Sunday, January 10, 2010

Massive Write-Only Publications

I was looking for Donald Knuth's wonderful book 3:16 on Amazon when I stumbled on this book for sale:
The 2007 Report on Industrial and Agriculture Twine Less Than 3/16-Inch Diameter Made from Manmade Fibers: World Market Segmentation by City (Taschenbuch)
Now that's a mouthful. But what I found interesting was the price: 794,99€.
I suppose they sell a maximum of one. And it's in stock. And since there is no selling rank, I'm assuming there hasn't been a sale yet, although there is a used one up for grabs.

On closer inspection I find the publisher: Icon Group International. Ah, yes. I've blogged about this publisher before. I call this write-only publishing, only useful for padding resumes. I suppose the price is so high so no one purchases it and then finds out that it only has blank pages or worse.

The summary looks like it was produced by a machine:
"... In what follows, I summarize the economic potential for the world's major cities for "industrial and agriculture twine less than 3/16-inch diameter made from manmade fibers" for the year 2007. The goal of this report is to report my findings on the real economic potential, or what an economist calls the latent demand, represented by a city when defined as an area of dominant influence. [...] For many items, latent demand is clearly observable in sales, as in the case for food or housing items. Consider, however, the category "satellite launch vehicles". Clearly, there are no launch pads in most cities of the world. However, the core benefit of the vehicles (e.g. telecommunications, etc.) is "consumed" by residents or industries within the world's cities."
 3/16 inch twine? Latent demand? Satellite launch vehicles?.

I checked out the author, Philip M. Parker. Goodness, what a busy man. There are 107.181 entries in Amazon's database! The first is a history book, the proceeds of which will go to finance Webster's online dictionary?

Expanding the cover I find him listed as a professor and a Ph.D., a "Chaired professor of Management Science INSEAD (Singapore and Fontainebleau, France)".

INSEAD has a web site, although there is some discussion on web sites as to whether or not this is a diploma mill. And there is a Philip M. Parker there, a professor for marketing. He lists only 7 books on his web site, none about 3/16 inch twine. He is also listed as responsible for the site "Webster's Online Dictionary", apparently the name is in the public domain.

Ah, the Wikipedia tells us what's up: He has a patent on producing publications by software, using the print-on-demand publisher IGI. There have been articles in the New York Times and the Financial Times Deutschland.

This is absurd. These are not niche products. They are spam. They are clogging up databases. And it proves to me that a reference on a resume that lists IGI as the publisher is not worth the paper it may be printed on.


  1. Hi,
    Just a note to invite you to INSEAD. When people have a chance to see what the process is applied to, it can be quite interesting. I am working on a number of projects that might interest you (e.g. automated radio stations in rural Africa, scientific profiles of rare tropical plants for researchers, and other fun stuff - including didactic sonnets). Cheers,
    phil.parker at
    p.s. IGI is not the same as ICON Group (different folks I am afraid to say) - I have not worked with IGI.

  2. I've now seen the links about INSEAD on the Financial Times rankings
    For MBA education alone, the Telegraph places it number 1:


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