October 5, 2009

Be Wary of Who's Who Registry Offers

Earlier today I got a couple emails from a company about a Who's Who registry. They were pleased to inform me that I'd been recommended for listing in their Who's Who registry. Of course there is no cost to be included. But I should hurry and sign up before September 16th (I got the email on Oct. 2nd). I followed the link to their website and get a form with my mailing address and phone # as well as a few fields about my information. Shortly after I got that email I got a second one sent to another email address with a different spelling of my first name. I guess I'm so special they wanted to make sure they included me under both spellings? I don't think so. The email I got failed to say WHY they were including me. What had I done to warrant such an honor? Apparently nothing at all except for having a publicly visible email address.

I would bet you that this company makes all their money by selling copies of their book to people that they list in the book. Given that they sent me 2 mails in the same day to different addresses, I'm pretty sure they don't do any real screening or filtering to decide who is really 'worthy' of the 'prestige' of being included. They probably spammed that same email to 100 million people.

Wikipedia entry on Who's Who mentions this practice and they explain : "Many Who's Who publications are vanity publications, where the inclusion criterion is the biographee's willingness to buy the book, with the business model consisting of selling books directly to the biographees."

When I was a teenager in high school I got a fancy letter in the mail from such a who's who company saying that they were going to put me in the who's who of high school students. The letter didn't say exactly why they were adding me to their book, but it offered to sell me a copy for a keepsake. Initially I was pretty honored to be included in such a book, but since I hadn't done anything really note worthy in high school I was wary. And then the sales pitch to buy their book as a condition for being included cemented it for me that it was really just a way for them to sell the books. I'm sure many parents would be so proud of their kid for such an accomplishment that they'd buy such a book.

The who's who books in question will also tell you how their book is in many libraries. That makes it seem legitimate. The only problem with that is that the maker of the book donates a copy of their book to those libraries just so they could brag about it being on the library shelves.

So I'd say be wary of these offers. Ask yourself, have you ever desired to look up anyone in a who's who book? Probably not. They are probably just feeding off your own vanity in an attempt to sell you a book.

Your noteworthy accomplishments are their own benefit.
Getting your name listed in a book with 1000's of other people really isn't an accomplishment.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin