(Pictured: azure choker hero Bob Seger.)
(Slight edit since first posted)
I was noodling around on the Internet the other morning, doing a bit of research about “More Than a Woman,” the Bee Gees song also recorded by Tavares. My searching brought me a Google Books link to Bee Gees 194 Success Facts: Everything You Need to Know About Bee Gees by Francis Dejesus. The bit of the book pertinent to my research read as follows:
Such was the reputation of Saturday Night Fever that 2 dissimilar adaptations of “More Than a Woman” (Bee Gees song) experienced airplay, one by the Bee Gees, that was demoted to collection trail, and one other by Tavares that was the hit. The Gibb sound was ineluctable. During an 8-month time starting in the Christmas season of 1977, 6 tunes authored by the bros held the #1 placing on the US graphs for 25 of 32 successive weeks—three of their personal deliverances, 2 for male sibling Andy Gibb, and Yvonne Elliman sole.
Fueled by the movie’s triumph, the sound recording smashed numerous business records, getting to be the highest-selling collection in transcriptioning past to that point. With further compared to 40 million duplicates traded, Saturday Night Fever is amid music’s highest 5 finest vending sound recording collections.
The book went on like this for 114 pages.
What the hell?
As it turns out, there are dozens of books in the Success Facts series, published by an outfit called Emereo Publishing. They are mostly musician and showbiz biographies, but I was also able to find titles about Nikola Tesla and Haile Selassie. Further googling reveals that Emereo’s stock is text harvested from Wikipedia, dumped into a spambot blender, and regurgitated as e-books for sale at Amazon.com, without ISBN numbers, and selling for $15. They appear under many different generic author names—Linda MacIntosh, Diane Sanders, Steven Steele, Kevin Hammond—but they’re the same hash. The books sometimes start like a legitimate bio—“Close acquaintances via youth, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel matured up in the mainly Jewish Kew Gardens Hills, Queens, New York, simply 3 blocks as of every one other”—before veering off into lists of nuclear holocaust fiction, hitchhiking in popular culture, and everything else that’s linked in the Simon and Garfunkel Wikipedia entry. Some don’t even do that. The Kenny Loggins, Neil Diamond, and Lou Rawls volumes start with lists of Wikipedia articles and never even try to assemble a narrative.
Emereo’s website entries for various volumes do specify that the text consists of “relevant selected content from the highest-rated wiki entries,” and that “a portion of the proceeds of each book will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation to support their mission.” Nevertheless, the whole thing comes off pretty skeevy. Emereo, as you would expect, is a shadowy operation, doing lots of print-on-demand and vanity publishing, in addition to the Wikipedia scams. Amazon has tried to police these quickie content mill books, although it’s not clear whether Wikipedia has. Nevertheless, as of last fall, there were over 2,400 Success Facts books for sale at Amazon. The likely market for these “books” are people who want to read something about a favorite star but aren’t too picky as to what.
Just as it is possible to appreciate the accidental poetry of Internet spam, one can occasionally find intriguing bits of verbiage in these books too. Explaining Bob Seger’s waning popularity in the 1990s, “Paul Hart” writes: “Heartland rock weakened off as an acknowledged category by the first 1990s, as rock tunes in common, and azure choker and white functioning grade subjects in specific, missed impact with junior viewers, and like heartland’s creators, turned to further private functions.” I couldn’t figure out what “azure choker and white functioning grade subjects” meant until I googled “azure choker” and found it also appears in Emereo books about John Mellencamp, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Milwaukee.
Then I got it: “blue-collar and white working classes.”