Update on Sales of HKU Theses on Amazon and other online sellers
28 April 2017
Dear Alumni, Students and Colleagues,
Further to my earlier emails, I write to provide an update on the issue of online sales of HKU theses.
In his 22/3/2017 email addressed to me, Mr Jason Youmans, CEO, Creative Media Partners, LLC (parent company of Open Dissertations Press) vowed “to remove from distribution and manufacturing HKU dissertations”.
Additionally, in an April 10 email, Mr Youmans affirmed “We are monitoring and following up to have listings removed as efficiently, and quickly as possible. As we have stated, no dissertations are able to be produced pursuant to any order that may be attempted by any retailer”. As at April 27, we were able to ascertain that 23 websites that previously stocked HKU theses, no longer do so.
Most theses on other websites now appear as “unavailable” or “out of stock”, yet the records for many remain visible on websites. Currently, as at April 28, the situation for the Amazon U.S site shows that 6 titles are “In stock” (compared with 62 on April 10) while 22,657 are “Out of stock”.
We are continuing to work with Creative Media Partners to expedite the full take down of these theses and their records. We will continue to monitor this progress and take any alternative actions deemed necessary to ensure this will be done as swiftly as possible. This remains our key priority for now.
We are also working with Creative Media Partners to identify the number and titles of volumes that were sold while the theses were available for sale. Mr Youmans indicated in his April 10 email that “the retail world is asynchronous, and we do not have complete information on the sales that occurred during the approximately 6 weeks that the dissertations were available. Our initial data shows that approximately 1% of the dissertations were affected, meaning approximately 99% of the dissertations were never sold We will be getting more complete and final data as vendors close their accounting periods”.
We will provide a further update on this once these figures have been made available to us.
We have created a website for information and to gather your input. The website includes previous emails sent by the Libraries and a FAQ. It will also serve as a source for future updates. The website is located here.
Access to theses on the Scholars Hub
Again, as I previously stated, direct full text downloading of theses was disabled on 3 March 2017. An online form was introduced on 10 March to meet requests for full text theses. On 3 April 2017, an auto-response form was launched that generates a link to a requested thesis enabling a requester to have immediate access. Included in this process is a mechanism that prevents automated access by computer programs. We hope this arrangement enables the University's pursuit of knowledge exchange to continue while exercising due diligence in the secure access to HKU theses.
Your patience and support during this process is gratefully appreciated.