” of the book until I attended my book club and saw the original version of the book. Barnes and Noble refunded my money but I was really annoyed that Wilder Publications is scamming people. There was no indication that the book that I purchased was a condensed or altered version. Like you, I didn’t question my purchase because I purchased it from Barnes and Noble.
Is there a more universal way to notify people about Wilder Publications. I’ll have to look into it.

Thank you for posting your comment.

Patrice Sarath · August 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Argh, I know how you feel, and it’s so annoying that it is still continuing. As I noted, you could specify a review for a specific edition on Amazon, but not on B&N — because it’s not usually a problem, I’m sure.

It’s such a wonderful novel, which makes it even more frustrating that it gets the Wilder treatment.

Jonathan · November 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I wish I had read about this issue before but, admittedly, I’m completely naïve and thought that buying a book was a simple procedure. I purchased Seven Pillars of Wisdom in New Zealand and found it to be the single worst edited book I’ve ever known. I was quite proud of finally having a hardback copy of this book and Wilder Inc have given me frustration in return. My partner said I should Google it and that is how I found your site. Thank you for introducing me to the 21st Century where cheap business practices abound and people take very little pride in what they do. If ever you learn of more ways to stick it to this company I would assist in any way I could.

Patrice Sarath · November 28, 2013 at 7:23 am

It is so frustrating, isn’t it. Wilder really sucks. And it’s all because of their scummy business model.

I hope you find a better edition of the book – it’s a classic well worth having.

Chris · February 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

I bought “The Professor’s House” by Willa Cather. The book was full of odd characters and errors. I would not by a book published by Wilder Publications again.

Patrice Sarath · February 4, 2014 at 11:39 am

We need to keep just hammering away at this so either the company will change (hah!) or we can help prevent people from being scammed.

Peter · March 31, 2014 at 2:43 am

Same experience for me too I’m afraid! I’m trying to read Seven Pillars of Wisdom (as published by Wilder Publications, copyright 2011) and it is so full of errors that it becomes total nonsense in places!! I think it might have been scanned with character recognition software and of course never proof read. “Across Sinai” becomes “A Cross Sinai”, “Camp Routine” becomes “Cavil Routine”, “Readjustment” becomes “Read Justment” and “Auda” (one of the principle figures) becomes “Alida”. Totally appalling, will never buy another one of their books (although the quality of the binding seems very good!)

mottel · April 6, 2014 at 7:04 am

Is this the publishing company with a PO box in Radford, VA?

Dean · February 25, 2015 at 7:09 pm

I have just suffered the Wilder con in a somewhat different context: trying to obtain ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ by the ancient historian Josephus. It’s copyrighted 2009 Wilder Publications and gives absolutely no further information or acknowledgement, such as the fact that the Translator is centuries old. The really embarrassing thing is that this not only came from book depository, but was at the top of their list when I searched the book, as if it’s a standard, official, commercial version! It doesn’t even have a proper copyright information page (usually opposite the title page or the contents page), another reminder of the importance of seeking authoritative publishers.

Interestingly, this book also has the big ‘product of its time’ warning, which makes me think all the American Documents controversy is sensationalist, out-of-context media-dribble. This is a book written in the first century! It’s not that they are targeting the American Constitution and what not for some sort of politically motivated censorship. The problem is that the label is probably tagged on automatically as part of their pathetic mass production of cheaply recycled literature. And this is merely an instance of a widespread phenomenon. It’s a virus in the publishing industry that I find more concerning and even frightening than a warning about letting the kiddies read the Declaration of Independence!

Patrice Sarath · February 26, 2015 at 9:14 am

I think it’s interesting that Amazon, B&N, and now Book Depository all allow Wilder to go to the top of their search results. I guess it’s the algorithm, and Wilder totally knows how to game the system. The only thing we can do is continue to leave reviews for all Wilder editions that warn potential victims away, and perhaps reach out to these suppliers and tell them what’s going on. Too bad — the book you were looking for sounds fascinating. I hope you find a “real” copy.

Keith Searle · June 2, 2015 at 9:06 am

Thanks everyone. I was searching for J.M. Keynes – The Economic Consequences of the Peace and could only find it on the Wilder site but came across this site before I could place an order. I would have been hopping mad to have received a redacted version. Shame on Amazon, B&N and Book Depository for allowing such practices to prevail.

Patrice Sarath · June 2, 2015 at 9:24 am

oh good! Book disaster averted!

Joop Boomker · August 8, 2015 at 11:48 am

Having looked for a long time to get a copy of TE Lawrence’s I found it at Amazon, ordered it, and was disgusted at the poor editing of the book. Surely, Lawrence of Arabia would not have made so many common mistakes as not running sentences on, diacritics (as in placing a full stop after a sentence before continuing with the next). I still like the story, it is great history, but it should have been put together in a much more presentable way. As was said previously, shame on Amazon and Wilder for producing such a poorly presented product!

Thomas Zeller · July 14, 2016 at 5:05 am

I got into the same trap on Thalia.de with the Wilder’s version of “Deathworld 2” by Harry Harrison. About one-third of the text was missing. I will never buy anything from them (Wilder) again.

Patrice Sarath · July 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm

How is it that anything by Harry Harrison is out of copyright, allowing Wilder to do that?

Thomas Zeller · July 18, 2016 at 4:54 am

Harry Harrison died in 2012, so I can’t imagine that his books are out of copyright. Even if didn’t consider the life of the author, Deathworld 2 was published in 1964, “just” 52 years ago.

Margaret H. Dorsett · September 4, 2016 at 2:12 pm

A comment about copyright. In fact, Wilder Press is in violation of copyright. the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright protection is based not on when a book was published, but when the author dies. In most cases, copyright protection is in effect for 70 years following the death of an author. Copyrights have been automatically renewed since the Copyright Renewal Act of 1992. For more information on the duration of copyright, see: (http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Copyright_law_of_the_United_States)

Harry Harrison’s copyrights, under federal law, are protected until 2082, which means any unauthorized reproduction of his work, even in summary or bastardized form, is gross violation of existing rights and subject to penalty.

As a long time publisher, I am appalled by Wilder Publishing and their lack of ethics.

James Arkwright · October 15, 2016 at 5:56 am

I’ve just been conned too by this so-called company. Purchasing a sci-fi novel at Amazon I made the mistake of not reading the reviews and received a thirty-three page pamphlet abridged from a book of two hundred nine pages. What does that tell you? That Wilder is a fraud and in effect stealing the intellectual property of others. I have written a letter informing the original author and his publishers about the company and with any luck they will bring a law suit against this literary slime!

Carsten Schulz · December 31, 2016 at 9:22 am

I also got a book through Amazon “The secret teachings of all ages” of Manly P. Hall. This book is public Domain to be downloaded at many places. Says..copyright not renewed as its from 1921 about.
After reading this comments I checked my well printed Version..It looks like all is included… just through the other formatting and size it has a bit less pages. I bought a printed version as I dont like to read 700 pages pdf on screen…
So I cant say that Wilder did a bad job here. For the future I will check on what I buy… Other books i havent bought from them…(I am not payed by anyone).

Greetings from Germany
Carsten

Never Yet Melted » Publishing Today · June 29, 2015 at 7:31 am

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