Media

This browser extension turns Amazon into a pirated ebook search engine

Image Credit: via Amazon

Here’s something Amazon definitely won’t like: A new extension for Google’s Chrome web browser released earlier this month can turn the giant online retail site into a search engine for pirating ebooks.

The extension, called LibGen, pulls data from the Library Genesis search engine, which contains tens of thousands of results to locations around the web that offer pirated media (ebooks, comics, periodicals, and more). Chrome’s app store notes that just over 800 people have downloaded the extension thus far.

Installing the extension will add a row along the top of each Amazon book listing upon navigating to a page. The new navigation bar contains pretty basic piece of information (Author, book title, edition number, etc.) as well as links to various places where you can either download an ebook file directly or download a torrent for the book.

A screenshot of Chrome extension LibGen in action.

Above: A screenshot of Chrome extension LibGen in action.

Image Credit: LibGen

TorrentFreak, which first noticed the extension, notes that there are a few problems with LibGen not recognizing the correct ebook listing for books with generic or similar titles, but overall it seems to work fine.

This is potentially alarming to Amazon for a variety of reasons. First of all, one of Amazon’s primary new areas of business is in selling digital media. And with the exception of music, you don’t have the option of downloading a DRM-free version of those purchases. And even though Amazon-owned ComiXology recently began offering DRM-free digital comic downloads, I don’t expect Amazon proper to follow suit anytime soon.

Offering DRM-free ebook downloads on purchases sort of undermines Amazon’s overall business strategy. The idea is that you purchase digital media on Amazon, and use one of its low-cost tablets or ereaders to consume it — thus opening you up to further purchases. Allowing people to take those ebooks to another platform (one that exists outside of Amazon’s ecosystem, including various Kindle apps across mobile devices), wouldn’t benefit the company very much — at least from Amazon’s perspective.

 

More information:

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where cu... read more »

Google's innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major glob... read more »

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5 comments
Virginia Llorca
Virginia Llorca

KDP gives you, when "publishing", the option of choosing DRM or not. One of mine has DRM cuz I pushed the wrong button and they won't let you unclick.

Elijah Bee
Elijah Bee

looks like Google has removed it from the appstore :) #Amazon -> #Highfive -> #Google

Brandon Jepson
Brandon Jepson

I wouldn't trust this. Kaspersky detected a keylogger after I installed this extension...

Nihal Hassan
Nihal Hassan

Can Amazon sue the makers over this? There are ecommerce extensions which give users better prices while browsing through products. But here, it's piracy. Would Google bring down an extension like this?