Thousands of eBooks sold on legitimate websites such as actually are scams. They might provide no content of value and even might infect your device with malware capable of stealing your account information.

The scam works like this—an unscrupulous “author” throws together a book very quickly, perhaps in a few hours. He/she might steal content from the Internet or from another book…or pay someone a small amount to churn out copy with little concern for quality. The resulting book is likely to have limited or no value for readers.

The scammer then posts the worthless eBook for sale on or other book sales websites, typically under a pseudonym. He has friends post glowing reviews or uses one of the shady services that provide favorable reviews for a modest price.

Many eBooks contain digital links that readers can click for additional information. These links provide an additional opportunity for scammers—clicking them could download malware onto your digital device. Do not click the links unless you are certain the eBook was issued by a well-known publisher.

If you want to buy a book that has an unfamiliar author and/or publisher, first enter the author’s name into a search engine—it’s a good sign if the author has a blog or website that provides well-­written content, though the lack of a website does not necessarily mean the eBook is a scam.

If the search also finds the author being quoted in the press as an expert on the book’s topic, that’s another good sign. See if there is a section of the ­eBook that you can read for free before purchase, and be wary if there isn’t. Read this section to confirm that it is well-written and/or useful. Be skeptical of customer reviews, ­particularly if most seem to be unqualified raves.

If you decide to order a book online, make sure that the site is secure. Look for https:// in the site’s web address on the page where you are asked to enter payment information—this indicates a secure connection.