Angie Waller

book / grifting the Amazon

Grifting the Amazon explores the “wild west” of from clickbait books to money laundering allegations.

Grifting The Amazon


9.75" x 6.75" – 44 pages

Unknown Unknowns︎︎︎ has provided a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to test strategies for generating a "passive" income. The term "passive" is used in quotes because those who promote this lifestyle suggest that selling products online eliminates the need for traditional 9-to-5 work. However, what they fail to acknowledge is the network of underpaid contract workers, production line laborers, and shipping and logistics personnel who make it possible for their half-baked ideas to become physical products. Grifting the Amazon documents parts of this supply chain.

Grifting the Amazon explains the inexact science of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and its influence on the titles and contents of clickbait books. Clickbait books are created and published on with the sole purpose of making money. They achieve this by attaining high positions in Amazon's listings for niche subject categories. In addition to their narrow focus on subjects like "pickling vegetables" or "capybaras as pets," clickbait books can be identified by their long titles intentionally containing multiple strategic keyword combinations.
Like any internet bubble, the get-rich-quick schemes of clickbait books on have become less effective over time. Although questionable publications still abound on Amazon, the expansion of customer options for purchasing self-published books has made it harder to make quick profits.

However, a new market has emerged that exploits the website for huge profits. While this new method is less likely to exploit an unseen labor force, it is highly illegal and untraceable. The conclusion of Grifting the Amazon delves into this new trading practice. When books are sold for thousands of dollars and may not even exist, one could compare selling books on to a new cryptocurrency or the subplot of a new season of the television show Breaking Bad.

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