Judie purchased access to myPadMedia yesterday. After a few minutes of exploring the site, one thing became very clear: I owe myPadMedia a huge apology.
See, several weeks ago I mistakenly called myPadMedia a “scam”. This implied they were engaged in a business that doesn’t deliver books legally; as it turns out, that’s technically not true. If you purchase the $49.95 membership, you will have access to legal content, but the delivery process has basically been stolen from another site. So clearly I was mistaken, and as it turns out I was just one word off.
myPadMedia isn’t a scam at all.
myPadMedia is SCUM.
They aren’t trafficking in illegal books, they’re selling you a membership to a free website, and to entice new memberships they are making implied promises that they have no intention of keeping. How so?
For starters, your $50 buys access to the Feedbooks.com portal along with links to various free comics and a list of newspaper web sites. There is, from what I can tell, nothing copyrighted or anything that is unavailable elsewhere available on the myPadMedia site. And make no mistake about it: technically, there are Top 10 bestsellers … but with the exception of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (originally published in 1922) and a few other classics which have been recently made into movies and re-released as movie tie-in paperbacks, all of the “bestsellers” are classics like Little Women (1868), Treasure Island (1883), Moby Dick (1851), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1897), etc…. and all of them are public domain and available FOR FREE.
If you are interested in downloading public domain works like the classics just listed, fan fiction (as the name implies, fan fiction are stories written by fans of famous works-these are not authorized or endorsed by the official authors), and other independently published eBooks, then you can save yourself $50 and go straight to FeedBooks for exactly the same eBook results that you will find on myPadMedia. In fact, the entire myPadMedia site is built around the assumption that you are incapable of seeking out free internet content on your own, specifically the FeedBooks.com site, or that you don’t know free downloadable content exists … therefore myPadMedia is happy to step up, for the low price of $50! SERIOUSLY, your $50 gets you a redirect to FeedBooks.com so here… here is the URL for FREE: http://feedbooks.com. Now go download to your heart’s content!
One could argue that there are plenty of people who wouldn’t even know where to enter the phrase “download free eBooks” in a search engine, so perhaps myPadMedia is doing them a service by steering them to their site. Perhaps that would be true, if myPadMedia’s site were more clear about the products people would receive for their $50. If that were the case, then we would say more power to them … and the subject would be moot.
The problem is that myPadMedia never even hints at the fact that for your $50 you are simply buying public domain material (translation: free for the taking). It doesn’t matter if you already know that free legal eBooks exist online or if you already know how to find them; if you are the least bit tempted by myPadMedia’s claim of “Top 10 bestsellers”, then you might be rooked into wasting your $50. And make no mistake about it — if you purchase access with the expectation of getting anything other than public domain eBooks, fan fiction, or independently published eBooks readily available elsewhere, then your money will have been wasted. It would be better to donate the $50 to charity and visit FeedBooks directly.
myPadMedia’s approach is to make statements that are FACTUALLY true but that will lead you to draw conclusions that are ultimately false. in other words, they give you just enough information to mislead you…
Here’s the perfect example: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series. On the front page of the myPadMedia site, there is a testimonial which states that Shelly S. Hawkins “downloaded the whole Twilight series to my iPad in just a few minutes!” Cool, right?
But this is what you get when you pay for the myPadMedia membership and go searching for the “Twilight” series …
Surprise! There are no Twilight series books on myPadMedia; nor are there any other titles by Stephenie Meyer … or any other Meyer for that matter.
Isn’t it odd that a testimonial on myPadMedia’s own front page would be so proudly displayed, and yet be so blatantly deceptive? Not really, because as the saying goes, “There’s a sucker born every minute”, and myPadMedia is counting on that.
As popular as the Twilight novels are, there is one series which has been more popular than any other and yet has never been legally available for eBook download: JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could legally download Harry Potter eBooks? You can’t on eReader, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, iBooks, or any other reputable eBook retailer — not yet, anyway — because JK Rowling has “thus far refused to make any of her Harry Potter books available digitally because of piracy fears and a desire to see readers experience her books in print.” And yet, when we Googled myPadMedia Harry Potter, we found well over 100 instances where someone had spammed various forums, site comments and even Flickr about downloading the Harry Potter books from myPadMedia. All were suspiciously similar to this one on Squidoo saying that the “full Harry Potter” series was available and “quickly downloaded” through myPadMedia.
We would hate to assume that either myPadMedia or someone paid by myPadMedia would go around spamming so many sites with Harry Potter download tales if they weren’t true. And because Judie purchased a membership, we can show you that this is what you will get when you search for Harry Potter on the myPadMedia site … fan fiction!
And if that’s your thing, then you should just save your money and search for it — for free — at FeedBooks, because that is the site myPadMedia is searching and then delivering results from.
Seriously, though…this boggles our minds: FeedBooks is free. Their entire premise is based around being a free source of public domain novels and free books from independent authors … and of course, being FREE. In fact, we reviewed them just a few months ago as a great alternate source of ebooks for your Kindle!
Now, check out this language from the FeedBooks terms of service:
(a) FeedBooks is free and access to its content is free also. However, that does not include the connection fees which remain under the user’s responsibility. The Website is accessible 24/7, except in the event of a scheduled or unscheduled interruption for maintenance, or in the event of a force majeure. FeedBooks shall not be liable for damage of any kind pursuant to its unaccessibility.
Is FeedBooks aware that myPadMedia is basically sticking their free site within a frame and offering their paid “service” as a FeedBook portal? Based on their terms of service, we sincerely doubted it, but we’ll get back to that in just a moment.
First let’s revisit the fact that myPadMedia threatened legal action if we did not remove our posts regarding their company. As those of you who have been following this saga know, we had absolutely no intention of removing anything.
On June 1st, Judie received this email:
Could you please forward us your full name and address so we may commence legal proceedings.
Judie did not bother to reply.
Later that day, myPadMedia sent this message to Gear Diary’s hosting company SoftLayer:
My name is Jonathan Crawford and I am the owner of myPadMedia.com
You are currently hosting a website – GearDiary.com that has posted slanderous articles regarding myPadMedia.com. I have contacted the site owner, yet they have refused to remove it.
I demand that the page entitled “Buyer beware-MyPadMedia” ( http://www.geardiary.com/2010/05/03/buyer-beware-mypadmedia/ ) that you are providing hosting for, be removed immediately .
Not only does the article falsely claim that my business is a “HUGE SCAM” and that the company is “spamming Twitter”, it also insinuates that myPadMedia provides pirated ebooks to customers.
If your customer had in fact done any research at all or even tried our service, they would know that myPadMedia does NOT provide pirated material and that all content is licenced.
We believe that the article is slanderous and damages the reputation of myPadMedia with false claims and allegations. We have even experienced visitors from that website spamming our contact form with hate messages due to that article, when they have not even tried our product.
Unless the article is deleted within 48 hours, we will be contacting our attorneys at Friedman & Friedman PA and be forced to take legal action against your customer, and potentially SoftLayer.com.
Furthermore, the site GearDiary.com is also publishing confidential emails that I have written without my permission on their page:
I demand that these emails be taken down.
Please notify me when action has been taken.
Judie’s response to SoftLayer:
Hello, It might be easier to speak about this on the phone, and in that case — please feel free to call me at [redacted].
If you read the articles that we posted, and look at the emails this person is objecting to in the links provided, then you will see that what we have done is nothing libelous; we have presented the facts as they occurred, based on the information provided by their site and their replies to our inquiries about their product.
The absolute defense against libel or slander is the truth; and that is what we have written.
SoftlLayer agreed, and they closed the ticket with the statement:
Spoke with Judie on the phone regarding this issue. There’s nothing in our AUP/TOS, nor are there laws being violated here. This ticket is for documentation purposes.
It was shortly after the issue was resolved with SoftLayer that Judie purchased a myPadMedia membership via PayPal, finding the information we have documented here. And shortly after that we contacted Hadrien from FeedBooks, saying:
Were you aware this site [myPadMedia] was charging a gateway fee for access to FeedBooks? We want to confirm that this was an unauthorized use of the site, and not anything that you are endorsing.
We were not aware and received several strange e-mails from people asking for “refunds” lately. This is obviously an unauthorized usage of our website and we’ll take the right legal and technical actions asap.
Thank you for this information,
It was about an hour later that this screen was discovered on the paid portion of the myPadMedia download site:
And as of this posting, it is still showing. We can’t help but wonder if myPadMedia is going to find themselves another free eBook download service to resell, or if they are going to simply fade away. But as of 10pm on June 2, their internet storefront is still showing and still working, but if you try to access the eBook section of their site, you will find that there is a problem.
How many people did myPadMedia victimize? According to Hadrian with FeedBooks:
Well, based on our log I can tell that roughly 250 people were scammed (150 in the US).
We contacted both the ISP and ClickBank to report the scam and hope that based on this information they’ll all get a refund.
That sounds about right, because Judie’s member number was 285, and we had speculated that might be the actual number of people who had purchased the “service”.
So to summarize: myPadMedia is not necessarily a scam, but it is beyond ethically shaky. You can access the exact same $50 eBook download portal on myPadMedia at Feedbooks.com for FREE. You can find many other free eBook sources online by Googling “download free ebooks“, by using the same phrase on Bing, or for that matter by using that phrase on any other internet search engine. And you can find comic books, RSS feed aggregators, newspaper websites, and any other “bonus” that myPadMedia tries to include to make their purchasers feel less upset, online and for free.
So if you think it sounds like a good idea to buy myPadMedia access anyway, then you should go for it. But call us afterward … we have a bridge in Brooklyn that we’d like to show you.